Daniel in the Lion's Den

You remember Darius the Mede took over the land Babylon had ruled. Daniel was old now, but the new ruler realized he was very wise and made him a governor in the Medo-Persian Empire. Two other governors ruled with Daniel - - together they were set over 120 officers called satraps. Before long, however, Darius saw Daniel was wiser than the other governors and began thinking about putting him over the whole country! How do you think the other governors and satraps felt when they heard this? Yes, they were jealous. They began trying to make Daniel look bad to Darius. That would be hard to do they admitted to one another saying, ¬“We shall not find any charge against him unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.¬”

Darius¬’ favor for Daniel caused such envy that the other rulers worked out a plan for his death. They knew he prayed to his God three times a day regularly - - and they knew him well enough to know nothing could keep him from doing what he thought was right. So they decided to use that against him.

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Like most people in those days, Darius worshipped idols. Because he had conquered Babylon, he thought his gods were more powerful than any other gods. As king, he was supposed to be son of the gods. So when his wicked rulers came to honor him above everything else, he was not suspicious. ¬“King Darius, live forever!¬” they declared before telling him their scheme.

Slyly they asked the king to sign law saying no one could pray to any other man or god except him for thirty days. ¬“Whoever petitions any god or man, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.¬” After all, anyone who refused to obey him by praying to another God would be rebelling against the king¬’s gods. Darius gladly signed the new law and the evil men could hardly wait to catch Daniel praying.

Of course Daniel heard about the law. However, he went home and kneeled before his window opened toward Jerusalem, just as he had always done. Three times each day he continued to pray and give thanks to God. When the other rulers found him there, they rushed to tell the king, ¬“This Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O King, but makes his petition three times a day,¬”

The king saw through their words at once. Angry with himself for falling into their trap, he tried desperately to think of a way to save Daniel. But the men reminded him there was no way out - - once the king of the Medes and Persians signed a law it could not be changed.

Finally Darius saw there was nothing he could do - - his favorite ruler would have to be sacrificed to the lions. So Daniel was brought and thrown into the den by command of the king. ¬“Your God, whom you served continually, He will deliver you, ¬“Darius told Daniel unhappily. A stone was put over the mouth of the den and Darius sealed it with his own ring to show he kept his law.

Darius spent a miserable, sleepless night. Knowing his brave old friend was among the savage beasts, he would not eat or listen to the court musicians who usually entertained him. No doubt Daniel¬’s enemies waited excitedly for the end to come, sure that they had taken care of Daniel at last.

But they all had a surprise the next morning! Very early the distressed king hurried to the den of lions and cried out in a sorrowful voice to Daniel. ¬“Daniel, servant of the living God,¬” he said, ¬“has your God whom you serve continually been able to deliver you from the lions?¬” How happy he was to hear Daniel¬’s voice from within! ¬“My God sent His angel and shut the lions¬’ mouth, so that they have not hurt me,¬” Daniel said. In great relief, Darius had Daniel brought up from the pit and made sure he was all right. Then he commanded the wicked men be thrown to the vicious lions.

And so Daniel was spared and his enemies met the violent end they had intended for Daniel, the servant of the true God.

Talking it Over:

1. How can knowing about God¬’s care of His people make our faith stronger?
2. Daniel was probably a teenager when he was brought captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. He saw the glory of Nebuchadnezzar¬’s great world kingdom and even received a high office in his government. But now the Medo-Persians have taken his kingdom. How is Nebuchadnezzar¬’s dream of the strange image coming true?
3. How was Daniel¬’s life like the life of Joseph? What lessons can you learn from them?

Memory Verse:

¬“I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you.¬” Dan 5:14
What did Belshazzar mean when he said this to Daniel?

Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.