What Is the Significance of Daniel in the Lion’s Den?

Published: Sep 23, 2022
What Is the Significance of Daniel in the Lion’s Den?

Daniel lived by his faith. For only faith in God could have closed the mouths of those lions. As Daniel showed and Darius ultimately understood, Christians must live out their faith — and understand that God is absolutely sovereign and omnipotent.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).

The sixth chapter of Daniel is only 28 verses in length, yet one of the most well-known and beloved in the Old Testament. So incredibly compelling — and filled with lessons we can not only learn from but apply to our lives today.

Daniel has been raised to a high, trusted office by King Darius, the Mede, who had ascended to the throne upon the death of Belshazzar after the “handwriting on the wall” incident.

Daniel has been assigned as one of three administrators over the king’s satraps (like a governor assigned to take care of the king’s possessions and kingdom).

Daniel had “distinguished himself among the administrators and satraps by his exceptional qualities, that the king had planned to set him over the whole kingdom” (Daniel 6:1-3).

But the other administrators and satraps hated Daniel and tried to find some way to trap him, but “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” Finally, desperately, then men decided to trap Daniel with his own faith — the law of God (vv. 4-5).

These men used trickery, and the king’s ego, to have Darius issue a decree that no man was to worship any God but Darius himself. Of course, this was something Daniel could not obey — and continued to pray to the Lord three times per day, as was his custom.

Daniel was set up, and of course, his enemies pounced, informing the king of Daniel’s “rebellion.”

The result, as much as Darius loved and respected Daniel, the king had to fulfill his own edict, and Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den as a rather unique form of execution. At the time, Darius’s last words to Daniel were, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you” (v. 16).

The next morning, rushing to the den of the lions, Darius called out, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” (v. 20).

As with Joseph, many generations before him, Daniel had trusted in the Lord and had learned that sometimes evil men plan things for evil, but God saves them from that evil and uses it for good (Genesis 50:20).

Promised Persecution

Jesus — indeed, the entire New Testament — warned us that we would suffer persecution as a result of following Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that if we would indeed be blessed when we suffer persecution and are falsely accused of evil because of him. Great will be our reward in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12).

Paul, too, warned us of persecution, and he himself suffered persecution. In his letter to Timothy, Paul said quite clearly, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Not may be or might be but will be persecuted.

Then in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul, following the teachings of Jesus, said he delights in insults and persecutions — in all weaknesses and difficulties. “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Promised persecution is a theme throughout the New Testament. Even in the Book of Revelation, Jesus warns the Church at Smyrna of coming persecution for his name (Revelation 2:10-11).

Our Postmodern World

There can be little doubt that Christian persecution around the world is one of, if not the biggest human rights abuses of this era. And it isn’t just in the middle east, where Sharia law rules, or in China, as one might expect — although it is present in both those locations.

It is in areas we might find a bit more surprising: India, North Korea, Nigeria, Sri Lanka…and many others.

According to the Open Doors' 2022 World Watch List — over 360 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination.

Five thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight Christians have been killed for their faith; 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings have been attacked. And this, all in the last year alone. All without making it to the mainstream media.

And yet, we continue to witness joy among those Christians all over the world who suffer because they serve Jesus.

As James, the brother of Jesus, teaches, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-4).

Closer to home, perhaps the persecution is not yet life-threatening, but it is real, nonetheless.

Like Daniel’s experience, how many stories have we read of Christian business owners targeted by certain groups or individuals in order to force them to violate their faith or face the consequences?

The stories are sometimes heartbreaking — as people have lost their entire livelihoods to the evil deeds of people with evil intent.

Wedding venues ceased operations. Companies shut down entire segments of their businesses. Small business owners risked losing everything — their businesses, their homes, and their life savings.

A Supreme Court decision known as Dobbs, which famously rescinded Roe v. Wade — returned the decision of abortion legality back to the states. Yet, churches and pro-life organizations have been attacked and vandalized — even in states where Dobbs had zero legal impact.

Not because of anything they did but simply because of their beliefs. Add to that are government mandates, which now demand the funding of abortions and sex-reassignment surgeries.

These are no longer future threats — they are present realities. Now even the private donations of Christian business owners are under scrutiny and subject to punishment.

Christians are now considered a threat to society — pariahs that must be removed. They must not be tolerated. And certainly not allowed a voice in public life.

But God…

The Good News

The prosecution that is so prevalent today is unlikely to let up anytime soon. In fact, it is quite likely to get worse in the years to come. Yet, there is much to learn from the story of Daniel’s persecution and banishment to death in the lion’s den.

Upon hearing from Daniel that he was unharmed, Darius was “overjoyed” and demanded Daniel be let out of the lion’s den, and found he was not wounded because of his trust in the Lord (Daniel 6:23).

Then Darius declared, “that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions” (vv. 26-27).

Please re-read that and let that sink in for just a minute.

  • For he is the living God and endures forever.
  • His kingdom will not be destroyed.
  • He rescues, and he saves.

Daniel lived by his faith. For only faith in God could have “…shut the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:33). As Daniel showed and Darius ultimately understood, we, as Christians, today must live out our faith — and understand that God is absolutely sovereign and omnipotent.

His will should permeate every aspect of our lives. While we may not understand at the time, we are reminded that “…as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

Perhaps we could all learn from Daniel’s example when we face the lion’s den, one which bears repeating: “No wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (Daniel 6:23).

Let us do the same.

For further reading:

Why Does Daniel Have the Most Memorable Bible Stories?

How Are the Righteous as Bold as a Lion?

How Is Jesus the 'Lamb of God' and the 'Lion of the Tribe of Judah'?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Kathryn Farley

SWN authorGreg Grandchamp is the author of "In Pursuit of Truth, A Journey Begins" — an easy-to-read search that answers to most common questions about Jesus Christ. Was he real? Who did he claim to be? What did he teach? Greg is an everyday guy on the same journey as everyone else — in pursuit of truth. You can reach Greg by email greg.grandchamp@gmail.com  and on Facebook