Daniel: Life in Babylon, Part 4

What do you do when someone in authority tells you to do something that violates your biblical principles?

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 

He had two decisions before him: should he enjoy the king’s food and wine and should he be educated in the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 

Last time, I wrote, 

Daniel processes his current situation, taking in all the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of this new head-turning scenario. The capture, the journey, the new environment, new clothes, new mentors, new food and wine … he processes it all in his well-educated mind, recalling especially the eternal principles and laws of scripture embedded and memorized in his mind; and then he makes a decision. 

This is a life and death decision that ultimately determines the course of his entire life. What did he do? What would you do? We also have been kidnapped from the land of our founding fathers and find ourselves living in Babylon in 2020. 


There’s a lot we can learn from Daniel about life in Babylon. Especially now since we find ourselves living in Babylon as well. Babylon is where sin flourishes and our God is not honored. Sometimes, living in Babylon, I want to run, to hide, and bury my head. Other times, I want to fight, rebel, and stand up to tyranny. Here are some important questions to consider and principles to follow when living in Babylon: 


When do I fight? When do I rebel? When do I submit? When do I remain silent?

1. First, determine that you will live within the boundaries of biblical principles. Determine your moral absolutes and write them down. I have a document that I have written containing my personal values and moral absolutes which I have drawn up from my study of God’s Word. These values have become the rumble strips of my life’s journey while living in Babylon. When I drift toward the side of the road, the rumble strips alert me with a strong vibration sound that I am heading off the path. Daniel arrived in Babylon with the biblical values of his life set and secure. His moral rumble strips were active and therefore, he made this decision:

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, 1:8.  


2. The second principle we learn from Daniel is to do your best to lead a quiet and peaceful life. The apostle Paul instructs us in this unpopular biblical principle. Paul teaches his readers that when living in a non-Christian society, they should make it their ambition (their goal) to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in need. I Thessalonians 4:11, 12. Daniel followed this path when he agreed to learn the ways of Babylonians under the instruction of pagan scholars. Daniel determined he would use this education to better understand the culture he now lives in. He would process the new education through his biblical world-view and God blessed his learning and elevated him to great heights within the foreign government. 

Two different decisions! One, he would submit and the other, he would not. 

3. How did Daniel approach his decision to disobey the king? He approached the cultural and political disobedience with humility, influence, and persuasion. Daniel beautifully blended principles one (make decisions under the guidance of biblical values) and two (live quiet, humble lives) by approaching the commander with an alternative solution. Daniel’s first move was not to openly rebel and protest. 1:8 says, so he (Daniel) sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. The official feared that Daniel and his friends would appear weak if they didn’t eat the food and his neck would then be on the line. With God’s help (1:9), Daniel provided an alternative and he exercised moral influence and persuasion.

Daniel said, 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. 


It’s fascinating to me that even though Daniel had determined he would not defile himself, he still asked permission first. Yes, his mind was made up, but in humility and with moral influence, he approached the commander asking permission. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Daniel would have disobeyed if the commander had said no. Daniel would not give in. He would have died before he would disobey God.  


Learning Alert! Daniel’s first approach was to pursue his goal (to refuse the king’s food and wine) through the means of submissive and respectful requests. In doing so, he used his skills of moral persuasion and influence.  


Daniel’s strategy was to peacefully disobey the king’s command and persuasively recommend an alternative. This plan allowed God to do His work and show forth the power of God to the commander and ultimately to the king, (see chapters 2-4).  

May we learn from Daniel about life in Babylon, where sin flourishes, and God is not honored. First, be sure to have your biblical values and absolutes set and secure. (Email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you a free Values Worksheet). Put in some time to set up your value-based rumble strips for your journey of purposeful success in Babylon. 

Finally, make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, so far as it depends on you. Study and apply the principles of excellent interpersonal skills with an emphasis on moral influence and persuasion. Moral influence and persuasion, which involves strategic thinking, creativity and intense listening, is a skill that will serve you well in your mission to honor God with your life. 


Father, we face difficult decisions and moral alternatives every day. Psalms 119:9-11 gives us guidance into your ways when it says, how can a young man keep his way straight? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought you; do not let me wander from your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you. Amen