Obedience and Favor
Daniel 1:8-9 (ESV) – But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs
We face pressure every day to look like everyone else. There are cultural pressures to mirror the norms everybody else lives by. We have a choice to make: do we do what everyone else is doing or do we follow what the Lord commands of us? It seems like that would be an easy answer, but when what is popular clashes with what God commands, many Christians struggle. Some make excuses to follow the crowd. Others stand with courage.
We see this in our passage today. Daniel and many other Israelites were taken captive by the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar invaded with his armies and won the victory. A part of the spoils were the best and brightest youth of Israel. Daniel and others were sent away with new names, language, and customs. One of the things the Babylonians tried to institute was a new dietary regimen. But Daniel refused. We read, “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs.”
The dietary laws of Israel were clear. God commanded His people on what was permissible and what must be avoided. As Daniel and the other Israelites arrive in Babylon, a new food plan was proposed to them. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food. The reason it would have been a defilement was because it would have violated God’s commands and made him unclean. It would have been sin. But he stands firm, despite the unpopularity of the decision. He asked the chief of eunuchs to let him eat differently and the Lord God gave him favor with them and it was permitted. Daniel and his companions were healthier at the end of a testing period and permitted to continue eating according to God’s law.
Daniel could have easily justified eating what the king commanded. He could have reasoned that he had no choice. But he didn’t. He followed God’s commands even when it went against the culture and authorities. This is an important lesson for us all.
We must prioritize obeying God over following what the culture permits. We must follow God’s Word over the word of men. If we do, we will honor God and receive His favor for being faithful.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why does Daniel refuse to eat the king’s food?
- What is the underlying commitment of Daniel that drives his decision?
- How could this be applicable in our own day?
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