Summary: Daniel’s unwavering faith got him into trouble.
THE LIONS’ DEN
INTRODUCTION: Last week, I talked about the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the face of the furious King Nebuchadnezzar. Today, I’ll be talking about the faith of the fourth man in that brigade¾Daniel. He faced a similar test; only he wasn’t facing a fiery furnace but a den of lions. Let’s see how Daniel did and what we can learn from his experience.
· BACKGROUND: After Nebuchadnezzar’s reign ended, there came a dual reign with his son Nabonidus and Nabonidus’ son Belshazzar. In Chap. 5, Daniel, who was well known for being able to interpret dreams, was summoned by Belshazzar to decipher this mysterious writing on the wall. And, as the case before with Nebuchadnzzar, the king’s astrologers could not decipher it. So Daniel comes and translates it and Belshazzar rewards him by making him the third highest ruler in Babylon, behind Nabonidus and himself. That very night, however, Belshazzar was slain and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom (5:30).
· Darius set up 120 satraps to rule the land with three administrators to oversee the satraps with Daniel being one of the administrators (6:1-2). Daniel so distinguished himself with his exceptional qualities that Darius planned on setting him over the whole kingdom (vs. 3). That is, until jealousy struck (vs. 4).
1) THE JEALOUSY TEAM (VS. 4-9)
· Just like the jealous astrologers that went after Rach, Shach and Benny, these jealous administrators and satraps went after Daniel (vs. 4a). When God rewards our faithfulness, others may get jealous and try to attack our character and sabotage or undermine God’s work. What about us? When God blesses someone we know, do we rejoice with them or are we bitter?
· Because of Daniel’s integrity and morality, they couldn’t attack his character (vs. 4b). A letter was sent to the IRS. “Dear Sirs, last year when I filed my taxes I deliberately misrepresented my income. Now I cannot sleep. Enclosed is a check for $150.00. If I still can’t sleep, I will gladly send you the rest.” We need to live in such a way so that no one may be able to attack our character. 1st Pet. 2:12, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
· They knew the only way to get something on Daniel was to go after his God (vs. 5). Oh, if that would be true of us that the only way someone could come against us was if it had to do with our devotion to God.
· They went to sell their plot to the king (vs. 6-8). Some people make it their agenda to attack God and his followers. Prov. 29:10, “Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright.” Have you experienced someone’s anger because you stood up for what was right?
· They flattered Darius in order to trap Daniel and it worked (vs. 9). They appealed to the king’s pride. There’s a saying, ‘Kings are the slaves of their flatterers’. What about us? Are we easily swayed by someone’s flattery? Are we apt to compromise our values because of a person’s manipulative sweet talk? Prov. 27:21, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.”
2) DANIEL’S FAITH RESPONSE (VS. 10-15).
· While they preyed, Daniel prayed (vs.10). His response was automatic. As soon as he learned of the decree he went to seek God. When we face a tough situation, do we make seeking God our first resort or our last one? When Daniel heard this decree he could’ve been like, ‘well, I guess I can’t pray for a month’. Or, ‘I’ll pray, but I’ll do it in secret so I don’t get caught’. Instead, he chose not to change a thing. He continued as if nothing was different. When life gets tough are we quick to put spiritual disciplines aside or are we strong and steadfast like Daniel? Prov. 24:10, “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength?”
· Daniel gave thanks to God. He didn’t get angry or complain about having to deal with this predicament. Instead, he expressed thanks. What could he have possibly expressed thanks about in a time like this? A) Perhaps he was focused on life’s blessings instead of the burdens. This attitude keeps us from dwelling on the negative. When we focus on burdens instead of blessings we risk becoming bitter and resentful toward God. B) Perhaps he was thankful that he was given the opportunity to please God by responding in faith instead of anger. C) Perhaps he saw this test in the same light as Paul who said in Rom 5:3&4 that we rejoice in our sufferings because they produce perseverance, character and hope.