Nebuchadnezzar has been overthrown as king in Babylon and succeeded by Darius. The Jews remain there in exile and Daniel has gained favour under Darius. Envious of Daniel, other Babylonians scheme to have him thrown into the lions’ den, much to the consternation of the king.
Bible Readings: Daniel 6:16-23
The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" Daniel answered, "May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty." The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
The persecution of Daniel here is less about race or religion, and more about straightforward envy of the position that he has risen to in the court of King Darius. Daniel’s enemies have tricked the king into passing a law that forbids prayer to anyone other than Darius in order to get rid of Daniel.
We see this happening many times in politics today and it is likely to happen at times in our workplaces and our communities. If it happens to us, let us seek to be like Daniel and to continue to behave with integrity, trusting God to see us through. Let us also pray for such integrity in our workplaces and government.
Darius, as a man of faith, has earnt the respect of the king who is distraught that he has been tricked into signing Daniel’s death warrant. He spends a sleepless night worrying over the fate of Daniel while Daniel seems to have spent a quiet night in the lions’ den. The difference for these men is their relationship with God. Darius acknowledged God but had no relationship with him and so spent the night in his own bed worrying. Daniel had a relationship with God through prayer, worship and the scriptures, and he spent the night in the lions’ den trusting God.
Things will always happen that have the potential to upset us and cause us to have sleepless nights. Like with Daniel, this may be the result of what others have said and done; it might be to do with other problems that we are facing. Whatever it is, our God is greater, and we can trust him to bring us safely through, and to come through the experience unscathed by circumstances.
Father go, we pray for honesty and integrity in all aspects of life, and where we face difficulties or dangers, will you send your angels to stop up the mouths of the lions and to bring us through unscathed.
God of grace, amazing wonder