Surviving in the Lion’s Den: Daniel and Darius
Then, they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Then, the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians, no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.” So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (Daniel 6:13-16 NIV)
The story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6:13-16) has been a long-standing favored story that not only intrigues the minds of children, but adults as well. The story is set in the Middle East, about 600 – 650 BC, at a time when the Babylonians had conquered Israel, taking into captivity many of Israel’s promising young men, among them was a man named, Daniel.
Ironically, when king Darius decreed that Daniel must be thrown into the lion’s den, Daniel was not young, but a man about 80 years old. Through the many years of captivity, Daniel had developed a reputation for being a very hard worker and extremely honest; as well as being devout and obedient to his God, Yahweh Jehovah, the God of Israel. Daniel had managed to rise up in this pagan kingdom to achieve the position of administrator among the political ranks; and thereby, he had made many government officials angry with him and in their jealousy, they set out to find a way to remove him from his office of prominent authority.
The decree was that if anyone were caught praying to another god, or man, besides the king, during a specific thirty-day period, that person would be thrown into the lion’s den.
Needless to say, a very dangerous place for any human being and obviously pending a “not so good out come”! Yet, Daniel was persistent and continued with his faithfulness to his God, the God of Israel. Knowing how much King Darius loved and favored Daniel, the wicked government officials believed they would be able to force the king in keeping his own decree against Daniel, so they brought Daniel before the king and declared the wrong deed, which Daniel was guilty of committing.
Even though King Darius wanted to rescue Daniel, and try as he did, still, at sundown, the king was compelled to keep his decree; and Daniel was ordered into the lion’s den to face sure and certain death. As the story goes, King Darius just knew that Daniel would not survive the lion’s den and the king struggled to eat or sleep. However, the next morning, the king was delighted to learn that Daniel was still alive and asked Daniel if his God and protected him? Daniel answered, 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, O king.” (Daniel 6:22 NIV)
As the scripture states about this story, King Darius was overjoyed to learn that Daniel has survived the lion’s den, because he had trusted his god (Daniel 6:23 NIV) and as a result, King Darius ordered the jealous officials, who had brought their allegations against Daniel, arrested and along with their wives and children, they were ordered to be thrown into the lion’s den. Next, King Darius issued another decree ordering that all the people would fear and pay reverence to Daniel’s God, the God of Israel. Daniel continued a prosperous life under King Darius and his successor, King Cyrus, the Persian.
What is interesting to note about King Darius (558 – 485 BC) is that even though he found favor with Daniel and admired his good deeds, Daniel’s diligent work habits and his honesty, plus his loyalty and faithfulness to God, King Darius was recognized as a great king and empire builder, for making laws, and achieving many good deeds such as completing a canal from the Nile River to the Red Sea, irrigation projects, and a coinage system, but also, he was known for being a king, who could very violent against his enemies.
This world is not an easy world in which to live and it is filled with many people, who love others and in their loyalty to them, they will do many good things for them. Yet, there are those, who are not loving and kind, who will become jealous of those, who strive to do good, to be loving, and kind; and they will set out to compete with them, try to get them in trouble, even lie against them, and sometimes, they will try to hurt that good person in some way. Children are not in this world very long before they discover how bad and dangerous this world can, just like adults have to contend with this world.
This is why the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den is so appealing to everyone, especially children, and even adults at any age. Daniel was completely aware of his situation and knew full-well that he could have died that night in the lion’s den, but Daniel believed his God, and trusted him at all times for all circumstances; and even though he might die, still, he was willing to trust God. Daniel believed that God knew him, that he would keep his word to watch over him and protect him, and that God knew where Daniel was at all times and God was fully aware of what Daniel was doing and what was about to happen to him. Daniel knew that his obedience to God would be honored even when he obeyed the king, who loved Daniel, but whose law could also make sure that Daniel would be killed. God honored Daniel’s obedience first to him, then to the king. God made sure that Daniel lived. The king admired Daniel’s loyalty and faithfulness to God so much that he made a new decree that Daniel’s God would be honored and revered.
Life can be fun, filled with many happy events and it can be peaceful many times, but also, it is filled with challenges that cause people to struggle; and there are many sad times that people experience in life. Quite often, it is easy to feel that one is experiencing or enduring their own personal “lion’s den” and it will never end. Children have life situations and circumstances that cause them to feel that way, too. The key is to learn not to focus on one’s own situation and how it is, or could become, but to focus on God, just like Daniel did, and be willing to believe God is all-powerful, he knows every situation that everyone endures, and he knows exactly where everyone is and what is happening to them at all times. Be willing to place complete faith in God and trust God will be there, that he honors faithfulness and he will rescue those, who obey and trust him.
“Your effectiveness and personal victory in Christ are linked to the time you spend with the Lord in prayer.” Dr. Charles Stanley,
Fairchild, Mary. “Obedience to God: What Does the Bible Say About Obedience?” Stories of Calvary. Christianity.com(2005-2014). 01/17/2014.
Gill, N. S. “King Darius the Great” Ancient Classical History.com (2014) 01/27/2014.
Hopler, Whitney. “Bible Angels: An Angel Rescues Daniel From a Den of Lions” Christianity.com (2005-2014) 01/27/2014.
Stanley, Ph.D. Charles. “The Battle Of Prayer” Atlanta, Georgia: In Touch Ministries, October, 2013. 01/27/2014.
Zavada, Jack. “Bible Story Summary: God Protected and Delivered Daniel from the Den of Lions.” Christianity.com (2005-2014) 01/27/2014.