Online Bible Commentary
Daniel Purposed in His Heart
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. 10 And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king." 11 So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants." 14 So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. 15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies. 16Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. (NKJV)
Daniel and the other Israelites from Judah that had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians are being indoctrinated into the culture of their captors. They were immersed into the way of life of the Babylonians. The Babylonians were attempting to indoctrinate them into their religion, language, literature, and food and drink. The food and drink were non kosher and had been offered to the Babylonian gods. The meat especially, likely horse and pork, were non kosher.
So Daniel “requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” by having to partake of their food and drink. Daniel was asking not to eat the meat, and thus he would only eat vegetables. The term “eunuch” as used here refers to royal officials, servants of the king, of which Daniel was one. This term was an old oriental term, and no longer meant that the officials had to have this particular physical defect in order to be a royal official.
By the hand of God, Daniel had found “favor and goodwill” (v. 9) with the chief of the royal officials. However, the chief feared that Daniel would start looking unhealthy if he allowed him to only eat vegetables. Since it was the chief’s job to keep the officials healthy he feared retribution from the king if he allowed Daniel to deviate from the king’s menu. He feared the loss of his “head” (v. 10).
Even so, Daniel asked the chief to give him and his three friends a ten day trial on vegetables and water to see if they would look less healthy than the others. Daniel’s friends were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They had been renamed respectively Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego by the Babylonians to honor the Babylonian gods, just as Daniel had been renamed Belteshazzar (vv. 11-13).
The chief agreed to Daniel’s request, and after the ten days Daniel and his friends appeared to be healthier looking than those who had remained on the king’s diet (vv. 14-15). Thus Daniel and his friends were allowed to continue on their diet of vegetables and water (v. 16).
So Daniel and his friends’ attempt to remain faithful to God had succeeded for now. There were more challenges awaiting them, but they were determined to remain faithful to God.
In our lives today we also are confronted with challenges to remaining faithful to God. Our faith is tested every day. Should we join in with those who dishonor God through their language, their lifestyle, or their “gods”? Should we succumb to the pressures of our secular society to take the Lord’s name in vain, or to support sexual immorality, including adultery and homosexuality? Should we support others in their belief in other gods, when we know that God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5)?
Obviously the answer to these questions is an emphatic “No!” Daniel gave us an example on how to remain faithful to God. He politely and respectfully explained to the chief that he did not want to defile himself. As Christians, we can do the same thing. We can politely and respectfully refuse to be a part of anything that dishonors God, sin, and, if asked why, we can explain that we do not wish to be unfaithful to God.
They may then ask how we are being unfaithful to God, to which we can respond with our beliefs. By taking this stand for Jesus we can open doors to minister to our friends and family.
“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (v. 8). He set his heart against sin. He took a stand. He had a purpose in life. That purpose was to remain faithful to God.