ESL Lesson 21 – Daniel Serves the King

Lesson 21

Daniel Serves the King

Daniel 1


God told one of the prophets to give a message to the Jews.  God said to tell the people, “I warned you not to worship other gods, but you would not listen to Me.  I told you many times if you turned away from idols and worshipped Me, I would not punish you.  But since you have not obeyed Me, I must punish you.  I will let the king of Babylon come and destroy your country.  He will take many of your people away from your land.  You will have to serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.”  (Jeremiah 25:4-11)


A few years later the king of Babylon attacked Jerusalem.  The king told one of his men to choose some Jewish boys to serve him in the palace.  The boys must be part of the Jewish king’s family.  They must be handsome, quick to learn, and in perfect health.  They would attend a special school for three years.  After three years they would serve the king as advisers and government officials.


Daniel and his three friends were four of the ones chosen to go to this special school.  They were only teenagers, about fifteen years old.  They were taken away from their families and their country and taken to Babylon. 


In Babylon Daniel and his friends were given new names in their new language.  Each of the new names had the name of a god from Babylon as part of it. 


In the king’s school the students learned the language of Babylon.  They learned about the philosophy, religion, astrology, and medicine of Babylon.  They learned many other things, too.  The king wanted to stop the Jews from worshipping the one God of Israel.  He wanted them to worship the many gods of Babylon.



Names of Places




Name of Person




turn away from

official (n)

handsome (adj)

philosophy (n)

quick to learn

religion (n)

perfect health

astrology (n)

adviser (n)

medicine (n)

government (adj)




1.  How did God say He would punish the Jews?

2.  How long did God say the Jews would serve the king of Babylon?

3.  What kind of boys did the king want to serve him in the palace?

4.  How old were Daniel and his friends when they were taken away to Babylon?

5.  What did the students learn about in the king’s school?


In the king’s school all of the students were given the very best food and wine.  It was the same food that the king ate.  But Daniel and his friends did not want to eat the king’s food.  The food had been offered to idols.  The king wanted them to eat this food so the gods would make them strong and wise. 


Daniel and his friends loved the God of Israel.  They wanted to obey him.  They knew God would not be happy if they ate the king’s food.  If they ate the food, people would say the gods of Babylon helped them.  Daniel and his friends worshipped the one true God who created the earth.  They knew only their God could make them strong and wise.


Daniel was a long way from home.  His family and friends would not know what he did in Babylon.  The king had not given the students a choice.  He had commanded all of the students to eat his food. 


But Daniel decided that he would not disobey God in this way.  Obeying God was more important than saving his life.  Obeying God was more important than having the opportunity to serve in the king’s palace.  He asked the chief official for permission for himself and his three friends to eat other food instead. 


But the official said, “I am afraid that the king will be angry if you don’t eat his food.  If the king sees that you do not look as good as the other students, he will be angry.  He will kill me.”


So Daniel talked to the guard who watched over them.  He said, “Please test us for ten days.  Give us only vegetables to eat and water to drink.  After ten days, compare us to the students who eat the king’s food.”


The guard agreed to test them for ten days.  Ten days later, Daniel and his three friends looked better and healthier than any of the other students. 


So Daniel and his friends ate only vegetables after that.  God helped these four to learn well and become very wise.  He also helped Daniel to understand the meaning of dreams.


After three years the students came to the palace to talk to the king.  The king found out that Daniel and his friends were the best students of all.  The king asked them questions about many things.  The king thought they were ten times smarter than the wisest men in his kingdom!  So Daniel and his friends began to serve the king in the palace.


Because Daniel obeyed God, God gave Daniel wisdom.  The Bible says that wisdom comes from having a deep respect for God and turning away from sin. (Job 28:28).  Wisdom comes from God.  The Bible tells Christians to ask God if they need wisdom.  Then God will give it to them.  (James 1:5).



chief (adj)

compare (v)

permission (n)

ten times

vegetable (n)

deep respect



 6.  Why didn’t Daniel want to eat the food from the king’s table?

 7.  Would Daniel’s family know if he obeyed God or not?

 8.  Why didn’t the official want to let Daniel eat other food?

 9.  How did Daniel want to show the guard that it would be all right not to eat the king’s food? 

10.  At the end of the 10-day test, how did Daniel and his friends look?

11.  When Daniel and his friends finished the 3-year school, what did the king think of them?


To Think About

1.  If the government tells us to do something that is opposite from what the Bible teaches us to do, who should we obey?  If society teaches us to do something that is opposite from what the Bible teaches, what should we do?


2.  How did Daniel show his respect* for authority by asking for permission not to eat the king’s food?  Daniel offered the official a “creative alternative*” to eating the king’s food.  Instead of just refusing to eat the food, Daniel thought of another plan that the official would approve* of.  He suggested* another kind of food, and asked the official to let them try eating this food.  Why do you think the official was willing to let Daniel try this plan?


3.  If a person becomes a Christian and his parents do not want him to be baptized*, go to church, or read his Bible, what should the person do?  Does it depend on* how old the person is?  How can he show respect for his parents and still obey God?  What kind of “creative alternative” can a person offer his parents if they say he cannot go to church?



respect (n)

suggest (v)

creative alternative

baptize (v)

approve (v)

depend on