Main point summary
After God executes judgment against the kingdom of Judah through king Nebuchadnezzar, God grants abundant favor to four uncompromising Jews in the eyes of this same king.
During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah,
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem
and besieged it.
The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah
and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God.
So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia
and placed them in the treasure-house of his god.
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families,
who had been brought to Babylon as captives.
“Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said.
“Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning,
are gifted with knowledge
and good judgment,
and are suited to serve in the royal palace.
Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.”
The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens.
They were to be trained for three years,
and then they would enter the royal service.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen,
all from the tribe of Judah.
The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself
by eating the food and wine
given to them by the king.
He asked the chief of staff for permission
not to eat these unacceptable foods.
Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel.
But he responded,
“I am afraid of my lord the king,
who has ordered that you eat this food and wine.
If you become pale and thin
compared to the other youths your age,
I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.”
Daniel spoke with the attendant
who had been appointed by the chief of staff
to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
“Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said.
“At the end of the ten days,
see how we look compared to the other young men
who are eating the king’s food.
Then make your decision in light of what you see.”
The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion
and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days,
Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men
who had been eating the food assigned by the king.
So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables
instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude
for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom.
And God gave Daniel the special ability
to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
When the training period ordered by the king was completed,
the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar.
The king talked with them,
and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
So they entered the royal service.
Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment,
he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.
Daniel remained in the royal service
until the first year of the reign of King Cyrus.
God (Yahweh) kept his word by bringing holy judgment on his rebellious people through the sword of Babylon, led by King Nebuchadnezzar.
King Nebuchadnezzar directed his officials to select a handful of excellent young men from this conquered kingdom in order to serve in his palace.
Although these Jewish men were assigned a new Babylonian identity, Daniel made a firm decision to observe the law of Yahweh, in this case regarding dietary restrictions.
God caused king Nebuchadnezzar's chief of staff to esteem Daniel highly, yet the man, out of self-preservation, was too afraid to honor Daniel's request to forgo the king's food.
In their persistence to remain undefiled before Yahweh, Daniel and his companions sought permission from another official, and it was obtained by God's intervention (i.e. their unmatched vitality)
God caused Daniel and his friends to increase significantly in their understanding of Babylonian culture (and gave Daniel prophetic abilities). In effect, King Nebuchadnezzar preferred their counsel far more than the counsel of all the other advisers in his kingdom.
Daniel served as a royal adviser until the end of King Nebuchadnezzar's reign.
Concise teaching: Passage: Daniel chapter 1 (entire chapter) I organized this concise teaching (overview) of Daniel chapter 1 into seven mini-episodes. I attempted to summarize each episode in one or two sentences (shown below). My main point summary of Daniel chapter 1 is this: After God executes judgment against the kingdom of Judah through king Nebuchadnezzar , God grants abundant favor to four uncompromising Jews in the eyes of this same king. 1 . Daniel 1:1-2 - God (Yahweh) kept his word by bringing holy judgment on his rebellious people through the sword of Babylon, led by King Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 1:1-2 we see God keeping his word. Around 900 years earlier God spoke through Moses to the nation of Israel. In Moses's generation, Yahweh warned that if Israel would at any time rebel against him in heart and deed, then he would bring terrible judgment in many dreadful forms including exile into idolatrous nations (Deuteronomy 28:15, 36-41,47). This reminds me that God does not abandon what he has promised. If he said he would punish sinful rebellion, then even if nine hundred years pass, he is still going to follow through with his word. It is impossible for him to forget or dismiss his promises (such as promises to bestow blessing for obedience, to issue redemptive discipline, or to pour out fierce judgment). Just as Judah was led out of Jerusalem in order to bear judgment and severe punishment, so Jesus was led outside of Jerusalem's gates in order to bear the wrath and judgment of God, suffering an exile infinitely worse than the one Judah experienced, for Jesus experienced exile from his heavenly Father (Matthew 27:46). The crucial difference being that Judah was crushed justly for her sins, whereas Jesus was crushed for our iniquities ( Isaiah 53:5 ) even though he was sinless (1 Peter 2:22). 2 . Daniel 1:3-6 - King Nebuchadnezzar directed his officials to select a handful of excellent young men from this conquered kingdom in order to serve in his palace. King Nebuchadnezzar's lofty requirements for royal service seemed to winnow away almost all potential candidates. He commanded his Babylonian officials to find young men of Judah with the following qualities: noble birth, exceptional education, handsome appearance, wise, knowledgeable, teachable, and basically able to meet the king's high expectations. Once the selections were made, these Jewish men were obligated to absorb and internalize Babylonian culture during a three-year period. These men were also informed that their daily provisions of food would come from the king's own table so-to-speak. This component of the indoctrination process (if it is fair to call it that) would soon become the point of tension between Daniel's uncompromising stance to not eat unclean food and king Nebuchadnezzar's uncompromising vision to have these men assimilate. 3 . Daniel 1:7-8 - Although these Jewish men were assigned a new Babylonian identity, Daniel made a firm decision to observe the law of Yahweh, in this case regarding Mosaic dietary restrictions. In this scene we observe the first instance of tension and ideological conflict certain Jews encountered while being held captive in a Gentile nation. Daniel had a strong conviction to remain loyal to God and this loyalty was tested. The passage does not explicitly describe the food that Daniel believes would defile him if consumed (or even touched; probably an animal forbidden by Leviticus 11). According to the authors of The Bible Project, "[a Jewish person] in a pure state can be near God's presence, but in an impure state, you can't" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmvyrLXoQio . We can infer that Daniel wanted to maintain moral purity before God. In these verses, Daniel set one of the most exemplary acts of allegiance to God in the Bible. Many believers rightly apply this text by using it to bolster courage to obey God's requirements for holiness in a situation where the only alternative would be to oppose his will in order to fulfill the wishes of men. A similar implication can be seen in Daniel 3:16-18, 28; Acts 4:19, 5:29; Galatians 1:10. 4 . Daniel 1:9-10 - God caused king Nebuchadnezzar's chief of staff to esteem Daniel highly, yet the man, out of self-preservation, was too afraid to honor Daniel's request to forgo the king's food. Although God had just vented his righteous indignation upon Judah, he is quick to demonstrate his faithfulness and steadfast love to Daniel and his companions (former natives of Judah). We would do right to pause and dwell on God's immeasurable mercy. His just wrath was for a moment but his love for his own people persisted (see Psalm 30:5). I am amazed at how God showed such unmerited grace by continuing to watch over the rebellious nation during its exile in Babylon. Daniel and his friends can be compared to Joseph in Genesis 39:4, 21-23 in that God, in his love for Joseph, gives him favor in the sight of prominent Egyptians (Potiphar, the prison guard, then ultimately Pharaoh). Joseph and Daniel also shared the experience of people failing to help them. The pharaoh's butler failed to help Joseph as a token of gratitude, and in this passage, Nebuchadnezzar's chief of staff was able but not willing to honor Daniel's one request regarding diet. From both stories, we can be reminded that mortal men can fail us, but God cannot. 5 . Daniel 1:11-16 - In their persistence to remain undefiled before Yahweh, Daniel and his companions sought permission from another official, and it was obtained by God's intervention (i.e. God giving them superb vitality) The climax of the tension introduced in verse 8 is reached when we are held in suspense as to the outcome of Daniel's decision. Through his persistence, God granted Daniel a way to avoid ceremonially unclean animals. But the next obstacle would prove to be dangerous if Daniel and his companions deteriorate in physical strength and appearance due to a strict diet of vegetables. T he king would tolerate nothing short of his servants reflecting his grandeur through their appearance (look back at verse 4 ) In verse 15, the Babylonian steward was astonished when he saw the physical build and vitality of Daniel and his companions. The risk was well worth it since Daniel appeared to be better nourished than the young men who ate the Babylonian king's food. 6 . Daniel 1:17-20 - God caused Daniel and his friends to increase significantly in their understanding of Babylonian culture (and gave Daniel prophetic abilities). In effect, King Nebuchadnezzar preferred their counsel far more than the counsel of all the other advisers in his kingdom. God once again displayed his faithfulness toward Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. On this occasion, the king of Babylon himself witnesses the beyond exceptional work of Yahweh on behalf of his followers (although the king at this point may not know these are followers of Yahweh). We can make two more striking similarities between Daniel and Joseph, that is, both were given by God the gifting to interpret the meanings of dreams and visions, and both stood before Gentile kings who were amazed by their unmatched wisdom and discernment (Genesis 41:38-41). 7 . Daniel 1:21 - Daniel served as a royal adviser until the end of King Nebuchadnezzar's reign. This verse inserts non-chronological information, more of a birds-eye view statement, informing us that Daniel served as one of the most prominent royal advisers for the remainder of king Nebuchadnezzar's reign.