“At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” Daniel 1:15
Daniel in the Lion’s Den – one of the great accounts in the Bible I grew up learning as a child. As a teenager, I recall hearing adults teach about Daniel and the strong stand he took not to defile himself in the face of extreme opposition. If you have not read Daniel Chapter One in a while, I encourage you to turn to this twenty-seventh book of the Bible and read it with a fresh perspective.
Babylon was the powerhouse of the Middle East around the beginning of the 6th century B.C. They marched, more than likely, almost one thousand miles to Jerusalem and overthrew it during the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. As a result of this, the book of Daniel tells us, “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility-…” (1:3)
The first characteristic we know about Daniel is that he was nobility. He was in some way part of Jehoiakim’s family, which means he was very well educated. The King of Babylon did not just want to enslave these young men to do manual labor. No, he was trusting that their knowledge and wisdom in the things of the world would enable them to be excellent counselors. “In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” (Daniel 1:20)
The next characteristic Daniel exhibited was conviction. Even though Daniel and his friends were taken hundreds of miles by foot away from the only life they ever knew into an uncertain situation, the Bible says, “But Daniel resolved…” (v.8) We can stop right there and learn a great deal about this man and use him as an example of how we are to respond to adverse conditions in our own lives. To “resolve” is to make a firm decision beforehand about how we will act in a given situation. It is a wise person who makes a choice prior to being placed in a potentially comprising scenario.
The last characteristic we see in Daniel’s life in chapter one is a respect for his “enemies”. When “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine…” (vs. 8a), the Bibles tells us, “…he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way.” (vs. 8b) I do not know about you, but I have always pictured Daniel demanding to his captors not to eat the food and somehow they gave him an opportunity to prove himself. Maybe he would have needed to be more demanding if they had not agreed to allow him to try. But Daniel exhibited a kindness even to those who could potentially do him harm.
Daniel is a good example for us. There may be days ahead in our own lives or our children’s lives where we may be asked to do something we believe goes against God and His Word. Will we fold like many people? Or will we have resolve realizing we are a part of God’s Kingdom and that He will take care of us?