Daniel 6 Lion ‘n’ Wait

Questions: Can our bosses trust us? How far? Can/should we trust them? Is it possible to do too good of a job? What happens when God’s laws conflict with men’s? Do we accept the consequences? Are we ashamed of our religion? Will we be put to shame anyway? What price would we pay for our integrity?
“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Daniel.

Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence, and fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I might know you as my Father, and manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;

The new governor over what had been the Babylonian empire wastes no time in establishing control — though he doesn’t hesitate to use old talent:

And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel [was] first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit [was] in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

Cool! Good for Daniel. Unfortunately, success breeds enemies:

Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom;

Albeit frustrated ones:

but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he [was] faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Go Daniel! However, even if there isn’t anything wrong with Daniel, they quickly realize that there is an area where he is at least different:

Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find [it] against him concerning the law of his God.

And so they exploit the ignorance/vanity of the king instead:

Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

Geez, what it is about these kings and their fascination with idolatrous (and exclusive!) statues of themselves? I can only suppose it was a plausible way to establish imperial might and reaffirm loyalty, by demonstrating the scope of their power. If I can pull this off — and your gods don’t strike me down — then I must be stronger than them. Ergo, you should fear me more than you fear them. So behave!
Intriguingly — unlike Nebbie — Darius was not an absolute monarch who could rule by whim, but one bound by the law of the Medes and Persians; which meant that he didn’t have the freedom to change his mind!

Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

This is not good news for Daniel! But you couldn’t tell by his reaction:

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Now, I don’t know if this was just his regular time and manner of prayer, he was making a statement, or he was explicitly praying about this very situation. The important point is that he didn’t run away. I can’t help but wonder whether this was Daniel — or God’s — way of making up for his absence (whether by design or luck) from the last such trial.
At any rate, his open defiance of the king’s decree seemed to play directly into his enemies’ hands:

Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask [a petition] of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?

As does the king’s adherence to Persian custom:

The king answered and said, The thing [is] true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which [is] of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

Oops. I don’t know if Darius was completely unaware of Daniel’s devotional life, or if it simply never occurred to him that a high official would so openly flaunt such a decree. Clearly this wasn’t the sort of outcome he wanted:

Then the king, when he heard [these] words, was sore displeased with himself, and set [his] heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

Alas, it was nonetheless the outcome he got:

Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians [is], That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast [him] into the den of lions.

Though it was enough to make a praying man out of him!

[Now] the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

Intriguingly, he still sticks to the letter and spirit of the law, and doesn’t make any attempt to fudge matters:

And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

It seems harsh — wouldn’t a true friend have tried to cheat the system? But arguably Darius is genuinely committed to the same code of integrity that Daniel had, which brought them both to this place. And perhaps he is “foolish” to believe that the same God who inspired Daniel’s integrity might be strong (and kind) enough to save him from the consequences.
And to be fair, one could argue this hurt Darius more than it did Daniel:

Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.

As evinced by his eagerness the next morning:

Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: [and] the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

One can only imagine his joy at the response:

Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

Rock on!

Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

Though obviously this wasn’t good news for everyone:

And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast [them] into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

Ouch; this sort of thing always makes my modern ears cringe. On the other hand, there is a certain crude justice to it, and I can see why a foreign occupier wouldn’t want to show weakness or leave a vengeful second generation around. Still, I’d like to think Daniel would’ve protested and sought a better way.
On a more positive note, Darius also gives God his just desserts:

Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he [is] the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion [shall be even] unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

as well as Daniel:

So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

On the one hand, this is a very simple story of deliverance — perhaps why it is so beloved by kids. One could even argue that it isn’t very original, given the parallels to the fiery furnace three chapters earlier.
But at a deeper level, this tells us something profound about Daniel. Not just his faith in God, but how that faith in God made him not merely a trusted advisor, but a beloved friend. Darius wasn’t merely angry at the loss of a valuable aide, he was genuinely saddened at the (potential) ending of a friendship.
Let’s be clear: Darius is no saint, as we just saw. But Daniel — as with our friend Nebbie — was able to see beyond that, to the desire for justice and integrity that (partly) motivated Darius’s kingship. And it was out of love for that — their shared love for good — that Daniel could embrace the man and his mission, and give himself wholeheartedly to his service; as long as it didn’t conflict with his higher service to God!
I wonder what the world would look like — and how it would feel about us Christians! — if we loved our secular overlords half so much…
God, even though we live in such a fallen world, I thank you for the men of integrity and passion that I am privileged to work for in my job. Though they don’t know you, I thank you that they strive — and allow me — to manifest many of the virtues you desire. Father, help me to show your love to them, and honor you by my service to them. Grant me the spirit of Daniel, that my service to you may increase, and bring blessing to many. I ask all this in Jesus name, Amen.
About the Title:
Today’s title is a triple pun on lions, lying, and lying in wait.