As I mentioned in a previous post, while we don’t really know how the other young men of Judah reacted to Daniel and his three friends refusing to eat the king’s food, I think we can imagine some likely reactions.
One reaction may have been advice to Daniel and his friends to get with the program. Why risk a good thing? After all, they had just been defeated by the most powerful kingdom in their known world – what good fortune that they should be chosen to attend the king’s academy – why not be thankful for their good fortune. Why throw away God’s blessing? God will understand them eating food sacrificed to idols – after all, He is the one who provided them their positions.
Another reaction may have been that some of the other young men secretly or overtly wished Daniel and his friends to fail and fall into disfavor with the Babylonian authorities. It would serve them right, trying to be better than their Jewish peers, trying to be holier-than-thou. Who did they think they were?
Yet another possible reaction is that perhaps there were some others who secretly desired to stand with Daniel but who were afraid of failure and afraid of what they might lose. I wonder what they thought when they saw the results of Daniel’s faithfulness.
Of course, having read the remainder of Daniel we know that while Daniel and his friends did indeed find favor with the Babylonian authorities, we also know that they faced more than one storm of opposition during their government service – man’s favor is fickle and we ought not to trust in it – God’s favor is eternal and trustworthy, we may rest in Him no matter the circumstances.
Peer pressure has made cowards of many a person who knew better than to succumb to the spirit of the age but did so anyway due to fear of rejection and loss. Jesus tells us that we ought to count the cost before we decide to follow Him, and the cost is our lives – we need not think that it will cost us 70% of our lives to follow Jesus, or 80% or 95% - Jesus wants it all, to follow Jesus is to deny ourselves and lose our lives – to lose everything so that we may find everything in Him.
Again, while we aren’t told of Daniel’s decision-making process, it is reasonable to assume that he and his friends prayed about their decision, talked about it, and weighed their approach to the academy authorities carefully. While we will see later in the book of Daniel that these four friends were quick to make decisions when it had to do with whether to worship God or bow down to idols or pray to men – perhaps when it came to their initial decision not to eat the king’s food they prayed and pondered and talked it out (note Daniel 2:17 – 18).
Faith does not mean the absence of fear; but when faith manifests itself in obedience we can trust our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus to give us strength and grace for each moment, each word, each decision – no matter how weak or fretful we may feel. God doesn’t ask us to have it all together, He doesn’t ask us to be super men or women or girls or boys – He simply calls us to trust Him, acknowledge Him, and obey Him – to allow Him to live in us and through us for His glory and the blessing of others.
Daniel and his friends would be used in Chapter Two to save the members of the academy along with many native Babylonians in the king’s service. One of the ironies of the Gospel, both in the life of our Lord and in the life of the church, is that often those who reject us are the very ones we’ll end up saving (note Joseph in Genesis). They may or may not appreciate what has happened, but for those who follow Jesus, it is an opportunity to be like Him as He lives in us.