ROBERT >> To some, Daniel and the lions’ den is just a kid’s story. But it’s much more than that. It’s a story about government corruption and scheming and envy. It’s a story about faith and courage and prayer. It’s a story about God’s judgment, God’s deliverance, and God’s power.
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love
ROBERT >> The story of Daniel is recorded for us in Daniel chapter 6. You might remember that Daniel as just a very young man was taken captive out of the city of Jerusalem, into Babylon. But there under the Babylonian kings he distinguished himself among the many administrators of that kingdom. And after Babylon fell to the Medo-Persians, once again Daniel distinguished himself above all the others. And that caused Daniel some trouble. And so as we look at this chapter, I want us to look at this: The trap set, the trap sprung, and the trap misfires.
Let’s begin here in Daniel 6:1, where the Bible says, “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the wholekingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss.”
You’ll notice here in these first two verses that Darius, the king, was quite a wise leader, because he knew how to delegate authority, appointing these protectors all over the land in the various territories he had. But he was also wise because he made them accountable. He appointed three governors over these. And you’ll notice Daniel was one of them.
But then notice what the Bible says in verse 3. “Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.”
Here you see once again Daniel distinguishes himself. He was one who was head and shoulders above the others. And so Darius was going to set him over everybody else because of his faithfulness, because of his loyalty to the king. He had proven himself over and over again. But then notice what happened.
It says in verse 4, “So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.”
Why were these trying to find some fault with Daniel?
Was it because they were going to have to give account to him?
Were they jealous that he might be placed over them all?
Well, often, as the Bible says in Proverbs 14:30, “envy is rottenness.”
It’s like rottenness in the bones. It was that attitude, that evil heart of envy that caused those of Jesus’ day to turn him over to the Romans that he might be crucified. And so here these are motivated by that same evil spirit, and they’re trying to find something wrong with Daniel. They’re going to go over his record with a fine tooth comb, but still they can’t find anything wrong with him. But then they thought, we could set a trap.
Notice here in the next verse, in verse 5, “Then these men said, We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”
You see, they knew that Daniel would be faithful and true to the law of his God, and so they were going to set Daniel’s loyalty to God against Daniel’s loyalty to king Darius. That’s why they knew the trap would work, because they knew that Daniel would do what God said. And so they set a trap.
And you read about it as we go on. In verse 6, “These governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: King Darius, live forever!”
You see a highly emotional group here. They’re all stirred up. And they’re coming before the king, and they’re using flattery to get him to approve of their trap that they’re about to set.
And they say in verse 7, “All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.”
Now I want you to notice right here that this was all a big lie. Because you’ll notice here in verse 7 all the governors, they said, consulted together about this. Not Daniel. Daniel certainly was no part of this scheme to have people only petition the king. You see, our petitions are to be brought before God and not before any so-called gods or certainly not before any man as a god. And so here you see them setting the trap for Daniel, because they knew that Daniel, in spite of the decree, would pray to his God. And so as we look at this verse, we see that really Satan is the one behind it all, because Satan is the liar and he is the father of all lies.
You remember John 8:44 where Jesus made that clear. And you remember Genesis chapter 3 where we first see Satan come on the scene as that old serpent lying to the woman to get her to violate the commandments of God. And so it’s that same spirit that we see in the hearts of these men who were working to set this trap for Daniel.
Notice the king went along with it. In verse 8 it says,”Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.”
Therefore king Darius signed the written decree. Why did Darius sign this decree? Why did he go along with their scheme?
Because they flattered him?
Because it would elevate him to a god and they could only speak to him as a god? Or was it more practical?
Just testing this new kingdom to see if they would be loyal to the king?
The Bible tells us, it warns us in Proverbs 16:18,“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
And so the king was convinced. He signed the decree that could not be altered. The trap was set. But now I want you to notice the trap sprung. The trap was sprung.
Look at verse 10. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed
and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”
Daniel went and did what he always did. He prayed to his God. The prayer of Daniel here is an amazing example for us. And I want you to see why Daniel’s prayer is so significant and so powerful. I want you to notice that he did this knowing that the decree had been signed; knowing, in other words, that he would go to the lions’ den if he did this thing. And yet he went home to pray anyway. I wonder how many of us who believe in God, if we knew it was illegal and we might be put in jail or we light lose our life would go ahead and pray like Daniel prayed right here.
Did you notice what it said?
That he went to the upper room, that he opened the doors of the windows there so that everyone could see him?
He didn’t do this to be pretentious, to put on a show. This is what he always did. This was his custom, it says. He just kept doing what he had always been doing.
Would we have done the same?
Daniel was not afraid of this decree. Daniel was not ashamed of his God, and he was not ashamed of praying to his God. And so knowing that his life was on the line, still he opens up the windows and he prays toward Jerusalem.
In 1 Kings 8:48, we read about the dedication of the temple that was built in Jerusalem by Solomon. And on that occasion, God told Solomon and he told the people that if they would turn towards Jerusalem and pray to him, that he would hear them and he would answer them.
And so you see Daniel here now in captivity in Babylon turning toward Jerusalem, remembering the God of that Old Testament temple, knowing that he would hear him and knowing that he would answer him. And the Bible tells us here that he knelt down on his knees.
Do you not see the humility of Daniel in doing this?
And that he prayed three times that day. Not once, not twice, but three times, as was his custom. You see, Daniel was consistent in his prayer, and he continued in his praying each and every day. I know sometimes when we get in trouble, we turn to God in prayer. But you see, this was something Daniel did every day. And so when the trouble came, it wasn’t something new or difficult or hard for him to do. It was something he had been doing all along. He prayed to his God, and he gave thanks before his God.
I think it’s so amazing that in this difficult hour of Daniel’s life, still he could find something to be thankful for. Perhaps this would help us in our own prayer lives, because when we remember what God hasdone for us in the past, it gives us confidence and assurance for the present and for the future. And so as we pray, let us learn from Daniel also to give thanks.
The Bible says, “As was his custom since early days.”
The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing, to never quit praying, to never give up on prayer.
Have you given up on prayer?
Have you quit praying?
Keep praying every day. When those difficult times come, then God will be there for you as he was for Daniel.
The Bible says in James 5:16, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much in its working.”
Let’s see how this story unfolded as we continue on.
Notice in verse 11, “Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.”
They knew Daniel would be there. They knew Daniel would be praying. And so they knew when to go and when to find him and catch him doing that very thing.
In verse 12, “They went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter. Have you signed this, they asked him.”
They’d taken the monkey off their own back, and they’re putting it, they’re putting all the responsibility on Darius here, the king. And then we read on a little bit further.
Notice here in verse 13, So they answered and said before the king, That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.
I see the devil here once again, putting everything in a negative light. They didn’t say this Daniel who is so distinguished among all your governors, this Daniel who’s been so loyal and faithful to you through the years. No, they said this captive of Judah; implying, trying to plant suspicion in the heart of Darius. Maybe he is out to go against you, king. Maybe he’s not so loyal and faithful as you think he is. But that’s the way the devil works.
In verse 14, “The king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.”
I think it’s commendable that king Darius did not try to blame everybody else for this situation that he found himself in. He looked at himself. He was displeased with himself. He knew that he had made a mistake. But he was also big enough not only to admit his mistake, but to desire to do something about it. And so he thought, what can I do?
And then he labored all day long to try to find some way to free Daniel from the consequence of this decree which he had signed. But he was unsuccessful.
And you’ll notice here in verse 15, “Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, Know, O king, that is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed. So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.”
Let me stop right here for just a moment, because I want you to notice the faith of king Darius. Yes, this king understood something about Daniel’s God, that he was a powerful God, and that just as Daniel had served him continually, God was able to help him continually, even in the lions’ den.
Do we have that kind of faith today, that our God is so powerful that he could actually deliver us out of the mouth of lions?
Well, notice what else happened in verse 17. “And then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his
own signet ring and with his signet of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.”
This signet ring sealed that den of lions. That was to keep Daniel from escaping the den. That was to keep anyone from coming in and rescuing Daniel. And it reminds me of how the tomb of Jesus was sealed. After his crucifixion, his body was placed in that tomb; but you remember on the third day, Jesus was raised up from the dead. That’s the power of God. That’s the power that Daniel was relying upon, that even king Darius realized was a possibility.
We need to remember when we find ourself in a den of lions, maybe not a literal den, but in trouble, we find ourself in danger and in difficulty, when the challenge is insurmountable, when the problems are great, whether it’s family or whether it’s finances, whether it’s a great struggle with our faith, some temptation, some addiction, some difficulty in our life, all of these trials and temptations, let’s remember that we’re not alone, that we as Christians have the power of God, and that God is able to deliver us. And we need to trust in him just like Daniel.
But notice here in verse 18 that night while Daniel was in the lions’ den, what king Darius was doing. The Bible says, “Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. And also his sleep went from him.”
King Darius had some kind of faith, but he was still worried, he was still concerned. He was at least curious about what was going on in the lions’ den that night. He couldn’t sleep. He was pacing the floor, wondering what was going to happen. He didn’t call for any musicians. And really the word is more general. It speaks of anything that might bring comfort, that might ease his mind, might bring him some kind of pleasure or joy. Darius didn’t call for that. He shared with Daniel’s affliction. He shared with him in that. And so he was up all that night wondering what was going to happen.
And I wonder sometimes, what was Daniel doing that night in the lions’ den?
Of course the Bible doesn’t tell us. I wonder if he was calm and if he was sleeping that night, maybe petting the lions. I don’t know. Some preacher suggested he was singing the song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Daniel was a man of God, a man of prayer, a man of courage, a man of great faith, and so Daniel that night understood what the Psalmist said long ago from the mouth of the Lord, Be still and know that I am God. It’s in that knowledge that we are able to survive our own den of lions, our own trouble, our own temptations, and our own trials. Knowing that there is a God, a God who loves us, a God who cares for us, a powerful God who is able to deliver us out of any and everything. It’s in that faith that we can survive in this life and that we can pass through even death, because we know that God will be with us.
As the Psalmist said long ago, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Now the story is not over. Yes, the trap was set, and yes the trap was sprung; but then I want you to notice the trap misfires. And I hope you’ll join us next week to see what happened in that den of lions that night and to see the results of God’s deliverance and of God’s power and of God’s judgment.
In the meantime, let us take heart, let us take courage today in a powerful, loving God. I know that he loves us no matter what happens, because I know what he did for me some 2,000 years ago, sending his son to this earth to pay the price for my sins. That one, Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life, tempted just like I, just like you; but he did that without sin, and he went and offered his perfect life on the cross. He suffered the cruelty, the torture of the cross; and in his death, the shedding of his blood, he paid the price for our sins.
There I see how awful, how horrible sin really is, what it cost our God: His only son. But there I also see how much he loved us, how much he cares for us because of what he’s done. So whatever’s going on in your life, you can know that God loves you, that God will deliver you if you put your faith in him. Believing on Jesus Christ, turning from your sins, giving yourself as he gave himself for you in the waters of baptism, your sins can be cleansed, your soul can be renewed, and you can begin a new life with him. He wants to come and take you home to be with him forever. He can deliver you. He can give you eternal life. That’s what we want to help you to do today. So let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven.
SINGING>> I know that my redeemer lives and ever prays for me.
I know eternal life he gives from sin and sorrow free.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know that over yonder stands a place prepared for me;
a home, a house not made with hands, most wonderful to see.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives. I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
SINGING>> Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways.
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find, in deeper reverence praise.
Drop thy still dews of quietness till all our strivings cease.
Take from our souls the strain and stress
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace. Amen.
ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like more information about the lesson today, or if you’d like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.
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SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall.
Sing to me of heaven,
sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall.
Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.