But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank…
Among the ancients much was made of temperance as a virtue. Moderation or self-control in all things was insisted upon to an extent hardly understood in the present day. No one reading the Ethics of , for instance, can fail to be struck with the thoroughness of the educational methods therein enjoined and set forth. It was thought, above all things, necessary for true manhood that a person should have acquired the habit of self-mastery in such a way that he should enjoy the good things of life without becoming their slave. Their acquaintance with human nature taught Greeks and Romans the value of this practice. Young people were trained to avoid excesses of any kind, bodily or mental. No doubt much of this was due to the idea of the State. Everything was sacrificed to the good of the community, as, for example, in Sparta, where the laws made little of the suffering of the individual, and sought, above all things, the glory of the State. When Christianity came into the world the same thought received a new emphasis. Not merely a moral or material, but a spiritual value was put upon it. The spiritual man was recognised as one who, while regarding the body as the temple of the Holy Ghost, retained full control of his physical powers, believing that the desires of the flesh, left to themselves, were dangerous. Excesses of every kind were forbidden on the ground that spiritual life did not consist in the gratification of the senses, but in their moderate and careful use. A new ideal replaced that of Greek or Roman citizenship, namely, that man was meant to be a citizen of a heavenly rather than an earthly kingdom. The virtue of temperance was seen to be a necessity for its development, but in a grander and nobler sense than had been foreseen by Aristotle and Lycurgus. Before long asceticism came in with its dangerous and exaggerated emphasis of the duty of "keeping under the body, and bringing it into subjection." Much harm was wrought by such devotees as St. Simeon Stylites, who sank far below the idea of the old pagan world in advocating self-torture in the place of self-control. In modern times Christianity has righted itself. We are all familiar nowadays with exhortations to manly Christianity and the worth of clean, wholesome, natural living, for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. We cannot too earnestly insist upon the value of temperance in all departments of human life. To be a Christian is to be master of oneself, to keep a rein upon the passions, to be able to move securely in the midst of exercises and enjoyments, over-indulgence in which would prove fatal both to nobleness and godliness. We use the word temperance in a somewhat restricted sense because of one of the greatest of our national sins — drunkenness; but I feel keenly that there are other kinds of intemperance than over-indulgence in alcoholic liquors. Over-eating is as much a sin against God as over-drinking. It is abuse of the creatures and abuse of the body we seek to pamper. In the search for exhilaration and in the abounding delight of vigorous life many promising, careers are ruined by the loss of self-control. And then let us be aware that only he who has learned this lesson is fitted to guide or rescue others. There is no man but has his battle with temptation, yet, if he prevails, his experience and his strength come to the help of others. The power of a temperate life is a grand thing, not for its own sake simply, but for the sake of others.
(R. J. Campbell, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
WEB: But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king's dainties, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.