- the lion's den - is a lesson and an inspiration in many ways. It is not always God's purpose to miraculously intervene and close the lion's mouth. Many faithful men have sealed their testimony with their blood, but the lesson and the comfort of this chapter is not diminished. In the end, all who are His will stand eternally before Him, delivered from the lions - all the lions.
The events of this chapter occur in the reign of Darius, the Mede. The prominence of Daniel and his godly separateness leads, of course, to jealousy. His enemies realize (verse 5) that they would not be able to find any thing against him, unless they could create a situation where he must choose between service to the king and service to God. So (verse 7), they flatter the vain king into making a foolish decree that none may ask a petition of any but him for 30 days.
1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;
2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage.
3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
Daniel, who had been promoted to high political rank in Babylon, was found a useful servant of the state when Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian took possession of the city - so useful that he was put in the first rank over the heads of a multitude of native princes. The empire was divided, by the sagacity of Cyrus, into 127 provinces, over each of which was placed a governor, and over all these, three presidents, of whom Daniel was first. It was according to the ordinary bent of human nature for these governors to be envious of a few so high in favour.
The next natural thing was for them to plot his downfall. To bring this about, they must prove some fault against him. They looked into his affairs with this intent. "They sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom, but they could find none occasion nor fault, forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him."
Here is a strong feature: Daniel was "a man greatly beloved" of God-not without a reason, and here is part of it, that he was an accurate, faithful man of business. His enemies could find no fault with him on this head. Ought they to be able to find fault with us? I do not speak of slander and misrepresentation, of which any man may be the subject, and of which all men who pursue a conspicuous course are sure to be the subject. I speak of true accusation. It ought not to be possible for the adversary to speak reproachfully with truth against the servants of God.
They ought not to be able to truly say that they are untrustworthy-that their word is not to be relied on-that they are slack in the performance of promises and in payment of dues-that they are insensible to honour in their transactions. They ought to be like Daniel: "of good report among those who are without" - known for integrity, kindness, promptitude, accuracy, honour. This is a piece of learning to which the Apostolic epistles lend constant and especial emphasis.
Bro Roberts - Sunday Morning 260
5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his Elahh.
6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his Elahh, as he did aforetime.
How did Daniel meet the law? We know how he would have met it had he been like many modern trimmers and sophists. He would have said: "I do not see that I am called upon to run into danger. I am not called upon to tempt God by giving myself into the hands of these men. I can pray to God under the blankets as well as on my knees. God knows the heart and will accept the pure offering of the lips whatever the posture of the body may be. If I pray openly I will become food to the lions and will pray no more, whereas if I exercise prudence and veil off my devotions from these wicked men, I will live to pray to God many times.
God will be glorified; I will be saved, and these plotting sinners will be foiled."
Not thus did Daniel deceive himself and try to deceive God.
...The "learning" afforded by this incident is unmistakable-that we ought not to allow the fear of consequences to pare off the edges of our service to God.
Let our service be hearty and thorough and bold, with humility.
The truth exposes us to many disadvantages. We do not belong to the State church nor to other bodies in many parts equally respectable. We cannot conform to the public law on many points. In our day, the penalty is no longer exposure to wild beasts or deprivation of liberty; but the penalty is often quite distressing, nevertheless, in a community where individual prosperity depends upon popularity with neighbours. They may find no fault with our business ways, but they cannot pardon our exclusiveness-our separateness-our faith.
...Our present life is a very transient affair. He that saveth it by pusillanimity toward God will certainly lose it, as Christ has said; but he that loseth it by faithfulness "unto death" will shortly (and to him so very shortly) be the subject of a divine interference more complete and lasting in its effects than that which took place in the case of Daniel. Not only from lion's terrible jaws shall we be delivered for a moment, but from the everlasting dominion of the ignominious and obliterating grave.
The cheering and powerful words will be addressed to us: "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust." Joyfully, in calm strength, shall we respond: "O grave, where is thy victory?" How pale and hideous and mean will then appear the craven and uncertain course of those who fear man too much to serve God in the teeth of danger.
How sensible and wise and noble and radiant, on the contrary, will seem to all men the course of those (looked back upon) who can truly say with Paul: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
Brethren, now is our opportunity of being on Daniel's side in a bold and thorough service of God, amidst many foes and dangers. The opportunity courageously embraced will land us by his side, by the grace of God, in the day when "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets will be seen radiant in the Kingdom of God."
Bro Roberts - Sunday Morning 260
Daniel's intense devotion to the land and people of God is evident from his prolonged prayers on their behalf, yet in the inscrutable wisdom of God it was decreed that he should endure a long and weary lifetime in exile, with Jerusalem desolate, the sanctuary in ruins, and the people of God a derision and reproach.
Bro Growcott - The Hand of Our God Is Upon Us
11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his Elahh.
He knew the penalty. Was he foolhardy? Why couldn't he have taken care not to be seen? Why couldn't he have closed the lattice window which is so pointedly mentioned as being open? Wouldn't common prudence have demanded at least that? God could hear just as well with it shut.
But why should he hide? Why should he be ashamed or afraid? Who has supreme power, God or man? Naaman the Syrian said (2 Kgs. 5:18)-
"When I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant this thing."
But Daniel was a man of different stamp. Why should he temporize and interrupt his communion with God at the whim of a heathen monarch? It was no sin to pray, it was his duty. And if he intended to pray, why should he hide it?
He could not have faithfully followed any other course. His allegiance to God was on trial, and he faced the issue squarely.
He did not go out of his way to flout the king's commandment. He merely ignored it, and followed his usual custom of worship, scorning subterfuge.
Bro Growcott - The Hand of Our God Is Upon Us
13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.
How did Daniel meet the law? We know how he would have met it had he been like many modern trimmers and sophists. He would have said: "I do not see that I am called upon to run into danger. I am not called upon to tempt God by giving myself into the hands of these men. I can pray to God under the blankets as well as on my knees. God knows the heart and will accept the pure offering of the lips whatever the posture of the body may be. If I pray openly I will become food to the lions and will pray no more, whereas if I exercise prudence and veil off my devotions from these wicked men, I will live to pray to God many times. God will be glorified; I will be saved, and these plotting sinners will be foiled."
...The "learning" afforded by this incident is unmistakable-that we ought not to allow the fear of consequences to pare off the edges of our service to God. Let our service be hearty and thorough and bold, with humility...The Daniel part is to openly profess and do what the service of God calls for at our hands-with all meekness and respectfulness certainly, but with all decisiveness of resolution, "as to the Lord, and not unto men."
Bro Roberts - Sunday Morning 260
23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
It is not always God's purpose to miraculously intervene and close the lion's mouth. Many faithful men have sealed their testimony with their blood, but the lesson and the comfort of this chapter is not diminished. In the end, all who are His will stand eternally before Him, delivered from the lions - all the lions. *
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
The course that Daniel follows is a striking illustration of the principle that a lit candle is not prepared to be put under a bushel - not even temporarily for convenience sake, and it is a standing rebuke to all who on a plea of prudence hide their divine light that is meant to illuminate the world.
When open confession of the principles of Christ is dangerous or inconvenient, how often do we hear it quoted that we should not toss our pearls before swine? Daniel's conduct puts such a misapplication of scripture to shame.
"Ye are the light of the world. Let your light shine."
Daniel makes no attempt at concealment, though he knows that he is walking into a planned trap and is exposing himself to a cruel death.
How easy it would have been to shut his windows, and thus, make sure that his prayers were unobserved! What harm would it have done to use a little caution in this way? But Daniel, the man greatly beloved (and we can see why), could see the issue so much more clearly than that. He saw that such a course would have been weakness, cowardice, failure, and defeat.
And so all generations since that time have been strengthened by the power of his fearless example-
Dare to be a Daniel! Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm, And dare to make it known.
Bro Growcott - Daniel, a man greatly beloved