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…
I. THE ROOT OF THE TRIUMPHANT LIFE IS HOLY PURPOSE. "But Daniel purposed in his heart," etc. Those ancient monarchs were wise winners and compactors of kingdoms after their sort. When they conquered some foreign country they even violently welded it into homogeneity with the kingdom over which they already ruled. They did this by deporting the inhabitants of the conquered country to their original kingdom, and by importing into the conquered country great masses of their own already loyal subjects. Also, from the families of the best blood and largest influence of the conquered country they selected certain young men, carried them to their own court, subjected them under their own eye to special courses of education, showered upon them royal favours, fed them with such viands as graced even the royal table, attached them to themselves in the strongest way, and when their course of education was completed, weighted them with high official duty. Thus these rulers sought to rub out the lines of cleavage of race and of religion which otherwise had split their peoples. Thus Daniel, a young Hebrew of probably about seventeen years, had been treated — carried from captured Jerusalem to triumphant Babylon (Daniel 1:3-7); and there was appointed Daniel and his captive companions a daily provision of the king's meat and of the wine which he drank.
1. This was an utmost honour. To eat with one or to eat what a lifted one partook of meant much in that Oriental society. In no way could one more thoroughly express his gracious favour to another than by sending him a portion of that which he himself was eating; and to do it daily was the constant expression of continued favour.
2. There were dietary reasons also underneath the royal grant. The king wanted them fed with the best that they might become the best. But for the Hebrew youth Daniel there was special trouble about the king's meat and the king's wine.
I. It was food selected without reference to the precise Mosaic ritual concerning meats clean and unclean. Because meats which the Divine legislation declared unclean were to be found even upon a king's table, they were not beyond the jurisdiction of a Divine law for a Hebrews 2.. It was customary among the pagans when they ate to throw a small part of the viands and wine upon the hearth as an offering to the gods, thus consecrating the whole to them. To partake of such food would be to a Hebrew the sanctioning of idolatry. And that word "purposed" is, in the original, significant. It means purposed in the sense of set, placed, as when you put down a thing, and leave it there and have done with it. There was no debating about Daniel's purpose. Think how many specious persuasions might set themselves at uncompacting his purpose.
1. He was a young man. His refusal might easily be charged to youthful rashness. How preposterous the thought that he, a boy, should fling himself against the mighty King of Babylon!
2. He was away from home.
3. He was in very peculiar circumstances — a captive, and of the king a special protege.
4. Such refusal would be dreadfully inconvenient. Every day the king's viands were coming — every day to have to refuse!
5. It would damage his prospects — here was the only line of advancement possible for him.
6. It was plainly dangerous.
7. In itself it was only a little matter, etc. But notwithstanding Daniel "purposed in his heart," etc.; and the subsequent life of Daniel was according to the hand of this purpose he then laid upon his life's helm. He would not transgress. He would not do wrong. You cannot got the bloom of a genuinely triumphant life out of any other root.
II. Consider, as we gaze upon this Bible specimen of a triumphant life, THAT A GENUINELY HOLY PURPOSE PROMPTS ALWAYS TO ACTION CONFORMABLE WITH ITSELF, AND SO THE LIFE IS MADE TRIUMPHANT. Turn again to our Scripture, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself," etc., therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself; and when the prince of the eunuchs feared and objected, he proposed a way in which the defiling might be missed. And such action, conformable with purpose, makes purpose purpose, and rescues it from being but a poor and sickly sentiment. Ah! the Apostle James was right, conduct is the test of faith (James 2:14-23); and just here is a frequent trouble: what we call our religious purpose is too much merely religious sentiment. It lacks the verve and vigour and granitic quality of a genuine purpose, because we do not act out that "therefore;" because purposing does not bloom into doing. When we are called to any special sacrifice that we may not defile ourselves with the king's meat, we have only a lavender sentiment with which to meet the sacrifice. But not thus can we live the really triumphant life. Holy purpose and holy action — these are always its essential elements.
(Wayland Hoyt, D.D.)
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.