Daniel 1 - Royal Nourishment
Daniel prospered because He was fed by God rather than the world.
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Read Daniel 1
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 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.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 79
Q. Why then does Christ call
the bread his body
and the cup his blood,
or the new covenant in his blood?
(Paul uses the words,
a participation in Christ’s
body and blood.)
A. Christ has good reason for these words.
He wants to teach us that
as bread and wine nourish
our temporal life,
so too his crucified body
and poured-out blood
truly nourish our souls for eternal life.
But more important, he wants to assure us,
by this visible sign and pledge,
that we, through the Holy Spirit’s work,
share in his true body and blood
as surely as our mouths receive
these holy signs in his remembrance,
and that all of his suffering and obedience
are as definitely ours
as if we personally had suffered
and paid for our sins.
The book of Daniel begins with Israel being carried off into exile in Babylon as a result of their sin. Interestingly, it's those who are taken away from Israel who are the remnant that God will preserve, while those who are left behind will slowly fade away. Nebuchadnezzar only takes the best and brightest, and then he selects the cream of that crop to serve in his sprawling government.
Daniel is part of this group of talented young men who are to not only be trained, but assimilated into Babylonian language & literature; in other words, the king wants men with a worldview like his own, so they must be indoctrinated before serving in official roles.
Daniel is part of a group who, while willing to serve the king, "resolved not to defile himself" with too much Babylonian culture, especially the food. This food was the best of the best, but it was quite different than what God had commanded Israelites to eat. God wanted His covenant people to look different from the world around them, and one of the key ways of doing this was by regulating their diet.
After securing permission to maintain their Kosher diet, Daniel and his friends eat only vegetables and water. But God blesses this protein light menu anyways in such a way that they "looked healthier (literally: fatter) and better nourished than the other young men who ate the royal food."
You probably don't think of yourself this way, but like Daniel, you are an exile. You likely haven't been physically forced from your homeland, but you are living away from your true home in the Kingdom of God. Christians are not fully at home in this world but are temporary residents, awaiting their true eternal home in the presence of God.
This opening chapter in Daniel is not making the point that one style of diet is better than another, rather it reminds us that full nourishment requires more than just physical food. As creatures that are both physical and spiritual, our souls must be nourished for eternal life just as we feed our bodies three times a day (or more).
If you neglect regular church attendance, you must understand that you will quickly become spiritually malnourished. You need to be fed regularly with the Word & sacraments to fully experience God's blessings as Daniel and his friends did.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who preserves and nourishes us even while we remain in exile;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for feeding you spiritually, and pray for a growing desire to consume the means of grace God provides through your local church;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Luke 16