Sabbath, December 6, 2014
“Daniel, the Hebrew captive, the prime minister of a royal realm, encountered great obstacles to a life of fidelity to God. But at the very beginning of his career, he determined that whatever might oppose, he would make the law of God his rule of action. As he maintained his steadfastness amid the lesser trials which he daily met in the court of a heathen king, his faith, courage, and firmness grew stronger; and when the royal decree went forth forbidding him to offer supplication to his God, he was able, with the den of lions open before him, to stand true to principle and to God.” –Sketches from the Life of Paul, pp. 297, 298.
Daniel in a leading position
1. What high leadership position did Daniel occupy in the kingdom of Medo-Persia under Darius? Where did Daniel’s great talent and ability come from?
Daniel 6:1-3; 1:17 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 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. 3 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…. 1:17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
“When Darius the Median took the throne formerly occupied by the Babylonian rulers, he at once proceeded to reorganize the government. He ‘set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes;… 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.’ Daniel 6:1-3.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 539.
Jealousy and cunning
2. Were the other presidents and governors pleased to have Daniel over them? What trap did they devise to make him lose his life?
Daniel 6:4-9 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 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. 6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7 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. 8 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. 9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
“What a lesson is here presented for all Christians. The keen eyes of jealousy were fixed upon Daniel day after day; their watchings were sharpened by hatred; yet not a word or act of his life could they make appear wrong. And still he made no claim to sanctification, but he did that which was infinitely better–he lived a life of faithfulness and consecration.
“The more blameless the conduct of Daniel, the greater was the hatred excited against him by his enemies. They were filled with madness, because they could find nothing in his moral character or in the discharge of his duties upon which to base a complaint against him…. Three times a day Daniel prayed to the God of heaven. This was the only accusation that could be brought against him.” –The Sanctified Life, pp. 42, 43.
3. Did Daniel bring an objection to the king on account of this unjust decree? Did he change his belief or cease praying to the Lord, or did he continue as before?
Daniel 6:10 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.
“He quickly read their malignant purpose in framing the decree, but he did not change his course in a single particular. Why should he cease to pray now, when he most needed to pray? Rather would he relinquish life itself, than his hope of help in God. With calmness he performed his duties as chief of the princes; and at the hour of prayer he went to his chamber, and with his windows open toward Jerusalem, in accordance with his usual custom, he offered his petition to the God of heaven. He did not try to conceal his act. Although he knew full well the consequences of his fidelity to God, his spirit faltered not.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 540-542.
The enemies’ accusations
4. To whom did Daniel’s enemies present their accusation right after Daniel prayed to God, as he always had?
Daniel 6:11-14 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 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? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13 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. 14 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.
“For an entire day the princes watched Daniel. Three times they saw him go to his chamber, and three times they heard his voice lifted in earnest intercession to God. The next morning they laid their complaint before the king. Daniel, his most honored and faithful statesman, had set the royal decree at defiance. ‘Hast thou not signed a decree,’ they reminded him, ‘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?’ Daniel 6:12.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 542.
Daniel’s faith despite impending death
5. Although facing death, what faith and steadfastness did Daniel maintain? Knowing the prophet’s integrity and faithfulness, what conviction did the king express?
Daniel 6:15-17 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. 16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17 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.
“Have not we as great need to call upon God as had Daniel? I address those who believe that we are living in the very last period of this earth’s history…. That God who heard Daniel’s prayer will hear ours when we come to Him in contrition. Our necessities are as urgent, our difficulties are as great, and we need to have the same intensity of purpose, and in faith roll our burden upon the great Burden-bearer. There is need for hearts to be as deeply moved in our time as in the time when Daniel prayed.” –(Review and Herald, February 9, 1897) Conflict and Courage, p. 256.
“Would that the faith, integrity, and devotion of the prophet Daniel might live in the hearts of God’s people of today. Never were these noble qualities more needed in the world than now….” –Our High Calling, p. 249.
6. How strong was Daniel’s faith when he was cast into the den of lions? How did the living God in whom Daniel trusted save His servant from the wild beasts?
Daniel 6:18-22 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20 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? 21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 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.
“From the story of Daniel’s deliverance we may learn that in seasons of trial and gloom God’s children should be just what they were when their prospects were bright with hope and their surroundings all that they could desire. Daniel in the lions’ den was the same Daniel who stood before the king as chief among the ministers of state and as a prophet of the Most High. A man whose heart is stayed upon God will be the same in the hour of his greatest trial as he is in prosperity, when the light and favor of God and of man beam upon him. Faith reaches to the unseen, and grasps eternal realities.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 545.
Victory and prosperity
7. Thanks to complete trust in God, what was Daniel spared? What great effect did this test have on the king, on the name of the true God, and also on Daniel?
Daniel 6:23, 25-28 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…. 25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26 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. 27 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. 28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
“Daniel was a faithful statesman in the courts of Babylon; for he feared, loved, and trusted God; and in time of temptation and peril he was preserved by the power of God. We read that God gave Daniel wisdom, and endowed him with understanding.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 204.
“Study the history of Joseph and of Daniel. The Lord did not prevent the plottings of men who sought to do them harm; but He caused all these devices to work for good to His servants who amidst trial and conflict preserved their faith and loyalty.” –Ministry of Healing, p. 487.
- The Lord was glorified through Daniel’s experience; is this true for your experiences as well?
- Is there any difference between Daniel’s faith and character and ours?
For further study
Education, p. 254.
“We cannot always be on our knees in prayer, but the way to the mercy seat is always open. While engaged in active labor, we may ask for help; and we are promised by One who will not deceive us, ‘Ye shall receive.’ The Christian can and will find time to pray. Daniel was a statesman; heavy responsibilities rested upon him; yet three times a day he sought God, and the Lord gave him the Holy Spirit. So today men may resort to the sacred pavilion of the Most High and feel the assurance of His promise, ‘My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.’ Isaiah 32:18. All who really desire it can find a place for communion with God, where no ear can hear but the one open to the cries of the helpless, distressed, and needy–the One who notices even the fall of the little sparrow. He says, ‘Ye are of more value than many sparrows.’ Matthew 10:31.” –Counsels on Health, pp. 423, 424.