Over the last couple of weeks I have written a series of posts on the events of Daniel 6, which is one of the more famous sections of the Old Testament. In the account, we read of the faithful man Daniel being thrown into a den of lions. We looked at how Daniel’s life of exceptional standards led to the jealousy of others, and how they lured the king into making a law they knew Daniel would break. Indeed, the king ordered that no one could pray to God or man except to the king himself, and if they did, the den of lions beckoned. Daniel was not a man to compromise his faith, and as he always did, he prayed to his God.
The king is devastated when he realises that Daniel is caught. We speculated whether this was genuine concern for Daniel, or concern for the king’s own interests given the impeccable competence of Daniel’s leadership. Having put Daniel into the den, the king spends a sleepless night worrying whether he will lose his most effective official.
Before we read the next section though, let me pose you a question. Who’s really in charge here? At first, we might think it is the king. He is the king after all, and yet seems rather easily manipulated by the officials. Perhaps it is Daniel, the man rising to the top once again. Yet, he ends up in the den of lions. Could it be the jealous officials themselves? They dislike Daniel and succeed in trapping him. As we will find out shortly however, things do not end well for them. As you read the remaining part of Daniel 6, and reflect back over my posts in this chapter, ask yourself who is pulling the strings here?
Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 When he came near to the den to Daniel, he cried with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions?”
21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God has sent his angel, and has shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me; because as before him innocence was found in me; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”
23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
24 The king commanded, 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 mauled them, and broke all their bones in pieces, before they came to the bottom of the den.Daniel 6:19-24 WEB
As early in the morning as he can, the king rushes to the den to find out what has happened. For the first time in Daniel 6, we hear Daniel speak. He reassures the king that God has indeed rescued him, and has done so by sending an angel to shut the mouths of the lions.
Daniel survived, the king is thrilled, and in retaliation for their actions, the king has the jealous officials thrown in the den instead. Not just the men themselves however, but their families too. The Bible records that they were torn apart and their bones broken, before even hitting the bottom of the den. What a gruesome end!
What do we learn from this account? I have heard some use verse 23 as a summary.
23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.Daniel 6:23 WEB
The theology goes something like this; Daniel trusted in God and was saved. If we too trust in God, we also shall be saved.
The moral of this story however is not that. If you read Daniel 6 and say to yourself, I just need to trust in God and He will protect me from all harm and suffering, then you are heading for disappointment.
This account does show us that God is able to save, and is mighty and powerful indeed. It tells us that God can and does intervene in our lives in miraculous ways. For this, we should be truly grateful.
In a general sense, we could infer that to trust God means everything will be ok. To clarify, if we place our trust in Christ, then He will indeed save us and ultimately all things will be made right in heaven. However, we come into error when we think that by trusting God everything in this life will work out just fine.
Look at Stephen, the first martyr, for example. He trusted God. He followed God’s instruction. He served the Lord faithfully. Yet, he was stoned to death. Why didn’t it work for him? And, if it did not work for Stephen, why should we think it will work for us?
We cannot liberally take Bible passages in isolation, and draw out wrong conclusions from them. In this case, Daniel was saved. In Stephen’s case, he was not.
So what is really going on here? I think the answer lies in the closing verses of this chapter. And it relates to the question I asked you earlier – who is really in charge?
25 Then king Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages, who dwell in all the earth:
“Peace be multiplied to you.
26 “I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel;
“for he is the living God,
and steadfast forever.
His kingdom is that which will not be destroyed.
His dominion will be even to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues.
He works signs and wonders in heaven and in earth,
who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”
28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.Daniel 5:25-28 WEB
In response to all of these events, King Darius writes to all the peoples and nations in the world. In his letter, he tells them that they are to fear and worship the God of Daniel. Notice he does not claim Daniel’s God – our God – for himself, and still refers to Him as “Daniel’s God”. We each must claim a relationship with God for ourselves. It is no good to say that we follow the God of our parents, our friends or even our church. We must have our own relationship with Jesus.
Look at what the king writes! It is astonishing to hear such words from the Persian King.
He points out that God is living, and this in stark contrast to the many idols of wood or stone throughout the world at this time. He states that God is steadfast forever, and will not be moved. Darius claims that God’s kingdom will never be destroyed, and that is quite a statement from a king who undoubtedly wants his own kingdom to be perpetuated. Darius tells the world that our God rescues and saves (something we too should be doing), and that He is the God of signs and wonders.
So who is really in charge? God is – our God, Daniel’s God, the very same. The events of Daniel 6 and the trial that Daniel faced at the mouths of hungry lions was all about His glory. Daniel was rescued so that a Persian King might proclaim the goodness of God throughout the earth.
We can and should trust God, and we can and should ask the Lord to keep us safe and to rescue us from our troubles. If He does, then we worship Him. Yet, if He does not, then we praise Him in and through those time of trial. Our goal should not be our own comfort, but to glorify the Living God!
The thought of trouble and trial does not excite me, nor does it you I imagine! I pray for a peaceful life, yet I pray for a life of obedience more so. If a few brief earthly troubles leads to the God Heaven being glorified, then so be it.
I hope you have enjoyed this series on Daniel, and I hope it has challenged you to live differently. May you be excellent in all you do, fully committed to your faith in Christ, and will to endure any trials so that your God might be glorified.
Who is really in charge? The maker of heaven and earth, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Praise be unto Him in all the earth! Amen!