Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the first group of Jews taken captive to Babylon and were selected to be trained for service in King Nebuchadnezzar’s household. While obtaining their education, Daniel and his friends kept the Lord’s laws by refusing wine and certain foods from the king. The Lord blessed them physically, mentally, and spiritually, and they excelled in wisdom above other servants of the king.
Read aloud the following true account, and invite students to consider what they 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 keep the Word of Wisdom in this situation?
What are some other situations in which people might be pressured to break the Word of Wisdom?
Invite students to look for principles as they study Daniel 1 that can help them be faithful to the Lord when they are pressured to break His commandments.
Summarize Daniel 1:1–4 by explaining that in approximately 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar took items from the temple and a select group of Jews back to Babylon (see 2 Kings 20:14–18). He commanded an official in his palace to take certain captive Israelite youth and train them for service in his household.
Invite a student to read Daniel 1:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for characteristics Nebuchadnezzar desired the youth to have and what he provided for them.
What characteristics did these youth need to have?
What did the king provide these youth? (Explain that the word meat refers to delicacies [see Daniel 1:5, footnote b].)
Invite a student to read Daniel 1:6–7 aloud, and ask the class to follow along and look for the names of some of the Jewish young men who were selected to be trained for the king’s service.
Invite a student to read Daniel 1:8 aloud, and ask the class to follow along and look for how Daniel responded when wine and certain foods were provided by the king.
What request did Daniel make regarding the food and wine that were provided? Why?
To help students understand what defile means, invite a student to draw a car on the board.
What liquids do cars require to properly function?
Show students a soft drink.
What would happen if we poured a soft drink into the gas tank of a car? (Adding the soft drink would make the existing gasoline impure and would harm the engine of the car.)
Explain that defile means to desecrate or make impure or unclean. 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 the law (see Leviticus 17:13–14; Deuteronomy 12:15–16).
Explain that 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.
If Daniel lived in our day, what would he refuse to take into his body to avoid defiling himself? (If students need help, you could invite them to review D&C 89:5, 7–9 and “Physical and Emotional Health” in For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 25–27.)
How can consuming such items be like putting soda in the gas tank of a car? (It defiles us spiritually and can also defile us physically.)
Ask students to think about the pressures Daniel faced when he made the request not to eat the king’s food and wine.
What factors might have made it difficult for Daniel to be faithful to the laws the Lord had given?
Consider inviting a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David R. Stone of the Seventy. Ask the class to listen for Elder Stone’s summary of the 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” (“Zion in the Midst of Babylon,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 92).
What can we learn from Daniel’s example in this moment? (Write the following statement on the board: We can be faithful to the Lord in all circumstances.)
Explain that at the end of Daniel 1, students will see what the Lord can do for those who are faithful to Him in all circumstances.
Invite a student to read Daniel 1:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for why the prince of the palace eunuchs, or officers, was concerned about Daniel’s request.
What was the concern of the prince of the eunuchs?
Invite a student to read Daniel 1:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Daniel suggested. Explain that the word pulse (verse 12) refers to food grown or made from seeds or grains. You may also need to explain that the word countenance (verse 13) refers to a person’s appearance.
What proposal did Daniel make?
If Daniel lived in our day, what would he likely choose to take into his body to comply with the Lord’s law of health? (See D&C 89:10–17 and “Physical and Emotional Health” in For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 25–27.)
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Daniel 1:14–17. Ask the class to follow along and look for the results of Daniel’s and his friends’ decision to be faithful to the Lord’s laws.
How did their countenances compare to those of the other youth? (Daniel and his friends looked better and healthier.)
According to Daniel 1:17, in what other ways did the Lord bless them?
What principle can we learn from their experience? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: 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.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what he taught about the purposes of the Word of Wisdom:
“I have come to know … that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation. …
“If someone ‘under the influence’ 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).
In what ways might the Word of Wisdom be much more valuable to us spiritually than it is physically?
Invite a student to read the following summary of the conclusion of Creed Haymond’s experience. Ask the class to listen for how Creed 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 having had only 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,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1928, 1001–7).
How was Creed Haymond blessed for keeping the Lord’s law of health?
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?
Consider sharing a personal experience that has influenced your testimony of the importance of keeping the Lord’s law of health. Encourage students to set a goal to keep this law.
Invite a student to read Daniel 1:18–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how the Lord blessed Daniel and his friends for being faithful to Him.
How did the Lord bless Daniel and his friends for being faithful to Him? (You may need to explain that the phrase “stood they before the king” [verse 19] means they entered the service of the king.)
From the example of Daniel and his friends, what principle can we learn about how the Lord will bless us if we are faithful to Him? (Adjust the statement written on the board earlier in the lesson so that it reads as follows: If we are faithful to the Lord in all circumstances, then He will magnify us.)
What do you think it means to be magnified by the Lord?
Conclude by encouraging students, in their study of the remainder of the book of Daniel, to look for additional examples of how the Lord magnified Daniel and his friends because they were faithful to Him regardless of their circumstances.