Study 7 DANIEL IN THE LIONS’ DEN
STUDIES IN THE LIFE OF DANIEL
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Daniel 6:10-28)
The story of Daniel in the lions’ den, one of the most dramatic incidents recorded in the Bible, is a great strengthener to faith, a challenge to stand firm in a time of testing and trial, and a marvellous demonstration of the power of prayer. It is an illustration of Proverbs 18:10; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Timothy 4:18; James 5:17; it is a prophetic picture of the protection that God will give to His faithful people at the end of the age (when His judgments will be poured out), and it also illustrates the present help and enabling that God gives to His people in times of testing. Notice why Daniel was thrown to the lions, what happened to him and what was the result of his ordeal.
1. THE DANGER THAT THREATENED HIM
Daniel was Prime Minister in the kingdom of King Darius in Babylon. By now he was between 80 and 90, and he was known for his piety and his faith in God. As a consequence, he had many enemies (verses 4 and 5). It was great for him to be Prime Minister – but look at 2 Timothy 3:12. In the royal court there were presidents, princes and other officials who were determined to bring about his downfall. In some measure this may be true of every Christian who is determined to be faithful to the Lord; it is surely impossible to be 100% loyal to the Lord Jesus and to escape some persecution – see 1 Peter 4:12-14, and see verses 6 to 9. Had he been weak in the faith then he would have given up his worship of God, his prayer habit of years, and he would have found some excuses for not obeying the dictates of his enemies; but he remained loyal in the hour of testing (verse 10). This is a great verse! Here he is, carrying on just as though he had no enemies working to bring about his downfall. He was under observation, and soon these enemies got him in their net (verse 11). Poor Daniel! What an ordeal for a servant of God! What humiliation for an aged Prime Minister! But – are you in some lions’ den, at your wits end, with people working against you, being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, in the den of sin, temptation, despair…? Is that old roaring lion, Satan, threatening to devour you? – look up 1 Peter 5:8. What can you do? – fret, struggle and complain? Yes, you can do all these things – but you must not, and you need not! Notice:
2. THE FAITH THAT SUSTAINED HIM
God actually allowed Daniel to be put into the den, just as previously He had allowed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be put into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:17-23); just as He allowed Paul and Silas to be cast into prison (Acts 16:23-24); just as He allowed Fanny Crosby, the hymn writer, to spend ninety of her ninety-five years in blindness; and just as He allows many of His children to suffer persecution and imprisonment today. In the same way, perhaps He has allowed you to be cast into the prison of ill-health, loss, sorrow or some other testing? But – how did Daniel react? He put his whole trust in God for this new situation in which he found himself (verse 16). He could have sung:
My times are in Thy hand;
My God, I wish them there;
My life, my friends, my soul I leave
Entirely to Thy care.
That is what faith in the living God does – it gives peace and poise in the midst of terrifying situations and produces within the believer the experience of Isaiah 26:3. Look at verses 18 to 20. Daniel was more at rest in the prison with the lions than Darius was in his palace with all his luxurious comforts. If you are in a lions’ den, do believe this: the lions cannot harm you unless God allows them to, and if He does allow them, then somehow it will be for the best (Romans 8:28). What God wants most in our lives is that we trust Him, as Daniel did. Look at verse 20. Is God able? Of course He is – but His will is the important thing. It might have been God’s will for the lions to maul or kill Daniel, and had this been so it would have been the greatest thing that could happen to him, for there is nothing greater than for God to accomplish His will in the life of one of His children. However, it was His will that Daniel should be protected and preserved for further service. Notice, therefore:
3. THE POWER THAT DELIVERED HIM
Look at verses 20-23. This was God’s power at work. When Daniel was in the den God’s angel was there with him and the lions (verse 22) – and look up Psalm 91:11-13; Hebrews 1:14. Can God still send His angel to deliver us? Of course He can! – moreover He can deliver us with the angel of His presence – look up Isaiah 63:9. It is a great thing to experience the delivering power of God, for He delivers from sin (Hebrews 7:25); from fear (Psalm 34:4); from doubt (Matthew 14:31); from anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7); and He breaks the power of evil habits. In other words, He delivers completely (2 Timothy 4:18)! If you are in a horrible den, threatened by any kind of lion, the same power that delivered Daniel will deliver you if you will put your trust in the living God. Finally, notice:
4. THE TESTIMONY THAT THRILLED HIM
Look at verses 25-27, and compare Philippians 1:12. How thrilled and humbled Daniel must have been when in answer to his own prayer, and because of his own faithfulness and trust in God, Darius was led to give this great testimony!
There is one verse which in a special way sums up the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. It is Proverbs 16:7.
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known!