We have been studying our way through the sixth chapter of Daniel in a short series of posts.
In the first one – An Excellent Man – we thought about how Daniel conducted himself, and what lessons there are for us in our modern world. In part two – No Compromise – we saw another aspect of Daniel’s excellence, in that he absolutely refused to compromise his faith irrespective of the consequences. He was prepared to die in the Lion’s Den rather than deny his God. In our third instalment – No Way Out – we see that King Darius is tied up in his own words, and finds no escape.
Seeing no way out, King Darius is forced to have Daniel arrested.
Then the king gave a command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you constantly serve, rescue you Himself!” 17 A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no music or entertainment was brought before him, and he remained unable to sleep.Daniel 6:16-18 Amp
Verse 16 is somewhat matter of fact. It simply says the king commanded, Daniel is arrest and then thrown into the den. I think it is interesting that we have yet to hear Daniel utter a single word. Even now, as he is taken by force, the Bible does not record him protesting or arguing or begging at all. Now I am not saying Daniel remained silent throughout the whole affair, simply that the Bible does not record him saying anything. Is that relevant? Is there some hidden gem here? Perhaps, or perhaps not. One point I do draw out is that we have not the merest hint of Daniel speaking foolish or idle words, and this is in stark contrast to King Darius who regretted his commands.
The king says to Daniel, “May your God, whom you constantly serve, rescue you Himself!” I emphasise the words “your” and “constantly.”
The king recognises that this God is Daniel’s God. Darius sees that there is a personal relationship between Daniel and his God. This will be important later on when we close out the chapter – so keep it in mind.
I also note that Daniel did not just serve God, but constantly served Him. It implies that Daniel has no apparent lapses or displays half-hearted worship. Instead, Daniel is steady and unshakeable in his walk with God. Indeed, that very commitment is what has landed him in the den of lions. We noted from verse 10 of this chapter that when Daniel hears that the law forbidding prayer to anyone but King Darius has been signed, he goes straight home and prays – three times a day – just as he always had. Daniel is steadfast in prayer, and everyone knew it. What a lesson for us! Are we so dedicated? Are we so unshakeably steady? Do people look at us in church on a Sunday and wonder if we’ll still be following Christ in a week’s time? I pray not!
So, Daniel is lowered into the pit, and as I said above, no mention is made of him having said a word. Yet this passage is not dissimilar to another situation we find earlier on in the book of Daniel. Earlier on in Daniel 3, we read the account of his three friends and they are commanded to worship an idol in the form of a giant golden statue. They refuse. Like Daniel, they now faced death – not from lions, but from a raging furnace turned up seven times hotter than normal. As they are arrested and thrown in, they tell the king of the day (Nebuchadnezzar) “Our God is able to rescue us, and even if He does not, we will still not bow down and worship this idol.”
Daniel was seemingly not present at the fiery furnace, or at least no mention is made of him. I wonder if he was familiar with the account though, and if he knew the words that his friends had spoken. If so, perhaps he would have been saying to the king, “My God is able to rescue me from the mouths of these hungry lions, but even if he does not, I will not pray to you Darius.”
Whatever you are going through right now, you can take these words as your own. “Jesus is well able to rescue me from this [death, illness, job loss, persecution, insert your own situation here] but even if He does not, I will still follow Him with all my heart.”
A stone is placed over the mouth of the den, and it is sealed with the king’s seal so that no one can interfere. This should remind us of another den/tomb, sealed with another stone, which was also sealed/guarded so that no one could interfere…. And look how that turned out!
So Darius returned to his palace, refuses food and entertainment, and spends the entire night worrying about Daniel. Daniel meanwhile, is in the den, and we know not what is happening to him. As I close this post, I wonder who of the two had the better night’s sleep? The king, by worrying, could not change the outcome. Neither could Daniel. Perhaps as he rested and trusted in his God, Daniel was able to curl up and sleep right next to the lions.
You know doubt know how the story ends, and if not, we will find out next time. The important question for me is why? And what, if anything, is the lesson for us as the church? I will try to draw this out next time, and bring this series to an end. If you have enjoyed it, do share with someone else. And as ever, thanks for reading.