Scripture: Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” Daniel 1:11-13 ESV
Observation: The book of Daniel, the fourth of the four major prophets, is a testament to faithfulness. Daniel and his friends ongoingly exhibit devotion to the Lord and his holy laws, and the Lord responds with loving care and protection. In this opening chapter, Daniel and his three Hebrew companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, are assigned to participate in a cultural refinement program to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans in preparation to serve the king’s court potentially. As part of the process, the chief eunuch oversaw their diet to ensure they remained healthy and sharp in mind. But the menu included unclean food that would defile Daniel and his cohorts. So Daniel humbly negotiated with the chief eunuch to allow the four to solely eat vegetables and drink water for ten days and then evaluate the results (above verses). At the end of ten days, of no surprise, their appearance was healthier than that of the other candidates to the court.
The author of the book of Daniel will keep reminding his readers that God is the source of our abilities and successes. In verse 17, he tells us that “God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Thus, the king “found them to be ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom” (verse 20). And Daniel, in particular, would serve God’s purposes for his people into old age as an advisor to a succession of kings, ending the first year of King Cyrus (verse 21).
Takeaway: There are two: God equips us with every aspect of our appearance and abilities, and our Lord promotes faithfulness. The first point lays the foundation for faithful service. If we are born into a family from a gene pool with minimal defects that present a healthy and handsome or beautiful appearance, this is a gift from God to be used for his purposes—not for our selfish gain. Similarly, if we have inherited exceptional talents and intellect, God also gives us these gifts to glorify him and grow his kingdom.
Regarding promoting faithfulness, Daniel understood that Yahweh orchestrated his stellar rise within the king’s court due to his faithful service, first to God and consequently to the king. For us, it is no different. If we fail to lose sight of these two core aspects of our being as God’s creation, we may one day learn a painful lesson when age, disease, or a tragic accident diminishes our faculties or appearance. On the other hand, if we wholeheartedly believe that our Creator is the author and sustainer of life and the giver of good gifts, even if we lose prized attributes (according to the world’s standard), he will continue to promote us according to his plan.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for every good gift you have bestowed on us. Would you please help us to use every aspect of our very being to serve you faithfully? And would you instill in us patience to wait on you to promote us where you want us to labor next? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling