Today's devotional is coming from my "Narrated Chronological Bible." If you are following along in the chronological prayer and reading guide, this past week we've been reading Zechariah, Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah. All of these books including the passage I am going to share today from Daniel, were all going on about the same time.
The devotions for today are from the book of Daniel, chapter 6. It is a familiar story of which most of us grew up hearing, Daniel and the lions den. As I was reading today, the Holy Spirit put a new twist on it for me. I believe that is why the Bible is a life giving book. You can always find something new in it.
The story begins with some coworkers who do not like Daniel. Daniel is now well into his life and probably close to retirement. The current king over Babylon is Darius the Mede, who only reigned for a few years himself. Darius was fond of Daniel. Daniel had a high position in the government and had exceptional qualities, so much so that Darius wanted Daniel to oversee all of the satraps and administrators. Obviously these men were jealous of Daniel's favor and decided to come up with a plan to do him in. Much like Haman did with Mordecai and all the Jews in the book of Esther. The satraps and administrators went to King Darius with this plan to enforce a decree that anyone who prays to any god or man instead of King Darius would be thrown into the lions den. They knew how committed Daniel was to his God so they thought this was a sure way to get rid of him. Of course King Darius agreed with them, not realizing he was putting his favorite man in jeopardy.
Daniel in his humility and obedience did not submit to the decree and sure enough, the satraps and administrators plans succeeded. Immediately they ran to King Darius to tell him that Daniel did not obey the decree so he had to be thrown in to the den with the lions. King Darius was troubled by this, but nonetheless, had to follow through on the punishment.
Daniel 6:16-19 reads, "So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.”
17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night.
19 Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. 20 When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” (NLT)
Daniel replied in verse 22 & 23, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” 23 The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God." (NLT)
Everything the satraps and administrators had planned now backfired. Not only was Daniel still alive, but it was proof that the God Daniel served was the living God. Instead, King Darius ordered them to be thrown into the lions den. Not only were the accusers punished, but their wives and children as well.
As I read this, I thought about how Daniel must have been feeling sitting in that pitch black cave. Unable to see anything, especially unable to see his predator. Daniel had spent his whole life living in humility and prayer that God protected him against the instinct of the animal that He had created.
The twist that I found this time in reading the story was not about the ferocious lions, but instead the ferocious men that came against Daniel. The men were more lion-like than even the lions. Their whole focus was to devour Daniel.
This brought me to this thought that I want to share with you today. Unlike Daniel, we may not have experienced the physical act of being in a dark cave with a pack of lions. But there are many times in our lives, we step out into a dark world where, in this case Satan is like Daniel's accusers and men are like the lions whose whole goal is to devour you.
This brought to mind 1 Peter 5, which I believe should be included with this chapter of Daniel. It says, "So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sistersb]"> all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are." (1 Peter 5:6-9, NLT)What is important about this passage is that the "lower" we put ourselves, the "higher" God lifts us up out of the pit. It doesn't tell us to live ignorant or oblivious to the "lions" around us, but in verse 8 it says "stay alert" with an exclamation point for emphasis. We need to be on "watch" all the time. Even when it's pitch black and you can't see a thing, let your eyes of faith be your infrared light.
Daniel was a man who lived his life in complete obedience to the Lord. Thinking back on that night that Daniel spent in the den with the lions, I wonder if Daniel was so confident that his God would protect him from those lions that he was in there saying, "Here kitty, kitty." Instead, maybe the lions were afraid of him. Let God deal with the accuser and you say to those lions, "here kitty, kitty, my God will rescue me."