So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. Daniel 6:16a
We know the story well. Probably many of us heard it for the very first time in Sunday School. It is action packed, and begins with a new king on the throne, and a new government in place in Persia, of which Daniel was a part. And it didn’t take long for the king to discover Daniel’s worth. He was a great SAINT, but he was also a great STATESMAN, and so he received a promotion. The king set him over the whole realm. But as poet James Thomson observed, ‘envy hates the excellence it cannot reach,’ and Daniel’s promotion profoundly irritated the other members of Darius’ cabinet! And so they searched high and low for some fault in Daniel, that they could go tittle tattling to the king about, but they came up with nothing. There was no weak place in Daniel that could be used to condemn him. What a testimony! And so these men hatched a plot, which humanly speaking it seemed Daniel could not/would not survive. They drew up a plan, which basically banned Daniel from praying, and no sooner had the king heard the plan, than he agreed to it, and made it law that “whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.” Now if the king had only stopped to think for one moment, he would have wondered why Daniel, his Prime Minister wasn’t heading up the delegation presenting this proposal. But Darius’ pride clouded his thinking. He liked the idea that he would be the only person men could petition, and so in no time at all, he put the decree in writing. Daniel was trapped, or so these government officials thought. What I wonder, was the godly man going to do? Surely, he could simply pray in private for the next thirty days? In that way he would be obeying the king, and the King of kings!
But Daniel 6:11 tells us that Daniel, who was probably about 90 years old at this time, went home, and did what he had been doing for many years. He got down on his knees in his upper room, with his windows open towards Jerusalem, and he lifted his heart to God in heaven. In other words, despite the dangers, God’s servant quietly carried on as normal. He didn’t pray because prayer was forbidden. He wasn’t looking for trouble. But he prayed because it was his practice to do so, and no laws of state were going to break this habit of prayer. And of course, while this saintly man was on his knees, his enemies were rubbing their bloodthirsty hands together, and they couldn’t wait to report him to the king. The king was pretty upset with himself, when he realized how he had been trapped. And to his credit he did everything in his power to try and set Daniel free, but once a law had been signed and sealed in the Medo-Persian kingdom, the law was mightier than the king himself. And so Daniel was arrested and thrown into a pit of lions. And to make sure that the pit was secure, a stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the pit, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring, and with the rings of his nobles, so that the situation might not be changed. But the king left the pit, with these words ringing in Daniel’s ears, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Again, what a testimony this man had before a watching world.
Well whether Daniel got a good night’s sleep, we are not told, but we do know that the king didn’t, and we all know that when Darius went to the pit early the next morning, he found Daniel to be alive, and he ordered that he be removed, and those who had accused Daniel be thrown into the pit instead. He also made a decree that in every part of his kingdom, men should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
Daniel’s faith was a principle of his life, and Daniel lived his faith under pressure. Daniel knew that he was connected to a limitless God, and Daniel’s faith in that limitless God gave him courage even in the most demanding of times. Daniel understood that God was all he needed, and Daniel had faith in God, because he communicated with God. True faith will always be tested. True faith will always prove adequate. True faith will always bring glory to God. How strong is our faith?
“Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5)