Daniel’s life story in a nutshell?
Daniel got the short end of the stick and then some guys tried to beat him with it. But God…
Daniel was a good-looking young man of promise in his homeland, Jerusalem, said to be “without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding, learning and competent to stand in the king’s palace.”
He was also extremely devoted to the Lord. Sounds like the Homecoming king, president of the debate team, and that boy from church your mom wanted you date, all wrapped up in one guy. The world seemed to be his to conquer.
Instead, this incredible pedigree got him kidnapped and in exile for the rest of his life.
Good thing God was also on his side.
I guess that’s what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? What happens when everything feels like it’s gone desperately wrong, but God is still in the middle of it all?
Daniel’s story is entirely too long to go into all of it here. You’ll have to check it out for yourself. Basically, by chapter 6 Daniel is an old man. He had the ear of the king and a place of privilege on his staff. Sure, he was still a Jewish exile in Babylon, but life seemed pretty good by this point. And then it happened.
“Then this Daniel because distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.’” (6:3-5)
Can you imagine how their jealousy boiled over with anger when they realized they couldn’t find any dirt on him? Daniel was a good guy! He was faithful in everything. Completely infuriating.
So they did what they felt had to do. Appealing to his pride, they scammed the king, who obviously admired Daniel a great deal, into creating a law specifically to hurt Daniel. Check out 6:6-9.
Did you catch it? The part you probably never heard in Sunday School? The part you may have even read before without really seeing it?
This law to only worship the king was only effective for 30 days! One month. That’s it! Daniel must have been incredibly faithful in his practices for these men to believe they could clean up their problem in just a couple of weeks.
Obviously Daniel heard the law. He may have even been in the room at the same time. He had been around long enough to know that no law of the Medes and Persians could be changed or revoked. Not even by the king himself. So what did he do?
“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” (Daniel 6:11)
Goodness. Lots of days I struggle to give prayer it’s proper place in my life even once. And here Daniel is, keeping his three-times a day prayer practice going just like he always had. Quietly and alone, but still very visible to anyone who cared to notice. And these men noticed, all right. They marched right back to the king, demanded “justice”, and got poor old Daniel a sleepover with a pride of lions.
How easy would it have been for Daniel to just take a month off? To compromise a bit and just shut the windows when the sun was up? How many of us would have at least thought about cutting corners or changing our ways, just for a few days? I know for sure it would have crossed my mind. All alone like Daniel, I wouldn’t even be shocked if I bent out of fear of what could happen.
Daniel was strong, but King Darius was not. The Bible tells us that Darius waited as long as he could before punishing Daniel, and then he spent the whole night sleepless and fasting.
We know the rest. When daylight broke, Darius rushed back in his anguish and asked the question they all wanted to know: “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continuously, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
And he had. God showed up in a miraculous way and Daniel didn’t even have a scratch, “because he had trusted in his God”. Darius was quick to praise God publicly too, writing a new decree. Not for his own ego to be stroked some more, but that all people would know of the mighty God Daniel served.
Daniel had seen more than his share of hard times and persecution, but his faith never wavered. I brought it up earlier, but what does it mean when everything feels like it’s gone desperately wrong, but God is still in the middle of it all? I think it’s a question we all have to at least consider long before the bottom falls out.
Trouble will come.
God will be faithful.
Will we praise God with the windows open or try to hide from the lions we know are coming our way?