Daniel in the Lion's Den is perhaps one of the best known stories in the Bible. It has been told and retold millions upon millions of times; it is a children's favorite. However, do you know the circumstances that led up to Daniel's being cast into the lion's den. Today's message will see what got Daniel into this predicament as well as note some of Daniel's traits worthy of imitation.
“So the governors and satraps [regional government officials] sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, 'We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.' So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: 'King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.' Therefore King Darius signed the written decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.” (Daniel 6.4-11).
As one can see from the previous text, this series of events was specifically designed to apprehend one man and one man only – Daniel! His custom had been to pray to God three times a day even from his youth. Being able to find no other “fault” in him, his enemies appealed to Darius' ego and persuaded him to sign the “No Prayer but to Me!” decree. There are some statements in the passage that the reader is urged to notice. Note that Daniel's enemies “...could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful.” I suppose it would be possible to be found faultless by others because one is so skillful in hiding his flaws. However, in the case of Daniel, they found no charge or fault “because he was faithful.” The question to ponder is this: To what was Daniel faithful? Answer: He was faithful to God and he was faithful to the laws of the Medo-Persian Empire. The governmental officials who were scrutinizing Daniel's every move had no interest in the law of God; they monitored Daniel's actions and judged them as compared to their own law. Yet, they found no charge or fault in him.
However, Daniel recognized a law higher that the law of the Medo-Persians and he recognized a law higher than the unchangeable decree of Darius. Daniel did not blindly fall into this trap! Note carefully that the text says, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.” It was the signing of the decree that “forced” him to act in a manner contrary to it. His long-standing custom, and one which was established as a part of his responsibilities to God, was to pray facing the city of Jerusalem. It was this custom, this unbreakable habit, that resulted in his arrest and ultimate sentence to the lion's den.
The Medo-Persian empire was a pagan government established on laws that were materially different from those of the Hebrews who dwelt there. Yet Daniel, a servant of the Most High God, found it possible to live in harmony with the laws of the land as well as the Law of God – that is until a law was passed which involved a direct conflict between the two. These men found Daniel praying because he believed, even as Peter and others years later, “We ought to obey God rather then men!” (Acts 5.29).
1. What motives do you think were behind the enemies of Daniel as they sought to trap him?
2. Why could they fnd no fault or charge in him?
3. What trait of the king did they appeal to in order to convince Darius to sign the decree?
4. Why did Daniel continue to pray in spite of the decree?
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