21 April 2014

Daniel 6:1-28

“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?” (v. 20)


I'll start today with a confession. I am a biblically convicted republican. The example of kings in Scripture has been more than enough to convince me that they are a bad idea, so no wonder God tried to put the people of Israel off the idea (1 Samuel 8:11-18). As the psalmist says "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help" (Psalm 146:3).

In the wonderful story of Daniel in the lions' den we see how the naiveté and vanity of King Darius allow him to be flattered into a bad decision, one he is apparently powerless to fix (always a good excuse). Having failed to get anything right ends up relying on Daniel's God for justice.

The contrast between Daniel and the other presidents, the satraps and the king is stark.

Here we see King Darius completely failing to either think through his actions or take responsibility for the results. The schemers and the powerful behind the throne get their way and a law is passed that benefits them - if only things were different today!

There is an interesting parallel with the story of Esther when powerful schemers got a law passed that could not be changed and which threatened the whole people of Israel with death. Esther managed to get an extra law passed that saved the people, while here Daniel is abandoned by the king to his death.

Then while Daniel is left in the sealed lions' den we read all about how the king suffered unable to sleep or eat. Oh how the safe, rich and powerful suffer! Yet despite my cynicism, at day break King Darius rushes to check on Daniel, calling out to see if the living God has saved him.

After remembering the resurrection of Jesus yesterday and thinking about new life, a form of resurrection, today we are left pondering how to apply this passage from Daniel. Where is resurrection when the powerful claim to be unable to act to help the vulnerable and the victims of their actions, and expect God to save others from the effects of the choices the powerful have made?

To Ponder

  • How might decisions be manipulated by powerful people today?
  • Who is ignored from decision making and how might this change?
  • When unjust decisions are made who is responsible for changing them and putting things right?
  • Is whether God will save people used as a test of whether they are righteous today? Does God? To what extent is this appropriate?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dave Warnock

Dave Warnock is a Methodist minister in the Leicester North Circuit based in Syston, Leicester. He is passionate about lots of things (including Scripture, discipleship, gender/sexual equality, pacifism and cycling) and loves being part of the Methodist people.