“Unit 29: Day 4, Daniel 1–2,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 29: Day 4,” Old Testament Study Guide
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the first group of Jews taken captive into Babylon, and they were selected to be trained for service in King Nebuchadnezzar’s household. Daniel and his friends kept the Lord’s laws, and the Lord blessed them. Later, the Lord revealed to Daniel a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation.
Read the following true account, and consider what you would have done in this situation:
Creed Haymond, a member of the Church, was captain of his college track team. The night before a large track meet, Creed’s coach offered him some wine to refresh himself. When Creed twice refused to drink the wine, his coach responded, “Remember, Creed, you’re captain of the team and our best point winner; fourteen thousand students are looking to you personally to win this meet. If you fail us we’ll lose. I ought to know what is good for you” (in Joseph J. Cannon, “Speed and the Spirit,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1928, 1002).
Why might it have been difficult for Creed to obey the Lord’s law by keeping the Word of Wisdom in this situation?
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What are some other situations in which Church members might be pressured to disobey the Lord’s law by not following the Word of Wisdom?
As you study Daniel 1, look for principles that can help you be faithful to the Lord when you feel pressure to disobey His commandments.
In Daniel 1:1–4 we learn that in approximately 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem. He took items from the temple and a select group of Jews back to Babylon (see 2 Kings 20:14–18). He also commanded an official in his palace to take certain captive Israelite youths and train them for service in his household.
Read Daniel 1:4–5, looking for characteristics Nebuchadnezzar desired the youths to have and what he provided for them. It may help to know that the word meat refers to special food, or delicacies.
Read Daniel 1:6–7, looking for the names of some of the Jewish young men who were selected to be trained for the king’s service.
Read Daniel 1:8, looking for the request Daniel made regarding the food and wine that were provided.
You may want to mark the phrase “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” in verse 8. Defile means to desecrate or make impure or unclean. For example, consider what would happen if you poured a soft drink into the gas tank of a car and tried to drive it. Adding the soft drink would make the existing gasoline impure and would harm the engine of the car.
Daniel may have considered that partaking of the food and wine would defile him because, according to custom, a portion of these items might have first been offered as sacrifices to Babylonian gods. To consume such food would have been considered participating in the worship of false gods. Some of the food may also have been forbidden by the law of Moses (see Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14:3–21) or not prepared in accordance with that law (see Leviticus 17:13–14; Deuteronomy 12:15–16).
The law of Moses included the Lord’s dietary laws for people in Daniel’s day, similar to how the Word of Wisdom represents the Lord’s law of health for our day. Think about the pressures Daniel may have faced when he made the request not to eat of the king’s food and wine.
Elder David R. Stone of the Seventy summarized the challenging circumstances Daniel and his friends were placed in: “Let us clearly understand the pressures that the four young men were under. They had been carried away as captives by a conquering power and were in the household of a king who held the power of life or death over them. And yet Daniel and his brothers refused to do that which they believed to be wrong, however much the Babylonian culture believed it to be right” (“Zion in the Midst of Babylon,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 92).
The example of Daniel and his friends shows that we can be faithful to the Lord in all circumstances. At the end of Daniel 1, you will see what the Lord can do for those who are faithful to Him in all circumstances.
Read Daniel 1:9–13, looking for why the prince of the palace eunuchs, or officials, was concerned about Daniel’s request and what Daniel suggested. It may help to know that “pulse” (Daniel 1:12) is food grown or made from seeds or grains, and “countenance” (Daniel 1:13) refers to a person’s appearance.
Read Daniel 1:14–17, looking for how the Lord blessed Daniel and his friends for being faithful to His laws.
From the experience of Daniel and his friends, we learn that if we keep the Lord’s laws, then He will bless us physically and spiritually.
It is important to remember that the physical blessings for keeping the Lord’s laws, particularly the Word of Wisdom, do not always include protection from poor health, but they can include other physical blessings.
Notice that Daniel and his friends were blessed not only with health but with knowledge and spiritual understanding “in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17). President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the spiritual blessings of keeping the Lord’s law of health:
“I have come to know that inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound. …
“I have come to know also that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation. …
“If someone ‘under the influence’ [of alcohol or narcotics] can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings?
“As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically” (“Prayers and Answers,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 20).
- Read Daniel 1:17 again, and then read Doctrine and Covenants 89:18–21. In your scripture study journal, explain how the Word of Wisdom can be much more valuable to us spiritually than it is physically.
As you read the following summary of the conclusion of Creed Haymond’s experience, look for how he was blessed by keeping the Lord’s law of health:
After Creed’s coach left, Creed worried that his refusal to drink the wine would cause him to lose the track meet for his school. He knelt and asked the Lord to give him a testimony regarding the source of the Word of Wisdom.
The next morning all of the boys on his team were sick. They underperformed in their events, and one teammate was even too sick to participate. Despite falling at the beginning of the 100-yard (91-meter) dash, Creed caught up and won the race. Later in the day he was forced to begin the 220-yard (201-meter) final despite only having five minutes to rest following the semifinal. He won that race as well, finishing in the fastest time that race had ever been run.
That night the question he asked the Lord about the Word of Wisdom came back into his mind. As he lay in bed contemplating on the events of the day, he received the assurance that the Word of Wisdom was from God. (See Joseph J. Cannon, “Speed and the Spirit,” 1003–7.)
- Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When have you, or someone you know, chosen to keep the Lord’s law of health in the face of an opportunity or pressure to break it?
What are some of the physical and spiritual blessings you have experienced by keeping the Lord’s law of health?
Resolve now to always obey the Word of Wisdom. This decision will help you overcome temptations you may face later. Consider sharing your resolution with your family members and friends.
Read Daniel 1:18–20, looking for how the Lord blessed Daniel and his friends for being faithful to His laws. Note that the phrase “stood they before the king” (verse 19) means they entered the service of the king.
The experience of Daniel and his friends teaches us that if we are faithful to the Lord in all circumstances, then He will magnify us.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What can help you choose to be faithful to the Lord in all circumstances?
As you study the remainder of the book of Daniel, look for additional examples of how the Lord magnified Daniel and his friends because they were faithful to Him regardless of their circumstances.
In Daniel 2 we read how Daniel used the gift of having “understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17). This was a gift he had received from Heavenly Father. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him. He ordered that all the wise men in Babylon be killed unless they could reveal the dream and its meaning. Daniel and his friends prayed to know the dream, and the Lord revealed the dream and its interpretation to Daniel. This dream included a description of kingdoms of the earth that would follow Babylon (see the diagram titled “Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream”) and a description of the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth in the latter days (see Daniel 2:44–45).
The Lord explained that, unlike all of the other kingdoms on the earth, the kingdom of God, represented in the king’s dream by the stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” (Daniel 2:45)—meaning, without human hands—would be started by God and not by man.
- Daniel 2:44–45 describes the Church in the latter days, which is the kingdom of God on earth—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Read Doctrine and Covenants 65:1–2, 5–6. In your scripture study journal, write about how the Church is like the stone Daniel saw.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Daniel 1–2 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: