Devotional: ‘Striving to Keep Our Hearts Pure’

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“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”  (Dan. 1:8)

When Daniel was a teenager, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem. As a part of the siege, the king ordered that choice young Jewish men be brought back to Babylon and trained to serve in his palace. Among those captured were Daniel and three of his friends named: Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  We know them better by their Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

The first three years of their captivity was dedicated to indoctrinating them with Babylonian culture. Included also in their grooming was a special diet consisting of delicacies from the king’s table. Yet the Bible says that Daniel ‘resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.’ Why did Daniel take this stand?

In his commentary on the book of Daniel, Bible teacher David Guzik suggests three reasons:

1) Undoubtedly the food was not kosher.   (Considered acceptable by the Law of Moses)

2) It was probably food that had been dedicated to the Babylonian gods.

3) It implied fellowship with Babylon’s culture.

In all likelihood none of us will ever face a situation exactly like Daniel’s. Yet as believers, each of us has to make similar decisions every day. Peter writes –

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” (1 Peter 1:11)

Today there are many things that war against the Christian’s soul. It is almost impossible to go through a single day without something sinful being flaunted in our face. Yet, like Daniel and his three friends, we must resolve in our hearts that we will not defile ourselves with the wine of this world. We must dedicate ourselves to the glory of God and not to the gratifying of our sinful desires. I conclude with this prayer from the psalmist –

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24

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