Key Verse: “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8 NKJV)

Importance of Message: We should spend less time wondering when future events will happen and more time learning how we should live now.
3-5 The king told Ashpenaz, head of the palace staff, to get some Israelites from the royal family and nobility—young men who were healthy and handsome, intelligent and well-educated, good prospects for leadership positions in the government, perfect specimens!—and indoctrinate them in the Babylonian language and the lore of magic and fortunetelling. The king then ordered that they be served from the same menu as the royal table—the best food, the finest wine. After three years of training they would be given positions in the king’s court.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:4)

The common language of Babylon was Aramaic.

While the language of scholarship included the ancient and complicated Babylonian language.

The academic program would have included mathematics, astronomy, history, science, and magic.

These young men demonstrated not only aptitude but also discipline.

This character trait, combined with integrity, served them well in their new culture.

6-7 Four young men from Judah—Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—were among those selected. The head of the palace staff gave them Babylonian names: Daniel was named Belteshazzar, Hananiah was named Shadrach, Mishael was named Meshach, Azariah was named Abednego.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:7)

Nebuchadezzar changed the names of Daniel and his friends because he wanted to make them Babylonian – in their own eyes and in the eyes of the Babylonian people.

New names would help them to be assimilated into the culture.

Daniel means “God is my judge.”

In Hebrew, his new name, Belteshazzar, means “Bel, protect his life!” (Bel, also called Marduk, was the chief Babylonian god.)

Hananiah means “The Lord shows grace”; his new name, Shadrach, means “under the command of Aku” (the moon god). 

Mischach, probably means “who is like God?”; his new name “who is like Aku?”

Azariah means “the Lord helps”; his new name. Abednego, means “servant of Nego / Nebo” (or Nabu, the god of learning and writing).

This was how the king attempted to change the religious loyalty of these young men from Judah’s God to Babylon’s god.


8-10 But Daniel determined that he would not defile himself by eating the king’s food or drinking his wine, so he asked the head of the palace staff to exempt him from the royal diet. The head of the palace staff, by God’s grace, liked Daniel, but he warned him, “I’m afraid of what my master the king will do. He is the one who assigned this diet and if he sees that you are not as healthy as the rest, he’ll have my head!”

Reflection: (Daniel 1:8)

Daniel resolved not to eat this food, either because it was forbidden by Jewish law, such as pork (see Leviticus 1:1), or because accepting the king’s food and drink was the first step toward depending on his gifts and favors.

Although Daniel was in a culture that did not honor God, he still obeyed God’s laws.

Key Verse Reflection: (Daniel 1:8)

Daniel “was determined” to be devoted to principle and to be committed to a course of action.

When Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself, he was being true to a lifelong determination to do what was right and not to give in to the pressures around him.

We too, are often assaulted by pressures to compromise our standards and live more like the world around us.

Merely wanting or preferring God’s will and way is not enough to stand against the onslaught to temptation.

Like Daniel we must resolve to obey God.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:8)

It is easier to resist temptation if you have though through your convictions before the temptation arises.

Daniel and his friends made their decision to be faithful to the laws of God before they were faced with the kings delicacies, so they did not hesitate to stick with their convictions.

We will get into trouble if we have not previously decided where to draw the line.

Before such situations arise, decide on your commitments and what you will do. Then when temptation comes, you will be ready to say no.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:9)

God moved with an unseen hand to change the heart of this Babylonian official.

The strong moral conviction of these four young men made an impact.

God promises to be with his people in times of trial and temptation (Psalms 106:46; Isaiah 43:2-5; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

His active intervention often comes just when we take a stand for him.

Stand for God and trust Him to protect you in ways you may not be able to see.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:10)

Anything short of complete obedience meant execution for the officials who served Nebuchadnezzar.

Even in such a small matter as this, the official feared for his life.

11-13 But Daniel appealed to a steward who had been assigned by the head of the palace staff to be in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “Try us out for ten days on a simple diet of vegetables and water. Then compare us with the young men who eat from the royal menu. Make your decision on the basis of what you see.”

Reflection: (Daniel 1:12)

The Babylonians were trying to change their thinking by giving them a Babylonian education, their loyalty by changing their names, and their lifestyle by changing their diet.

Without compromising, Daniel found a way to live by God’s standards in a culture that did not honor God.

Wisely, choosing to negotiate rather than to rebel, Daniel suggested an experimental 10-day diet of vegetables and water instead of royal foods and wine the king offered. (The Daniel Fast)

Without compromising, Daniel quickly thought of a practical, creative solution that saved his life and the lives of his companions.

As God’s people, we may adjust to our culture as long as we do not compromise God’s laws.

14-16 The steward agreed to do it and fed them vegetables and water for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked better and more robust than all the others who had been eating from the royal menu. So the steward continued to exempt them from the royal menu of food and drink and served them only vegetables.
17-19 God gave these four young men knowledge and skill in both books and life. In addition, Daniel was gifted in understanding all sorts of visions and dreams. At the end of the time set by the king for their training, the head of the royal staff brought them in to Nebuchadnezzar. When the king interviewed them, he found them far superior to all the other young men. None were a match for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:17)

Daniel and his friends learned all they could about their new culture so they could do their work with excellence.

But while they learned, they maintained steadfast allegiance to God, and God gave them skill and wisdom.

Culture need not be God’s enemy.

If it does not violate His commands, it can aid in accomplishing purpose.

We who follow God are free to be competent leaders in our culture, but we are required to pledge our allegiance to God first.

19-20 And so they took their place in the king’s service. Whenever the king consulted them on anything, on books or on life, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom put together.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:20)

Nebuchadnezzar put Daniel and his friends on his staff of advisers. This staff included many “magicians and enchanters.”

These were astrologers who claimed to be able to tell the future through occult practices. They were masters at communicating their message so that it sounded authoritative – as though it came directly from their gods.

In addition to knowledge, Daniel and his three friends had wisdom and understanding, given to them by God.

Thus, the king was far more pleased with them than with his magicians and enchanters.

As we serve others, we must not merely pretend to have God’s wisdom. Our wisdom will be genuine when we are rightly related to God.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:20)

How did the captives survive in a foreign culture?

They learned about the culture, achieved excellence in their work, served the people, prayed for God’s help, and maintained their integrity.

We may feel like foreigners whenever we experience change.

Alien cultures come in many forms: a new job, a new school, a new neighborhood.

We can use the same principles to help us adapt to our new surroundings without abandoning God.

21 Daniel continued in the king’s service until the first year in the reign of King Cyrus.

Reflection: (Daniel 1:21)

Daniel was one of the first captives taken to Babylon, and he lived to see the first exiles return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C.

Throughout this time Daniel honored God, and God honored him.

While serving as an adviser to the kings of Babylon, Daniel was God’s spokesman to the Babylonian Empire.

Babylon was a wicked nation, but it would have been much worse without Daniel’s influence.