“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).
Daniel was a young man when he was taken from Jerusalem and carried off to Babylon. He and his three friends, along with many other young men, were put into the custody of Ashpenaz, the chief of eunuchs. They were to serve the king, and therefore they had to be smart and in excellent physical condition. They were given an excellent education, and they also had choice foods from the king’s own table to eat.
While this was automatically a better life than what they had received in the crumbling Jerusalem, Daniel and his friends had no interest in living in the lap of luxury. Daniel knew that the king’s foods were ceremonially unclean, whether because of the kind of food or because it had been offered to pagan idols, so he resolved to not eat it. Doing so would break God’s law, and that he would not do.
It would have been easy to rebel against his authorities and simply refuse to eat the food. But instead, Daniel went to Asphenaz and made a respectful request. He asked that he and his friends not be required to eat the king’s food. When Ashpenaz denied the request out of fear for his own life, Daniel still didn’t rebel. He went instead to the steward who was directly over him and his friends and made the same request, this time offering a plan. If the steward would test them for ten days by allowing them to eat the foods they wanted, at the end of that time he could see if they were in fact unhealthier than the other young men. The steward agreed, and ten days later, he noticed that Daniel and his friends were actually healthier than the others. So he continued to let them eat the clean foods they had requested.
This is an excellent example of how to handle less-than-ideal circumstances. Daniel wanted to honor God by abstaining from unclean foods, but he also wanted to respect his authorities. So instead of going behind their backs or rebelling to their faces, he asked their permission to change what he didn’t like. He obeyed God in both ways, and God blessed him for it.