Daniel in the Lions Den

daniel in the lions den
daniel in the lions den

Daniel in the Lion’s Den is a well-known Old Testament story of great faith in God.

He and some of his friends had been captured and taken to Babylon in exile. Even though they were in a foreign country, they still managed to honour God as the prophets had taught the Jewish people, including the usual dietary laws and stopping to pray three times a day to the God of Abraham.

Although he longed to return to his homeland of Israel, Daniel had done well and prospered under the Babylonians and was one of three presidents reporting directly to King Darius, who was very fond of him, which made the other two Babylonian presidents jealous. 

Because they resented Daniel’s high work standards and relationship with the king, the two presidents devised a plan to have Daniel killed. They coerced the king into signing a decree for the next thirty days to stop anyone in the kingdom from praying to any Gods; only the king was to be prayed to. If this was disobeyed, the person would be thrown into the lion’s den.

When Daniel discovered the deceit, he did not seem to have been particularly perturbed and simply carried on with his practice of praying three times a day to the God of Abraham in his house with the windows open as usual.

He was seen doing this by his enemies, who immediately informed the king and said that Daniel must be put to death in the lion’s den.

The king, who was genuinely very fond of Daniel, recognised that he had been tricked and was distraught; he tried every way to save Daniel from certain death. But Daniels’s enemies were adamant and said no; it was now the law that Daniel be taken to the lion’s den. So the king finally agreed but said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!”

Daniel was then taken to the lion’s den, and a stone was put across the entrance to stop him from escaping and sealed by the king as the law decreed.

The troubled king then went back to his palace and spent the night fasting and praying, and at the crack of dawn the next day, returned to the lion’s den and cried out in a voice of great anguish; 

“O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?”

Daniel replied, My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.”

The king could hardly believe his ears, and when he had Daniel taken up out of the lion’s den, he was found to be completely unharmed.

The king then commanded all the conspirators who had planned the treacherous affair and their families to be thrown into the lion’s den, where the lions devoured them all.

Then the king made a further decree that all the people in his kingdom should worship the God of Daniel, saying;

For he is the living God,
    enduring forever.
His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
    and his dominion has no end.
27 He delivers and rescues,
    he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
for he has saved Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”   Daniel 6 NRSV

Reflection on Daniel in the Lion’s Den

No harm came to Daniel because he completely trusted in the God of Abraham. I found it interesting that there was no mention of Daniel being alarmed, frightened, angry, indignant, or anything else when he learned of the wicked plot against him. He simply carried on doing what he believed was right. 

The lesson for us today is to likewise, whatever life throws at us, still trust in God’s promises for those who love Him. He will vindicate the faithful whose enemies try to destroy them, and they will emerge even stronger and closer to God.

This story demonstrates that the God of Abraham is a living God who makes plans and carries them out; he knows where he is taking the world, and nothing can stop him. He might allow his people to go through terrible trials; this could be to test their loyalty or force another outcome, but he is a living and loving God, and one way or another, he will deliver those who place their faith and love in him.

God knew his followers would suffer in the times of pagan emperors, and today Christians suffer in an entirely different way in a vastly different world and style of government. However, the moral is the same today as it was then; this is whatever is happening around us; in this upside-down world we now live in, we just continue with our purpose to be a force for good in the world around us and carry on in faith. 

I love how a network of cross-referencing scripture throughout the bible can reinforce a point; Psalm 2 can add something to this reflection. It can also be used to reflect on the international tensions playing out in the world today;

1 Why do the nations conspire,
   and the people’s plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
 and the rulers take counsel together, 
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder,
   and cast their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
   the Lord has them in derision.  Psalm 2 NRSV

 If you liked the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, you might find these two articles interesting:

Abraham in Christianity
The Ten Commandments

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