Reflect on Your Life
1. Look for evidences of your culture that you wear or carry with you. What do your clothes and the contents of your pockets, purse, or wallet tell about you and your society?
Daniel, as a captive of Babylonian soldiers, faced a long and difficult march to a new land. The 500-mile trek, under harsh conditions, certainly tested his faith in God.
Read the Passage
Read Daniel 1:1-21.
2. What was the purpose of bringing some of the best young men from Israel?
3. Why were Daniel and his friends concerned about defiling themselves by what they ate?
4. Why was the guard reluctant to let them select their own food to eat?
5. How could these young men become better advisers than the magicians and enchanters in such a short time?
Realize the Principle
This story is a great example of young men willing to take a stand for their convictions. It is also an example of using a positive strategy. In this situation, merely refusing to eat the food was not possible. The official in charge was in danger of losing his life if anything went wrong with the training of these young men. But Daniel and his friends did not rebel, refuse, or complain. Instead, they proposed an experiment to satisfy the concerns of the guard. Often we can use positive strategies such as experiments, trial runs, simple tests, or creative alternatives that allow us to retain our integrity while taking into consideration the legitimate needs and concerns of others around us. A strategy of refusing or just saying “no” is better than no strategy at all. But when a simple refusal is not enough, take time to think through other alternatives.
6. What is the difference between cultural taboos and spiritual convictions?
7. What are some examples of effective positive strategies that you have seen?
Respond to the Message
8. How can a person tell if he/she is selling out to the culture?
9. What are some of your convictions that go against social pressure?
10. In what areas have you collapsed under pressure and need help to withstand?
11. What else could you do to stand more firmly against the social pressures around you?
Resolve to Take Action
12. In what one area are you most likely to cave in to the pressure around you?
13. What positive strategy could you adopt, if any, to handle the situation?
More for Studying Other Themes in This Section
A. What was the significance of changing the names of captives? What was the meaning of the name change for Daniel and his three friends? If someone was going to change your name, what character quality would they be most interested in reshaping or neutralizing?
B. How can we tell the difference between God’s judgment and demonic oppression when disaster strikes God’s people and his work?
C. Should Christians live in tension with culture, or try to transform it? Why?
D. If wisdom comes from God, why should we study so hard for school and work so hard on the job?
E. What are the most dangerous influences in our culture that Christians should be careful to avoid?
This study is adapted from Daniel: A Life Application Bible Study (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1986).