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…
Such scruples as those of Daniel and his friends may seem trivial when viewed in the light of Christianity. It may be thought a small matter, after all, on which those Hebrew youths felt so keenly and insisted so earnestly — whether or not they should share in a repast of which a portion had been laid on the altar of Bel or Nebo. But nothing can be deemed a trifle where principle is at stake. What makes the conduct of Daniel and his comrades so admirable is that, clearly perceiving what was right, they tenaciously clung to the doing of it. And that determination of theirs to abstain from the royal food meant more than lay on the surface. It meant a testimony to the one true and living God, in the midst of a society given over to the worship of dead and false gods. It meant the rigorous observance of the Mosaic law at a time when the Jewish system appeared to be falling into fragments. It meant the steadfast clinging to the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, even when it seemed as though he had abandoned their descendants. So this action of the Jewish boy, trifling in itself, was really great in its motive and spirit. It has to be remembered also that Daniel's adherence to principle was maintained in face of two special difficulties, which seldom fail to confront men when seeking to do right. One difficulty sprang from his own inclinations. He did not choose the pulse because he liked it; no doubt it would have been more agreeable to him to share in those royal luxuries which were his for the taking. Temperance is easy when the means of indulgence are out of reach, but not so easy when they lie within sweep of the hand. It might have seemed legitimate enough to soften the rigour of captivity by sensuous pleasure. Daniel and his friends did not think so; they thought only of their duty to God. Another difficulty which Daniel had to face was the force of opinion around him. He stood practically alone in his conviction that to partake of this heathen food was to dishonour God. The Chaldeans could not enter into the motives of such a refusal; to them the ways of the Jews must have seemed as inexplicable as those of the Christians seemed to Roman governors in the first and second centuries. It was an exclusively Jewish conception, that of a holy and righteous God, requiring in those who served Him holiness and righteousness of life — a consecration of self which must appear even in food and dress. But heathen religious were quite different from this, and the royal chamberlain, though willing to humour his favourite, made no pretence to understand him. Of the fellow-captives of Daniel only three were found like-minded. It is not every man who will "dare to be in the right with two or three." It is to the credit of these young Hebrews that they chose the better part, and braved the common voice, resisting the power which lies in those words, "Everybody does it," because to yield would have been dishonouring to God.
(P. H. Hunter.)
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.