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The Lions’ Den


“It pleased Darius to set over the Kingdom a hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole Kingdom: and over these three presidents of whom Daniel was first: that the princes. might give accounts unto them, and the King should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the Presidents and Princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the King thought to set him over the whole realm.” Verses 1-3.

This chapter introduces us to the “Second World Empire” of the “Times of the Gentiles,” the “Medo- Persian Empire.” The “Head of Gold” had lasted for sixty-seven years, and now the “Arms and Breast of Silver” of the “Image” appear. As the Fall of Babylon occurred in B. C. 538, and Darius immediately took the throne, and died in B. C. 536, the event narrated in this chapter must have taken place inside those two years. Daniel was at this time nearly ninety years old. It is remarkable that for his age he was equal to such a task as Darius placed upon him. He made him not only one of the three Presidents, but their chief. What prompted Darius to do this we are not told. But he must in some way have become acquainted with Daniel’s integrity and superior statesmanship. The Medo-Persian Empire was not an “Absolute Monarchy” such as had been the Babylonian. The Presidents and Princes composed a sort of congress or parliament that had a voice in the making of laws, which had to be ratified by the King, and once ratified the law was unalterable.

It was not long before Darius found out the worth of Daniel, and preferred him above the Presidents and Princes, because of his “excellent spirit,” and the King thought to set him over the WHOLE REALM. When this became known, the other Presidents and Princes were filled with envy and fear. For they well knew that Daniel would not stand for any graft or dishonesty in the administration of the affairs of the Empire, and they did not want to lose either their positions or their opportunity for gain, so they sought for some charge of malfeasance in office that they might make against the old Jew, but they found no occasion or fault. Then they hatched a hellish and


“Then the Presidents and Princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the Kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the LAW OF HIS GOD. Then these Presidents and Princes assembled together to the King, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live forever. All the Presidents of the Kingdom, the Governors, and the Princes, the Counsellors, and the Captains, have consulted together to establish a ‘Royal Statute,’ and to make a firm Decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, SAVE OF THEE, O KING, he shall be cast into the ‘DEN OF LIONS.’ Now, O King, establish the Decree, and sign the Writing, that it be not changed, according to the Law of the Medes and Persians, which ALTERETH NOT. Wherefore King Darius signed the Writing and the Decree.” Verses 4-9.

The plot reveals the cunning of the “Serpent.” They knew that Daniel was a deeply religious man, and that nothing would cause him to be disloyal to his God. They also knew that it would never do to let Darius know that they were after Daniel, because of his fondness for the “Old Jew,” whom they considered as “superannuated” and in his “dotage.” If they had made the “Decree” read that no petition should be asked of the “God of the Hebrews,” the King would have divined that it was aimed at Daniel, and would have refused to sign it. So they made it general, and thus heaped insult on their own gods, for the sake of getting rid of the object of their hatred. They also knew that the King was not an absolute Monarch as was Nebuchadnezzar, that he was subject to the will of his Counsellors, and any unanimous suggestions or recommendations they should make he dare not ignore. They also knew that if their plan succeeded, and the King once signed and sealed such a “Decree” it could not be repealed by him, for under the Law of the Medes and Persians, the “Decree” would be irrevocable.

Having decided on their course of action, with lying tongues they went into the presence of the King and told him that ALL the Presidents, the Governors, the Princes, the Counsellors, and the Captains had CONSULTED TOGETHER to establish such a “Royal Decree.” But as Daniel, the “Chief” of the Presidents, had not been consulted, they lied. King Darius was doubtless flattered by their proposal, for in those days it was not uncommon to look upon their kings as gods, and for no one to pray to any other one than the King for thirty days was to exalt him to that position. So the King, not knowing that Daniel, whom he loved, had not been consulted, fell into the trap, and the “Decree” was prepared, signed by the King, stamped with the “Royal Seal,” and publicly proclaimed according to the Law of the Medes and Persians, and therefore unalterable.


Soon what had been done came to Daniel’s ears. What was he to do? He knew that the “Royal Decree” was aimed at him. To pray to his God was to break it. He must choose between loyalty to his God or loyalty to his King. Should he be faithless to his God, and thus save his life? That would be to deny all his past faithfulness. But was there no way to pray to his God in secret? Could he not enter into some secret chamber in his own home and lock the door, and stuff the keyhole, and close the shutters, and pray inaudibly, so his enemies would have no evidence against him? Most of us would be tempted to do that. But Daniel was not made of that kind of stuff. He was no coward. He did not value his life when it came to a question of loyalty to his God. What did he do?

“Now when Daniel knew that the Writing was signed, he went to his own 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.” Verse 10.

This was just what those conspirators expected Daniel to do. They knew that no’ “Decree,” even one that would endanger his life, would prevent him from praying daily to his God. All they had to do then was to assemble on the Jerusalem side of his home at the hour of prayer, not only to see him in the attitude of prayer, but to hear his supplication.

“Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.” Verse 11.

Daniel’s enemies had not misjudged him, and they were delighted at the success of their scheme, and at once they brought the matter to the notice of the King.


“Then they came near, and spake before the King concerning the King’s ‘Decree;’ Hast thou not signed a ‘Decree,’ that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, 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 altereth not. Then answered they and said before the King, That DANIEL, which is of the ‘Children of the Captivity of Judah,’ REGARDETH NOT THEE, O King, nor the ‘Decree’ that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the King, when he heard these words, was sore 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. Then these men assembled unto the King, and said unto the King, Know, O King, that the Law of the Medes and Persians is, That no ‘Decree’ nor ‘Statute’ which the King establisheth may be changed.” Verses 12-15.

Notice the contempt with which the conspirators speak of Daniel – “THAT DANIEL, which is of the ‘Children of the Captivity of Judah.’ ” As much as to say, “That old Jew who is but a captive, and is dependent on you for his position, is so far from being grateful and appreciative of your favors, that he has disregarded your ‘Decree’ and thus shown his disrespect of thee.” Instead of making the King angry with Daniel their charge had the opposite effect. When the King learned how he had been tricked, he was sore displeased with HIMSELF. He felt mortified that he had been trapped. He saw how his pride had overcome his insight and judgment, and he now knew that he ought to have been suspicious when they told him that ALL the Presidents had agreed in the matter, for a moment’s thought would have made it clear to him that Daniel would never have given his consent to such an idolatrous “Decree,” and the King well knew that anything that Daniel did not favor was questionable. The King soon discovered that he was in a helpless position. He loved Daniel, and desired to save him, and though he “labored until the going down of the sun” he could devise no way of getting around the Law. At sundown the enemies of Daniel again assembled and demanded that Daniel pay the penalty of the Law. The King was powerless.


“Then the King commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the ‘Den of Lions.’ Now the King spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, HE WILL DELIVER THEE. And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the ‘Den;’ and the King sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his Lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel” Verses 16-17.

Thus Daniel, the aged and faithful servant, was cast, as if he had been one of the vilest malefactors, into the “Den of Lions” to be devoured of them. The God who had permitted the three faithful “Hebrew Children” to be cast into the “Burning Fiery Furnace” that He might work a Miracle for their deliverance, permitted His aged servant Daniel to be cast into the “Den of Lions” for the same reason. The King had done his best to deliver Daniel and failed. Will Daniel’s God, who now appears on the scene, fail?


“Then the King went to his Palace. and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. Then the King arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the ‘Den of Lions.’ And when he came to the ‘Den,’ he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the King spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the ‘Living God,’ is THY GOD, whom thou servest continually, ABLE to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the King, a King, live forever. 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. Then was the King exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the ‘Den.’ So Daniel was taken up out of the ‘Den,’ and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he BELIEVED IN HIS GOD.” Verses 18-23.

We see from the above that the King’s interest in Daniel, and his condemnation of himself, were genuine, otherwise he would not have spent a “sleepless night.” He was so impressed by Daniel’s faithfulness to his God in refusing to obey the “Decree” that he felt that somehow Daniel’s God would deliver him. With such a hope he hastened to the “Lions’ Den” early in the morning to find his hope justified. Then was the King “exceeding glad,” and commanded that Daniel be taken up from the “Den,” and when he was examined no manner of hurt was found upon him. It was a repetition of the Miracle of the “Burning Fiery Furnace,” from which the three “Hebrew Children” were delivered without a hair singed. The writer to the Hebrews refers to it in the words – “stopped the mouths of lions.” Heb. 11 :33. Thus was Daniel’s faith vindicated.

There is a beautiful spiritual lesson in Daniel’s deliverance. The “Den of Lions” prefigures the “Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea” in which our Lord was laid, and before which a stone was rolled, and sealed, and marked with the King’s signet. But as the lions could not harm Daniel, so Jesus, who went into the “jaws of Death,” could not be “holden of Death,” and was delivered, like Daniel, by resurrection from his prison house. When Daniel was liberated from the “Lions’ Den,” he could not be thrown in again, he was free from that “Law,” for he had paid its penalty. So when we accept Jesus as our personal Saviour we are free from the Law of “Sin and Death,” because Jesus our Saviour paid its penalty on the Cross, and His deliverance from the “Tomb” by resurrection shows that He had fulfilled His sentence of three days, and the “Tomb” could no longer hold Him, any more than the criminal who has served his term can any longer be kept behind prison bars.


But Daniel’s deliverance did not satisfy the King. He felt that the conspirators who had thus selfishly and inhumanly imperiled Daniel’s life should have a dose of their own medicine, and see if their gods would deliver them from the Lions’ mouths. So –

“The King commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the ‘Den of Lions,’ them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their hones in pieces or ever they came at 1:he bottom of the Den.” Verse 24.

Here we see how the wicked involve their families in their wickedness and bring upon them sorrow and death. The argument that the” Lions” were not hungry, and therefore there was no miracle in the preservation of Daniel’s life, is disproved by the ravenous manner in which they seized and devoured those wicked men and their families. The King was converted by the interposition of Daniel’s God in his behalf, and issued a “Decree.”


“Then King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a ‘Decree,’ That in every dominion of my Kingdom men tremble and fear before the ‘God of Daniel:’ for He is the ‘Living God,’ and steadfast forever, and His Kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in Heaven and in earth, WHO hath delivered Daniel from the POWER OF THE LIONS.” Verses 25-27

This “Decree” amounted almost, if not quite, to incorporating the worship of Jehovah into the religion of the Empire. It at least did one thing; it proclaimed “Religious Toleration,” and permitted the Jewish captives to henceforth worship their God without molestation. Again, Daniel’s faithfulness to his God is rewarded by his promotion, and his life was spared not only through the reign of Darius, but into the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

“So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Verse 28.

Thus Daniel was delivered from the Lions’ Den that he might be the “chief adviser” of the first two monarchs, one representing the Median (Darius), and the other the Persian (Cyrus), of the “Dual Kingdom,” Medo-Persian, represented by the “Arms and Breast of Silver” of the “Image.”


In the erection of the “Golden Image” on the “Plain of Dura” we saw that the characteristic feature of the First, or “Babylonian” Empire, was the “Deification of Man.” And here in this chapter, in the “Decree” that no one for thirty days should offer a petition to any God or man except King Darius, we see that the same characteristic feature, the “Deification of Man,” was present in the Second, or “Medo-Persian” Empire. So it was in the “Grecian” and “Roman” Empires, and so it will be until the end of the “Times of the Gentiles,” the last great example of it being the last great Gentile Ruler, the “Beast,” or ANTICHRIST. Rev. 13:4, 14-15. Daniel, like the three Hebrew Children, is a type of the Jewish Remnant. that, during the “Great Tribulation,” will be miraculously delivered.


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