Scriptures

Daniel In The Lion’s Den

Introduction

In Daniel 6, we see Daniel now under a new ruler, Darius the Mede. There are four district rulers mentioned under whom Daniel served. There were other rulers but only these four are mentioned. Daniel may have dropped into the background under the other rulers.

‘It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps 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

Now that Darius had taken over the Babylonian Empire, he would seek for someone whom he could have trust and have confidence in to help in the administration of affairs of the newly acquired territory. The experience, eminence and integrity of Daniel were no doubt well known. In all there were 120 selected to assist the king.

Daniel was given a very high position of being over all the others. In all probability, this was in reference only to the newly acquired land. Daniel made such a favourable impression on Darius that the king considered elevating him more so that he would be over the entire kingdom which would have included Media, Persia, Babylonia and all the other provinces which were in subjection to Darius.

‘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. 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put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.’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 6:4-9

The Trap

The consideration of Daniel for such a high position occasioned no small amount of jealousy among the princes. Thus, the princes now become Daniel’s enemies. Daniel was a foreigner and was one of the despised people held in captivity. They sought to find something wrong with him that they might report it to the king, thus preventing the contemplated appointment.

Try as they did, they could find nothing wrong with his character or administrative ability. His one vulnerable point they concluded was his religion. His religious habits had been observed and were well known. It was simply a matter of placing Daniel in the position of having to choose whether to obey the king or his God. Knowing of his devoutness and faithfulness to God they did not doubt which he would serve if presented a test. This is actually a great compliment to Daniel.

The princes and other dignitaries present themselves before the king asking that a royal statue be made and that for 30 days no petition could be made to anyone save the king. This would include all the gods worshipped by the people. If this decree were violated the guilty party would be thrown in the den of lions. Such a proposal would appeal to a vain king. It is evident the king did not suspect that he was being used so that Daniel might be trapped.

The king is urged to write and sign the decree. Once signed it could not under any circumstances be changed. The trap was now set. They knew it was only a matter of hours until Daniel would violate the king’s decree.

‘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. 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 6:10-13

In all probability, a public proclamation of the decree was made. Daniel knew of it. As anticipated, he made no change in his habits. He went as his custom to his open window and facing Jerusalem he would kneel and pray three times a day. This was probably morning, noon and evening.

‘Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.’ Psalm 55:17

This would be a good practice for all Christians today. This does not mean that Daniel took specific pains to open the windows so he could be seen but that he took no precautions to close them. In a warm climate, such as Babylon had the windows probably were open most of the time.

There were those waiting to see and as soon as the deed was done the information is taken to the king. This charge is very forceful. One who is a foreigner and a captive had completely disregarded the solemn decree of the king. This had happened not just once but was taking place 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.’ Daniel 6:14-15

The king has been trapped. He realises that he had been duped into a stupid thing. He had by giving the decree brought death upon his most admired and trusted administrator. It could not happen, surely something could be done to break the decree or deliver Daniel. In what way, he sought to deliver Daniel we do not know but he deliberated as long as time would allow.

This is a striking illustration of the difficulties which often rise in the administration of justice where the law if absolute and yet where there is a strong reason why the penalty should not be inflicted. This was true of the Law of Moses in many respects. The princes remind the king that the decree is unalterable. The law of the Medes and Persians could not be changed not even by the king who gave it.

‘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!’ 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.’ Daniel 6:16-18

Most reluctantly the king had Daniel brought and cast into the den of lions. The den may have been a cave or underground pit. It was made with a narrow opening so that it could be covered with a stone. Some think it may have been a stall with rocks piled high on each side with a small opening for an entrance. Such a manner of execution was common among those in that day. Carvings and statues from remains of that era indicate that this was a common method of execution.

The king now makes a remarkable statement. He said,

‘Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.’

Since the high king of the Medo-Persian Empire could do nothing, yet, the God of Daniel could and would deliver him. How strongly he believed this. We do not know for he spent a restless night where sleep ailed him. Neither did he eat or enjoy music before retiring. He was deeply disturbed and concerned for Daniel.

‘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 6:19-23

Very early the next morning the anxious king hastily went to the lion’s den. It is said he cried with a lamentable voice (he was anxious and remorseful) to Daniel, if God had delivered him from the lion’s jaws. Will there be an answer from the den? Suddenly there is the voice of Daniel from the den,

‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him: and also, O King, I have done no wrong before you.’

Daniel was no doubt aware of the king’s innocence in the matter and who the true source of his problem was. God in a miraculous way had kept him from harm. It is interesting the number of times angels are employed in behalf of men.

After an examination, it was found he had not been harmed in any way. This is attributed to his belief in God. Daniel probably never doubted for one moment about his safety. He may have had a good night’s rest unperturbed by the lions. All that the law required had now been fulfilled. Thus, Daniel is released. The king did this with gladness in his heart.

‘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. 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 and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.’ Daniel 6:24-28

The king now aware that he had been used by the princes called for their execution by the same method as they called for Daniel’s. He had been made a fool in subjecting his highest officer to the perils of death. The guilty are torn to pieces by the lions. Literally they did not come to the bottom of the den before the lions had mastery over them and break all their bones.

The king now sends a letter to all the people in the kingdom. It was to honour the God of Daniel. There is no evidence that he considered Jehovah the only God, but probably meant that He should be recognized as a God of great power and glory and worthy of universal reverence. Daniel is restored to his position of a ruler again. We would assume he was placed over the entire kingdom as originally planned by the king.

He prospered as a ruler under Darius and also later on under Cyrus. We do not know long Daniel lived into the reign of Cyrus. No doubt he was instrumental by his influence in securing permission for the return of his people to their home land in Palestine. Under God’s providence he had no doubt been raised to his high position so that he would be able to work in behalf of the return from captivity.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Hebrews 12:1

MENU