Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 19 2019 - Daniel 6 – The den of lions

The Babylonian empire had fallen to the Medes and the Persians and Darius the Mede now asserts his dominion by appointing 120 governors or satraps to rule the various regions of his kingdom. Once again, Daniel commended himself through his exceptional qualities. Darius planned to set him up with authority over his whole kingdom. The other governors were alarmed and sought to find fault with Daniel so that they could bring accusations against him before Darius, but, "They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent" (v. 4). How might your reputation stand up under similar investigation?

The other governors decide that the only way they can trap Daniel will be in respect to his religious observance. Without telling Darius of their motives they came and told him (vv. 7-8):

The royal ministers, prefects, satraps, advisors 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put it in writing so that it cannot be altered – in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.

The suggestion appealed to the pride of King Darius and he immediately put the requested decree into effect.

It was Daniel's practice to pray towards Jerusalem three times every day. Remember Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple asking God to take note of the prayers of his people when directed to Jerusalem and the temple (see particularly 1 Kings 8:46-51, verses which speak of the prayers of his exiled people). When Daniel heard of the king's decree he made no change to his regular practice. How would we have responded to the king's decree? I suspect many of us might have moved our place of prayer away from the window and into some inner chamber in our house.

A group of Daniel's accusers went along to his home and, as expected, found him asking God for help. They promptly told King Darius of Daniel's disobedience and reminded him that the written laws of the Medes and the Persians cannot be changed.

King Darius, perhaps realising that he has been tricked, reluctantly commands that Daniel should be thrown into the lions' den. As this is being done, the king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" (v. 16).

After a sleepless night, the king rushed to the lions' den where he shouted, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" (v. 19). Daniel replied that God had sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions and keep him from all harm. Daniel was then lifted out of the den and those who had falsely accused him, along with their wives and families were thrown in instead: "And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones" (v. 24).

The chapter finishes with Darius issuing a new decree, this time that all people in his kingdom "must fear and reverence the God of Daniel" (v. 26).

As we mentioned when looking at the incident of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the burning fiery furnace, God does not always save his people from trouble or from death, though he does promise always to be with us. But these stories are recorded for us in Scripture to encourage us to be faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, consistent in our witness to him and in the conduct of our daily life and unafraid of opposition.

Father God, give us the wisdom and courage to live consistently for you in a hostile world. May our lives bring others to realise that you are the living God who saves those who trust in you.

Peter Misselbrook