Daniel 1:8

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Daniel 1:8

“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” – Daniel 1:8   

There are going to be times that we are commanded to do something wrong, that does not please the Lord. This is what we see in the Book of Daniel. At this time, Babylon had grown in power to a level that no other kingdom could overtake them, however, they could take over anyone they wanted. Thus, in the third year of Jehoiakim as king of Judah, Babylon besieged Jerusalem and appointed a king to be put in Jehoiakim’s place.  We read in verse two this takeover was a work of God. “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.” Daniel 1:2.  And then in the next verse, we see that King Nebuchadnezzar ordered young men from Israel to be brought to Babylon. “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding, and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.” Daniel 1:3-4. And among these were four young men from Judah; Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah whose names were changed to, in the same order, Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.

Then we read in verse five that they were to be trained and given a daily ration of food. “And the king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service.” Daniel 1:5.  However, the food they were assigned would defile them; be a sin for them to eat. The we see in our focus verse, “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8. Now Daniel had made the decision he was not going to defile himself with this, but he did not demand anything else, but simply asked permission from the commander of the officials not to require him to eat food that was defiling to him but to give him food acceptable to him and his God. This could cause Daniel problems, but he was trusting God to protect him.

Notice what happened. “Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” Daniel 1:10-11. It appears here that the commander was OK with what Daniel requested, but he feared what the king would do to him if he started looking like a starving, malnourished man. Daniel then asked “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence, and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.” Daniel 1:12-13.  

What was the result of this test? “And at the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink and kept giving them vegetables.” Daniel 1:15-16. And the king liked what he saw. “And the king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service. And as for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:19-20.

We see in these verses Daniel’s faith in God and how he trusted Him to stay true to what was right, even when it could have cost him his life. And I believe God worked through the overseer and the commander of the officials to allow them to turn aside from the food that went against what God had told Israel not to eat. We see this same faith exhibited by Peter and the Apostles when they were in front of the Jewish leadership when they said, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29b. And this should be our response when we are ordered to do something that God has declared as unacceptable or is outright sin. Let us trust God in all things and declare as Peter did, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.


Mark 7:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Mark 7:23 

“All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” – Mark 7:23 

This verse is the end of a discourse Jesus had with a group of people who met Him and the disciples after they landed in Gennesaret.  This was the same trip in the boat where Jesus joined the disciples by walking on the water.  Hear He speaks to them regarding what defiles a man.  “There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” Mark 7:15. After the crowd left, the disciples asked Him what He meant by this teaching.  He then expounded on this to help them understand what they meant.  “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated? (Thus He declared all foods clean.)” Mark 7:18-19.  What He was telling them was nothing defiles them except that which might proceed from the heart. As our focus verse states, “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:23.

He then goes on to make it more clear by going into some detail.  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.” Mark 7:22. When we look at this list of sins, every one of them has their start in the heart, and then ends in actions.  For instance, fornication and theft begins with lustful thoughts regarding people or things.  Deceit begins with the desire to hide something we do not want known.  And murder begins with hateful thoughts toward another.  None of these things begin with something entering our body.  This does not mean that which we allow to enter our heart, because note the wording above: “because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” Mark 7:19. If we allow ourselves to look at filthy images or listen to filthy stories or look at things and begin to desire them to the point that we will do anything to acquire them, they will most likely cause us to sin.

Therefore, it is of ultimate importance that we are careful what we focus our minds on. Our thoughts should always be toward what pleases God and what He desires of us.  Paul put it this way in his letter to the Philippians.  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8. These are the things we need to think on: that which true and honorable, that which is right and pure and lovely (not meaning outward appearance, but what is amiable on its own account and on account of its usefulness to others, whether in your conduct or conversation).  These should be our focus.

How can we make this happen? Paul said, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2.  The way we can do this is to change our way of thinking away from the world and their ways to God and His ways.  Through Him, we can make this happen.  Therefore, let us be devoted to Him in everything and let Him makes us who we ought to be. When we do this, we stand a great chance of controlling our thoughts and the desires of our heart.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.