Daniel and his friends refused the pleasures of Babylon. They preferred to live by the customs of the Jews. They wouldn’t eat the goodies from Babylon or drink their wine. Instead, they ate vegetables and drank water. This worked well for them, and God blessed them in many ways. Daniel 1:17-21 explains, “As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them, none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore, they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.”

The superiority of these young men over the other men who did not follow Jewish customs was not solely the result of their diet. I’m sure a healthy diet will affect one’s mental acuity, but I doubt very much if there was a diet that would enable one to understand all visions and dreams. Like Joseph in Egypt, it was a divine enablement that Daniel received. The text begins with “God gave them….” I’m not sure it matters a whole lot what one eats if it is blessed by God. Ferguson says, “He (Daniel) recognized that the Lord alone blesses our food in order to nourish our bodies. Unless He does so, we may eat the fat of the land and be no stronger or healthier. That is why, even in the affluent West, there is still reason to pray that God will give us the food we need and bless it to us. In giving thanks for our meals, we acknowledge that we are constantly dependent on the Lord’s strengthening and keeping of our lives. Recognizing this, Daniel and his companions knew that the Lord could easily strengthen them through their vegetarian diet and also easily withdraw His blessing from the diet set by Nebuchadnezzar. That is a principle that has application to home and marriage, to children and family life, to work and play.”[1]

When my three grandsons come to dinner, I give thanks for our food. I have a prayer I like to repeat for them. I really want them to remember that Grampa believes in God, Attributes all the good things we have in life to God, and asks God’s blessing on his food. I pray, “Father in Heaven, you have filled the world with color and gave us eyes. You filled the world with sounds and music and gave us ears. You fill the world with good things to eat that will sustain us and then give us the ability to enjoy them. So, bless us, our Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive through Jesus Christ our Lord. We pray in His name.”

[1] Ferguson, Sinclair B., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1988. Daniel. Vol. 21. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.