A group of lions is a “pride.”
We’re looking at Daniel in the lions’ den today. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt attacked and then your pride got in the way? I have.
Years ago, someone I care for deeply worked for the church I was attending. Through a series of events, they were fired. But to fire a church employee, you had to bring it to a vote before the church.
I attended that meeting to hear 1st-hand what was said. And I was shocked that the “story” the church body was given was vastly different that what I knew to be true. It seems that politics had come into play. And I did not take pride in the fact that some of those politics traced back to me. And to my husband.
So when the person who presented “the facts” rushed up to me after the meeting, blocking my exit from the pew, I said a quick prayer. You see, I have a quick mind and a sharp tongue, and I’ve been known to shred someone verbally. And I didn’t want to do that. Especially not in public, and definitely not when my anger was on full boil.
So God shut me down. All I said was “I’m not nearly prayed up enough to talk to you. Please move.”
And I felt trapped. All eyes were on me. The school secretary from my building stood at my other side, and she urged him to move.
Now a crowd was gathering around us. Sadly, pride won. In a voice only he and the secretary could hear, I said, “Move, or I will end you.”
He frowned and looked at her.
When she nodded, he finally stepped aside.
Yep. I failed that one. Big time. Pride is a tricky thing.
But Daniel didn’t fail.
A king’s pride
In Daniel 6, we find the story of King Darius. The Jews are still in exile because so many of them abandoned their faith in God who had done SO MANY miracles for them. But there were still a few who remained faithful. Daniel was one of those men.
Darius divided the kingdom into 120 provinces and set a different man over each as governor. Then he chose 3 other men to rule over the 120 governors as supervisors. A tiered authority system:
Daniel was one of the 3 supervisors, and he proved to be so superior to the other 2 that King Darius planned to promote him to be in charge of the entire system. (Dan 6:1-3)
Word of the king’s plan got out, and the pride of the 120 governors + 2 supervisors got the better of them, too. So they worked together to find something about Daniel to make King Darius change his mind, but his work for the king over the past 40 years offered no issues. He was faithful, always responsible, and trustworthy (v4). So, they decided to use Daniel’s passion for God against him (v5).
Attack the king’s pride
Apparently, these governors and supervisors knew just what really controlled the king: his pride. In verses 6-9, they suggest a new law to King Darius: order the country (just for the next 30 days) to pray only to Darius. Any violators would be thrown into a pit with a captive pride of lions.
Watch the man’s habit
How did the schemers know this would work? They knew Daniel. And they went as a group to Daniel’s house and found exactly what they wanted — and what they knew would take place.
When Daniel heard the law had been passed, he went home. Then he opened his upstairs window that faced Jerusalem. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before (v10).”
So Daniel’s habit was to pray openly. And even hearing about this law wasn’t enough to stop him. This time, he was asking God for help, and this group of conniving stalkers saw him and ran to the king.
Hear a mob’s report
After getting Darius to confirm the law (and stoking up his pride), they drop the bombshell that Daniel is in violation. But take note of what they say: “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day (v13).”
First, they state who Daniel is. Originally I thought this was odd. I mean, the king knows Daniel well enough to consider putting him in charge, so why bring this up? Well, now I think this is intended to be an insult. Dan wasn’t a local. He was “less-than” in their eyes. Their pride was partly prejudice!
Then this group attacked Darius’ pride with their claim that Dan pays no attention to HIM and HIS laws. If Darius had been thinking clearly, he would have recalled Dan’s years of faithful service. But with a mob twisting this to maximum effect, he can’t come up with a way to save the man he respects. – Even though he tried all day (v14).
Watch a mob’s victory
The mob returns that evening. No doubt to see what’s taking so long to kill their competition. After reminding Darius the law can’t be changed, the king orders Dan be arrested. Then he is thrown into the pit with the pride. When a stone is placed over the opening, the king seals Daniel inside with his signet ring. He also uses the rings of those officials. Isn’t that an odd detail to add?
I get the use of the king’s seal. It proves it was by his order, so the seals of this mob weren’t needed. I think it was to hold them responsible for Daniel’s death. Maybe Darius had figured out what had really happened. I do know for certain that King Darius was distraught. Verse 18 tells us he didn’t eat, sleep, or have any entertainment all night.
Witness the morning’s shock
Very early the next morning, the king rushes back to the pride’s pit. He calls to Daniel. Woah! Before we look at what he says, can we just take a second to grasp the fact that Darius put his faithful employee in a pit for a sleepover with a pride of lions and then rant to chat with him the next morning?!
That tells me a whole lot about what Darius believes about God now. And we can see even more by what he says:
- The last thing Darius said to Daniel was in v16, “You have been faithful to your God. I PRAY THAT HE WILL RESCUE YOU.” Well, well. Darius’ faith in God was tiny – like a mustard seed – and it was brand new and born from panic. But, we only need tiny bits of faith to do great things!
- The next thing Darius says to Daniel was in verse 20a, “Daniel you were faithful and served your God.” Here the king is reminding all those around him that Daniel was convicted for doing what his God required of him. Okay, it doesn’t say there was a crowd. But if the king is racing around, I’m certain people would take notice. And king’s didn’t just walk around without guards and other attendants. So he wasn’t alone.
- Next, in verse 20b, he asked Daniel a question, “Was He (God) able to save you from the lions?” This seemingly straight-forward question probably led to murmurs about his sanity. He had a pride of lions prepped and ready to execute folks as needed. And the lions, to date, had a 100% success rate.
Listen to the survivor’s story
- Daniel answered… Oh, man! Surely that got everyone’s attention. Daniel’s first words after his night snuggling with the pride? Would you expect: –Get me out! –My God saves. –“I will end you.” Nope. Daniel’s initial response after being sentenced to die was a statemtn of his loyalty to the king. “May the king live forever!”
- Then he explained that God sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions (v22). The heavenly companion kept the pride from swallowing Daniel.
- But what about lion claws? They don’t just have teeth, you know. So Daniel adds, “They have not hurt me.” Yep, a single angel wins against the pride.
- The reason why: “…because I was found innocent in God’s sight.” Dan’s obedience to God didn’t condemn him – it saved him! Then he adds, “Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” Okay. That might have a touch of pride there… but he is lifted out of the pit and has no wounds because he had trusted in his God.
Make new decrees
First, the king now orders the master manipulators who started all this to meet the same fate they intended for Daniel. He ordered the 120+2 thrown into the pit with their wives and children.
The lions, hungry from a food-less night, killed them all before they reached the floor.
Then Darius makes a second decree: In verse 26, he says, “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.” His 30 days of god-ness weren’t over, and he was telling everyone to worship Adonai. And he lists reasons:
- He is the living God
- He endures forever
- His kingdom will not be destroyed
- His dominion will never end
- He rescues
- He saves
- He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth
- He rescued Daniel from the power of the lions
What a list! And after studying Old Testament miracles all year, we can see all that is true.
By the way, the fact that Darius shared 8 things he knew about God after all this intrigued me. In Hebrew, the number 8 signifies “New Beginnings” which makes sense sine the last bit of this story says, “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius…”
It can also symbolize rising above the limitations of this physical world and living extraordinary lives that don’t conform to the world. That sums up Daniel’s life pretty well, don’t you think?
What it means for me:
- Be wary when others pump up your pride. If someone approaches you with an opportunity to make YOU greater in the eyes of men, RUN! We should only work to lift up Jesus. The tag line for my little corner of the Internet is “Further the Kingdom – Glorify God” to keep that truth before me at every turn.
- Live a godly life in full view of everyone – even your enemies. Both Daniels work life and spiritual life were clearly God-centered. And people knew it.
- Some may use your faith against you. You aren’t a threat to the enemy if you aren’t living a godly life. So if someone is using your faith as a weapon against you, take it as proof that you’ve become a threat to the enemy’s plans. Don’t stop!
- God is able. Through Christ’s work on the cross we are delivered from eternal separation from God. And He is able to deliver us from physical harm as well.
Thanks for stopping by today. This is our final Old Testament miracle post, but there are quite a few miracles I didn’t cover. Why not read the Old Testament in a year with my free plan here. Old Testament Plan or read the New Testament 1 chapter a day in 2024 here. New Testament Plan Oh, and what’s YOUR favorite Old Testament miracle? Let me know here or on social media.
And join me in 2024 for a study of miracles surrounding Christ.
May Adonai and Yehushua (Father God and His Son) bless you this Christmas season.by