But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Dan 1:8 (NKJV)
If there was one word that I would use to describe Daniel, it would be the word, "Integrity." He was a young man--captured by the enemies of his people--taken to serve in a foreign country--a place far from home and family. His very survival was dependent on his ability to perform and the whim of a temperamental ruler. His first test arrived when his abductors demanded that he eat types of food and drink that would have violated his religion.
To refuse the food and drink of the King could very easily have ended Daniel's life. Despite the threat Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. A bold and courageous decision. The King's steward exempted Daniel and his friends from eating and drinking the King's food. In the end, God intervened and Daniel and his friends looked better fed that their "King-fed" counterparts.
What is surprising about this story is not God's miraculous intervention, rather, it is the integrity of a young man who was willing to risk it all for what he believed to be right. Not compromising one's standards in the face of peer and cultural pressure takes a courageous heart. Daring to be different than the crowd and to deny the urge to be accepted by fitting in is rare. But, Daniel is proof that it can be done!
Author's Note: Integrity--you either have it or you don't! Integrity requires doing the right thing even when no-one is watching you. The picture above is of "me" being dedicated as a baby. My grandfather is praying over me. I recently posted this picture on facebook and a girl who grew up in my grandfather's church wrote: "There stands the Godliest man I have ever known." My grandfather walked in integrity and everyone knew it! RJ