Ref: Daniel Chapter 6
Daniel had been exiled from his homeland in Judah and brought to the great kingdom of Babylon. At that time, Nebuchadnezzar was king but he was eventually succeeded by his son Belshazzar. After Belshazzar had ruled for a while, the Medes attacked Babylon and deposed him. Darius leader of the Medes took over the kingdom.
Now Babylon was a vast kingdom so Darius decided to put in place Satraps (Governors) to rule over the numerous provinces under the kingdom. In addition, three high officials were appointed to oversee the work of the Satraps. Daniel was one of them and being full of the wisdom of God, he excelled in his role. The king took notice and considered appointing him to rule over the entire kingdom.
Daniel was faultless in all he did and maintained integrity in his office. It wasn’t too long therefore, before his fellow high officers and some of the Satraps became envious of him and plotted to find something they could accuse him of to their king. They tried their utmost to find fault in him but they simply could not. They then came to a conclusion and said: ‘We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.‘ They said this because they knew Daniel was a devout servant of God.
After some deliberations they had a plan, they went over to King Darius and told him to ‘establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.’ They then urged the king to make it law, sign it, send it through-out the kingdom and by so doing make it irrevocable. The king listened to his officials without thinking much about it and the law was established.
When Daniel knew that the law had been signed, he went to his upper-room and prayed with his window open facing Jerusalem as he had always done. The officers went in an assembly to see whether Daniel would continue to pray to his God in spite of the law. Sure enough they found Daniel praying and went straight to the king to accuse him. They said ‘O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?’ the king replied that he had and that it was irrevocable. They went on to say ‘Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition [to his God] three times a day’.
The king was distressed when he heard it was Daniel who had gone against the law because he valued him as an officer and as a person. He spent all night trying to find a way using the law through which he could rescue Daniel but he could not. So he had no choice but to give the command that Daniel be cast into the den of lions. When Daniel had been put in the pit, Darius said to him ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!’
A stone was then laid at the mouth of the lions’ pit to close it off. The king and his Satraps put their seals at the entrance so that no one would be able to secretly rescue Daniel. When the king went back to his Palace, he fasted for Daniel and did not sleep all night.
Early in the morning, the king went with great haste to the entrance of the lions’ den and cried out ‘O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?’ Daniel answered and said ‘O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.’ The king was exceedingly glad and immediately commanded that Daniel be pulled up out of the pit and his anger was kindled towards those that had tried to ensnare Daniel with that law. He ordered that these men themselves be cast into the den and the lions tore their flesh and broke their bones before they even reached the bottom of the pit.
The king then decreed that ‘in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.’ So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
In our context
Daniel was in exiled from his homeland and lived in Babylon a land whose people did not acknowledge the existence of God but rather worshiped many gods made of stone, wood, silver and gold. Daniel was therefore living in a land laden with all sorts of sin and indulgence as the kingdom of Babylon was extremely wealthy. Many believers today may relate to Daniel’s situation. We seem to live in a world that has chosen to live by its own wisdom and although people may not worship idols made of wood and stone, there is something else they uphold: money.
Much like Babylon, many cities of the world have the attraction of money and it is almost always true that the more wealthy a city is, the less people acknowledge God. In places like these (just like in Babylon), the fruits of man’s wisdom are evident. The first fruit is money; since a lot of time is spent trying to make it, they reap as they have sown. Apart from money, there is also a lot of misery realized like stress, strife, lack of peace and more.
When we depend on ourselves rather than God, inevitably we will fall short and these will be the fruits of our lifestyle. Daniel chose to believe and trust in God and consequently, God gave him wisdom, favor, wealth and honor. The main difference here is that Daniel did not spend his life seeking wealth, but he was wealthy, he did not seek status but he had honor and most importantly he had the peace of knowing God was able to handle any problem he faced, and in this instance it was being thrown into a pit filled with lions.
Daniel can inspire us as believers to continue to be faithful to God even when there is a heavy price to pay. Hands up if you would accept to spend the night with lions because of your faith. Well, most of us are faced with challenges that are not as difficult as Daniel’s so we should persevere and not be discouraged. The God who delivered Daniel can certainly help us in our affliction and bring us out of whatever ‘den’ we find ourselves in.
P.S. The little-known aspects of the lions’ den in which Daniel was thrown is one of the fascinating things you can read about in Fifty-Two Fascinating Things You Could Have Missed In The Old Testament. Read an excerpt when you open the link.