Text: Daniel 6:1-28; Psalm 91
It’s a set up. King Darius is tricked by his Noblemen. Daniel works among a group of them who fail to take their administrative positions seriously. “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators by his exceptional qualities that the King planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” (Daniel 6:3 NIV). That does it. Now Daniel’s colleagues despise him and plot his death.
According to Babylonian law, the King’s word is final. The Noblemen use this to their advantage. They observe Daniel worshiping God daily, so they convince King Darius that he alone should be worshipped for the next 30 days. Ego driven King Darius laps it right up, but he doesn’t realize they are setting Daniel up, his prized employee, to disobey the decree, and the punishment for disobeying the King’s decree is the lion’s den. Most impressive is verse 10: “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down o his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had before.” (Daniel 6:10 NIV).
What does Daniel do in his crisis? He prays, but this isn’t a habit rooted in legalism. Daniel wants to pray regularly because only the living God of both today and 539 B.C could give him the comfort and sanity while living among the Babylonian pagan gods. Through a lifetime of regular prayer, Daniel and God enjoy a beautiful relationship where Daniel relies on Him for strength and vindication. My guess is that Daniel is not panicking once he is tossed to the roaring carnivores because by 80 years of age, he knows how to trust God. That is why I believe the lion’s den is not Daniel’s demise. God rewards Daniel’s trust by calming the lions and sealing their jaws shut for the evening. I think Daniel would have been at peace even if the lions had attacked. After a lifetime of devotion to God, my guess is that he would have been ready for death and Heaven. God’s intervention in the lion’s den shows me not only how much He cares for and protects those who love Him, but also His sovereignty.
King Darius is enraged by his idiot employees when he learns of the conspiracy. He can’t eat or sleep during the entire night because he is so worried about Daniel. At dawn the following day, he races down to the den, dreading to find a pile of bones. Yet Daniel walks out without a scratch. A stunned Babylonian King finds himself, of all things, thanking and praising this mysterious Hebrew God for rescuing one of his finest employees. Justice indeed prevails when the King orders his employees involved in the conspiracy, along with their wives and children, into the lion’s den where they were promptly devoured!
At some point during his formative years, before the Babylonians ravage his homeland of Judah, the Southern Kingdom of Israel, Daniel learns to worship, trust and pray to the same God who delivered his ancestors from slavery in Egypt. But the scriptures reveal no details about this process. Was it superb parenting? Was it his Jewish upbringing? How did Daniel develop these good habits, which resulted in a deeper understanding and relationship with God? Even his fellow countrymen had been straying from God in favor of the Babylonian gods. How extraordinary that Daniel is among the few Israelite exiles who resists al that. How many of us can maintain a habit of faithfulness for just a day?
Most striking to me is Daniel’s faithful prayer life, which is what empowered him to wait on and trust in God. Daniel doesn’t hatch his own revenge against anyone, blame God in his crisis moment or cease to pray at all just because of a new decree. I find myself making far more 911 prayer calls to God during my crisis moments instead of seeking Him daily during the ordinary and mundane moments, like Daniel. In this culture of “get them before they get me,” set-ups and competition, quietly going about my business with honesty and integrity and trusting God for ultimate justice is excruciating. Daniel doesn’t preach a single word. His unashamed role modeling of faithfulness in prayer, integrity and quiet consistency shouts a powerful testimony. His example speaks to me as someone who often wonders if anyone notices the importance of developing faithfulness.
God sees and God cares.