Today’s scripture contains one of the Bible stories every child loves to hear in Sunday School and read in their Bible storybooks: Daniel in the lions’ den. (Daniel 6). This is not just a story for children. There is much wisdom and inspiration for adults as well.
Daniel has done well as a Jewish exile. He has been raised to a prominent position, one of three men who oversee 120 satraps (men ruling the kingdom; we could say they were senators and congressmen with more power). You know the story. The satraps are jealous that this man, essentially a captured enemy, has risen to such influence and has the king’s ear and they determine to get rid of him. Political intrigue and character maligning begin as they go to the king with an idea that appeals to his ego. They convince him to make a law that no one can pray to any other god except the King for 30 days. He likes the sound of that and puts the decree in writing. By Medo-Persian law, no decree issued by the king can be changed. The punishment for breaking the law is death by lions.
Of course, we love our man, Daniel, for his strong, unswerving faith and commitment. As is his custom, he goes to his house three times a day, opens his windows toward his beloved city, Jerusalem, and prays to God, in full view of anyone who wished to see. His fellow politicians take the news with glee to the king, and he reluctantly has Daniel thrown in the lions’ den. Daniel’s faith has exposed his foolish, egocentric, hasty decision. Thankfully, God shows Himself to be the One True God, the Most High God, the God who is alive. He shuts the lions’ mouths and Daniel walks out unharmed the next morning. Darius punishes the corrupt politicians, and the hungry lions devour them before they hit the floor, proving that God did indeed perform a miracle in keeping Daniel alive.
We can easily see the lesson in Daniel’s behavior, but what about King Darius? Have you ever been tempted to make a hasty decision that made you look good, but realized later how foolish it was? Are you swayed by ungodly influences (people, culture) to protect your reputation? This story reminds us that faith in God always trumps worldly systems. Will standing firm cost you your job? Will being faithful to proclaim the gospel put you in a bad light with your peers and co-workers? Will refusing to participate in worldly things like drinking make you look like the “odd” one in the group? Then your issue is your ego, just like Darius.
Stand firm like Daniel, and you won’t find yourself spending a night in regret like Darius. Live unashamedly and boldly like Daniel, and let God protect your reputation, your job, or whatever it is you’re trying to hold on to. God can handle those who plot against you, as well as those who lead you to make foolish decisions. After all, he can tell a hungry lion to sit down and wait for breakfast!