Read Daniel 1:7-20. We see two factors at work here: Daniel’s free will and the intervention of God. What important principle also exists here?
It appears that the four Hebrew captives do not object to their Babylonian names. Most likely there is nothing they can do about it, apart from using their Hebrew names among themselves.
But in regard to the food and wine from the king’s table, it is certainly in their power to consume it or not. Thus, the free choice of the four men is very important here.
However, if an officer can change their names, he can also change the menu. There are two likely reasons why the four do not want to eat from the king’s table.
First, the meals from the king’s table may contain unclean meats (Leviticus 11). Second, food is first offered as a meal to the god’s image and then sent to the king for his consumption. Thus, when Daniel makes clear, without resorting to subterfuge or deception, that his request has a religious motivation, i.e., the food at the palace will defile him and his friends (Dan. 1:8), he is being very courageous.
As we look into the interaction between Daniel and the Babylonian officer, a few important points stand out. First, Daniel seems to understand well the difficult position of the officer, so he proposed a test. Ten days of consuming the alternative meals should suffice to demonstrate the benefits of the diet and thus to put down the fears of the officer. Second, Daniel’s certainty that the outcome would be so positive within such a short time span stems from absolute confidence in God. Third, the choice of a diet of vegetables and water points back to the food God gave humanity at Creation (see Gen. 1:29), a fact that perhaps influences Daniel’s choice as well. After all, what could be a better diet than the one God originally gave us?
|What is so important about Daniel’s free choice that opens the way for God to act as He does (see Dan. 1:9)? What lessons can we draw from this about the importance of our choices? How should our trust in God impact our choices?|