Conflict Resolution Example from Daniel

During his early years of captivity in Babylon, Daniel and three compatriots faced an internal conflict with fulfilling their commitment to worship and serve God while being obedient to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king had allotted them a daily ration of food and wine from his supply as part of their preparation to enter his elite service. However, Daniel believed the royal diet would compromise his relationship with God but also recognized he owed obedience to the king and his officials. We study Daniel’s interactions with the king’s staff to understand his approach to negotiating a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO

Download or Play Audio

Download PDF

 

 

 


We begin a bible study series based on the experience of Daniel and three compatriots, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego), during their captivity in Babylon. This first session in the series focuses on understanding Daniel’s approach to peaceful resolution of a conflict triggered by the king’s diet requirement for Daniel and his friends.

Royal diet offer
Royal diet offer
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

The king had placed them on a diet based on daily allotment from his own supply of food and wine to support a healthy and robust appearance as part of their training for the king’s service. However, Daniel believed consumption of such food or drink would compromise his relationship with God but also recognized he owed a duty of obedience to the king and his officials. He negotiated a peaceful resolution based on substituting a diet of vegetables and water for the king’s delicacies. Thus, he and his friends remained obedient to the king without engaging in any practice that could compromise their commitment to worship God.

The study provides opportunity to discuss some guiding principles of Christian mediation. As we discuss in a previous study under Christian Basis for Mediation: Part 2 of 2, Christian mediation requires a commitment to peaceful resolution motivated by God’s promise of blessing for peacemakers [Matthew 5:9]. Also, successful mediation often will include seeking knowledge and understanding of the facts and a resolution based on respect for the facts. Daniel’s approach to resolving the conflict appears based on similar principles and consists of the following.

  1. He was motivated to resolve the matter peacefully.
  2. He showed knowledge of the chain of command and recognized who had authority for each decision needed to resolve the conflict.
  3. He had faith of God providing a resolution but recognized the need to apply his human knowledge and capabilities while seeking God’s resolution.
  4. He identified the stakeholders and determined their expectations and how the expectations could be satisfied simultaneously.

The Conflict:
Obedient to the King while Refusing King’s Diet

King Nebuchadnezzar ordered a diet of choice food and wine from his supply for Jewish captives undergoing training for his elite service corps. However, the captives were concerned that consumption of the king’s food and wine could compromise their commitment to worship God. They knew the meat was not prepared as God had set out in the laws of Moses and likely was prepared according to rites of Babylonian worship. They did not want any aspect of their life in captivity to interfere with their worship. Therefore, they decided to not accept the king’s diet. However, refusing the king’s diet could mean disobeying the king. But they were determined to be obedient. How could they refuse the diet ordered by the king without disobeying the king?

Route to captivity
Route to captivity
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

The captives—Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego)—were taken from Jerusalem after king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered the city. He plundered the city, took whatever he liked including articles from the house of God, and took several people captive.

March of captives
March of captives
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

He ordered a selection of people from the captives considered worthy to be trained for the king’s service [Daniel 1:3–4]: “Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the select group.

The king placed them on a three-year training program to prepare them for his service. He allotted them a daily ration of food and wine from his supplies as part of their preparation for his service. Therefore, rejection of the royal diet could convey disobedience to the king. Daniel recognized what was at stake and was determined to find a peaceful resolution.

Daniel Sought Exemption from the Royal Diet

Selecting trainees from captives
Selecting trainees from captives
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

Daniel approached the chief of the eunuchs—the king’s official in charge of the trainees—and requested exemption from the royal diet on the grounds that it would violate his worship. The chief declined Daniel’s request but explained the program to him: “And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, ‘I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king’” [Daniel 1:10].

FACTS OF THE CONFLICT Daniel understood the facts of the conflict better through his consultation with the chief of the eunuchs. He did not get the exemption he requested. However, the consultation served an important purpose in his search for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. He now understood that the king ordered the diet so the trainees would be well nourished and healthy. He would measure their performance not by what they ate but by how they looked. He wanted the trainees to look healthy and robust and present a demeanor fit for the king’s service corps. The chief of the eunuchs, on his part, was only concerned about the king being satisfied with the appearance and demeanor of the trainees. The only official that really cared about what Daniel and his friends ate was the steward that the chief of the eunuchs placed in charge of their day to day feeding. Daniel determined his next move based on these facts.

Daniel Proposes Alternative Diet

Alternative diet for Daniel and compatriots
Alternative diet for Daniel and compatriots
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

Daniel proposed to the steward to test him, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water and compare their appearance after ten days against the appearance of the trainees that fed on the royal diet. He believed a diet of vegetables and water would provide them adequate nourishment. Daniel’s belief that the alternative diet would be adequate was perhaps based on his knowledge of the nutritional value of vegetables from the area and his faith of God intervening to make the diet adequate if it wasn’t. Applying human effort and knowledge with faith of God’s intervention is as important in mediation as it is in every search for resolution of a crisis or need.

FAITH AND HUMAN EFFORT Daniel’s faith in this situation was likely based on understanding of God’s promise to help us fulfill a desire to please him: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” [Matthew 5:6]. He had faith that God will guide him to protecting his commitment to worship God while in obedience to the king, but he also realized that he needed to do more than sitting and waiting on his faith. He exercised his faith by doing what he could: such as talking to the stakeholders to understand more and thinking about available options for satisfying the stakeholders’ requirements. He determined the vegetable diet would be free from any risk of defilement and, thus, would satisfy their (he and his friends) need to feed without violating their worship. Also, the vegetable diet would be nutritionally adequate to satisfy the king and, therefore, the chief of the eunuchs. He convinced the steward by proposing a test run to evaluate the vegetable diet. He did what he could, believing God will take care of potential inadequacies beyond his human control.

Daniel and Friends Complete King’s Training

The steward accepted Daniel’s proposal, tested him and his friends on the alternative diet for ten days, and confirmed adequacy of the diet: “At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” [Daniel 1:15]. So the steward substituted a diet of vegetables and water for their royal diet.

Accepted into king's service
Accepted into king’s service
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.or

Therefore, the alternative diet cleared the way for Daniel and his compatriots to complete the king’s training program. At the end of the three year period, the chief of the eunuchs presented the graduating class to the king for evaluation. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah excelled in every category: “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm” [Daniel 1:20].

Therefore, Daniel’s approach to conflict resolution in the situation cleared the way for him and his three compatriots to complete the training program and continue with the task for which God took them there.

Summary of What We Learned

While living in captivity in a foreign land, Daniel negotiated a compromise to replace diet assigned by the king with alternative diet of vegetables and water. The resolution paved the way for him and three compatriots to complete a training program for the king’s elite service and continue the task for which God brought them there. His approach to conflict resolution consists of the following.

  1. He was motivated to resolve the matter peacefully.
  2. He showed knowledge of the chain of command and recognized who had authority for each decision needed to resolve the conflict.
  3. He had faith of God providing a resolution but recognized the need to apply his human knowledge and capabilities while seeking God’s resolution.
  4. He identified the stakeholders and determined their expectations and how the expectations could be satisfied simultaneously.

More Information

Please watch this bible study on video at VIDEO_LINK , listen to or download the audio at AUDIO_LINK . You can also download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation from PDF_LINK.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s