The Lions’ Den: A Reflection On Daniel’s Experience

From 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 it. 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 diligent 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. They tried their utmost to find fault in the man but simply could not. So they came to a conclusion, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God”, they reasoned. The kings officers knew he was a devout servant of God.

After some deliberations they came up with a plan. The men 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 him to make it law, sign it, send it throughout 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 learned of it, he went to his upper-room and prayed with his window open facing Jerusalem as he had always done. The officers  assembled and went to see whether he would continue to petition his God. Sure enough they found him praying and went straight to the king.

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 said, “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 because he valued him as a high officer and as a person. He spent all night trying to find a way (using the law) through which he could rescue him but he could not. So he had no choice but to give the command and he was thrown into a den of lions.

They pushed him through the narrow opening and he slid downward until he reached the bottom. Once he was there, the king said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

A stone was then laid at the mouth of the den to close it off. Darius 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 and did not sleep all night.

Early in the morning, Darius 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?” The answer came, “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 commanded that Daniel be pulled up out of the pit. Soon afterward his anger was kindled against those who had tried to manipulate the law. He ordered that these men themselves be cast into the den—and the lions tore their flesh breaking their bones before they ever reached the bottom of the pit.

The king then decreed, “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 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. He 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 can relate to his 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 riches 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 are a lot of negatives realized like moral decay, strife, stress, depression, criminal activity, drug abuse and more.

When we depend on ourselves, inevitably we will fall short and the above will be the outcome of our lifestyle. Daniel chose to trust God and consequently was granted wisdom, favor, wealth and honor. The difference here is that he 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. In this case it was being thrown into a pit filled with lions.

He inspires us as believers to continue to be faithful to God even when there is a heavy price to pay. Now how many of us would accept to spend the night with lions because of our faith? Well, most of us are faced with challenges that are not as perilous so we should persevere and be encouraged. The God who delivered Daniel can certainly help us and bring us out of whatever den we find ourselves in.

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