Daniel and the Lion's Den

Daniel and the Lions Den is not a fictional story, but a true life account of the prophet Daniel showing great courage to stand up and do what is right in spite of the consequences.

The account of Daniel and the Lion's Den is found in Danial chapter 6.  The context of chapter 6 actually begins in the last two verses of chapter 5. 

Daniel 5.30,31:  "That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.  And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old."

At the end of chapter 5, we are reading about a major shift in the political landscape.  No longer do you have the Chaldeans, (the ones who took Judea captive and destroyed Jerusalem) as the global superpower.  Now it is the Medes and the Persians who become the lone superpower, and that would be the case all the through to the end of Old Testament history.

Then for the span of about 400 years of history that took place from the end of the Old Testament to the beginning of the New Testament, you have the Greeks coming in and conquering the Medo-Persian empire, and then the Romans coming and conquering the Grecian empire.  

It was during the time when Rome was the global power that Jesus was born.  All this history was predicted in a dream of the Babylonian ruler named Nebuchadnezzar back in Daniel 2.    

Where we are in Daniel chapter 5 historically is at a time when the Medes and the Persians have become the global superpower.  That leads us into chapter 6.  It is in this chapter that we find this account of Daniel and the Lions den.  

As we begin reading this account of Daniel and the Lions Den, we read about Daniel doing very well.  It is important to keep in mind that Daniel was a Jew who had been captive by the Babylonians and carried to Babylon.  Because of the divine intervention of God, Daniel found himself going from being a slave to being in a position of great authority in the Babylonian empire.

Now the Medes and Persians have conquered the Babylonian empire, and Daniel, who came to the land as a slave continues to rise in power.

Daniel 6.1,2:  "It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss."

To ensure that all the taxes were collected and that all the revenue came into the government, satraps were set in place.  Daniel was one of only three governors who was in authority over these 120 satraps who were put in place to ensure that taxes were collected.

Daniel 6.3,4:  "Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.  So the governors and satraps 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."

There were three governors over 120 satraps.  Daniel was the best of all of them.  Can you imagine that?  Here is Darius, the king of the new Medo-Persian empire taking Daniel who is a Jew and among those captured when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem  --  and Darius is taking this slave Jew and making him second only to himself.

That’s like the president of the United States finding someone in prison and making him his vice president.  The other two governors and the satraps did not appreciate that.  

The other two governors and the 120 satraps decided that they would find a way to put an end to this Daniel   What we read in the following verses is the plot devised to have Daniel killed.  Since this is the account of Daniel and the lions den, you probably have an idea how they planned on assassinating Daniel.  

Daniel 6.5:  "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.'" 

These two governors and the 120 satraps knew that Daniel was a man who was faithful to God.  They knew that he was devoted to keeping the law of Moses.  They decided that if they were going to get rid of Daniel, they would have to find a way to use the law of Moses against him.

Daniel 6.6-9:  "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."

These two governors and the 120 satraps went to King Darius.  They set before the king a decree which they knew Daniel would be unable to obey.  The decree stated that for a month, no one would be allowed to offer a prayer to anyone except to King Darius.  The king signed this decree because of his own pride. 

Daniel and the Lions Den
Daniel is Punished

As we keep reading the account of Daniel and the lions den, we come to the point in the account where Daniel goes home and prays to God.  While he prays, he is caught and punished by being thrown into the lions den.

Daniel 6.10:  "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."

I find that interesting.  Daniel did not go home and open the windows, and pray out loud to be heard by men.  He was not trying to be a martyr.

Even though he knew that the decree had been written and signed, he was not going to allow that to change his routine.  He was going to do what he had always done his whole life.  So Daniel went home and in his upper room, he opened the windows and facing Jerusalem, he prayed three times giving thanks to God.

Daniel 6.11-13:  "Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.  And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king's decree: 'Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?'  The king answered and said, 'The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.'  So they answered and said before the king, 'That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.'" 

Don't miss the way they described Daniel.  They did not describe him as one of their own, one of the three governors.  They did not describe him as one who was second only to the King.  They described him as this captive from Judah.  This captive from Judah dishonored the king.  This captive from Judah disobeyed the decree not once, not twice, but three times in one day.

Daniel 6.14:  "And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him."

The king was greatly displeased with himself.  King Darius was ashamed of himself.  He had figured out that he had been manipulated as we find later in the text.

He worked hard to get Daniel out of this mess even until the sun went down.  Why?  Lions are nocturnal.  So it was in the evening, when the sun went down, that the punishment would be carried out.

Daniel 6.15:  "Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, 'Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.'"

This is the third time that you read in this chapter that the law cannot be changed or altered.  You read it in verse 8, verse 13, and here in verse 15.  These men really wanted the king to understand that there was no way of circumventing this decree.

Daniel 6.16,17:  "So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, 'Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.'  Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed."

Daniel was cast into the den of lions.  The word "den" that is used here is the same word that is translated in other Old Testament passages as the word “grave.”  Daniel was cast into a place that was designed to be his grave.

Daniel and the Lions Den
Daniel is Protected

As we keep reading, we find a remarkable end to the tragic treatment of Daniel by the two governors and 120 satraps who conspired to throw Daniel into the lions den.  In the following verses we find Daniel in the lions den, and he was not immediately shred into pieces.  Daniel survived because of God's protection.  

Daniel 6.18:  "Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him.  Also his sleep went from him."

King Darius felt so ashamed of himself and what had transpired, he could not eat.  He could not sleep.  He did not want to be entertained.  All he could do is lie awake and hope that Daniel would survive the night.

Daniel 6.19,20:  Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions.  And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?'"

The king had a lamenting voice.  Perhaps his lip was quivering.  His voice may have been shaky.  The king was so upset and sorrowful that he could barely speak.  When he does speak, he asked if God has been able to deliver him from the lions.  

Daniel 6.21-23:  "Then Daniel said to the king,'O king, live forever!  My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.'"  Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God."

Notice that Daniel addressed the king the same way the other two governors and the 120 satraps addressed the king back in verse 6.  It says that God delivered him because he was innocent.  He was delivered because he had done no wrong to the king.  He was delivered because he believed in his God. 

Daniel 6.24:  "And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions — them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den."

These lions were hungry.  They did not spend their waking hours hunting and then feasting.  They were ravenous.  So when those who accused Daniel were thrown into the den, even before they hit the ground, all their bones were broken and they were shred to pieces.

Daniel and the Lions Den
Reminds Me to Keep Believing in God

From this account of Daniel and the lions den, we learn that life is not always fair.

Daniel was doing well for a time.  As the chapter began, Daniel’s future was bright.  But look how quickly that hope faded as night began to fall.  Daniel was thrown into the darkness of the lions den.  A large rock was placed in front of the den’s opening.  A seal was placed on the opening.  For Daniel, there was no hope, except for the possibility that maybe his God would deliver him.

There are going to be days when you will not see light at the end of the tunnel.  There are going to be circumstances in your life where you are just going to have to accept that this is the way it is going to be.  When there is no solution in sight, what do you do?  You put your trust in God. 

We learn from the example of Daniel that no matter what, no matter how difficult life gets, you still believe in God.  You still need to believe in the care of God.  Daniel said in Daniel 6.22, “My God sent His angel...”  That is a thought that gives hope to the hopeless.  God cared. 

God cared enough to send His angel down to help Daniel.  Does that not give us hope today, that in our darkest hour, when there seems to be no way out, no hope, no resolution in sight for the problems in our lives, God is there for us, and He cares.  You and I need to believe in the care of God.

We need to remember that the God whom we serve is a sovereign God.  He is in control, and nothing happens apart from His will.  We need to remember that God is not going to allow me to suffer through anything that is beyond my ability to handle  (1 Cor. 10.13).  Do you believe it?  God takes us into troubled waters, not to drown us, but to cleanse us.  Do you believe it?

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