In every life there are events that we label, “defining moments.” These actually determine and define an entire life. Daniel, as a boy, was taken away from all things familiar, and transported to an enemy country, as the servant of an enemy king. He was removed from the loving protection of friends and family who would expect God’s standards to be upheld in Daniel’s life. He was removed from all of the spiritual benefits of a God-fearing home, and Biblical teaching. Perhaps most significantly, he was moved to a place where no one would mind if he did whatever pleased him.
If there was preparation in Moses’ home, there was purpose in Daniel’s heart. We read it at the very beginning of the account of his life. “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.” The purpose of heart that was so strong when he was led captive was maintained diligently so that he might not compromise his testimony. Surely, no damage would have been done if he partook of the King’s bounty. Perhaps he could imbibe some of the pleasure of the palace in which he served, and, if temperate, he would not be compromised. Daniel never lost sight of the fact that the surroundings in which he found himself were enemy surroundings; any partaking would leave him less able to serve God with a pure heart. Such an observation is fitting for us. When we convince ourselves that it is all right to have our “escape” from all the stresses of everyday life, and our activities involve occupation with the pleasures of the world, let us never forget that they are designed by the greatest foe we have in order to dull us and to compromise our potential for God.
Daniel maintained the standard throughout his entire life. Although his friends had their exploits for God in the fiery furnace early in their lives, Daniel’s greatest crisis would come many years later. When the time came that his peers looked for an opportunity to take him down, they could find no other venue in his life than in things to do with his faithful service to God. For years they had looked on him seeking an opportunity to discredit him, but all they could find in him was consistent purpose of heart. Undefiled service to his God, which they knew resulted in undefiled service to his employer, was their only criticism of this just man.
With the decree passed that no one should pray to any God other than the king, Daniel did not alter his life dramatically. His life was then, and had always been, in hands much larger than his own. His fate rested not with wicked men, but with the God of heaven. Thus, when the announcement was made, he went to his room to pray as he had always done. He did not open his windows to be seen nor did he close them to be hidden; but they being opened, he prayed as was his custom. The predators were not disappointed in their expectations of his integrity. He was taken into custody, and ultimately into the den of lions.
As if in reflection the fact that Daniel would not partake of the portions of the King’s food, the lions had no appetite for this one who had made himself God’s portion. God responded in kind to Daniel’s abstinence from flesh and its appetites. When I look toward the world and its provisions, let me remember that the likelihood is that it will in turn eventually devour me, if allowed to run its course.
Singleness of heart will define those who are of deep usefulness for God. Undivided service will be the characteristic of a true disciple. May God help us that our lives may be defined by dependable integrity and dependence upon our God!