Daniel and the Lions

Daniel was part of the very elite of Babylon. The highest position was that of the King; beneath him were the presidents, and beneath them were the princes. Daniel had been made a president, and was preferred over all of the other presidents and princes because he had an excellent spirit. (Daniel 6:1–3.)

There were those in the kingdom who became jealous of the success Daniel accrued. They tried everything to find a flaw in his character in an attempt to remove him from his position, but they were unable to find one single flaw with him. As determined as these jealous people were, they devised a plan whereby Daniel would be forced to break the law of his God, or face the consequences.

The king at the time was a Media-Persian, Darius. He had come into power after the death of Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar. Darius was approached by all the presidents and princes, and it was suggested by them that a royal statute be passed, that if any man worships or prays to any god or man other than the king for 30 days, he should be thrown into the lions’ den.

Darius passed the law, leaving Daniel with a choice to make. He could follow the law of King Darius, or he could follow the law of His God. Daniel decided to return to his house. As was normal, he got on his knees and prayed. Daniel prayed three times a day, setting himself by the open window and lifting his face to God. Daniel chose to change nothing about the way he prayed—not even by closing his window.

The men that had suggested the decree, expecting Daniel to carry on as usual, saw Daniel praying and immediately told King Darius what they had seen. The king had no choice but to follow the punishment as set out in the decree—to cast Daniel into the lions’ den.

Now the King was very displeased about this. He valued Daniel very highly in his kingdom and did not want to throw him to the lions. But Darius could not change the law, for the laws of the Medes and Persians could not be changed. When the time came for Daniel to be thrown to the lions, the king said, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” Daniel was thrown in, and a stone placed over the entrance. (Daniel 6:16, 17.)

On the king’s return to the den, he ordered the stone to be rolled away. Now, as he looked into the den, he saw that Daniel was untouched by the lions, and was overjoyed to see Daniel alive! Daniel turned to Darius and said, “My God hath sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.” (Daniel 6:22.)

Darius was extremely angry with the men that had accused Daniel, and ordered Daniel’s accusers to receive the same punishment—to be thrown into the lions’ den. Seeing the power of God, Darius proceeded to write to all the people in his kingdom, telling them to worship the living God of Daniel. (Daniel 6:26.)

So there we have the story of Daniel and the lions’ den. Daniel had been given the highest position available beneath King Darius. In this world today, there are many people who consider themselves to be powerful. In fact, there are very many who believe that their success and safety will continue forever. But not even the God-fearing Daniel was safe from harm. He too had to face his trials, and none of his own power could save him. Only the power of God would be sufficient to save his life.

The very foundation of Daniel’s life, the very reason he was serving King Darius in one of the greatest positions within the kingdom, was his love for God and His Word. Think about your own life for a moment. For what things in your life can you thank God? If we follow God’s laws, if we ask God to guide us in all things, He will bless us in so many ways with more blessing than we can imagine. Daniel did all these things; He followed God and kept His laws. But Daniel was still thrown to the lions. The jealous people in the kingdom conspired against him and used the one thing they knew Daniel would not break—God’s law—against him.

When the decree was passed, Daniel had to make a decision: stop praying to God and avoid being thrown to the lions, or continue praying and face almost certain death. Daniel showed us that he was able, through strength in God, to stand strong; he showed the courage that we all associate with his name even today. He went back home and prayed with the windows open, proclaiming to all that he would rather die than displease the God he loved.

Daniel did not deliberately antagonize those who were out to get him. He did not go to his window to pray to infuriate the men who were trying to destroy him. He prayed in this manner to let the people know that God is bigger than they, and no law should be acknowledged if it is contrary to God’s law.

How many times are the foundations of our lives challenged in such a manner? Most likely there are not many up to this point, but we are rapidly coming upon a time when our rock will be shaken and God’s people opposed en masse—the national Sunday law. There will come a time when a law will be drawn which will require all people to worship on Sunday. When that law comes, we also will have a decision to make. Whatever the punishment may be, we will need to choose between worshipping on the seventh-day Sabbath, or on the first day of the week. So what will we do? Will we follow in the footsteps of Daniel; do we continue to follow the law of the Lord, regardless of the consequences?

We will have a very difficult decision to make. Our whole lives will depend on this decision. Now, there will be no need to go out to the world and advertise the fact that we are breaking a set law, but we will need to follow Daniel’s example and obey God under all pressure. If we follow the law of man, we may not be persecuted and thrown into the lions’ den right away, but we will face something far worse: missing out on the gift of eternal life.

Such a decision may seem insurmountable and impossible to make; however, in considering the other possibility, relenting the law of God has far more odious consequences than those imposed by man for the disobedience to His law. We need to be ready to follow Christ: to put all of our faith in Him who will strengthen us; to follow Christ to the letter of His law. There is no sin in God’s eyes that is not abhorrent or small. If we cannot follow God in the small things, there is no possibility of following Him when more serious matters are at stake.

There are three examples in the Bible of “small sins.” These three examples all involve food as temptation. Those tempted were Adam and Eve, Daniel, and Jesus. Adam was tempted with fruit, Daniel with meat, and Jesus with bread. Now, Adam did not stay strong; he accepted the lies of the serpent, and in so doing, rejected God. He gave in to sin, and sin has forever since plagued mankind. Daniel, however, did not give in, and the faith he showed in God was rewarded with his powerful position in the kingdom. And as for Jesus, did He sin? No! He was able to fight temptation and go on to live a sin-free life. The key is to overcome in the small things, that the big things may also be conquered. Daniel could have chosen to eat the meat, but he did not. Jesus could have turned the stone into bread, but He did not, despite His hunger in the wilderness. And when the time came for bigger tests, the faith they showed in the small things led them to show greater faith in the big things. Do not let the small things stop us from overcoming the big things. We need to prepare ourselves every day for the final steps of our Christian walk. We need to start to overcome the small things now. The question is: in the battle for your salvation, which choice will you make? Will you stay true to God, or will you give up? Remember, Daniel did not give up. Yes, he was thrown to the lions, but that was not a hindrance. And because of his faithfulness, God did not give up on him either. God delivered Daniel from the mouths of the lions, and in the same way, He will deliver us from evil.

Ellen G. White tells us that, “It may be a difficult matter for men in high positions to pursue the path of undeviating integrity whether they shall receive praise or censure. Yet this is the only safe course. All the rewards which they might gain by selling their honor would be only as the breath from polluted lips, as dross to be consumed in the fire. Those who have moral courage to stand in opposition to the vices and errors of their fellow-men—it may be of those whom the world honor—will receive hatred, insult, and abusive falsehood. They may be thrust down from their high position, because they would not be bought or sold, because they could not be induced by bribes or threats to stain their hands with iniquity. Everything on earth may seem to conspire against them; but God has set his seal upon his own work. They may be regarded by their fellow-men as weak, unmanly, unfit to hold office; but how differently does the Most High regard them. Those who despise them are the really ignorant. While the storms of calumny and reviling may pursue the man of integrity through life, and beat upon his grave, God has the ‘well done’ prepared for him. Folly and iniquity will at best yield only a life of unrest and discontent, and at its close a thorny dying pillow. And how many, as they view their course of action and its results, are led to end with their own hands their disgraceful career. And beyond all this waits the Judgment, and the final, irrevocable doom, Depart!” The Signs of the Times, February 2, 1882.

The fast approaching end will not be a time of ease. The decisions that will soon be facing the believers will be very difficult ones, but, like Daniel, we must make the right choice, or be faced with far worse consequences. We need to grow in Christ. We need Christ in our hearts and minds for Him to renew us. We need His strength to help us take the right path.

Daniel Murray lives in England and works in company law. He can be reached by e-mail at: landmarks@stepstolife.org.

Bible Study Guides – Determined Faith and Deliverance

November 1, 2009 – November 7, 2009

Key Text

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” Daniel 6:10.

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 539–548; The Sanctified Life, 42–45.


“In all cases where the king had a right to command, Daniel would obey; but neither the king nor his decree could make him swerve from allegiance to the King of kings.” Prophets and Kings, 542.

1 What actions did Darius the Median take when he reorganized the Babylonian government? Daniel 6:1–3. In what sense did this arrangement meet the purposes of God?

Note: “In the midst of a nation of idolaters, Daniel was to represent the character of God. How did he become fitted for a position of so great trust and honor? It was his faithfulness in the little things that gave complexion to his whole life. He honored God in the smallest duties, and the Lord cooperated with him.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 356.

2 In view of Daniel’s position and influence, what strategy did Satan employ? Daniel 6:4.

Note: “The accusing host of evil angels stirred up the presidents and princes to envy and jealousy, and they watched Daniel closely to find some occasion against him that they might report him to the king; but they failed. Then these agents of Satan sought to make his faithfulness to God the cause of his destruction. Evil angels laid out the plan for them, and these agents readily carried it into effect.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 295.

“What a lesson is here presented for all Christians. The keen eyes of jealousy were fixed upon Daniel day after day; their watchings were sharpened by hatred; yet not a word or act of his life could they make appear wrong. And still he made no claim to sanctification, but he did that which was infinitely better—he lived a life of faithfulness and consecration.” The Sanctified Life, 42.

3 What does this experience teach us about Daniel? Daniel 6:5.

Note: “The secret of Daniel’s strength was found in his conscientious attention to what the world would call things of minor importance. He was found before God three times a day in prayer and thanksgiving, and he was equally steadfast in his attention to his duties to the king. It is this conscientious attention to what the world despises that makes a strong, symmetrical character.” The Signs of the Times, May 25, 1891.

“Daniel was sorely tried; but he overcame because he was of a humble and prayerful spirit. Although he was surrounded with distrust and suspicion, and his enemies laid a snare for his life, yet he maintained a serene and cheerful trust in God, never once deviating from principle. Although Daniel was a man of like passions with ourselves, the pen of inspiration presents him as a faultless character. His life is given us as a bright example of what man may become, even in this life, if he will make God his strength, and wisely improve the privileges and opportunities within his reach.” Ibid., November 4, 1886.

4 How was Darius misled by the evil men? Daniel 6:6–9.

Note: “A large number of the princes and nobles were in the secret, but the king was kept in ignorance of their purpose. …

“The king’s vanity was flattered. Not for a moment did he think that Daniel, his beloved and honored servant, would in any way be affected by the law. He signed the decree, and with it in their possession, the presidents and princes went forth from his presence, evil triumph depicted on their countenances.” The Youth’s Instructor, November 1, 1900.

5 What was Daniel’s best course of action? Daniel 6:10.

Note: “Some may ask, Why did not Daniel lift his soul to God in secret prayer? Would not the Lord, knowing the situation, have excused His servant from kneeling openly before him? Or why did he not kneel before God in some secret place, where his enemies could not see him?

“Daniel knew that the God of Israel must be honored before the Babylonian nation. He knew that neither kings nor nobles had any right to come between him and his duty to his God. He must bravely maintain his religious principles before all men; for he was God’s witness. Therefore he prayed as was his wont, as if no decree had been made.” The Youth’s Instructor, November 1, 1900.

6 How are we enjoined to imitate Daniel’s practice? Luke 18:1.

Note: “The prayer of faith is the great strength of the Christian and will assuredly prevail against Satan. This is why he insinuates that we have no need of prayer. The name of Jesus, our Advocate, he detests; and when we earnestly come to Him for help, Satan’s host is alarmed. It serves his purpose well if we neglect the exercise of prayer, for then his lying wonders are more readily received.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 296.

7 How did Daniel’s enemies quickly try to capitalize on his fidelity to God? Daniel 6:11–14. What did the king realize?

Note: “Eagerly they [the presidents and princes] hastened to Darius, concealing their cruel joy under a cloak of regret that they were obliged to inform against Daniel.” The Youth’s Instructor, November 1, 1900.

“When the monarch heard these words, he saw at once the snare that had been set for his faithful servant. He saw that it was not zeal for kingly glory and honor, but jealousy against Daniel, that had led to the proposal for a royal decree.” Prophets and Kings, 543.

8 What did God allow His servant to undergo and why? Daniel 6:15–20. Describe the contrast between the king and his princes?

Note: “Daniel was brought before the king and his princes to answer the accusation brought against him. He had opportunity to speak for himself, and he boldly acknowledged his belief in the living God, the maker of heaven and earth. He made a noble confession of faith, relating his experience from his first connection with the kingdom. …

“Full of satanic exultation, Daniel’s enemies returned to their homes. They drank freely of wine, and congratulated themselves on their success in putting out of the way one whom they could not bribe to forsake the path of integrity.

“Not so did Darius pass the night. Daniel’s testimony had made a deep impression on his mind. He had some knowledge of the dealing of God with the people of Israel, and Daniel’s conduct sent home to his heart the conviction, that the God of the Hebrews was the true God. He was filled with remorse for having signed the decree brought to him. His conscience was awakened, and he passed a sleepless and troubled night. The chamber of royalty was one of sorrow and prayer. All music was hushed. All amusements were laid aside. No comforters were admitted.” The Youth’s Instructor, November 1, 1900.

9 How does Daniel’s deliverance encourage us now? Daniel 6:21–24.

Note: “Nothing is gained by cowardice or by fearing to let it be known that we are God’s commandment-keeping people. Hiding our light, as if ashamed of our faith, will result only in disaster. God will leave us to our own weakness. May the Lord forbid that we should refuse to let our light shine forth in any place to which He may call us. If we venture to go forth of ourselves, following our own ideas, our own plans, and leave Jesus behind, we need not expect to gain fortitude, courage, or spiritual strength. God has had moral heroes, and He has them now—those who are not ashamed of being His peculiar people. Their wills and plans are all subordinate to the law of God. The love of Jesus has led them not to count their lives dear unto themselves. Their work has been to catch the light from the word of God and to let it shine forth in clear, steady rays to the world. ‘Fidelity to God’ is their motto.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 527, 528.

10 Name several lessons to be learned from this history. Daniel 6:25–28.

Note: “When Daniel was cast into the den of lions because of his fidelity to God, the Lord sent His angel to deliver him; and He will deliver us if we put our trust in Him and obey Him. Heaven is very much nearer to us than we think. When we place ourselves in the right relation to God, angels of heaven are beside us. We are to hide in Jesus, and he that touches you, he that harms or distresses you, touches Christ; for Christ identifies His interest with that of His people. Christ suffers in the person of His saints. We must remember that the God of Daniel is our God, and that we can be faithful under all circumstances. We can go to Him in confidence, and through His grace preserve our integrity.” The Bible Echo, January 15, 1893.

“All who really desire it can find a place for communion with God, where no ear can hear but the one open to the cries of the helpless, distressed, and needy—the One who notices even the fall of the little sparrow. He says, ‘Ye are of more value than many sparrows.’ Matthew 10:31.” Counsels on Health, 423, 424.

Additional Reading

“True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny. It is the outworking of God’s providences, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and perseverance. Fine mental qualities and a high moral tone are not the result of accident. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them.

“While God was working in Daniel and his companions ‘to will and to do of His good pleasure,’ they were working out their own salvation. Philippians 2:13. Herein is revealed the outworking of the divine principle of co-operation, without which no true success can be attained. Human effort avails nothing without divine power; and without human endeavor, divine effort is with many of no avail. To make God’s grace our own, we must act our part. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort.

“As the Lord co-operated with Daniel and his fellows, so He will co-operate with all who strive to do His will. And by the impartation of His Spirit He will strengthen every true purpose, every noble resolution. Those who walk in the path of obedience will encounter many hindrances. Strong, subtle influences may bind them to the world; but the Lord is able to render futile every agency that works for the defeat of His chosen ones; in His strength they may overcome every temptation, conquer every difficulty.

“God brought Daniel and his associates into connection with the great men of Babylon, that in the midst of a nation of idolaters they might represent His character. How did they become fitted for a position of so great trust and honor? It was faithfulness in little things that gave complexion to their whole life. They honored God in the smallest duties, as well as in the larger responsibilities.

“As God called Daniel to witness for Him in Babylon, so He calls us to be His witnesses in the world today. In the smallest as well as the largest affairs of life, He desires us to reveal to men the principles of His kingdom. Many are waiting for some great work to be brought to them, while daily they lose opportunities for revealing faithfulness to God. Daily they fail of discharging with wholeheartedness the little duties of life. While they wait for some large work in which they may exercise supposedly great talents, and thus satisfy their ambitious longings, their days pass away.

“In the life of the true Christian there are no nonessentials; in the sight of Omnipotence every duty is important. The Lord measures with exactness every possibility for service. The unused capabilities are just as much brought into account as those that are used. We shall be judged by what we ought to have done, but did not accomplish because we did not use our powers to glorify God.

“A noble character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. It is the result of self-discipline, of subjection of the lower to the higher nature, of the surrender of self to the service of God and man.” Prophets and Kings, 486–488.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted with permission.