Home > Uncategorized > Daniel 6: Lions, dens and Daniel, oh my!

Daniel 6: Lions, dens and Daniel, oh my!

Yes, I must admit, that’s probably the most cheesiest, recycled title imaginable, borrowed from Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. (A special “thank you” goes out to the late Judy Garland, also affectionately known as Liza Minnelli’s Mom).

I read this passage last night, right before I went to bed around 10 p.m. to get ready for my 4:45 a.m. wake up to go to work at the gas station. As I read, I noticed some new things. Reading from my Zondervan King James Study Bible, I consulted with some of the footnotes. I know some Christians detest Bibles with extensive footnotes, but it really helps in learning the background of the passage. Otherwise, you’re almost helpless to understand the historical and cultural backgrounds of the ancient Biblical cultures. What you read will either go straight over our head or will become misunderstood and misapplied.

At the beginning of Daniel 6, King Darius the Persian has set up his new kingdom. He has 120 princes and three presidents to whom the princes are all accountable. Who’s the head president?


So, after being given the consolation of third-highest ruler in Babylon shortly before Belshazzar’s death, Daniel actually receives a promotion. Good help is so hard to find, and I’m sure that Darius was very familiar with Daniel and his wisdom. Perhaps Belshazzar, when asked if he had any final words before being executed, said, “Daniel…is a smart…guy…should’ve…listened to him sooner…put…him…in charge…(gurgle! gasp!)”

While Daniel was the head president and accountable to Darius, the decision to promote Daniel was obviously a very sore one for the other presidents and many of the princes. “Why should this filthy foreigner–a JEW!–be put in charge of us?” They no doubt reasoned among themselves. “Didn’t Nebuchadnezzar unceremoniously wrench these slaves out of their homeland? And now one of them’s ruling over us again?”

So, they try to find dirt on Daniel. They called on all their spies, private investigators, everybody, to see what Daniel did that was embarrassing enough to beĀ relieved of his position in the kingdom. Mind you, this had nothing to do with the good of the kingdom. It was about power.

What did these gentlemen find? Absolutely nothing. Daniel was squeaky clean. No crazy secret sex life, no love children, no strange habits, no embarrassing personal problems.

Not unless you count his praying towards Jerusalem thrice daily.

So, these men approach Darius with the usual apple-polishing “O king, live forever” rhetoric and trick him into signing a law stating for the next 30 days all petitions must be directed to the king: anyone who asks a petition of God or man shall be thrown into a lion’s den.

Everyone agrees this is a great idea, Your Majesty!, the men tell the king. This is an outright lie, of course: Daniel knew nothing about it and certainly would not have given it his support. In those days, lying to the king was pretty much grounds to have your head permanently separated from your body.

When the men then make accusations against Daniel’s violating this law, the king realizes he’s been had, but it’s too late. the laws of the Medes-Persians were ironclad and could not be revoked.

As Daniel is put into the lions’ den, Darius in verse 16 tells the sage prophet that perhaps God will save him from this injustice.

Nice kitties!

The whole night, Darius doesn’t sleep, eat or have any entertainment. He is worried, thinking that a wonderful man and a great advisor may die because of a stupid law that he no doubt signed after the princes and presidents tickled his ears and tricked him. Morning can’t come quickly enough.

And when it does, Darius rushes to the den and calls down to Daniel asking if his God was able to save him.

It must’ve been a gargantuan relief to Darius to hear Daniel answer back in verses 21-22:

“…O king, live for ever.

“My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”

Furthermore, when Daniel came out of the den, the king saw he had no marks of physical activity of any kind. This reminds me of how Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were pulled from the fire a few chapters earlier and were found to have no burns or singes.

Darius, we read in verses 25-27, made a new law decreeing that Daniel’s God was to be revered and respected throughout the kingdom. His is a kingdom that is eternal with infinite power, and he delivered Daniel from the lions.

What about the men who tricked Darius into signing that bad law? Verse 24 tells us that they, their wives and children were thrown into the lions’ den. The lions were no doubt hungry and had a big breakfast.

This may seem like a bitter pill to swallow for modern readers: how could God let women and children be eaten by lions?

There are a few things to consider. First, a lot of distasteful activities occur in the Bible. This doesn’t mean that God condones it, it’s just reporting on things that happened in the ancient world. Their cultures, their perceptions on the world and their ideas of justice no doubt differ much from ours. I also understand that executing a man and his family was a Persian custom at the time, presumably to prevent the man’s wife or kids from plotting revenge down the road. This is right there with other gross practices, such as David collecting 200 foreskins of the Philistines (to prove to the circumcised King Saul that David [who was also circumcised] had killed 200 enemy soldiers).

Second, it’s entirely possible that these men’s wives and children were just as wicked and ungodly as they were. After all, they’d tried to murder an innocent man. Perhaps their wives and kids encouraged it. We don’t know for certain, except that Darius possibly wanted to give the others in his kingdom incentive to leave Daniel alone.

Richard Zowie is an active blogger. Post comments here or e-mail richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

  1. Bempong charles
    October 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Max good Lord bless you all. I have a questing, and the questing is where was Daniel when King Nebukadnezza put the three men of God in the fire?

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