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Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

Key References: Daniel 1; Prophets and Kings, chap. 39, pp. 479-490; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 6, pp. 9-14; Our Beliefs nos. 22, 7, 6

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“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).


We honor God when we take care of our health.

Have you ever refused to eat something because you knew it was not good for you, and felt everyone looking at you? If you have, you know exactly how Daniel felt. If you haven’t, imagine what it would be like to refuse to obey the king’s command.

Daniel was just a teenager, and already he’d had a hard life. Jerusalem, his beautiful home, had been attacked and besieged by an army from a heathen country until the king of Jerusalem surrendered. The king and the royal family, the leading men of the land, and all the soldiers, craftsmen, and artists were taken prisoner. Daniel and three of his friends were among those taken captive and probably forced to march the 600 or more miles to Babylon.

What a change. They’d gone from being those with the brightest futures in their country to prisoners. But the fact that God had given them good health and lots of natural ability was not unnoticed in Babylon. The king, Nebuchadnezzar, instructed one of his court officials to choose young men with potential from among the prisoners and to make them Babylonians.

They would be trained to serve in the king’s court. They would learn the language and the literature. They would be given new, Babylonian names. And they would eat from the king’s table.

Daniel and his friends knew that much in their lives was beyond their control. They had no choice when their land was conquered by the Babylonian armies. They had no choice when they were taken prisoners to a foreign land. They had no choice when they were ripped away from their families and country. But they knew that certain things were within their control. No matter where they were, they could choose to worship God. They could choose to take care of themselves the way He had taught them to. They could choose to glorify Him in everything they did.

Their first test came at dinner. The king’s table was covered with food a Hebrew boy would never eat. “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” (Daniel 1:8).

Disobeying the king was no small matter. “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink,” the court official said. “Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you” (verse 10).

Little did he know that eating the way Daniel was asking to would keep him looking good and strong and healthy. So Daniel negotiated a settlement. “Please test your servants for ten days,” he said. “Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see” (verses 12, 13).

That sounded reasonable, so the challenge was on. At the end of 10 days Daniel and his friends looked healthier and more nourished than the other boys. From then on they got to eat what they wanted.

Not only did they look and feel good. They were smarter and wiser than the other students who were not taking care of their health as God had taught. When they were presented to Nebuchadnezzar, the king “found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. . . . In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” (verses 19, 20).

Choosing what to eat may not seem like the most important battle to fight when one is a prisoner in a heathen country. But these boys had promised to be faithful to God, and that extended into all areas of their lives. That meant that they were going to honor God by taking care of the health He had given them. We all make choices every day. We can praise God for the gifts He has given us, and take care of them the way He has taught us. Just as Daniel did, we can choose to glorify Him in everything we do—whether we eat or drink, exercise or sleep, breathe fresh air or trust in God. We can choose to honor our Creator in everything we do.