The prophet Daniel was brought to Babylon during a time when Judah was forced into submission by a much more powerful empire. Many of the poor remained in the Promised Land, but some of the promising young people among the Judeans were selected to be trained for better service to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.
Daniel and his closest companions were treated very well by the “chief of the eunuchs,” the officer responsible for their care. They were taught “the literature and language of the Chaldeans” and were provided “a daily portion” of the food and drink that the king himself consumed. The aim of this plan was to help them in adopting the necessary Babylonian view of life that would make them competent servants of the emperor.
The first of several crisis points in the history of Daniel’s days in Babylon centered around the food and drink that they were expected to receive. Daniel “resolved that he would not defile himself” as a person who was still seeking to follow Jewish law even during his time in captivity. He proposed to the chief eunuch that he and his friends would eat only vegetables for a test period of ten days.
The results of that trial pleased the king’s servant. The four Hebrew men “were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food.” It was Jehovah who gave Daniel and the others favor with their captors. God made them both strong in body and accomplished in learning. The Lord equipped them with “skill in all literature and wisdom.” In particular, Daniel was given “understanding in all visions and dreams,” a fact that would be of great importance in future years.
The king himself agreed with the assessment of the chief eunuch. Nebuchadnezzar found the Hebrew men “ten times better” than others who were following the royal protocol for the preparation of skilled assistants. So began Daniel’s many decades of service and trial in the courts of imperial power. Through it all, he remained devoted to the Lord despite very challenging trials.
Daniel became a powerful example for future servants of God of the way that the Lord might choose to honor those who consecrate their lives to Him in a time of great trouble. When Jesus explained Himself to those who were ready to stone Him for what they claimed to be disrespectful behavior against the God of the Jews, He said in John 10:36 that He was someone whom the Father had “consecrated and sent into the world.” Jesus later prayed for His future disciples, “As you sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I also consecrate Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:18-19)
Like Daniel, Jesus remembered who He was during a time when others would have moved Him far away from His Father’s Word. We who have heard and believed the gospel need to remain steadfast in the truth of God even under the intense pressure that may come against us as we seek to obey our Savior.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Glorious and Sovereign Lord, make Your plans for Your people shine forth in the brightest colors in our darkest days. When our prospects seem bleak, You remain a bountiful Provider of every good gift. You can still care for Your children though they are strangers in a strange land. We are strengthened by Your Word and refreshed by Your Spirit. When it would appear that we would be destroyed in a time of trouble, You are able to do amazing things. You can give Your servants health, wisdom, learning, grace, diligence, and many other blessings. When we lack everything else, there is no greater gift than Your presence among us. Be with us day by day, and bless Your church in wonderful ways as we live in the midst of this fading world. Glorify Your Name through the provision of help that could only have come from You.