The story of the first test of Daniel is recorded in chapter 1 of his book. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And he took captives from the land of Israel to his land.
Then, Nebuchadnezzar instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the king’s descendants and nobles, who are good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, that they might teach them the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
The king’s provision
“And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king” (v.5). Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
“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” (v. 8). Daniel didn’t want to eat the foods of the Babylonians because it included unclean meats. In addition, the clean meats were not slaughtered according to Levitical law (Leviticus 17:14, 15). Also, portions of these meats were first offered as a sacrifice to pagan gods.
Because Daniel was faithful to God’s dietary commands, the Lord gave him favor and goodwill with the chief of the eunuchs. But the chief said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king” (v. 10). The chief felt certain that an abstemious diet would turn these youth into pale and sickly students in appearance while the deluxe food from the king’s table would make them healthy and beautiful, and would give them superior physical activity.
The initial test
So, Daniel answered him, “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” (v. 12,13). So, the chief consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
And at the end of ten days, their facial features appeared better and fatter than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. And chief was amazed when the results were quite the opposite. Therefore, he was convinced of their stand and he took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them a plant based diet.
The amazing outcome of Daniel’s final test
“As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (v. 17). In the case of Daniel and his three companions, divine power was united with human effort, and the result was truly amazing. And the blessing of God accompanied the noble decision of the youths not to defile themselves with the king’s foods.
Now at the end of the training days, the king ordered that the young men be brought to him that they may be tested by him. “Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 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” (v. 19,20). God honored these young men because of their unswerving purpose to keep His commands.
In His service,