Daniel Refuses the King's Food

In our last issue we talked about the sad state of God¬’s people down in Babylon. How unhappy they were, far away from the land they loved! Statues and temples of detestable idols were everywhere - - the Babylonians believed in many gods, with a ruling god named Marduk. Every year they held a big parade for their gods, with Marduk leading the way down the procession street to his splendid temple. They thought the fall of Jerusalem proved Marduk was more powerful than the God of Judah. If not, they wondered, why had He allowed His people to be captured? God¬’s people still knew He was the only true God, however. Hundreds of years before His prophets had prepared them to understand they would be captured as punishment for their sins.

Probably many remembered Isaiah¬’s words - - Babylon would conquer Judah. But if they repented, the Lord would raise up a king named Cyrus who would let them come back home. The remnant who returned would be important in God¬’s plan. Someday the Savior would come through them.

Before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, Jeremiah warned them not to hope for a quick return. Their captivity would last seventy years. They should build homes, plant gardens and make a good life in a foreign land. They would never be a strong nation again, but someday God would bless them through a wonderful new covenant - - more wonderful than anything they had known before.

Down in Babylon, God used Ezekial to remind His people that He was an Omnipresent God and was still with them. In spite of these promises the Jews were often sad, so sad they wept when they remembered Jerusalem and what they had lost. But knowing God had kept His word to punish them helped them believe something else - - if they turned back to Him, He would keep His promise to bless them again.

In the book of Daniel the prophet, we read about the signs God gave them to go along with His promises. These miracles were signs to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, too. They needed to learn that their dumb idols were nothing like the true God of Judah.

We first read about Daniel as a brave young Jew selected for King Nebuchadnezzar¬’s court, along with his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were among the bright handsome Hebrew boys brought to Babylon in the first group of captives. All were to be educated in the Babylonians¬’ language and wisdom for three years, then serve the king. The splendor of palace life must have tempted these innocent teenagers, but they never forgot the Lord.

One temptation came when they were served wine and rich food from the king¬’s table. Perhaps Daniel knew the food would not be good for their bodies. Or it may have been dedicated to idol gods before being served - - if so, he knew they would be sharing in idol worship if they ate it. So Daniel asked the chief officer to let him and his three friends eat something else.

The chief officer was afraid to disobey the king¬’s orders by giving them different food. If they did not look as healthy as the other young men, the king would blame him. ¬“I fear my lord the king,¬” he protested. ¬“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!¬” So Daniel persuaded their guard to bring them other food for just ten days, saying, ¬“Let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.¬” After that, they could be compared to the youths who ate the king¬’s food. Finally the servant agreed.

At the end of the ten days Daniel and his friends looked healthier than any of the young men who had eaten food and wine from the king¬’s table. And at the end of the three years, Nebuchadnezzar found them to be wiser than all the other young men who had been trained at the palace. Surely God was still with His people! In our next talks we will see this shown in a wonderful way.

Talking it Over:

1. The pagan Babylonians tried to get their Jewish captives to entertain them. Read Psalms 137:1-6 and talk about how this made them feel.
2. You remember Moses had foretold hundreds of years before that God would let His people be captured if they did not obey Him. Read Deut 30:1-3 and talk about their being able to return someday.
3. Daniel and his three friends were probably teenagers when they were taken away from their parents and homes. Yet they still served God. How can boys and girls like you serve Him?

Memory Verse:
¬“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¬…¬” Dan 1:8
Why should we take care of our bodies?

Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.