But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” – Daniel 1:8-10
I’ve been in the position of needing favor in the eyes of those in authority. Sometimes those favors have been dramatically significant. Other times it may be a matter of little importance. One time, for example, was when in college I was in a difficult spot and needed the favor of a professor to give me a pass so to speak. Actually, it was to give me an “A” in the philosophy class in which I was enrolled. I had not been able to participate to the level I had in previous classes with this particular professor, but I had still done good work. I could tell that he was on the fence about my grade; it was totally subjective on his part. I entreated him for some grace in my grade, and was granted favor. I got the “A”!
The stakes with Daniel are much higher in this case. He is resolved to remain true to the dietary laws of the Hebrew faith. He would not eat pork or other meats that were declared to be unclean by the Levitical Law. This was not a moral issue; but a faith issue nonetheless. The wine he might be offered would likely have been offered to the pagan gods of the Babylonians. He refused to partake of that as well.
If this was to go well for him, however, he would need the favor of the chief of the eunuchs. His instructions were to give a prescribed diet to the young men serving in the king’s court so that they would be strong and handsome. Whether this was simply to project a good image to any outsider or maintain the appearance of success and discipline for those in the king’s retinue, or even for more base reasons the fact remained: failure on the part of the chief of the eunuchs to provide strong, sleek and handsome young men for the king’s service would be a failure with severe repercussions.
We may think that our tact, diplomatic posturing, and wise ways make all the difference with people whose favor we need. This passage alerts the careful reader to appreciate that favor ultimately comes from God. While the ways and wiles of men and women may turn the heads of men, “the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:3).
We could use some favor of those in authority right now at St. John. If the Lord would turn the hearts of those who provide building permits, and incline them to approve our project, it would be a source of great delight. So my prayer is that: provide favor to us, O God, for we know it comes from you in the end. Thankfully we have the full favor of God for all of eternity which also makes our waiting a bit more palpable in these times.