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a stone sculpture representing the biblical story of Daniel in the lion’s den, 5 or 6th century CE. Roman or Greek. Made with ReMake and ReCap pro from AutoDesk.
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Who was Daniel in the Bible?
We can read about the life of Daniel in his own writings in the book of Daniel and also in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and 28:3. There are some striking similarities between the life of Daniel and that of Jacob’s son Joseph. Both of them prospered in foreign lands after interpreting dreams for their rulers, and both were elevated to high office as a result of their faithfulness to God.
After Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem, he chose noble men from Israel’s royal household who were handsome and showed an aptitude for learning, to be trained in the ways of the Babylonians. After their three years’ training, they would be put into the king’s service (Daniel 1:1-6). Daniel, whose name means “God is my judge,” and his three countrymen from Judea were chosen and given new names. Daniel became “Belteshazzar,” while Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah became “Shadrach," "Meshach," and "Abednego.” The Babylonians most likely gave them new names that were completely disassociated with their Hebrew roots to hasten Daniel and his friends’ assimilation into the Babylonian culture.
Daniel and his compatriots proved to be the wisest of all the trainees, and, at the end of their training, they entered the service of King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel’s first sign of faithfulness to God was when he and his three friends rejected the rich food and wine from the king’s table, because they deemed it a defilement, and became vegetarians. As their health improved, they were permitted to continue with their chosen diet. In their education, the four men from Judah became knowledgeable in all Babylonian matters, and Daniel was given by God the ability to understand dreams and visions of all kinds (Daniel 1:17).
In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar was troubled with a dream that he could not interpret. Beyond interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar commanded his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers to also describe his dream. These men were willing to try to interpret the dream if Nebuchadnezzar first told them what it was, but they said that revealing the dream itself was an impossible task for humans. The king decreed that all the wise men, including Daniel and his companions, must be put to death. However, after Daniel sought God in prayer, the mystery of the king’s dream was revealed to Daniel, and he was taken to the king to interpret it. Daniel immediately attributed his ability to interpret dreams to the one true God (Daniel 2:28). The key feature of the dream was that one day there will be a kingdom set up by God that will last forever, and that God’s kingdom will destroy all previous, man-made kingdoms (Daniel 2:44-45). For his wisdom, Daniel was honored by King Nebuchadnezzar and placed in authority over all the wise men of Babylon. At Daniel’s request, his three countrymen were also placed in positions of authority as administrators of Babylon.
Later, King Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, and again Daniel was able to interpret it. The king acknowledged that Daniel had the spirit of his holy God within him (Daniel 4:9). Daniel’s interpretation of the dream was correct. After experiencing a period of insanity, Nebuchadnezzar was restored to health, and he praised and honored Daniel’s God as the Most High (Daniel 4:34-37).
Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, became the new king, and during a banquet he ordered the gold and silver goblets that had been stolen from the holy temple in Jerusalem to be brought out for use. In response to the defilement of such holy items, Belshazzar sees a hand writing on the wall. His astrologers are unable to assist him in its translation, and so Daniel is called upon to interpret the writing (Daniel 5:13-16). As a reward for interpreting the writing, Daniel is promoted by King Belshazzar to the third highest position in the Babylonian kingdom (verse 29). That night, as Daniel had prophesied, the king was slain in battle, and his kingdom was taken over by the Persian Cyrus the Great, and Darius the Mede was made king.
Under the new ruler, Daniel excelled in his duties as one of the administrators to such a degree that King Darius was contemplating making him head over all the kingdom (Daniel 6:1-3). This infuriated the other administrators so much that they looked for a way to bring Daniel down. They could find no wrongdoing on Daniel’s part, so they focused on the matter of Daniel’s religion. Using flattery, the administrators coaxed Darius into issuing a decree forbidding prayers to any god other than the king for the next thirty days. The penalty for disobedience was to be thrown into a den of lions. Daniel disobeyed the edict, of course, and continued to pray openly to the true God. As Daniel made no attempt to hide his activity, he was seen praying and arrested. With much regret the king gave the order for Daniel to be thrown into the lions’ den, but not without a prayer that Daniel’s God would rescue him (Daniel 6:16). The next day, when Daniel was found alive and well, he told the king that God had sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths and so he had remained unharmed. This miracle resulted in King Darius sending out a decree that all his subjects were to worship the God of Daniel. Daniel continued to prosper throughout King Darius’ reign.
Daniel is also well known for the prophetic dreams and visions God gave him, recorded in the book of Daniel. Daniel’s prophecies cover a broad range of human history, as he predicted the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman Empires and the rise of a powerful king who “will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods” (Daniel 11:36). Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy spoke of a Messiah who would be killed (Daniel 9:24–27). We saw this prophecy fulfilled with Jesus. The remainder of the prophecy—the seventieth week—will be fulfilled in the end times. Daniel had other apocalyptic visions as well, and understanding his prophecies is important to eschatology.
Daniel exercised great integrity and, in doing so, received the respect and affection of the powerful rulers he served. However, his honesty and loyalty to his masters never led him to compromise his faith in the one true God. Rather than it being an obstacle to his success, Daniel’s continual devotion to God brought him the admiration of the unbelievers in his circle. When delivering his interpretations, he was quick to give God the credit for his ability to do so (Daniel 2:28).
Daniel’s integrity as a man of God gained him favor with the secular world, yet he refused to compromise his faith in God. Even under the intimidation of kings and rulers, Daniel remained steadfast in his commitment to God. Daniel also teaches us that, no matter whom we are dealing with, no matter what their status is, we are to treat them with compassion. See how concerned he was when delivering the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream (Daniel 4:19). As Christians, we are called to obey the rulers and authorities that God has put in place, treating them with respect and compassion however, as we see from Daniel’s example, obeying God’s law must always take precedence over obeying men (Romans 13:1–7 Acts 5:29).
As a result of his devotion, Daniel found favor with man and with God (Daniel 9:20-23). Notice also in those verses what the angel Gabriel told Daniel about how swiftly the answer to his prayer was dispatched. This shows us how ready the Lord is to hear the prayers of His people. Daniel’s strength lay in his devotion to prayer and is a lesson for us all. It is not just in the bad times but on a daily basis that we must come to God in prayer.
Little is known about Daniel's early life. His parents are not listed, but the Bible implies he came from a royal or noble family.
"This man Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.” (NIV)
"My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” (NIV)
“As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance." (NIV)
10 Things You Didn't Know about Daniel in the Bible
The story of Daniel in the lion’s den was one of the first stories I learned as a child. Right up there with Jonah and the whale and Noah and his ark, the story of Daniel’s brave refusal to stop praying to the God of Israel is cemented in my brain.
It wasn’t until much later, when I read the entire book of Daniel for the first time, that I encountered many other fascinating tidbits about this inspiring Old-Testament hero. Here are a few I find particularly interesting:
1. Daniel was an expat. Even though Daniel goes down in Jewish and Christian history books as one of Israel’s finest, he didn’t live in Israel for very long. Deported as a captive when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in 605 B.C., Daniel lived most of his life in Babylon.
2. Daniel had a bit of an identity crisis. His Hebrew name, Daniel, means "God is Judge." Shortly after his arrival in Babylon, however, probably as part of the Babylonian’s attempt to brainwash the young exile, his name was changed to Belteshazzar, which means, "Bel’s prince." Bel was the ruling god of the Babylonian pantheon.
3. Daniel was a vegetarian teetotaler (Daniel 1:12). Yup, long before tofu was trendy and Stevia reigned, Daniel and his friends shunned meat, sweets, and wine. Drafted along with other exiles of noble birth, Daniel was chosen for a three-year training course to prepare him to enter the king’s service. Part of his preparation involved eating the king’s delicacies. Daniel refused, probably because the meat and wine had been offered to idols and/or conflicted with Israel’s dietary laws.
4. Daniel was a skilled negotiator. When ordered to eat foods that offended his conscience, he made a humble appeal to the steward in charge. When the steward rejected his appeal, Daniel made a counter-offer. “'Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead” (Dan. 1:12-16). Score one for Daniel.
5. Daniel was an overachiever. Forget the dean’s list and Who’s Who Among Israeli Exiles Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego far surpassed their fellow students in a test given by King Nebuchadnezzar. “He found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” in every matter of wisdom and understand about which he questioned them (Dan. 1:20).
6. Daniel was an honest politician. After graduating with high honors, Daniel and his three friends were appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to government positions (Dan. 1:19). Daniel’s political career spanned more than 70 years during the reigns of several Babylonian and Persian kings.
7. Daniel was an oneirologist. Oneirology, the study of dreams, became popular in the 17th century, but Daniel studied and interpreted dreams more than 500 years before Christ. Along with knowledge and skill in literature and wisdom, God had given Daniel the ability to unravel the mystery of dreams (Dan. 1:17).
8. Daniel was prone to fainting spells, breathlessness, and weakness. Apparently receiving visions and revelation can be quite taxing. After receiving a vision describing future world governments, “Daniel, fainted and was sick for days,” (Dan. 8:17). A visit and a vision from the angel Gabriel had a similar effect on him: “I (Daniel) had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale, and I was helpless.”
9. Daniel was twice visited by God’s archangel. Most commonly known as the angel who appeared to Mary in the New Testament to announce the coming Messiah, we first read about Gabriel in Daniel 8:16. His first recorded biblical assignment was to help Daniel interpret a puzzling vision.
10. Daniel was an octogenarian when he was thrown into the lion’s den. The chronology of Daniel’s life shows that he had been a faithful government servant for more than 70 years. During a regime change, his exemplary resume caught the eye of the incoming King Darius, who appointed him as one of three national governors. His jealous colleagues decided to off the elder statesman, but because he was above reproach, failed to find any “charge or fault” against him (Dan. 6:4). Determined to bring about his demise, they crafted a plan for religious persecution, convinced the unwitting king to sign it, and targeted Daniel for execution while he prayed in his room. Instead of throwing Daniel a well-deserved retirement dinner, King Darius wound up throwing Daniel in as the lions’ dinner.
Lions notwithstanding, Daniel’s commitment to integrity, devotion to the Lord, and unwavering faith make him a biblical hero worth studying. The Old Testament counterpart to the apostle John, God calls both men “beloved.” Five centuries apart, they wrote parallel and complementary end times prophecies that give us fascinating and frightening glimpses into the future. Most important, however, a study of the book of Daniel gives us a powerful example for how to live righteously in a society that does not honor God. Only 12 chapters long, the book of Daniel is a must-read.
Lori Hatcher is a blogger, women’s ministry speaker, and author of the Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A Toastmasters International contest-winning speaker, Lori’s goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. She especially loves small children, soft animals, and chocolate. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).
Daniel in the Lion's Den
3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom but they could find none occasion nor fault forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into hishouse and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
Daniel & the Lions Den (100% Free) Kids Story, Lesson, Printable Activities
God saved Daniel from the Lions’s Den — this is a powerful lesson for kids about trusting in the LORD’s protection. Print our free storybook, lesson plans, & coloring pages to make sure children know they can trust God in times of trouble
Summary: The prophet Daniel was living under a King who didn’t respect God. When he made prayer against the law it didn’t stop Daniel from praying. The punishment was terrible – he was thrown into a cave of lions overnight. The LORD saved Daniel and protected him from harm all night long. The next day everyone was amazed by the power of God. Just like Daniel, we can trust that Jesus will save those who follow him. No matter how bad the trouble, God has the power to save.
Printable Story Book
This simple read-along mini book will help younger children learn the story of Daniel. It’s ideal for a preschool or toddler lesson.
Movie Clips – YouTube Videos
Sunday School Lessons
Our website has many different teaching helps for this story of the Lions’ Den. To make things easy, we combined all those resources in one PDF printable you can download above. The total is a 42 page curriculum download. Simply teach the sections you feel most appropriate for your children’s church or Sunday School class.
This Bible lesson is based on Daniel 6 where Daniel is thrown into a den of lions because he continued to pray to God even after his enemies tricked Darius to make a law that no one could pray to anyone but him or be punished. This lesson was prepared for an older elementary Sunday School class. It can be used for upper elementary ages and Children’s Church. With simplification it can be used for preschool classes. At the end of the lesson you will find additional resources to help you plan for you class’s needs.
Bible Story: Daniel in the Lion’s Den
Scripture: Daniel 6
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 12 (U.S. 3rd – 6th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Printer Friendly Bible Lesson: [print_link] this lesson plan
You Can Help: Please leave your feedback and suggestions for this lesson plan. Others will benefit from your ideas. Click here to respond
Lesson Objective(s): Students will learn:
- Godly character allows others to see Jesus more clearly.
- Character has consequences
- Godly character requires discipline.
Memory Verse: 1 Peter 2:12 “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”
Optional: If you adapt this lesson for younger children you could use our free Daniel coloring page. We also have a craft / activity for Daniel in the Lion’s Den.
Teacher Preparation before students arrive: Put out activities that have been planned for students to engage in as they wait for the others to arrive. Write Memory Verse on the board. Make 2 columns and title the first column Character and the Second Consequences. Then place Daniel and Daniel’s enemies next to the columns.
Bible Lesson: Daniel in the Lions Den
This lesson is just a guide to teach this lesson. God is always faithful to answer prayer for insight to the specific needs of the students of your class. He will show you the truths that you need to emphasize and the style to teach the lesson in.
Begin lesson time with reciting the memory verse together. Explain pagans (unbelievers, people not following Christ).
Ask the students: What is character? Allow the students to respond. (A person, esp. with reference to behavior or personality) What are some character traits that people can have? (Honest, liar, lazy, hard worker, encourager, discourager, loyal, disloyal, etc.) Character traits can be positive and they can be negative. Character also has consequences. If you are honest, people will trust you. If you are lazy, you won’t get good grades that come from studying. Godly character requires discipline. We must follow God every day and obey His commands to have Godly character.
Our verse tells us how important it is that if we are followers of Christ we must live lives with godly character. Those who don’t believe in God and don’t follow Christ are always looking for a reason not to believe and they look at His followers to find some character flaw to be an excuse not to believe. We are commanded to be lights in this world so that we can point others to God. Matthew 5:16 If we are known by our bad character others have a difficult time seeing how great God is.
We are going to get into our Bible study this morning and as we learn about the people in the story we will record the character of the people and the consequences of that character. (Make sure each student has a copy of the Bible so they can follow along as you teach the lesson.)
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Daniel 6.
Review last week’s lesson on the Writing on the Wall.
Darius became king when he and his armies overcame Belshazzar and entered Babylon under the walls. As the ruler of this new territory, Darius chose 120 satraps or governors to have authority over the people living in the different territories. The 120 were under the leadership of 3 vice presidents that the king chose. Have a volunteer read Daniel 6:3. What character trait does Daniel have? (Write it in Daniel’s column) As one of the 3 vice presidents, Daniel had a very good reputation before King Darius. Because of his excellent reputation the king was planning to promote him and set him over the entire kingdom.
The 2 other vice presidents did not like the idea that the King was planning to make Daniel ruler over the entire kingdom. Have volunteer read Daniel 6:4a. What kind of character did these other vice presidents have? Write the character traits under Daniel’s enemies’ column. They were jealous because the king thought Daniel was an excellent man with an exceptional reputation. They didn’t want him promoted as ruler over the entire kingdom.
A term that came to mind that could describe these men’s character is that they had evil eyes. They were looking hard for something wrong with Daniel instead of looking out for his best interest. This term is found in the Bible in Isaiah 29:20. The only way they could keep Daniel from looking good in the eyes of the king was to look for something that Daniel was doing wrong in his work. Surely they could find a time when he was dishonest in his job or took money that didn’t belong to him. Maybe they could catch him taking a nap at his desk when he was supposed to be working. They searched and searched for something bad to say about Daniel but couldn’t find anything wrong. Have volunteer read Daniel 6:4b. What did these men learn about Daniel? Write the traits in under Daniel. In everything Daniel was found trustworthy and faithful.
Can others say that about us? Are you trustworthy? Can people believe what you say and when you do something do you do it to the best of your ability? If you are a Christian you can be trustworthy and faithful with God’s help by the power of His Holy Spirit that lives in your heart.
It frustrated the 2 vice presidents that they could not find anything wrong with Daniel’s behavior. They still wanted to make him look bad to the king so they thought about it and realized that the only way they could make Daniel look bad is if they made him break God’s laws. They knew that Daniel was faithful to his God and the only way he could do something wrong was if he sinned against God.
The two vice presidents gathered many of the satraps that were serving in the kingdom and told them their plan to bring Daniel down. They wanted so desperately to get Daniel in trouble that they began to negatively influence the satraps as well. (Bad company corrupts good character. 1 Corinthians 15:33.) When they came up with their plan and got the crowd of people pumped up about their plan they took it to the King Darius.
Imagine being King Darius on the day his appointed leaders show up before him. They stood before him and spoke flattering words, they said, “O King Darius, live forever! We have gotten together and have agreed that we think that you should make a law that for the next thirty days no one should pray to any other god except to you. If anyone breaks your law the punishment will be thrown into the lions’ den.”
Let’s look at Darius’ character. At this part of the story his character is missing something. He lacks something. Can anyone name what Darius didn’t seem to have at this moment? Darius lacked discernment/wisdom. Discernment is the ability to have good judgment or wisdom. If Darius had discernment he would have seen through the deception of this plan. He didn’t think about the consequences of this unchangeable law.
The king was flattered. Here was a group of his leaders suggesting that all the people only pray to him for the next thirty days. He was being influenced to think he was god and was worthy of others’ praise and worship. It sounded like a good idea to him because he got lost in his own pride and thinking how wonderful it would be to be praised by the people of his kingdom. He wrote out the law and signed and sealed the law making the law unchangeable. What was written must take place and no one could change the king’s law.
The vice presidents’ character had a negative influence on the satraps. Next they moved their negative influence to King Darius. Their actions were causing others to sin against God and trying to hurt Daniel in the process.
Have volunteer read Daniel 6:10. When Daniel heard that the law was written and signed by the king he went home and did what he always did. He opened his window that was facing in the direction of Jerusalem a place he lived with God’s people many years before. He got on his knees and began to pray and asked God for help.
Ask the students: what character trait do you see in Daniel when after hearing that he could be in danger for praying, still prays before God? (Faithful, courage) Daniel was faithful to God and did not let anything keep him from praying and talking to God.
As Daniel is praying with his window open, his enemies came to his house and found him praying to his God. They must have been so excited that they finally caught Daniel doing something wrong. They found so much satisfaction that they had tricked the king so they could catch Daniel breaking a law. They rushed back to King Darius and said, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles (someone who was taken from their own land) from Judah pays no attention to you, O King or to the law you put into writing. He still prays three times a day to his God.
Daniel’s enemies were happy but Darius was very troubled. He knew Daniel was a faithful man with an excellent spirit. He must have wanted to kick himself for falling for the trick of making this crazy law that people could only pray to him. He tried very hard to keep Daniel from being punished because he broke this law. He worked hard until the day was over trying to rescue Daniel from his punishment.
The enemies came to the king and reminded him that he could not break his own law and that Daniel was to be punished in the lion’s den.
This event made me think of how God is our great King. His laws are always right and He doesn’t make hasty decisions that He doesn’t know the outcome. God’s law says sin must be punished by death. King Darius didn’t use wisdom when he made his law. Daniel’s enemies who were desperate to find a way to find something wrong with him heavily influenced him. He made a mistake and could not change his law. Because of his lack of discernment Daniel now was being placed in a dangerous situation. God is just and righteous and makes only wise decisions and we can trust that His laws are for our best and will help us to live a life that pleases Him.
Knowing that he had no other choice, Darius ordered Daniel to be thrown into the lions’ den. As Daniel was being taken to the den the king said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
As Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den the king had a stone placed over the mouth of the den and sealed it with his signet ring. Does this make you think of anything from the New Testament? (Allow them to answer if they know. Matthew 27:66 Jesus’ tomb was sealed with a signet ring.) Why was a seal put on the stone? Verse 17 says so that Daniel’s situation could not be changed. No one would be able to roll away the stone and take him out or worse try to kill him on their own.
Darius returned to his palace and spent the entire night without eating or having any kind of entertainment. If we could see him in his room, what do you think he might have been doing? Do you think he may have paced the floors worrying about Daniel’s life? Is it possible that he prayed to Daniel’s God and asked him to rescue Daniel? We don’t know exactly what he did we just know that it must have been a long night for Darius.
As soon as it was daylight Darius ran to the lions’ den. When he got to the den he called out to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel servant of the living God has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
What a relief it was for Darius to hear Daniel say, “O king live forever! My God sent His angels and He shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”
Daniel had been protected because he was faithful to God and because he had placed his trust in Him. God sees all that we do and He knows when we are treated unfairly. Continue to be faithful and trust Him to protect you and to help you in your difficulty. (Write under Consequences: A consequence to faithfulness to God is having His protection .) It takes daily discipline to be faithful to God. We must spend time each day praying to Him and reading His Word if we are going to be strong in our faith like Daniel was.
The king was overjoyed that Daniel was alive! He gave orders to lift Daniel up out of the den. They brought him out and there wasn’t a bite mark or a scratch found on his body because he had trusted in his God. That is amazing faith!
The king commanded that Daniel’s enemies who falsely accused him were to be thrown into the lions’ den along with their wives and children. Before they reached the floor of the lions’ den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. (Consequence for deceitfulness is punishment .)
King Darius wrote a new law that said that everyone in his kingdom must honor and respect Daniel’s God. King Darius saw God’s power in Daniel’s godly life and His protection from the hungry lions. Darius praised the living God before the people.
Daniel was successful during the reign of Darius and the next king, Cyrus. God had blessed Daniel’s life because he was a faithful follower of Him.
Our character influences and is powerful to those around us. We see in this story the negative impact the enemies had on those around them. Anyone who joined in their plan was destroyed by the lions along with their own wives and children.
Sin negatively affects all of us. It is like a disease that is passed on to all of us. If we choose to sin our sin affects those around us. Sin leads to death. When we choose to let sin grow in our life we will eventually suffer consequences of that sin. A simple example of this would be smoking. When a person smokes they are misusing their bodies. Over time the effects of smoking harm the person’s body and can cause sickness that leads to death. The choice to take that first puff on a cigarette can lead to death. When someone smokes in a room of others who are not smoking the smoke affects everyone in the room. The non smokers were not choosing to breathe in the cigarette smoke but because the smoker chose to smoke the smoke gets into the lungs of the others. It also causes the non-smokers’ clothes to smell like cigarette smoke. This is just an example of how our sin affects others.
Daniel had a positive impact on Darius. Because of his good reputation and faithfulness to God he gained favor in Darius’ sight. Darius’ came to know that God is living and powerful through Daniel’s excellent life.
How is your character influencing others around you? Are others learning what it means to be a Christian by the way you live your life or are they learning how to get in trouble at school or at home because of your actions and attitudes?
If you are trying to be a good influence it is important that you ask God to show you if you have any habits or attitudes that might not be a good example to those who are watching you.
If you are not a Christian it is impossible to ever live a life like Daniel. No man has the power in him/herself to live a life pleasing to God. All the good things we do are like filthy rags to God. Isaiah 64:6 In our own flesh (without Jesus’ help) there is no good thing. Romans 7:18 The only way we can be a godly influence in this world is to come to God and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world by His death on the cross. God the King says that the punishment for breaking His laws is death. The only way you or I can be rescued from that punishment is through faith in Jesus Christ. He died in our place so we don’t have to die. When you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in your heart. He helps you by convicting you of sin, teaching you how to understand the Bible and helping you to be a godly influence in the lives of those around you.
Let’s choose to live good lives among others this week so we can be a light for Jesus!
Questions: Choose a review game that would be fun for your students to play as they answer questions.
1. Who is Darius?
2. How many Satraps did Darius have in his kingdom?
3. Who was one of the vice presidents over the satraps?
4. Why were the 2 vice presidents jealous of Daniel?
5. Why were they looking for something that Daniel had done wrong in his life?
6. How did they plan to get Daniel in trouble before the king?
7. Why was Darius upset when they told him about Daniel praying?
8. Who did Darius want to protect Daniel in the lions’ den?
9. Why was Daniel safe in the lions’ den?
10. What happened to Daniel’s enemies?
11. What can you do this week that will be a positive influence in another person’s life?
12. What would your friends do in this situation? Would they be worried?
While waiting for parents to pick up students play the Bible Sword Drill Game. Have an index card of the scriptures that were included in this lesson. Demonstrate what the students are to do. When the teacher says “Swords Up” hold the Bible with the binding in the palm of your hand. The Scripture reference will be written on the board and spoken aloud. Students wait til teacher says “Charge!” Before trying to find the passage. The student who finds the passage stands up. To allow the other students an opportunity to find the passage too note the student who stood first and when the passage is found allow the student who found it first to read. Sometimes students don’t want to be the first to find it because they don’t like to read out loud. Encourage everyone to participate and if they don’t want to read aloud they can choose a friend to read the passage. The goal of this game is to help students familiarize themselves with God’s Word. (You may also want to do this to ‘warm’ the students up before the Bible lesson. After going over the memory verse you could have a Sword drill with similar verses to drive home the point of the memory verse. Matthew 5:16, Philippians, 2:15, Titus 2:7 (have student read verse 8 as well), 1 Peter 3:16, Daniel 12:3, 1 Timothy 4:12)
Need More Help? Then browse our list of Sunday School games or check out all the free Sunday School Lessons for Children.
Daniel in the Lions' Den
The Old Testament Book of Daniel recounts how the biblical hero was condemned to spend the night in the lions' den for worshipping God rather than the Persian king Darius. Depicted here is the following morning when, after the stone sealing the entrance was rolled away, Daniel gives to God for having survived the night safely. For theologians, the image of Daniel being freed from the cave symbolized the resurrection of Christ from the sepulcher.
Rubens masterfully combined realism and theatricality in order to produce a strong emotional impact. Several of the lions, for instance, stare directly at the viewer, creating a suggestion that the spectator shares the same space as the lions, and thus, like Daniel, experiences the same menace of the savage predators. This immediacy is heightened by the fact that the beasts are portrayed full size on the huge canvas and depicted with convincing realism. The lifelike movement of the lions and their superbly rendered fur results from Rubens' direct observation and sketches made in the royal menagerie in Brussels. Complementing this veracity is the dramatic lighting and the exaggerated emotionalism of Daniel's prayerful pose.
Daniel in the Lion's Den - History
We&rsquore looking at Daniel chapter 6 tonight. What a wonderful and exciting adventure it is to go through this chapter. I&rsquom often torn as I approach these narrative chapters about the possibility of splitting them down and covering them over a period of time, and yet the story is so wonderful as a whole that I find myself pressed to deal with all of it, and so we sort of run our way through these great narrative sections of the book of Daniel. This is the last of those. This sixth chapter ends the historical narrative portion, and from seven on, we get into some deep and exciting prophetic truth. We&rsquoll be touching on that beginning next Lord&rsquos day.
We&rsquore looking at Daniel chapter 6, the famous chapter in which we find Daniel in and out of the lions&rsquo den. Just as an introduction, let me make a couple of comments relative to what we&rsquoll learn in the text. Nations are born, they live, they die. They rise and they fall with great regularity. In fact, as you study history, you are more and more impressed with the fact that nations rapidly pass from off the scene. We look back to the Empires of the Hittites, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and finally the Babylonians, where we find Daniel first taking the role of prime minister. They were followed by the Persians, and the Medes, and the Greeks, and the Romans. All of them came and all of them went.
On our own continents, in the Western Hemisphere, we find tales told of the great Mayan, the great Inca, the great Aztec civilizations, but little or no trace remains except for some archaeological artifacts. They have come and they have gone.
In more modern times, some of you have lived through the greatness of the days of England. You remember the greatness of France. You remember when Italy was a major power in the world and threatened even to dominate Europe under the leadership of Mussolini. We remember Germany. Hitler, who with his Aryan philosophy, thought he could conquer the world. We have seen the rise of Japan as a military power. China seems to have had its day. Russia seems to be having its day now. And America may be on the wane.
Nations rise, nations fall. They come and go. But the Bible tells us in Acts 17 that the times of the nations are bounded by the sovereignty of God. And what happens to the nations is all in the predetermined plan of God for history. Now what is especially thrilling is that the coming and the going of nations has very little to do with the ongoing of the people of God.
There couldn&rsquot be imagined a more cataclysmic event than just happened in chapter 5 of Daniel. Babylon has fallen. At the height of its glory, supposedly, the head of gold, the greatest Empire that humanity had ever known, the Medes and the Persians entered the city and without firing a shot, as it were, the whole Empire fell. But what is amazing about it is that it had little or no impact on what God did with His people, for Daniel rides through the ebb and the flow of nations.
And as we come to chapter 6, we enter the second in the great four empire scene in the image of Daniel chapter 2, the Medo-Persian Empire, the breast and the arms of silver. And as we look at that Empire, we don&rsquot see Daniel in absentia, but we see Daniel right at the heart of the matter. He was a prime minister of Babylon, and he will equally be the prime minister of Medo-Persia.
And it excites me to think about that. Because I see today, across America and even around the world, a preoccupation among many Christian peoples with the preservation of certain nations, even our own. And in a strange way, they are tempting to equalize America with the church, or America with the plan of God, and that just isn&rsquot the way it is. Nations come and go and God&rsquos work goes on. And no nation is really significant when set against the backdrop of eternity and God&rsquos plan.
For example, in Isaiah 40:15 it says, &ldquoBehold the nations are like a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance.&rdquo A very interesting statement. Nations are like one drop that spills out of a bucket. The only word I can think of is &ldquoinconsequential.&rdquo They are like the dust on the balance, which is not a factor in the weighing at all. When God sets about to weigh out the history of humanity, the nations are not the issue. And when God pours out the floods of the flow of His redemptive plan, one drop is inconsequential. The nations are drops. They are dust.
Backing up in Isaiah 40:7-8, he compares the nations to grass that withers and dies and fades away. We think back to Nimrod, and Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar, and Cyrus, and Artaxerxes, and Alexander, and the Caesars, the Pharaohs, Napoleon, Churchill, Mussolini, Hitler, Mao, Khrushchev, and into our modern time, and the leaders and the nations come and go and God&rsquos work goes on.
In Daniel 4:17, you&rsquoll remember that great word. &ldquoThis matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will.&rdquo
God rules in history. And nations may come and nations may go, even our own. But God&rsquos redemptive plan as unfolded through His people will go on according to schedule. The people of God go through the rise and the fall of nations. They transcend. That&rsquos a great hope for us. And we see that in Daniel. Babylon is fallen. The head of gold is crushed. The times of the Gentiles is moved into phase two, but Daniel is right where God wants him, and God is unencumbered by the decisions of men.
When you think about the fact that Babylon has fallen, it&rsquos really amazing. Nebuchadnezzar, of course, had a habit of putting his name on every brick that he put into the buildings of Babylon. In fact, one writer says that we have literally found uncounted thousands of bricks with Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos name on them - trying to build a lasting empire. One brick, which is now in the British Museum, has the image and the name of Nebuchadnezzar and a dog&rsquos footprint over both of them.
So it is with the world, but God&rsquos people and God&rsquos plan transcends all that. So we see Daniel surviving, and in chapter 6, we find him in the midst of the Medo-Persian Empire.
Now, I want some key words to take us through this text. We&rsquore going to begin at the beginning of chapter 6. It&rsquos a narrative text. We don&rsquot need to spend a lot of time on each section. We want to get to the climax and then draw some practical implications. But we&rsquore going to use some key words just to help us keep our place as we go.
The first one is promotion, promotion. And that deals with verses 1-3. &ldquoIt pleased Darius to set over the kingdom - &rdquo this is the Medo-Persian kingdom &ldquo - an hundred and twenty princes, who should be over the whole kingdom And over these, three presidents, - &rdquo and by the way, that&rsquos the only place in the Bible that word, &ldquopresident,&rdquo is ever used in the Hebrew - or the Aramaic, rather - and it appears to be a word that means &ldquochief.&rdquo
He set over these hundred and twenty satraps, or territorial leaders, three chiefs to whom they reported. &ldquoOf whom Daniel was first: in order that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.&rdquo
Now, there we find the promotion. Notice, first of all, that we meet Darius. Now, Darius is a very elusive person because we have no extra-biblical data in existence to tell us anything about Darius. We just really don&rsquot know who he is. We find nobody at that particular point in history who is named Darius. There doesn&rsquot seem to be a place in the genealogical record of the kings of that time for a man named Darius.
Now, some scholars feel that Darius is another name for a king by the name of Gubaru, Gubaru, who was not really a king, but was really someone appointed under Cyrus as kind of a ruler of the territory of Babylon. Cyrus, being the great monarch of the whole Empire of Medo-Persia, appointed this Gubaru as the one to rule in Babylon. And some say that this word Darius is just another name for Gubaru.
But an explanation that I prefer is that Darius is just another name for Cyrus, just another name for Cyrus. I feel that that&rsquos perhaps the best explanation of all. Why? Because the word Darius is a title. It is a title. It&rsquos kind of like Pharaoh, or king, or Caesar. It&rsquos a title.
We find the word Darius, for example, used on inscriptions in archeology for at least five different Persian rulers. They&rsquore all called &ldquoDarius.&rdquo So it seems best to see this as a title, as a title of honor, a title of significance. And so, we could assume, then, that it is just a title given to Cyrus. And if you look at 6:28, you might get some little help on that.
It says, &ldquoSo this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius - &rdquo and, of course, in the Aramaic it could read &ldquo - even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.&rdquo And there are some commentators who favor that rendering, rather than &ldquo - and the reign of Cyrus - &rdquo making them parallel, using &ldquo - even in the reign of Cyrus.&rdquo
Now, if you back up into chapter 6, you find that Darius sets over the kingdom 120 princes, and it seems to me that if he were doing that he would have to be bigger than some localized ruler in Babylon. And if he was going to establish three chiefs over the whole kingdom, he&rsquod have to be somebody pretty important. I believe he is seen then as the Medo-Persian monarch Cyrus, just by another official title. The very fact that he had to set up 120 princes would indicate that he had to have a broader dimension of rule than just Babylon itself, just the city-state of Babylon.
So, we meet, then, this man Cyrus, perhaps best seen behind the name Darius. He is a capable man. He is an intelligent man. He is an effective man in terms of organization and structure. He&rsquos a powerful man. He&rsquos a man without commitment to God, that is the God of Israel, but to his own gods, and yet he is man who does indicate some great interest in the God of Daniel, and that increases as we get through this 6th chapter.
Now, notice that it says that when he appointed the 120 and the three presidents, verse 2 says, &ldquoDaniel was first.&rdquo It is possible to see the word first as just the word &ldquoone,&rdquo Daniel was one. Or, we could see it as the word first, and meaning that he was the first one chosen, or he was the first in rank. It really doesn&rsquot matter. What does matter is in verse 3 that &ldquoDaniel was preferred above everybody else.&rdquo
And the word &ldquopreferred&rdquo in the Aramaic is a participle which means &ldquohe was distinguishing himself constantly over the others.&rdquo He was, without question, the finest statesman in the entire Medo-Persian Empire, as he had been the finest statesman in the Babylonian Empire, as he perhaps is the finest statesman who ever walked on the face of the earth.
You&rsquoll notice that in verse 3 it says that, &ldquo - in him was an excellent spirit.&rdquo That&rsquos really talking about his attitude. And, of course, attitude pervades everything we do. This is a commendable thing, a right attitude. But Daniel had more than that going for him. He had experience. I mean, he had lived through the last regime as the prime minister. He had wisdom, wisdom like nobody else had.
He had a sense of history. He had apparently dramatic leadership ability, if what he was able to do in the lives of the three young men earlier in the book is any indication of the model that he set. He had administrative ability and was given responsibility on a wide and far-reaching basis. And beyond all of that, he had the ability to interpret dreams and visions, and give everybody an idea of what was coming in the future, and that&rsquos invaluable to a monarch. What a man.
God put him right where He wanted him. God allowed Darius to recognize the capability of Daniel, and to put him in a very strategic place, a place of influence.
You know, what&rsquos interesting is in the first year of Cyrus, or the first year of Darius, he gave a decree that the Jews could go back to Judah. The decree of Cyrus, the 70 years of Babylonian captivity was up, and Cyrus gave that decree that he go back - rather that the Jews go back. And I really believe that Daniel was the one who was the great influence on him to that extent.
I think it was because of the power of the life of Daniel, because of the wisdom of the man, because of the influence of the man, that even in the first year of Cyrus&rsquo rule, around 538 or 537 B.C., he made the decree to let the people go. And that occurred before the lions&rsquo den incident, in the very first year of Cyrus.
So, we see again Daniel. But this time, rather than looking at him as a young man, as we have been in the past, we see him as a very old man. In fact, mark this, in chapter 6, Daniel is pushing hard at 90 years of age - 90 years of age - and he&rsquos still God&rsquos man. He&rsquos still God&rsquos choice. And he was still the choice of the king to be the prime minister. You know, the power of a virtuous life extends into old age.
Dr. Criswell at Dallas First Baptist tells of Robert G. Lee who was a great preacher in the south. And Robert G. Lee, on his 84th birthday, which was in 1970, November 11, was asked this question, &ldquoAre you going to keep on preaching, Dr. Lee?&rdquo This is what he replied. &ldquoWhen there are so many unsaved people around, when there are sorrowing hearts to be comforted, when so many young people are throwing away their life in folly&rsquos court and carnal pleasure&rsquos mart when there are so many evils against which protest must be made when so many old people are lonely on the sunset trail when in 1910, at my ordination, I was married to preaching until death do us part why should I not in the 85th year of my life keep on preaching?&rdquo
Dr. Lee added some fortifying statistics, by the way, that ought to bless and encourage any of you who are pushing 90 or 80. This is what he said. &ldquoNewman Darlan, a scholar of accepted standing, made an analysis of the lives and achievements of 400 foremost characters of history. The analysis showed that nearly 80 of the world&rsquos greatest figures closed active lives between 58 and 80. Twenty-five percent continued beyond 70, twenty-two and a half percent beyond 80, and six percent beyond 90. Consider what has been done by men beyond 80.
&ldquoWhen 83, Gladstone, for the fourth time, became Prime Minister of Great Britain. Michelangelo, at 89, executed his Last Judgment, perhaps the most famous single picture in the world. John Wesley preached with almost undiminished eloquence at 88, closing at that remarkable age, the most remarkable career of his time, having traveled a quarter of a million miles in an age that knew neither electricity nor steam, and he had delivered, someone estimated, 4,000 sermons, and written volumes and volumes of books.
&ldquoEdison was inventing at 90. Wright, at 90, was considered a creative architect. Shaw was writing plays at 90. Grandma Moses was painting at 80. J.C. Penny, the great Christian, was working strenuously at his desk at 95.&rdquo
And we say, &ldquoOh, I&rsquom 55. I&rsquove got to get out.&rdquo And we forfeit the richness of age, the richness of age. Daniel was pushing 90 and he was God&rsquos man. And God put him right where He wanted him and the politics of Medo-Persia had little to do to withstand it.
Second word - the first is promotion the second is plot, verses 4-9. Whenever a man is lifted up by the Lord to a place of prominence, he falls into certain difficulty. There&rsquos always a price to pay. There&rsquos no exaltation, and there&rsquos no success, and there&rsquos no prominence that&rsquos not paid for by a certain amount of slavery. The man who succeeds is a man who works, the man who slaves, who labors. He is chained.
If he is a musician, he is fastened to his piano. If he is an artist, he is fastened to his canvas. If he is a preacher, he is fastened to his books and his prayers. If he is an author, it is his manuscript. If he is a poet, it is his lyric. If he is a physician, it is his patients and his books. If he is a theologian, it is his study. Anybody and everybody who excels is a prisoner. And so, there&rsquos a price to pay. He slaves at his assignment. He pours his life into it.
But, there&rsquos another price to pay for being in a position of blessing by God. And that is the fact that whenever you get into that position, you will find yourself dogged and hounded and followed by envy. It&rsquos just the way it is. We find it in Philippians chapter 1, don&rsquot we, where Paul was a prisoner, and some were adding affliction to his bonds by saying evil things about his ministry. They wanted to make him feel worse than he did being a prisoner. They were preaching Christ contentiously as a negative ministry against Paul.
It&rsquos amazing how when God lifts up somebody, other people&rsquos hearts burn in rage, and jealousy, and bitterness, even when that individual has done them no injury and absolutely no harm. How could anybody hate Daniel? How could anybody despise such a man? I&rsquoll ask you a tougher question. How could anybody crucify Jesus Christ? But they did.
In London, a contemporary with young Charles Spurgeon was an older preacher who had been in the city for a generation. He&rsquod spent years laboring faithfully in his ministry. And along came Charles Haddon Spurgeon, this fiery, winsome, young, dynamic individual, who arrived at London when he was about 20 years of age. And rather immediately - I mean, not even in a year or two or three, but immediately when he hit the scene - he had such an impact that people just flooded to hear Spurgeon preach. He was like a star that appeared in the sky, just flashing.
And the older minister said that when the throngs began to crowd around the young man, envy and jealousy began to enter my heart and it ate me up, it ate me up. There he was, a famous preacher in London, but the throngs were listening to Spurgeon. And the older pastor said he got on his knees, and cried out before God, and he told the Lord all about it. And then he said the Lord began to put in his heart praise, and intercession, and pleading for the young man, Spurgeon. He said, quote, &ldquoThe day came, after I prayed and took it to God, when upon every victory Spurgeon won, I felt as though I had done it myself.&rdquo God gave him victory.
But, it doesn&rsquot always happen. Let&rsquos see the opposite of that as we look at verse 4. &ldquoThen the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom but they could find no occasion nor fault forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.&rdquo Daniel had no Watergates. He had no skeletons in his closet. There was no way to indict this man.
Now, when a man is 90 years old, and he gets all of the people in political office around him digging around to try to find something and they come up zero, that&rsquos an honorable man. Great integrity, great honesty, great purity, great nobility. They found no fault, shechath, which means &ldquoto corrupt.&rdquo There&rsquos no corruption, no error, shalu, which means &ldquoto neglect.&rdquo In other words, the corruption is the sin of commission, and the error is the sin of omission. They couldn&rsquot find anything he did that he shouldn&rsquot have done, and anything that he didn&rsquot do that he should have done. What a virtuous man. They couldn&rsquot find anything.
Verse 5. &ldquoThen said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.&rdquo Now, people, I wish we had time to just preach on that verse. When they can&rsquot find anything against you but the fact that you are absolutely sold out to your God, then you are fulfilling the fact of the New Testament principle of suffering for righteousness sake. The only thing they said we&rsquoll ever get him on is that he is totally committed to his God. What a commendation. They couldn&rsquot find anything else. If there was anything, they would have found it, and they couldn&rsquot.
Verse 6. &ldquoThen these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.&rdquo Typical amenities. Every time you&rsquod come in there, you&rsquove got to say that. Daniel even says that in the lions&rsquo den. That&rsquos pushing the point a little bit, but anyway, verse 7. &ldquoAll the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together - &rdquo Now, that&rsquos just pure intimidation because it&rsquos a lot of hogwash. There was a group of them that made a plot. Not all of them agreed, but just stacking up all of those individuals, just intimidated, and they all consulted, they said &ldquo - to establish a royal statute, and make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, except of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.&rdquo
You&rsquove heard of queen for a day? This is king for 30 days. We want you to be God for thirty days. Now, when you can be elected to be God, you&rsquove got bad theology. And when you&rsquore only God for 30 days, it&rsquos even worse theology. Here they come in, &ldquoWe have consulted all the governors, and the princes, and the presidents, and the counsellors, and the captains, and everybody has agreed we ought to make a law. You&rsquore so wonderful, you are worthy of 30 days of being God. And we&rsquore just going - we&rsquore going to give you that privilege. And we just want to make a rule here, that whoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for 30 days, unless it&rsquos you, shall be cast into the den of lions.&rdquo
It&rsquos interesting here that if you look back at verse 6, there&rsquos a verb there, &ldquoassembled together.&rdquo It&rsquos a very interesting verb in the Aramaic. It means they &ldquocame hastily and tumultuously.&rdquo It&rsquos kind of like a rabble. I mean, they were kind of a tumultuous group. They were stirring and milling as they came in. A very strong verb, and it does indicate a large group of them who had pulled off this plot. But not everybody agreed, because Daniel was the leader and he didn&rsquot agree. I&rsquom sure he wasn&rsquot even consulted.
So, they all come in and pull off their lie. When they said, &ldquoall the presidents,&rdquo that&rsquos not true. There was one of them who didn&rsquot agree, who didn&rsquot even know, perhaps. We want to make a statute and a firm decree. And by the way, the double use of that, a royal statute and a firm decree, shows you how binding and strong they wanted it to be, that nobody but nobody can worship or make a petition of anybody but you for 30 days.
By the way, in those days, of course, their religion had established deities that were like men. Their deities were as fallible as men were. In other words, they made their image of God from their own image. And so, their gods were fallible. And so, to say that a man could be a God to us is absolutely ludicrous, because God is holy, and righteous, and perfect, and has none of the imperfections of humanity.
But for them, it wasn&rsquot a problem. In fact, if we study history carefully, we&rsquoll find that the Egyptians believed that the Pharaohs were gods, that the Romans believed that the Caesars were gods. The Ptolemies were believed to be gods. There are indications that the Seleucids claimed the role of deity. Even the Herods, you&rsquoll remember in Acts 12, took the place of gods. So that it was not uncommon for monarchs to do this.
Well, Darius was flattered. I mean, when you get the whole body politic coming in and wanting to do that for you, boy, that&rsquos pretty tough to resist. And so, he wasn&rsquot thinking. He was swept away in the emotion of the whole deal. Verse 8. &ldquoNow, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth it not.&rdquo
Now, we don&rsquot know a whole lot about the law of the Medes and Persians except we do know that once you made the law, you couldn&rsquot violate it. That was built into their system. And most studies indicate that the reason they did that was to prevent whimsical laws, that once a law was made, it was binding. And so, they were rather careful about those laws.
But when these guys came along and hit this king at the point of his vulnerability, his ego, he responded. Verse 9. &ldquoHe signed the writing and the decree.&rdquo Now there was a law. You make a petition of any god but this god, and you go to the lions&rsquo den.
So, we see the promotion and the plot. There&rsquos a third word, perseverance, verse 10, perseverance. Now the word got back to Daniel, and I want you to know what he did. &ldquoNow when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did previously.&rdquo I like that.
&ldquoThen these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.&rdquo You know, what I see here is perseverance. They made a law, and Daniel went back to his room and did what he did everyday. The pattern established originally by David apparently in Psalm 55: &ldquoMorning, noon and night, fell on his knees to pray.&rdquo And, of course, in those days, there was very frequently on the top of a house a kind of a little upper room.
We see them even in the New Testament time. A place of retreat, and they didn&rsquot have glass windows. What they did was put a lattice work over the windows, and they would let them be open and the warmth of the area of Babylon, which is a very hot place, and the breeze could blow through and cool them.
And so he would go up there and through the lattice work he would be visible, and he would face toward Jerusalem because that&rsquos where the longing of his heart was, the people of God, and the city of God, which symbolized God to him. And he would pray, no doubt, for the peace of Jerusalem, the restoration of the city, and whatever else was in his heart, the confession of sin, and anything else, and he did it just the way he always did it. Perseverance.
In other words, men may make their laws, but when the laws intersect and violate the rules that God lays down, we don&rsquot worry about those laws. And we come to that point in Acts, don&rsquot we, where Peter says we ought to obey God rather than men.
Now, you say, &ldquoWell, couldn&rsquot have Daniel been a little discreet? Couldn&rsquot he just close the window and pray the same way?&rdquo Yes. &ldquoCouldn&rsquot he have just cooled it for 30 days and talked to the Lord standing up and walking around, and it wouldn&rsquot have been as visible?&rdquo Yes. But any compromise at all would have been read as self-serving and it wasn&rsquot in his character to do that.
When they burned Polycarp, for example, at the stake in Smyrna in A.D. 155, he had been a Christian for 86 years. Before they lit the fire, they called on Polycarp and they said, &ldquoDeny the Lord and save your life.&rdquo In quiet assurance and with steady voice, this is what he said. &ldquoEighty-six years have I served Him. He&rsquos never done me any harm. Why should I forsake Him now?&rdquo And Polycarp, that disciple of John, with praises on his lips and a quiet commitment to the Lord, looked down at the flames and accepted them as God&rsquos will.
I think about Simon Peter. Simon Peter was in prison. The next day he was supposed to be executed, and an angel came to deliver him, and had to wake him up cause he was sound asleep. Amazing. It&rsquos like that song, &ldquoHe never sleeps, He never slumbers.&rdquo I remember the guy who was on the bottom of a ship and he was fearful, and finally he read that, and looked up to the Lord and said, &ldquoAs long as You&rsquore going to stay awake, there&rsquos no sense both of us losing sleep. I think I&rsquoll get some.&rdquo
And so, perseverance. What a truly virtuous and godly man. And then there&rsquos another key word that takes us through the text and that&rsquos the word prosecution, verse 12. And now the plot thickens. &ldquoThen they came near, and spoke before the king concerning the king&rsquos decree.&rdquo They had spied out Daniel. They saw what he did.
I&rsquom sure that they went in the morning, and they saw that deal right away, maybe they saw it at the noontime. That&rsquos probably more likely. They came in and got the decree going in the morning. They went there to Daniel&rsquos place at noon to watch him do it. They just saw the one time, and they ran back to the king.
And they spoke concerning the decree. &ldquoHast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any god or man within thirty days, except of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?&rdquo Now they put the monkey on the king&rsquos back. &ldquoThe king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.&rdquo
That&rsquos right. &ldquoThen answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, who is of the children of the captivity of Judah - &rdquo and they forever are throwing that at Daniel. That foreigner. That prisoner. That captive. Not even of the right stock &ldquo - He regardeth not thee, O king - &rdquo Was that true? That wasn&rsquot true, was it? Daniel was a loyal and faithful servant as long it never caused him to violate his principles. He regarded the king in the way a king should be regarded, as our Lord said, He &ldquorendered to Caesar what was Caesar&rsquos.&rdquo And he says, &ldquoHe doesn&rsquot regard the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.&rdquo
Now, I know they didn&rsquot hang around a whole day to see it all three times. They just saw one, and that was the assumption that he was doing, and it was a correct assumption. And so, they confront the king. He started out as king for a month, god for a month, and wound up as a fool in one day. What a fool. What a stupid thing to do, unthinking. And you know who he was angry at? He&rsquos a wise man, himself. He was angry at himself.
Verse 14. &ldquoThen the king, when he heard these words, was very much displeased with himself.&rdquo You know, at least the guy had the honesty to put the blame where it belonged. It was his own ego that entrapped him. The allurements are always going to be there, but we don&rsquot fall to them unless our own ego gets involved. And I like this. &ldquoHe set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.&rdquo
Let&rsquos assume the thing was signed in the morning. They hustled out to see what Daniel would do at noon. Daniel was there praying. They ran back and told the king, and now he had all after noon because execution, according to their custom, was to come before nightfall. And so, he had all afternoon. And he exhausted every legal means possible. He went every way. That&rsquos the implication of verse 14. &ldquoHe set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun.&rdquo
Now I don&rsquot know what he did, but maybe he tried to find a loophole in the law, or maybe he tried to find something in past Medo-Persian law that could undo this thing. But technically, there was no way out. And you know what I love about this? Daniel never says a word. Daniel never takes up his own cause. Daniel never defends himself. Like Christ, he is dumb before his shearers and opens not his mouth.
You see, he had such confidence in God through all these years that he would just commit himself to God. There was no defense, right? There was no - what could he say except - &ldquoThat&rsquos right. I was praying and I&rsquoll just keep on praying.&rdquo There was nothing to say.
So, the promotion, the plot, the perseverance, the prosecution. And another key word comes in verse 16, and that&rsquos the word &ldquopenalty.&rdquo Verse 15 says, &ldquoThen these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and the Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.&rdquo You are stuck with it. &ldquoThen the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions.&rdquo
Now these are real lions, folks, real lions. Lions that were purposely starved to be used as executioners. And I don&rsquot know how many there were in there, but there wasn&rsquot just a couple. I&rsquove seen pictures where there&rsquos two or three lions. No, I don&rsquot know how many, but there must have been an awful lot of lions, because when you get to the end of the chapter and everything starts coming down on the heads of the people who made the plot, they throw all of them in there, and they throw all their families in together, and they get eaten up before they hit the ground. A lot of lions in there.
One commentator said, &ldquoWell, there were only a few, and Daniel found a corner and hid.&rdquo No, no, no. It was a big place, right? &ldquoAnd he found a corner and he hid in the straw or whatever.&rdquo No. Lots of lions. And they were lions like you think of lions.
And so, &ldquoA stone was brought, and laid on the mouth of the den.&rdquo It&rsquos most likely a cave in the side of a hill, and on the lower place where the entrance was, they would have a stone to cover it. And then on the top of the hill, there was a hole with a grate over it. The reason we believe that is the word &ldquoden&rdquo is literally the word gôb in Aramaic, which is related to the Hebrew word gûwb which means &ldquopit.&rdquo And so, it was a pit. That&rsquos basically the idea. Gûwb in Hebrew means &ldquoto dig.&rdquo
And so here you have a sort of an underground pit with a side entrance, where they could sort of through that natural cave entrance bring the lions in and out, or do whatever they needed to do to feed them, and then this top entrance where the whole deal could be viewed as the people who were to be executed were executed.
And by the way, there has been some interesting study done in terms of archeology. They&rsquove discovered some of these lions&rsquo pits that were used by monarchs as places of execution. Keil, the very famous commentator on the Old Testament, describes one. It says, &ldquoIt consisted of a large square cavern under the earth, having a partition wall in the middle of it, which is furnished with a door, which the keeper can open and close from above.
&ldquoBy throwing in the food, he entices the lions from one chamber into the other, and then having shut the door, they enter the vacant space for the purpose of cleaning it. The cavern is open above, its mouth being surrounded by a wall of a yard and a half high, over which one can look down into the den.&rdquo Now this might be what it was like, a great big area in a hillside.
Now you&rsquoll notice that it says in verse 16, &ldquoThe king spoke and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will - &rdquo what? &ldquo - deliver thee.&rdquo Now where did he get that idea? Listen, you know enough about Daniel if you&rsquove been with us in this study to know that if Daniel had been hanging around for a year, at least by now, and perhaps two, that Darius had heard message, after message, after message about God. And you will also know that the history of what Daniel had seen God do in the past would be known to him, and that&rsquos perhaps one of the reasons he appointed him to the place he did.
It would seem apparent to me that Daniel would be one who would make manifest what he believed. He had already been involved in miracles. He had already been involved in giving advice about the release of the Jews to go home. And so I&rsquom sure the message was very clear about the power of Daniel&rsquos God who had delivered him. I&rsquom sure this man knew well the story of Azariah, Mishael, and the other &ndash I can&rsquot think of his other Hebrew name - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Babylonian but they had been delivered from the fiery furnace. And so he knew that this God could do it and this is great because this shows that Daniel&rsquos evangelistic effort is having some result.
So, &ldquothe stone was brought, it was sealed with the signet of the king, and the signet of his lords - &rdquo neither one could break that seal &ldquo - the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.&rdquo
Now all of this leads to another key word, preservation. Verse 18. &ldquoThen the king went to his palace.&rdquo You know, the Holy Spirit is so subtle about things. You&rsquod think that you&rsquod want to go right to the lions&rsquo den, right? I mean, if I was watching a film, for example, and the film came to the climax where they took Daniel and they threw him into the lions&rsquo den, and then they cut to the king&rsquos palace, I&rsquod go, &ldquoOh, you know? I don&rsquot want to see the king&rsquos palace. Take me back to the lions&rsquo den. I want to see what&rsquos going on in the lions&rsquo den.&rdquo Cut to the palace. Never says anything about the lions&rsquo den, nothing.
&ldquoAnd the king passed the night fasting.&rdquo Who cares, right? What happened in the lions&rsquo den? &ldquoThe king passed the night fasting, and neither were instruments of music,&rdquo one text says. Actually the Aramaic word is &ldquodiversions.&rdquo It could be music, women, dancers, whatever they used to divert the king. But he didn&rsquot want any of that: No music, no dancers, no food, no nothing. &ldquoHis sleep went from him.&rdquo And he just paced around.
&ldquoAnd he arose very early, and went in haste.&rdquo By the way, the &ldquovery early in the morning&rdquo means literally &ldquoat the brightness of the dawning.&rdquo As soon as the sun was visible, he was gone. &ldquoAnd he went in haste - &rdquo and most commentators feel he was probably around 62 or 63 years old, so he was hustling for his age. Hustled down to the den of lions, at the crack of dawn to try to see what&rsquos going on. Now this indicates that he had some faith, doesn&rsquot it, in the God of Daniel.
Verse 20. &ldquoAnd when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice - &rdquo a sad sorrowing voice, a voice of anguish, a voice of anxiety, &ldquo - and he cried unto Daniel - &rdquo you know, hoping for the best, but perhaps believing the worst. &ldquoDaniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God.&rdquo
Now where do you think he learned that? Where do you think he learned that statement, &ldquoServant of the living God&rdquo? I&rsquoll tell you where he learned it, from Daniel. Daniel had given him many lessons. &ldquoServant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually able to deliver thee from the lions?&rdquo Frankly, it&rsquos a little late for that question? Is He? Now we&rsquore at the crux of the matter, aren&rsquot we? Was God able?
Well, verse 21. &ldquoThen said Daniel unto the king, O king, live forever.&rdquo Got to have those amenities in there when you talk to a king, just can&rsquot say, &ldquoI&rsquom fine,&rdquo you have to say, &ldquoO king, live forever.&rdquo Then verse 22, &ldquoMy God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions mouths.&rdquo And by the way, that&rsquos got to be extended to mean that He sort of took care of their paws too, because they could have ripped him to shreds.
God sent an angel. Now, angels are powerful. One angel took care of 185,000 Assyrians and slew them all by himself. So one angel would be plenty. &ldquoMy God sent His angel, and he shut the lions&rsquo mouths, and they have not hurt me: for asmuchas before Him innocence was found in me.&rdquo That&rsquos not proud. That&rsquos true. And if it&rsquos true, it&rsquos not pride, see? &ldquoAnd also, O king, before you I&rsquove done no hurt, either.&rdquo Just to get the record straight.
Isn&rsquot it interesting, he defends himself only after he has given God the opportunity to put him through the test? He will put his life in God&rsquos hands in a lions&rsquo den. It&rsquos as if he was saying, &ldquoNow, God, I don&rsquot understand why I&rsquom going to that lions&rsquo den, but maybe You have a reason. Maybe You know something in my life that isn&rsquot right and this is part of it.&rdquo And only after God delivered him could he say, &ldquoI haven&rsquot done anything. I&rsquom innocent.&rdquo How do you know you&rsquore innocent? Because God had a perfect chance to chasten me and didn&rsquot do it. He waits for God to evaluate that.
Well, verse 23 says, &ldquoThen was the king exceedingly glad for him, and he commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den.&rdquo Now that&rsquos again an indication that it was a pit, probably dropped some ropes, and that nearly 90-year-old guy grabbed on to the ropes, and up he came. &ldquoHe was taken out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.&rdquo
Daniel&rsquos writing the 6th chapter and Daniel is saying it was a vindication of his great faith in God. He believed God and God honored his faith. Now you want to know something? It doesn&rsquot always happen that way, does it? Isaiah believed God, too, but he got sawn in half. Paul believed God, too, and he laid his head on a block, and an axe head flashed in the sun, and severed it from his body. Peter believed in God, and he got crucified upside down.
Believing in God doesn&rsquot mean that the lions aren&rsquot going to eat you. There have been martyrs throughout all the history of God&rsquos dealing with men that have believed God and they&rsquove died. The issue is that we accept God&rsquos will. If it is to live, it is to live. If it is to die, it is to die. But in either case, we&rsquore never defeated.
In fact, if Daniel had been eaten by lions, he would have been in the presence of God, right? Which would have been better than looking up at Darius and saying, &ldquoO king, live forever.&rdquo He couldn&rsquot lose. We never lose. If he had been torn to shreds, that angel that came would have carried him into the presence of the Lord in Abraham&rsquos bosom.
Now all of this is followed by another key word, the word &ldquopunishment.&rdquo Verse 24. &ldquoAnd the king commanded, and they brought the men that had accused Daniel, - &rdquo the portion of the satraps, the princes, the presidents that had accused him &ldquo - and they cast them in the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives and the lions had the mastery of them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they came to the bottom of the den.&rdquo Amazing. There must have been a tremendous amount of lions.
And people say, &ldquoWell, you know, Daniel didn&rsquot get eaten because the lions weren&rsquot hungry.&rdquo They were hungry. They were hungry enough to eat this huge group of people. Some have even suggested that Daniel didn&rsquot get eaten because the lions were old. And they were like Clarence, you know, the cross-eyed lion. It&rsquos amazing what liberal commentators try to do to the Bible.
But the point of this text here is to show you they weren&rsquot old and toothless. They weren&rsquot filled up. They were hungry. And they were so ferocious they shredded those people before they ever hit the ground. God did a miracle. A horrifying scene, the picture of retribution and vengeance of God.
By the way, it&rsquos a very interesting glimpse of pagan law. The law of the Medes and the Persians said, &ldquoOn account of the guilt of one, all his kindred must perish.&rdquo That was the law of the Medes and Persians. And so they did.
We see the promotion, the plot, perseverance, prosecution, penalty, preservation, punishment. Two more key words, proclamation. Verse 25. &ldquoThen king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages - &rdquo you remember that little trilogy is used many times in the book of Daniel, which just encompasses all the people in the realm &ldquo - and he wrote all that dwell in the earth - &rdquo at least the earth as he perceived it &ldquo - peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.&rdquo Isn&rsquot that great?
One man, and he literally affects the entire empire. Now the whole Medo-Persian Empire is fallen under the decree to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. It doesn&rsquot take a lot of people. It just takes the right kind. &ldquoFor He is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end.&rdquo He sounds like the Psalmist, and he&rsquos a pagan king.
Boy, God has put on some convincing demonstrations in this book, hasn&rsquot He? Nations come and go, and whether they be Babylonian or Medo-Persian, when God puts His men in the right place, His message gets through.
&ldquoHe delivereth - &rdquo verse 27 &ldquo - and rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.&rdquo
Let me ask you a simple question. Who gets the glory in the chapter? Daniel? Not Daniel. Not Daniel for a minute. Daniel was just there, that&rsquos all. God got the glory. I believe that if you see one thread through the book of Daniel, it is not the exaltation of Daniel, it is the majesty of God, who stands against the nations of the world and upholds His sovereignty.
Finally, the prosperity. &ldquoSo this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.&rdquo He prospered. Now I want you to listen to me. As I close, I want to sum up very rapidly, in just a couple of minutes, listen.
As we look at this chapter, what do we see about Daniel? Do you remember when we studied chapter 1 and 2? We took all of the characteristics of the virtue of Daniel as a young man and we cataloged them and we studied them, and we saw what makes a virtuous, godly man. Well, here we are, 20 - well, no, 60, 70 years later. What do we see in him again? What are the elements of character that we could translate to ourselves? What makes a man able to affect a nation? What makes a man or a woman have an impact that is as far reaching as an Empire? What is it in Daniel?
Let me suggest some things. I&rsquom going to run them down, just listen to them, think them through. First of all, this man transcended history. He was great, and he was useful to God because he transcended history. He got his feet out of the muck of human issues. He sought the kingdom of God.
Secondly, he lived a consistent life from start to finish. He was virtuous when he was young, and so he was virtuous when he was old. And I really believe that there is no way to measure with a human measure the power of a virtuous life of that many years. The tragedy is that most of us find our virtue coming and going through those years. Not Daniel.
What are the lessons we learn about a man of God? He transcends history. He lives a consistent life from youth to old age, and this makes for great usefulness in his old age. Thirdly, he utterly fulfills his calling. In other words, he lives in the absolute center of God&rsquos will. His only desire is that God&rsquos will be fulfilled.
Fourth, he has a right attitude. They kept saying about him he has an excellent spirit. He has an excellent spirit.
Fifth, he will be envied and he will be hated by the world around him, but he will never be bittered by it.
Sixth, he is condemned, but if he is condemned, he is condemned for his righteousness, for there&rsquos no other flaw. He is as an elder of the church should be - what? - blameless.
Seventh, he is known for his virtue and integrity even by his enemies.
Eighth, he is a faithful citizen. He is subject to human laws until they would cause him to violate the laws of God.
Nine, he is willing to face any consequence within the framework of God&rsquos will and leave the outcome to God.
Ten, he will serve faithfully no matter what it costs him personally.
Eleven, he never defends himself. He leaves that to God.
Twelve, he strengthens the faith of others giving them hope in God. Didn&rsquot you see this in the king? I mean, the king was even believing because of the great faith of Daniel.
Thirteen, he is delivered from all harm, and he is preserved for every purpose within the will of God.
Fourteen, he is a vehicle for God&rsquos glory. I wish we could just preach on that. We as Christians are to be, above all things, a vehicle for God&rsquos glory.
Fifteen, he will be avenged by God. He will be avenged by God. His enemies will be dealt with by God. He doesn&rsquot have to deal with them himself.
And finally, he is exalted by those around him as well as by the One above him.
Principles manifest in this chapter that show the virtuous life of a man of God. I hope this has been practical for you, that God will apply this to your heart as He will to mine. Let&rsquos pray.
Thank You, our Lord, for the tremendous thrill of seeing your power manifest. We feel like we could reach out and touch Daniel. We feel like we could look right in that pit and see those lions. It&rsquos so vivid to us. And we know You&rsquore the same God, unchanging from that very hour, who meets us at the point of our greatest need. You&rsquore the God who wants to use us to transcend the ebb and flow of history. You&rsquore the God who has called us to live the life that Daniel lived in this day, from youth to old age.
O God, may it be that You&rsquoll raise up even in this congregation and around the world, men and women of honesty, integrity, and virtue, whose lives are given over to You totally, who suffer but know no bitterness because they&rsquove committed themselves to the keeping of the faithful creator.
Lord, make us this kind of person. Make me this kind of person by Your great grace. Shape me so that my life is consistent, that I may know the blessedness of a useful old age should Jesus tarry and You grant that to me. I pray the same for all these beloved ones gathered here, in Christ&rsquos name. Amen.
Surviving in the Lion’s Den: Daniel and Darius
Then, they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Then, the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians, no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.” So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (Daniel 6:13-16 NIV)
The story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6:13-16) has been a long-standing favored story that not only intrigues the minds of children, but adults as well. The story is set in the Middle East, about 600 – 650 BC, at a time when the Babylonians had conquered Israel, taking into captivity many of Israel’s promising young men, among them was a man named, Daniel.
Ironically, when king Darius decreed that Daniel must be thrown into the lion’s den, Daniel was not young, but a man about 80 years old. Through the many years of captivity, Daniel had developed a reputation for being a very hard worker and extremely honest as well as being devout and obedient to his God, Yahweh Jehovah, the God of Israel. Daniel had managed to rise up in this pagan kingdom to achieve the position of administrator among the political ranks and thereby, he had made many government officials angry with him and in their jealousy, they set out to find a way to remove him from his office of prominent authority.
The decree was that if anyone were caught praying to another god, or man, besides the king, during a specific thirty-day period, that person would be thrown into the lion’s den.
Needless to say, a very dangerous place for any human being and obviously pending a “not so good out come”! Yet, Daniel was persistent and continued with his faithfulness to his God, the God of Israel. Knowing how much King Darius loved and favored Daniel, the wicked government officials believed they would be able to force the king in keeping his own decree against Daniel, so they brought Daniel before the king and declared the wrong deed, which Daniel was guilty of committing.
Even though King Darius wanted to rescue Daniel, and try as he did, still, at sundown, the king was compelled to keep his decree and Daniel was ordered into the lion’s den to face sure and certain death. As the story goes, King Darius just knew that Daniel would not survive the lion’s den and the king struggled to eat or sleep. However, the next morning, the king was delighted to learn that Daniel was still alive and asked Daniel if his God and protected him? Daniel answered, My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” (Daniel 6 :22 NIV)
As the scripture states about this story, King Darius was overjoyed to learn that Daniel has survived the lion’s den, because he had trusted his god (Daniel 6:23 NIV) and as a result, King Darius ordered the jealous officials, who had brought their allegations against Daniel, arrested and along with their wives and children, they were ordered to be thrown into the lion’s den. Next, King Darius issued another decree ordering that all the people would fear and pay reverence to Daniel’s God, the God of Israel. Daniel continued a prosperous life under King Darius and his successor, King Cyrus, the Persian.
What is interesting to note about King Darius (558 – 485 BC) is that even though he found favor with Daniel and admired his good deeds, Daniel’s diligent work habits and his honesty, plus his loyalty and faithfulness to God, King Darius was recognized as a great king and empire builder, for making laws, and achieving many good deeds such as completing a canal from the Nile River to the Red Sea, irrigation projects, and a coinage system, but also, he was known for being a king, who could very violent against his enemies.
This world is not an easy world in which to live and it is filled with many people, who love others and in their loyalty to them, they will do many good things for them. Yet, there are those, who are not loving and kind, who will become jealous of those, who strive to do good, to be loving, and kind and they will set out to compete with them, try to get them in trouble, even lie against them, and sometimes, they will try to hurt that good person in some way. Children are not in this world very long before they discover how bad and dangerous this world can, just like adults have to contend with this world.
This is why the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den is so appealing to everyone, especially children, and even adults at any age. Daniel was completely aware of his situation and knew full-well that he could have died that night in the lion’s den, but Daniel believed his God, and trusted him at all times for all circumstances and even though he might die, still, he was willing to trust God. Daniel believed that God knew him, that he would keep his word to watch over him and protect him, and that God knew where Daniel was at all times and God was fully aware of what Daniel was doing and what was about to happen to him. Daniel knew that his obedience to God would be honored even when he obeyed the king, who loved Daniel, but whose law could also make sure that Daniel would be killed. God honored Daniel’s obedience first to him, then to the king. God made sure that Daniel lived. The king admired Daniel’s loyalty and faithfulness to God so much that he made a new decree that Daniel’s God would be honored and revered.
Life can be fun, filled with many happy events and it can be peaceful many times, but also, it is filled with challenges that cause people to struggle and there are many sad times that people experience in life. Quite often, it is easy to feel that one is experiencing or enduring their own personal “lion’s den” and it will never end. Children have life situations and circumstances that cause them to feel that way, too. T he key is to learn not to focus on one’s own situation and how it is, or could become, but to focus on God, just like Daniel did, and be willing to believe God is all-powerful, he knows every situation that everyone endures, and he knows exactly where everyone is and what is happening to them at all times. Be willing to place complete faith in God and trust God will be there, that he honors faithfulness and he will rescue those, who obey and trust him.
“Your effectiveness and personal victory in Christ are linked to the time you spend with the Lord in prayer.” Dr. Charles Stanley,