Daniel 6: The Lion's Den
Intro- Last week we looked at the collapse of the Babylonian empire. Now we are moving on to the second level of the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream in Chapter 2. We begin to look at the Medo-Persian empire.
This is the last chapter in the narrative portion of this book.
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
There were 120 Satraps which were “Protectors of the empire” Daniel was a president or commissioner which was set over the satraps. He had two primary functions, one was to help prevent military revolts, and the other was to collect taxes and make sure Darius wasn’t cheated.
Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
Because of His faithfulness and stewardship, Daniel was now being promoted to what would be the most prestigious “office” besides the king.
Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
Those that Daniel was passing for this promotion were unhappy. They decided to to do their best to entrap him.
Notice Daniel’s reputation… the only way to complain about him is if you complain about his devotion to God.
They determined that the only way to get rid of him was to pit his allegiance to God against his allegiance to King and country… How would we fair in that?
All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.
The suggestion was to make it illegal for anyone to pray to any person or “god” except for the king for 30 days
Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
They had a strange law in place. If a law was signed, even the king could not change his mind and undo it. (we see this also in Esther)
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
This was not Daniel “making a stand” and being “openly rebellious” It was simply Daniel following what he had always done.
There are a couple points of interest worth noting here.
Daniel was so dependent on prayer, that he couldn’t simply “take a month off.”
He prayed facing Jerusalem.
Daniel’s custom was to pray facing Jerusalem. He was constantly focused on a revival of God’s people in the place that he belonged. It wasn’t just “a prayer”. He had a longing to go home. He had spent most of his life away from home, but Jerusalem was still home.
Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
They mock Daniel’s heritage as being one of the exile’s
They claim that Daniel is doing this in order to rebel against the king
The king was distressed and he did everything within his power to find a loophole and he could not.
Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”
The king gave the command, but he did not want to.
The king acknowledged Daniel’s faithfulness to God, along with his wish that God would save him.
May we never allow the horror of this event to escape us. (first time of watching Jurassic park V. now… I know what is coming and It just isn’t the same.) Daniel was thrown into a den filled with lion’s so that they could tear him to pieces and eat him. Because, he prayed
The king wasn’t able to sleep that night, He fasted and worried about Daniel all night.
Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.
You can just imagine the king waiting until the first sign of light so he could rush to the den to see if Daniel had survived.
As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”
Can you imagine the tension in the air between the King’s question and Daniel’s answer?
The fact is we often teach the wrong lesson from this account. The lesson is NOT “If you are faithful, God will protect you” in fact we know of many times that God did not physically protect those that were faithful.
God chose to protect Daniel, for the same reason He protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. To prove to a king, that He and He alone was God.
Notice the theme of these kings? Pride and arrogance. Even though it wasn’t “his idea” how much pride and arrogance must a king have to sign a law saying people could only pray to him?
And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
The bad guys got what they deserved.
Josephus records for us in Antiquities that those who wanted Daniel thrown into the den were upset when nothing happened to Daniel and they claimed that the reason Daniel was fine was because someone fed the lions before Daniel entered, so that they wouldn’t be hungry. So… the king tested their theory, and they were wrong.
The king issues a decree similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s regarding who God is and that it is His kingdom that is eternal. No one else.
The importance of prayer.
Why is it that Daniel couldn’t have just said, “i’ll not pray for a month. God will understand.”
Why was he so compelled to continue what he had always done irregardless of the law?
He desperately needed God.
Too often we treat prayer as a “last resort” - “All we can do now is pray” - what could we possibly do that is greater than prayer?
In Charles Hodge’s book, “Prayer- the voice of faith” he writes “To pray is to breathe spiritually.”
A Christian who does not pray, is not actually a Christian.
You can’t claim to be a disciple of Jesus if you don’t spend time doing what Jesus so often did.
If Daniel couldn’t fathom breaking his routine of prayer in the face of threat of death, why in the world, do I not pray more?