Daniel in the Lions’ Den

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of them whose hearts are perfect toward Him.
-2 Chron 16:9

Following about 150 years of absolute dominance over the known world, Babylon (Iraq) was conquered by a coalition of Persia (Iran) and Media (the Kurds) in about 538 BC. Thus began the rule of the Medo-Persian Empire, which lasted for 200 years or so until Alexander the Great conquered them. In Dan. 5:12 we read how Daniel, now an old man, had been called out of retirement to decipher the “handwriting on the wall.” This mysterious writing appeared supernaturally on the wall of the Great Banquet Hall where the Babylonians were celebrating in defiance of the Persian armies camped outside their city walls. The writing alone was enough to scare the daylights out of the Babylonians, but the message Daniel deciphered was even scarier. In essence it said God had had enough of the Babylonians and that very night He was sending the Persians to conquer them. And that’s exactly what happened. When the Persian King Cyrus rode into Babylon a few days later, Daniel greeted him and read to him from the scroll of Isaiah (44:24 – 45:25). This passage foretold in great detail how Cyrus would conquer Babylon, even calling Cyrus by name, and had been written by Isaiah 150 years earlier. This so impressed Cyrus that he released the Jews from their 70 year captivity and returned the Temple artifacts the Babylonians had taken when they destroyed Jerusalem. And that brings us to chapter 6 and the time of our story.

The Beloved Prophet

Daniel had enjoyed God’s favor all his life, and when Darius, the new King of Persia and son-in-law of Cyrus, appointed Daniel as one of 3 administrators to oversee the kingdom he so distinguished himself that Darius thought to give him sole administrative authority over all the kingdom. This of course made the others jealous and they sought to discredit him, but Daniel was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent (Dan 6:4). Finally they devised a scheme to trap Daniel by making it illegal for him to worship God. They convinced Darius to make it mandatory for all his subjects to worship him for the next 30 days and anyone caught worshipping anyone else must be thrown into a den of hungry lions (Dan 6:6-9).

Daniel of course remained true to his God and since he made no attempt to hide this, he was caught praying to Him a few days later. When Darius was told, he was greatly distressed because he liked Daniel and made every effort to save him. But even he had to obey the law and so at sundown Darius was forced to give the order to have Daniel arrested. As he watched Daniel being lowered into the lions’ den he said to him, “Your God whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Then he sealed up the den, went home and, refusing to eat, spent a sleepless night alone (Dan 6:16-18).

At dawn’s first light, Darius hurried back to the lions’ den and called out to Daniel “Has your God whom you serve continually been able to save you?” Daniel answered. “O King live forever. My God sent His angel, and he shut the lions’ mouths. They have not hurt me because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I done anything wrong before you, O King” (Dan 6:19-22). Darius was overjoyed and gave the order to have Daniel lifted out of the lions’ den. There was no wound or scratch on him because he had trusted God. Darius then had the men who had falsely accused Daniel rounded up and thrown into the lions’ den along with their wives and children. Before they reached the floor of the den, the lions over powered them and crushed all their bones (Dan 6:23-24).

Testimony Time

Then Darius issued the following proclamation through out the land:
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 King of Persia.

What Do You Make Of That?

I think several important conclusions can de drawn:

From the original language of Dan 6:16-20 it appears that Darius believed God was obligated to save Daniel because of the covenant that existed between them and was able to do so. He was anxious to see if God would be as faithful to the covenant as Daniel had been. I believe he had the lions’ den sealed to keep the matter between Daniel and God; preventing Daniel’s accusers from manipulating the outcome.
From his decree you could conclude that God”s faithfulness to Daniel converted Darius, and prompted him to tell all his subjects about the power of the Living God to rescue those He loves and who have chosen Him (See 1 Thes. 1:9-10). Knowing there’s someone who’s always faithful and true to His word is a powerful attraction to one who has been betrayed and abandoned, experiences I’m sure Darius suffered just as you and I have.
In Dan 6:23 the word translated trusted means to trust continually. The fact that the lions immediately devoured Daniel’s accusers in the morning proves they had been hungry all night long. The only time Daniel knew from experience that they wouldn’t devour him was after he had been rescued. All through the dark night of captivity his had been a moment by moment series of contrary to feelings choices to believe God’s promises in spite of his circumstances: to live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). This faith became one of the great examples in “The Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11:33)
There’s no indication that God had warned Daniel of these events in advance. But surely Daniel had read 2 Chron 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of them whose hearts are perfect toward Him.” While we’re cautioned not to put the Lord our God to the test (Deut 6:16), we also know that He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps
(Ps 121:4), and we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Phil 4:13). Our victories over the enemy become powerful tools for evangelism.
Daniel’s night in the Lions’ den portrays our life on earth. We’re confined to this place and “our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”
(1 Ptr. 5:8). But through faith we’re shielded by God’s power until the coming of (our) salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Ptr. 1:5). Meanwhile our King knows that God is obligated to save us because of the covenant that exists between us and is able to do so (Rom 8:38-39). He will declare God’s name to His brothers and in the congregation He will praise Him (Ps 22:22).

Now you know the adult version.