It was one of my favorite Bible stories as a child.
How could a kid not like a story about a godly servant put down by the bad guys….left to spend a night in a den of lions emerging without so much as a kitty scratch?
This is story telling at its best.
The good guy finishes on top.
The bad guys get taken down hard.
Read it again. Daniel chapter 6. I don’t need to re-tell the story. Seriously, pick up your Bible and read it again.
Daniel’s legendary story is not really a children’s story. It is a story for the mature. For those of us who know what a lion’s den is like. We’ve been there. That place where faith is on trial. Where we face the harsh reality that if God isn’t who he says he is….we are meow mix.
Chances are we’ve all been in our own lion’s den at one time or another. It’s dark and musty and there are things in the shadowy corners which seek to tear us apart if we insist on facing things alone. Daniel didn’t deserve to be in harm’s way. But here he is, nonetheless.
We don’t particularly deserve some of the things we face either, but life’s canvas sometimes receives some rather dark brush strokes and we must trust the Artist who specializes in turning messes into masterpieces.
Getting back to Daniel…..we find he was up on charges of irreverence to King Darius, the Mede. But you see, this was the spin put on it by Daniel’s antagonists. Those jealous, envious associates in the court of the king were not about to let some Jewish dream-catcher of a Yahweh-lover pass them up in the chase for advancement. The beauty of it is they didn’t have to lie. They just told the truth….sort of….
They told the king that Daniel wasn’t paying any attention to him. Fact of the matter is that Daniel was well liked by king Darius. No one was more upset than he about the carrying out of the sentence dictated by his own law. So it seems that Daniel must have shown regard to the king in some respect or Darius would not have been so upset over the casting of Daniel into the den of lions.
You see, Daniel didn’t actively disrespect Darius. He simply would not intentionally disrespect God by placing Darius in the role reserved only for his God.
The den was dark, damp and likely filled with the stench of death. Lions’ dens were a way of execution in that day and the floor of the den might well have been strewn with the bones of the last unfortunate to be cast away.
When the king goes early the next morning, he is elated that Daniel is still alive. (Hardly what you would expect if Daniel had been disrespectful as his accusers had said.) Daniel’s hearty greeting shows no malice, “O king, live forever”. Daniel goes on to report that he had not been in that den alone. The lions were there…. for sure. But there had been another. “My God,” Daniel said, “sent his angel”. “And he shut the mouths of the lions”.
The next big thing in the story is the rather gruesome end to the antagonists and their families. (Smart Sunday School teachers tread lightly here.) This is no child’s fairy tale. There is tragedy and judgment mixed with the grace and the good news.
Read the story again. I promise you, it will not disappoint. It can be told to children but it’s fullness is for mature audiences only.
Embedded in this story is this profound point. Daniel’s rescue is found ….not so much in what God does in the lions den…. but what He does not allow to happen….. The angel of God does not allow Daniel to be contained for long in the place of death.
Kind of like that other story….
….about the Man God didn’t allow to be held in His place of death.
For mature audiences….you get it….right?
Trust the presence of God and his angels.
Wait til morning. Light and salvation comes!