16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
REFLECTIONS ON THE LION'S DEN
Let us take one last look at the Daniel story. Throught our devotions based on the Book of Daniel we have noted his deep spiritual commitment to God. From the outset of the book we are told he will “not defile himself” but honor God. We have seen how God was with him, as we said in our sermon Sunday, God interfered in circumstances for his People and Daniel. So we have witnessed some tough places that Daniel experienced. His faith, trust and surrender to God is showcased for us.
Now in today’s reading, he is threatened with the den of death; with being torn limb from limb by half starved Lions. There was not much to look forward to.
Daniel could have, and we likely would not frown on this, He could well have given way to self pity. I mean thinks about, the betrayal by his colleagues in government, stabbed in the back as we say by the disloyalty of others, the weakness of the King to stand up for Daniel, the hardness of the legal system, and even the fact that God had let him down. (I’m prone to do this, how about you?) It is in times of such experiences of unfairness, injustice, harsh and unkind treatment by others that WE (I) blurt out such things as “Why is God allowing this to happen to me?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Daniel might have cried “What is the good of living a consistent life?” “What is the value of a devoted prayer life?” Who would blame him?
Yet, Daniel did none of that. You had a quiet night with the Lions, maybe even talk nicely to them. Nothing it seems could shake his confidence and his trust in God, the God he had served all these years. The God of faithfulness.
I believe the story of Daniel in the Lions den offers 3 lessons to us.
That horrible den of Lions speaks, first of all, about PROTECTION. Let us face it, only God could control the hungry and ferocious Lions, and God did. God was in the pit with Daniel, and he shut the Lions mouths. That God, the God of Daniel, is with us still. Would you hold onto this truth and reality, think long and hard on it, repeat it over and over, “The GOD of Daniel is with me still”, “The GOD of Daniel is with me still,” The God of …. You get the point, I believe. So that when tragedy, and messy harsh circumstances strikes in your life you will be drawn away from the “why me’s” to “The GOD of Daniel, is with me still, in control to protect.
The second lesson is VINDICATION. Daniel’s faith was vindicated in the outcome of the lion’s den event. The people who slandered him were proved wrong, and with the viciousness, which was common in those days, they were thrown into the pit. They were devoured, I would suggest before they hit the floor of that den, that pit. I believe, this demonstrates that it was not a lack of hunger that kept the lions quiet, when Daniel was with them. There is something worth noting in all this, perhaps even worrying, and it is this, that evil has a “come back at you” effect. You harm somebody, by slander or disloyalty and before you know it, that evil action will tend to “come back” and hit you personally.
Daniel, however, was vindicated. He did not try to vindicate himself. King Darius did it. Often in such circumstances our instinct, our human nature, is to vindicate ourselves when we are slandered, but maybe that is a mistaken response. Perhaps we should let God deal with it, and others will acknowledge and know the lies, the slander, and see the truth of our integrity.
The third lesson that we learn from Daniel's story in the lion's den is that of RESURRECTION, I use the word resurrection here in a symbolic sense. When you read the story, is it just me, doesn’t it seem that Daniel went down into death and he came back alive again? The stone laid on the mouth of the den (tomb) and the great seal (Daniel 6:17) unavoidably makes us think of the resurrection of Jesus doesn't it?
The rescue of Daniel from the lions den was used by early Christians as an illustration of the resurrection of Jesus. It is portrayed in the catacombs at Rome from very early times. You see Shadrach, mishak, and Abedigo in the fiery furnace, and you see Daniel in the Lions den. The Early Church had to survive some very tough times, and they found great encouragement, just like we do, in the stories of these heroes of the Old Testament faith. Earl Christians found in the story of the Book of Daniel, a tremendous comfort is they too faced death and the tomb. It was for them a reminder of God’s promise of new life from the death.
And maybe this is the best place for us to leave this man Daniel. His experience in the lions den is a wonderful Old Testament picture of the resurrection. Daniel points us to Jesus: the one who is both God and savior, both the resurrection and the life.
Remember Daniel’s vision in Chapter 7:13-14?