22 April 2013

Daniel 6:1-28

“Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, ‘O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?’ Daniel then said to the king, ‘O king, live for ever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.’” (vv. 19-22)


Any Bible story with angels in them is meant to signal that God is intervening in a situation. In this case Daniel, a Jew who had risen to become one of the most senior officials (satrap) of the King of Persia, needed intervention in a very specific way.

The story of Daniel illustrates that persistent faith doesn't guarantee a smooth ride but God never abandons those who stay faithful. Daniel had handled himself so well that he both becomes popular with the king and on the wrong end of other officials' jealousy.

His detractors couldn't criticise his integrity so they cooked up a plot that depended on Daniel's faith in God. The risky strategy involved tricking the king to pass a law forbidding worship of anyone but himself for 30 days. And then the jealous courtiers snitched on Daniel, who faithfully prayed to God three times a day.

The punishment was to be thrown in a den of lions - undoubtedly, hungry lions who wouldn't turn their noses up at a well-fed young man.

Cue angels.

Interestingly, the next morning the king's question was not to the guards but - in a strange sort of faith that never commits to following God himself - he shouted to Daniel to ask if he was all right. The guards must have thought the king had lost it: no one survived a night in the lions' den.

It was Daniel's faithfulness that impressed the king; not what God had done in delivering the king's favourite. Daniel's response was to confirm his loyalty to the king but also to underline that his survival was God's doing … and to repeat that he was blameless.

So the angels signify a God who intervenes, but also a God who changes the situation. Interestingly, Daniel wasn't saved from the experience of living with lions for a night: he was protected from the fate that later did for the corrupt officials who had tried to get rid of him.

To Ponder

  • Can you point to a time when God has intervened for you? If so, what happened?
  • How important is it to maintain your integrity, no matter what the consequences? Why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Gareth Hill

Gareth Hill is a Methodist minister with a particular interest in pioneer ministry and fresh ways of being Church. He is​ in circuit ministry in the Winchester, Eastleigh & Romsey Circuit in the Southampton District and has pastoral charge of six churches in Romsey and on the edge of the New Forest.