Quick Links Quick Links

Daniel In The Lion’s Den

by R H Boll




The vast realm over which Darius reigned, extended from the Mediterranean to India, and from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean. This was the empire of ‘Medo-Persia, the second great Gentile world-power, symbolized by the arms and breast of silver in the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2), the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, inferior to the head of gold in the quality of governmental power, but greater in territorial extent and military strength.

Darius’. great domain was divided into one hundred and twenty districts (satrapies) over each one of which was set a governor (a satrap). Over these satraps were three administrators and of these three administrators Daniel was one – a circumstance which can only be accounted for by the overriding providence of God. Moreover, “Daniel,” though now near ninety years old, began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the  entire
kingdom.” (Daniel 6:3).

But the other administrators and the satraps, moved by jealousy, set themselves to destroy Daniel. Their first plan was to find some slip or fault in his administration on ground of which they might accuse him. They went through his records and accounts, we may be sure, with minute care. But Daniel was as careful in business as he was pious and devoted to his God – two things not always found together.

Failing in this effort, these men hatched up a plot diabolical and shrewd, which by all human calculation could not have failed. The sincerest compliments are those which our enemies unwittingly pay us. Daniel’s enemies based their whole scheme on Daniel’s fearless and unwavering loyalty to his God. They came to Darius with a proposition that seemed to be designed to honor him, so seemingly devoted and loyal and full of flattery that (as they reckoned) he could hardly turn it down. The lie it contained was hidden from the king. He was
pleased with their adulation; and as they had expected, he promptly fell into the trap.

“Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: “King Darius, live forever! All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, 0 king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den. Now, 0 king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to
the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.”

That was that. The  king’s signature incorporated the proposed measure into the law of the Medes and Persians which could not be altered. For thirty days the king was virtually to be set in the place of God, in fact exalted above all gods, for they were all to be set aside, and all prayer was to be directed to the king alone. The penalty of disobedience was that the offending one should be thrown into the lion’s den.

Now Daniel, as the plotter’s well knew, had always prayed to God three times a day, with his windows open toward Jerusalem (I Kings 8:48). What will he do now? As they had confidently expected (such was the unintentional homage these wicked fellows paid to the courage and strength of a good man) so it turned out.

It was easy to get the evidence. Daniel prayed with his windows open. His life had always been plain and open in the sight of all men. Now did the schemers throw off their guise, and come boldly to Darius, demanding that Daniel be given to the lions according to the law of the Medes and Persians which cannot be repealed.

Try as he would, the king, who must have been deeply humiliated and angered when he saw how he had been taken in by those political scoundrels, was unable to find any loop-hole in the law so that he might rescind this enactment; and after an admonitory second demand from the wily officials, he was compelled to give sentence against Daniel. To add to his humiliation he himself had to put the seal upon the stone which was laid upon the mouth of the lions’ den. (Daniel 6: 12-17.)

That night the king spent in mourning. The royal halls of his palace, at other times brightly lighted, and resounding to music and dancing, were dark and silent. In an inner chamber the king tossed upon his couch and his sleep fled from him. He had indeed tried to comfort Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.” v.6 -but that could hardly have been more than a kind and wishful thought.

In the gray of the early morning he ran to the lions’ den and cried with a lamentable voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

And Daniel answered the king from the stone-sealed den: “Then Daniel spoke to the king, “0 king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found
innocent before Him; and also toward you, 0 king, I have committed no crime.”

“Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”

With the deliverance of the righteous, the judgment of the wicked follows apace; and the lions made short work of them, for no hand of God was there to intervene for them. This portrays a feature of God’s dealing which is very significant for times to come.

The record ends with Darius’ great proclamation to all his vast domain: “Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound!

I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel;

For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth,
Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.’

A brief note is appended stating that Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. So far as we can learn from secular history the reign of Cyrus began about two years after the accession of “Darius the Mede” who received the kingdom on the night when Belshazzar, Babylon’s last king, was slain.



Darius, like Pharaoh, recognized the worth of a man who was endued by the spirit of God. “Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage.” (Genesis 41:38-40). Daniel also so distinguished himself above the other
administrators and the satraps in the eyes of Darius, “because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.” Such men are far better pilots of the ship of state than any set of brain-trusts ever assembled.

If it be replied that Joseph and Daniel were supernaturally endowed, and that we have no such men
today-it is still true in governmental affairs as in all else, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the principles laid down in God’s word are safer guidance than the social and governmental theories of unbelievers, even though they be ranked as “experts.”

The inferiority of the Silver Kingdom as to governmental power is seen in this chapter. Of Nebuchadnezzar it was said that “whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive. (Daniel 5:19.) His authority was unlimited. But the monarch of Medo-Persia was bound by the law and constitution of the Medes and Persians, so that, much against his will, and in spite of all he was able to do, he had to deliver Daniel up to the lions.

The lions’ den meant one thing to Daniel, and an altogether different thing to his wicked enemies. So it is still in regard to death: to those who belong to Christ, death brings no harm. In fact, because Christ died for us, His own do not really die. (John 8:51; 11:25.) For death, in its full meaning, is much more than the cessation of physical life. The Lord Jesus died. He drank the dregs of the cup. He tasted the darkness, the desolation, the awfulness of utter abandonment,when He was forsaken of God on our behalf. (Mark 15:34.) But Christians only “fall asleep”- by which is not meant a state of unconsciousness, but of rest with the Lord until the day of His

coming, the morning of the resurrection and “the revealing of the sons of God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14; Philippians 1:21-23; Romans 8:18,19.)

That the resurrection of Christ was foreshadowed in Daniel’s experience, even to the sealing of the stone (Matthew 27:66) is plain even to the casual reader. And as the lions could not touch Daniel, so death could not take hold of Christ so as to retain Him; God “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (Acts 2:24.) Nevertheless all the demands of the law of the Medo-Persians was fulfilled, and was thenceforth cancelled, at least so far as Daniel was concerned; who no doubt after that continued his prayers to God as before. For he was now legally dead, having been executed according to the law’s requirement. Thenceforth he was free from the law, having died unto it. So it is for Christ and for all who are in Christ. (Romans 7:6; Gal. 2: 19.) Because of one man’s whole-hearted faith and loyalty to God, even to the surrender of his life, the knowledge of the true God is spread abroad in all the earth.

Only by the faith of God’s people and their devoting of themselves to His interests, is the truth advanced in the earth. All the progress of God’s light and the liberty and privilege of following it, has to be bought at the
price of somebody’ s suffering and sacrifice. This event was a bad blow to Satan’s power and his kingdom in the earth. It came about on the same principle as the future casting down of Satan which is to be preparatory to his last frantic effort and final defeat, in Revelation 12. “They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12:9-11.)


                       Robert H. Boll was one of the editors of the print Word and Work magazine. (1916-1956)

Leave a Reply

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10