“Look at all that meat,” said Daniel to Hananiah. They were among hundreds of boys that had been gathered from the Babylonian kingdom, which recently included the former Kingdom of Judah where Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah used to live. “We can’t eat that.”
“I don’t see anything else to eat,” Mishael said, looking at Daniel. “I don’t see any breads or grains on the table.”
“It looks like they want to turn us into dogs not wise men with all this meat,” said Azariah. “I don’t think any of it is from clean beasts. If there were clean beasts among them, they were probably cooked with the unclean meat.”
Daniel saw the prince of the eunuchs coming over to them. Daniel had somehow gained favor with this man in the short time since they were brought to the king’s court. Now Daniel hoped this man would help them.
“Please sir, do not make us eat this meat and wine,” Daniel said to the prince of the eunuchs. “We have been taught all our lives not to eat unclean meat.”
“What?” the prince of the eunuchs asked but went on without waiting for a response. “Daniel, I’m afraid of what the king might do if I don’t give you the meat he wants you to eat. He’s likely to kill me if you look worse than the other boys your age. You need your strength, so just go ahead and eat this meat and drink the wine. It tastes so much better than bread and water.”
The prince of the eunuchs gave a half-smile and walked away. Daniel wasn’t ready to give up yet. He went to Melzar, who was put in charge of the four Hebrews.
“Let’s try an experiment for just 10 days,” Daniel said to Melzar. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah stood behind Daniel waiting to see what would happen. “Give us bread and grains to eat and water to drink and then compare us to the other boys our age. After 10 days, you can do what seems best.”
Melzar thought about what Daniel proposed. He didn’t think it made sense, but he thought, They won’t be presented to the king for at least a couple of years, so 10 days won’t make much of a difference. Melzar could also eat some of the meat that was set aside for these Hebrews.
So for 10 days, the four Hebrews were given grains to eat and water to drink. When they were compared to the other boys after 10 days, it was clear that Daniel and his friends were healthier looking than the other boys. So they were given their diet of grains and water for the rest of their preparation time.
It wasn’t just physical appearance that improved. When the king questioned Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah three years after they were brought to his court, he found they had greater wisdom and skill than all the magicians and astrologers anywhere in the kingdom. Daniel knew they were blessed by God for staying true to his law.
While you will probably not be required to go on a meat and wine only diet in a king’s court, everyday you face decisions. Daniel and his friends were young when they were separated from their families and put in this situation. Their parents weren’t there to make sure they were eating only clean foods according to the law of Moses. They could have blamed the authorities and gone with the crowd. Self discipline means you take responsibility for your actions. It also means that you act according to what you think is right. Take charge of your body. Take charge of your mind. Don’t blame others for your choices. In the end, you will be blessed for what you decide, not what others tell you to do.
p.s. – The actual account of Daniel and his three friends is in the Old Testament, Daniel Chapter 1.