Reading Sermons

Refusing the King's Meat


Scripture - Daniel 1

Psalters - 1, 134, 188, 271



The history of Daniel takes place in the context of the mighty Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who came to Jerusalem and conquered it. Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon with all the spoils of war, including the vessels of the house of God. But, Nebuchadnezzar brought back more; he also took certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed. He brought back to Babylon none other than the royal seed of David, of which Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were a part. The wicked king took these young people in order to make them his own.

The youth were quickly drawn into the fierce struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Daniel and his friends were only boys who could not have been much older than 14 years old. These boys bore the brunt of the attack, an attack that was not by force, but by cunning. The plan was to win them for Babylon in a gentle, easy progress. Eventually, the boys would be completely transformed by a procedure too subtle even to be recognized. The devil takes an interest in young people. He knew that whoever succeeds in stealing the hearts of the youth, will have a great victory. 

The devil is working as hard today. He does not confront the members of the covenant community with force, but often with cunning. He seeks to seduce you and me into walking with the world. God is our covenant friend. We are called to walk with God and to keep separate from all evil. Young people, are you on your guard? Adults, are you walking according to the antithesis?






Nebuchadnezzar placed Ashpenaz in charge of the youth. We do not know what position Ashpenaz held in the country, but we do know that he was the chief eunuch appointed to care for the youth. This was a very important part of his responsibilities in this well-organized country. This man carried out his duties faithfully because he loved the country and king for whom he labored. Every single particular detail was worked out so that everything could be accomplished according to the will of the king.

Nebuchadnezzar had taken the elite of Judah back to Babylon, the princes and sons of the kings. Nebuchadnezzar was intent on bending the wills of these young men so that they would serve his purpose, and therefore he did not treat these captives as prisoners. Instead he treated them as though they were his princes, with the intent of them becoming Babylonians in body and spirit. Eventually the Jewish nation would be gone. Everything in the lives of the boys was to be transformed into that which was Chaldean. Every memory of their previous life had to be erased. These young men had to become totally committed to the worldly ways of the Chaldeans. In the excellent education these young men were given, everything was laid out in minute detail. These young men were subjected to 3 years of godless, man-centered education. These men were taken from their covenant homes and instructed by the government. There would be no more instruction about God, no more worship of God. That all must come to an end. Ashpenaz had everything included: what they were to study, what they were to believe, and how they were to eat. No detail was passed by. 

The boys were even given new names. There was something of the name of God to be heard in the names of the four boys. Daniel's name meant "God is my judge." That name could not be tolerated! Instead he receives the name Belteshazzar. Hanaiah's name meant "Jehovah is gracious." Now it was changed to Shadrach. Mishael's name meant "Who is what God is." Now it became Meshach. Azariah meant "Jehovah is my Helper" and became Abednego. Each of the new names had something to do with the heathen idol worship of Babylon. There was to be no mention of God's name in Babylon. The leader of the youth did not miss a trick in trying to root out forever the memory of Jehovah from the minds of the young men. He was confident that by taking them from their parents, changing their names, and subjecting them to a man-centered education, he would make them fit servants of Nebuchadnezzar, rather than of God. 

What a horrible plot! The devil was behind the world powers, trying to destroy the witness of God. The line of David was being turned away from Jehovah toward the gods of the Chaldeans. The covenant seed was being mixed with the world. The sin of Balaam was again rearing its ugly head.

Babylon is a picture of the anti-Christian world. This world hates Christ and opposes Christ. The world does everything in its power to stop the cause of Christ's kingdom and covenant. The world is not neutral toward God! The world hates God! We live in that world. Our sons and daughters are members of the royal family and household. They are raised in the church as members of God's kingdom and covenant. Many attempts are made to secularize our youth, to make them breathe the spirit of the world. The devil seeks to turn them away from Jehovah toward the lusts and pleasures of the world. The devil labors hard and long among covenant young people trying to make them conform to the world. 

How are you living? Are you keeping yourself unspotted from the world? Or are you defiling yourself? Sometimes this devilish influence goes unnoticed even within our own homes and families. The devil subtly gets us to lower our guard. One thing after another is brought, by which we gradually fall away from holiness into sin. Christians are to be confessors of Christ's name and bearers of His banner. We live in the last times. How are we living in the last times? Are we keeping our lives unspotted from the world? Are we seeking the things of the world and living no differently from the wicked? We are called to live by faith and not be fearful. This does not mean that we lower our guard. The day may very well come when our children are taken from us and subjected to a man-centered education. We will not be able to teach them any longer. The names of our children will be changed from covenant children of God to children of the devil. What are we doing to prepare them for this terrible plot? 


We read in verse 8: "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." Daniel was a hero of faith. We do not read his name in the record of Hebrews 11, but we do read of those who stopped the mouths of lions. Immediately Daniel comes to mind. What a man he was! What an example he set in his strong faith and confidence in God's promises. Here, much earlier in his life, when he was only a young boy, Daniel showed a similar heroism. In the dining room of the king's palace, Daniel was on guard. His mouth was watering, his stomach famished. The king's food was placed before the young men in all its lavishness. But Daniel was on guard. How could he be faithful in a great matter if he was not faithful in the little things first? Through this event we see Daniel's courage to put his godliness into practice. 

What was at stake if Daniel would eat the meat of the king? If we judge the matter lightly we will quickly conclude that Daniel was being childish. What could be wrong with eating such fine food? What would be more holy about being vegetarians instead? It would seem that Daniel was being a bit like the Pharisees. He was making up precept upon precept and viewing himself more holy than the others because he was willing to sacrifice. 

We must remember that Nebuchadnezzar's intention was to make the Jewish youths forget about all the customs and regulations of their fathers. The food was an important aspect of the new way of life. For Nebuchadnezzar, the new menu was no minor detail. Daniel agreed with him on this point. Nebuchadnezzar viewed this as an important part of their religion. The Babylonians believed that the whole of life is permeated by religion. The foods eaten at the meals were first offered to the idol gods. Every meal took on the character of a holy meal, a kind of idolatrous sacrament. Whether you were eating or drinking, you were doing it all to the glory of Babylon's idols. The meal was but one way in which the whole of the life of an individual was lived for the gods. All the strength, wisdom, and understanding that the young men displayed would be attributed to the idol gods who had given those gifts through the food the young men ate. Had Daniel and his friends eaten this meat, they would have been recognizing the idol gods to be their gods and not Jehovah! They would have been showing that the whole of their life and strength was from the gods to whom their food was offered. They would have been worshiping idols rather than Jehovah!

The Babylonians were more serious about their gods than we often are about Jehovah! Their lives were permeated by their idols. Is your life permeated by Jehovah God? How many of us acknowledge God as a host at our table? Do you really eat and drink and work to the glory of God? Do you devote your entire lives into His service? Do you pray for grace to use the strength derived from you meal for God's honor? 

Daniel and his friends were not being Pharisees! They had to resist this idol worship from the outset. If they joined in Babylon's meals, they would begin the process of cutting themselves off from Jehovah. Daniel knew that he had to maintain the antithesis. 

Daniel proceeded in a very wise manner. He did not create a big scene. He did not act stubborn. Daniel was acting in harmony with his calling, a calling given to every child of God, to live an antithetical walk. The antithesis is the battle of light over against darkness. The antithesis calls the child of God to keep himself unspotted from the world, and to live as a pilgrim and stranger of God. 

Daniel gave evidence of true life when he refused to eat the king's meat. Daniel began with a friendly inquiry, and yet a firm demand. When the chief eunuch turned down his request on the grounds that this favor could cost him his life, Daniel did not laugh or joke about that. Daniel put himself in that position and let Ashpenaz know that he appreciated his difficulty. He then went on to make the same request of a steward, asking for a 10 day trial period. This sensible approach was the means by which Daniel and his friends maintained their walk with God over against the plot of the enemy. 

Are you standing firmly on the side of Christ over against the plots of the devil in your life? Are you refusing to partake of the king's meat? That is the question each of us must face this evening and every day as covenant friends of God. Our covenant friendship with God is exclusive! By faith we are united to Christ and called to live out of His life. There is no room for an alliance with the devil. God demands everything of us; that the whole of our lives be permeated with obedience to Him and living in His service. Are you living according to that antithetical walk, saying yes to God and no to the ways of the devil? Or are you eating the king's meat in your life? That is not my question to you. That is God's question to you and to me!

You may well say, "Of course I'm not partaking of the king's meat. I would never do such a thing. I keep myself unspotted from the world. I live as a pilgrim and stranger!" Beloved, are you really? I know my own personal weaknesses. I look at my own life and ask myself this question: "Am I refusing the king's meat?" To my dismay I see that too often I eat that defiled meat! 

The king's meat comes in many forms. It comes in the form of the godless entertainment of this life. Where were you last night? Where were you the night before? Were you celebrating the meat of the king? The king's meat is found in the movies, drama, and godless music of our society. Parents, have you asked your young people lately whether they are going to movies? Have you made sure that they are not watching movies in the home on your very own television sets? Do you know what kind of music your young people are listening to in their cars? Have you gotten into their cars lately and checked to see where the presets of their radios are? Are you partaking of the king's meat? Are you wearing the clothes of the king -- clothes that seduce and can not be distinguished from the clothing of the world?

Young people where are your priorities? Where is your devotion? Is your devotion to the things of this world or to God? Are you living your life in devotion to Jehovah or to the world? God requires of us that we date and marry in the Lord. When we date and entertain those who are of the world, we are eating the king's meat. God commands us to marry in the Lord. We may not enter into a mixed marriage with an unbeliever! This is serious business! It is serious business because the friends of God must walk with their God! God has called us to covenant friendship with Him. God has commanded us to be His people and assured us that He will be our God. He demands of us that we live separate from the world, and show both privately and publicly our devotion to Him. 

The world is offering the king's meat to us and our young people as rapidly as we would receive it. The world says, "Partake of my pleasures and treasures. Take a little entertainment here and there. It won't hurt you! It is not so bad! Try a little bit and see if you like it!" 

You know from experience that as soon as you try a little bit, you try some more and then some more until you are on a steady diet of the king's meat. The result, inevitably, is that we forget about our calling to walk as friends of God. We forget about Jehovah. We grow away from our parents, from godly friends, from the church, and we live in and with the world. We take the name Christian, but we have no desire to live as Christ. We live as the world and exchange our blessed covenant fellowship for a life that leads to hell.


Daniel and his friends stood firm in their loyalty to Jehovah God. The result was: "And at the end of ten days, their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat" (verse 15). God rewarded the obedience of His children. God caused these young men to stand out in every area. They stood out in all matters as to their intellect and physical condition. They excelled in wisdom and understanding. Physically, they were more healthy than the others. 

Nebuchadnezzar could not take the credit. The gods of Babylon could not take credit. God was glorified when Daniel and his friends surpassed the others. 

Nebuchadnezzar desired to have Jews around him who opposed the very religion in which they were born. God frustrated the plan of the tyrant and made His own name even more glorious. Man shall not live by bread alone, but in the way of obedience. A life with God is far more refreshing and rewarding than all the meat of the world. The way of comfort and satisfaction is the way of keeping ourselves pure from the pollution of sin.

God will keep His covenant. God's covenant can not fail. The reason for Daniel's faithfulness was the power of God in His heart and life. The power of Christ's Spirit will keep His own faithful. None can be lost. God will keep His children faithful in the way of their godly confession. 

We raise our children and young people in the way of obedience. We discipline our children and young people in order to lead them in the way of godliness. We seek to lead our children by our own godly example. We do all of this in the confidence that God's blessing will be upon us. God blessed the godly instruction of the parents of these young people. We pray that God will bless our children with obedience. It is difficult to refuse the king's meat. Do not doubt for a moment that it was not difficult for Daniel and his friends. The tragic aspect of this story is that there were many more from Judah who ate the king's meat! Those who refused were in the minority. 

The future of the church was and is at stake! God is faithful toward His own! He will preserve His witness. He will give strength to us and our children to withstand the plots of the devil and to stand faithful in the time of trial. He will bless us richly as we take the mockery for refusing the king's meat.

God preserves His covenant for His glory and honor. When we eat the king's meat we give honor to the devil. God is a jealous God. God demands honor and obedience from His children. He gives us the power of His Spirit so that we can live obediently out of Christ. We can face the future in the confidence that God will strengthen us in Christ, enabling us to refuse the king's meat. The consequences may be severe. But, remember. The consequences of obedience will never be as great as the consequences of eating the meat of the king. As covenant children of God, we must live in His fellowship. May we cry out to Christ in the confidence that He will keep us faithful as we depend upon Him for strength in the midst of temptation.


Brummel, Allen

Rev. Allen J. Brummel (Wife: Crysta)

Ordained: November 1995


Edgerton, MN - 1995; South Holland, IL - 1998; Missionary in Sioux Falls, SD - 2007; Heritage, Sioux Falls, SD - May 2010

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