The Lion’s Den
I guess you’d say I’ve lived a pretty unique life; born a prince of Israel, taken hostage to Babylon as a teenager only to become a major political figure there as counselor to the King and finally rising to the number 3 spot in the Babylonian government, and then upon its defeat, named to an important post in the Media-Persian regime. In fact I was one of the 3 administrators appointed to oversee the actions of the 120 regional governors who ran day-to-day life in the Kingdom. The three of us answered only to King Darius.
My appointment to such a powerful position aroused much jealousy among the others. I was the only Jew after all and the only one who had governed in Babylon before its defeat. To them I was both an outsider and a loser, clearly not deserving of the honor. As they looked for a way to discredit me, I made sure they wouldn’t find one, being neither corrupt nor negligent in the performance of my duties. But there was one area of my life where I was vulnerable to them and that was my devotion to the LORD Who had blessed my life so abundantly. When they concocted a scheme that required everyone to pray only to the King and manipulated him through his vanity into making disobedience a capital crime, they had me.
I had earned the King’s trust and respect so when I was caught one morning performing my regular devotions to the LORD he was greatly distressed and realized he’d been duped. But since he himself had signed the edict into law there was nothing he could do for me even though he tried all day to find a loophole. The law was the law and the penalty for disobedience was to be thrown live into a den of hungry lions. At sunset he finally resigned himself to the futility of any further rescue effort, and though it grieved him to do so he gave the order for my execution.
As the guards were about to toss me to the lions, Darius apologized for his inability to rescue me, but reminded me that my God, Whom I had always served, could still intervene and it was up to Him to do so now. Then he went home, refused his dinner and spent a sleepless night alone. I really think that in his grief he may have cried out his first prayers to the LORD that night.
As soon as the sun came up, Darius ran to the lion’s den and shouted my name. In a voice filled with anguish he asked if my God had preserved me through the night. When I responded that the LORD had kept the lions’ mouths shut all night long as a sign that I was innocent before both Him and the King, Darius was nearly overcome with relief and ordered that I be freed immediately. Once I was free, his joy turned to anger with those who had falsely accused me, so he had them all arrested, and along with all their families thrown to the very lions that should have devoured me. They were all dead before they hit the ground. Justice was swift in those days.
Then to reverse the law requiring people to pray to him, the King ordered everyone in the kingdom to fear and reverence my God, “the Living God Who endures forever, Whose Kingdom will never be destroyed and Whose dominion will never end.” (Daniel 6:26) I had told Darius of Nebuchadnezzar’s big dream so many years before and this new edict was his official acceptance of that dream’s validity, and recognition of the Persian Empire’s identity as the chest and arms of silver. Through my ordeal, King Darius had met the LORD!
As for me, it was quite a night for an 85 year old man. Sitting there in the dark, never knowing at what instant one of those hungry lions might take a big bite out of me and start a feeding frenzy, I learned the meaning of the phrase “moment-by-moment faith.” I also learned that I wasn’t alone. The Creator of the Universe, Who has promised never to leave nor forsake us took time out of His busy schedule to spend that night with me, just as He will with you in your darkest hour. It was His hand that shut the lions’ mouths, and His still small voice that comforted me. He reminded me that having orchestrated this episode to reveal Himself to King Darius and the whole Persian Kingdom, he wasn’t going to stop short of victory by letting the lions devour me. For He is, as King David had said, “Our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) I’ll say He is.