“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” (Daniel 1:8)
The events in the book of Daniel take place during a dark period of history for God’s people Israel. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had come and besieged Jerusalem and carried some of the people there, including Daniel, away to Babylon into captivity (Daniel 1:1-2). Most scholars believe Daniel was only a teenager at this time as he is described as a young man (Daniel 1:4, 17). Although this was a dark period for the nation of Israel, Daniel would prove himself to be a bright light which glorified God by the things he thought, said, and did!
Young people typically have a lot of purposes in their hearts. Teenagers typically think about having fun with their friends, or being “crazy”, or extremely interested in exploring relationships with the opposite sex. If a teenager is more serious in nature, he or she might even begin focusing on achieving good grades at school or exploring different career paths.
As a teenager, what were the purposes in Daniel’s heart? Was it girls or having fun with his friends? No, as the opening verse above indicates, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” (Daniel 1:8). When he had been taken captive, Daniel, along with his 3 friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Daniel 1:6, also known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, Daniel 1:7), had been selected to undergo training to serve the king (Daniel 1:5). Part of their training involved being nourished with the “king’s delicacies”. For reasons we are not told, Daniel believed partaking of the food of the “king’s delicacies” and wine would cause himself to be defiled (Daniel 1:5, 8).
After telling the chief of the eunuchs, who was in charge of him and his training, he would not defile himself by eating of the “king’s delicacies”, Daniel placed his faith in God’s ability to nourish him and his 3 friends as he told his overseer, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 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” (Daniel 1:12-13). The chief of the eunuchs did so and the appearance of Daniel and his friends was much better than those who had been fed with the “king’s delicacies”. God blessed Daniel and his friends during their training (Daniel 1:17) so that at the end of their training period it was said, “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm” (Daniel 1:20). Daniel was now in a position to glorify God as he served kings (Daniel 1:21).
How wonderful it would be if more young people strove to have hearts like Daniel and purpose in their hearts not to defile themselves with alcohol, drugs, filthy thoughts and language, or having sexual relations prior to marriage. However, whether I am a young person or an old person, I can learn from Daniel’s example and consider, “What are the purposes in my heart?”
Is my purpose today simply to go out and make a living, get good grades at school, or to enjoy entertaining myself? Today, I will learn from Daniel’s excellent example and character and purpose in my heart not to defile myself. I will strive to glorify God in all that I think, say, and do!
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).