The Lions’ Den in DANIEL 6

Evil people have conspired against good people all through human history. Sometimes good triumphs over evil – sometimes not. In Daniel 6, much is revealed about human nature and the purposes of God.

Daniel1Have you ever seen someone suffer great injustice? Ever see a reputation or even life get destroyed by one’s enemies who use deceitful means to carry out their evil schemes?

Of course you have. Happens all the time in life, business, and politics. Unfortunately, it’s human nature. Hate, envy, greed and/or pure selfishness sometimes drive behavior that is outright cruel, heartless, and destructive to other people.

Perhaps it’s happened to you.

It’s hurtful, unfair, and can cause untold damage. Our common natural reaction is to cry out for justice or retaliate in kind.

But that’s not what Daniel does when he is dealt a vile injustice. In fact, he stays true to his cause, beliefs, and principles and puts his own plight and circumstances into God’s hands.

This story in Chapter 6 in and of itself might strain credibility, as once again, a supernatural event takes place that may cause one to reduce it to a mere children’s story.

Any Christian and many non-believers know it well: the story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den. Of course, Daniel is saved and evil doers get punished – thrashed and eaten by the same lions that did not touch Daniel.

Actually, the bad men and their entire families were fed to the lions. Justice is dramatically meted out.

But there’s more to this story which reveals the purposes of God.

The Conspiracy Against Daniel
Daniel’s experience in Chapter 6 of the Book of Daniel is frustrating to read as it lays out the plot of evil conspirators. Many political leaders (120!) were envious of the exceptional Daniel who, although an exiled Hebrew, was rising in power and national oversight:

It pleased King Darius to appoint 120 satraps [regional governors] to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. (Daniel 6:1-3)

This large group of satraps tried to concoct a way to bring accusations against Daniel to remove him from power, but they could find no fault in him:

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. (Daniel 6:4)

So these men concluded that they would trap Daniel due to his loyalty to “his God.”  They convinced King Darius to issue an edict they knew Daniel would not obey:

Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said:

“May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 

So King Darius put the decree in writing. (Daniel 6:5-9)

Sure enough, Daniel did not waver from his belief and devotion to the God of Israel. He prayed multiple times daily to the One True God, a direct violation of the recently deployed decree to pray only to King Darius:

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)

An Evil Plan Works
Daniel (now in his 70’s), did what he had done all his life – he prayed to God for help. The satraps now believed they had him trapped!

Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree:

“Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

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.” (Daniel 6:11-13)

The king was distressed about this, not because Daniel disobeyed his edict, but because, I suspect, he realized he had been tricked by his regional leaders. Daniel, over the decades, would have built a reputation as a gifted and honest man. After all, he was one of 3 presidents over the land.

When the king heard this, he was greatly distressedhe 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 6:14-16) 

God’s Thwarting of Evil
Daniel is placed in an enclosed lions’ den for the night. The king himself went without food or sleep that evening:

A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called 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?”

Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 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, Your Majesty.”

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. (Daniel 6:17-23)

Then King Darius serves justice on the evil satraps and their families:

At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. (Daniel 6:24)

God is Praised by a Pagan King
Daniel 6 ends with King Darius writing a public declaration of praise for Daniel’s God:

Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:

“May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus the Persian.1 (Daniel 6:25-28)

A Children’s Story?
This has been made into a childrens’ story. But it is more than that or a story merely about justice served. As it is with the entire Bible, this story is about the revelation of God to His creation, mankind. Daniel, as a loyal prophet of God, is used and saved by God for the purposes of revealing God to a pagan world and a grossly disobedient Israel.

The rest of the Book of Daniel will show how God continues to use him to voice a prophetic word of warning to His people and the world, as well as the rescue for all mankind in a kingdom built on a stone not made of human hands.

Do you understand the Book of Daniel? 

I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.” – Daniel 5:26

1 The Handwriting on the Wall, by James B. Jordan, American Vision, 2007, pp. 301-308. Jordan makes a compelling case that Darius and Cyrus are the same person.

Categories: Abundant Living, Books of the Bible, Calling, Devotion, Discipleship, End Times, Evidence, Evil, Faith, Fathering, Forgiveness, Israel, Jesus, Marketplace, Old Testament, People, Prayer, Prophecy, Purpose

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