You have probably heard of the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, even if you have never been to church. What you may not know is that the story of Daniel in the Bible is an incredible example of faith. See, Daniel’s story was much more than just a night with some hungry cats.
Who was Daniel in the Bible
Daniel was a young Jewish man, likely a teenager, who was of Israel’s royal household. His name meant “God is my judge”. He was one of the young men who was chosen to be a servant to King Nebuchadnezzar when Babylon besieged Jerusalem.
Nebuchadnezzar instructed his men to select noble men from the royal household of Israel who were good looking and smart, to be trained in the ways of Babylonians. Basically, they were going to be slaves.
These young men were to spend three years in training, learning the Chaldean language, eating the local food, and unlearning their own culture and religion.
Daniel’s name was changed
This went as far as changing their names. Daniel’s name was changed from “God is my judge” to Belteshazzar, which was the name of a pagan god.
His friends’ names were changed as well. You may have heard of them, they became Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego.
And while some of the men in captivity conformed to the ways of the Babylonians, Daniel and his three closest friends did not.
Stories about Daniel in the Bible
There are actually a few different stories from the book of Daniel that you have likely heard. Each of these stories contains life lessons that we can take and apply to our everyday life. For Christians, these life lessons will help you live in a culture that isn’t exactly Bible based.
Daniel refused to indulge in corrupt culture
The first indication that Daniel was not going to bend to cultural norms was his refusal to eat the food and drink the wine ordered by the king. The people of Israel were not to defile themselves by eating or drinking certain things, and to do so would go against all they believed.
But, it wasn’t so much what he did, or didn’t do, it was how he went about it that revealed Daniel’s character.
Daniel had favor
Daniel had won favor with the man in charge of the captives, and rather than fight about the food he simply asked permission to not eat it. So rather than eat the choice meat and drink the fine wine, Daniel and his friends ate vegetables and drank water. Sound familiar?
This is where the diet called the The Daniel Plan comes from.
In addition, later in the book of Daniel, he refused to worship false gods, and continued to worship his God. Even though culture demanded the opposite. Daniel’s refusal to participate in what he viewed as corrupt culture wasn’t marked by hostile behavior.
Daniel was humble. His humility shaped his response to those around him.
Daniel responded with tact and discretion
In Daniel chapter 2, the king was looking for someone to interpret a dream he had. He said that if no one could tell him what his dream was, and then interpret it, he was going to put to death every magician, enchanter, sorcerer, and astrologer in the land.
Believe it or not, Daniel fell under this category. Daniel was actually a prophet of God, but the Babylonians saw him as one of the “wise men” noted above. The wise men informed the king that no one could do what he was asking, and the king decreed that they would all be killed.
Daniel was to be executed
When the king’s men went searching for Daniel, and he learned of the decree that would end his life, he responded in a surprising way.
As Daniel faced the man who was there to carry out orders to put him to death, he did so with tact and discretion. Rather than trying to fight or run, Daniel simply asked for time to interpret the dream. When told he could have the time he needed, Daniel went to his trusted friends.
Daniel sought God and encouraged others to do the same
He didn’t panic over the situation. Daniel went to his three friends, told them what was happening, and asked them to pray. Then he prayed and God revealed the dream to him that night. What is even crazier is that when the king asked Daniel if he could interpret the dream he told him he could not and only God could do that.
Fortunately, God gave Daniel the info. And even though the interpretation was not a good one, the king put Daniel in a high position and lavished gifts on him. Because Daniel honored God, God honored Daniel. This was a constant throughout the entire book.
In every difficult situation Daniel faced, he prayed. When he was asked to accomplish something difficult, he prayed. Danies’s constant communication with God brought incredible blessing in his life.
Daniel honored those in authority
Not only did Daniel honor God, but he also honored those in positions of authority. Even those with differing beliefs. This is not something we see often in our world today. Yet, in Daniel chapter 6, we see Daniel doing just that.
This part of Daniel’s story finds him in a high position under a different king. In fact the chapter says that he so distinguished himself by his exceptional qualities that the king was going to make him a ruler of rulers.
Daniel’s peers were jealous
The other rulers were jealous. They tried to catch Daniel in some kind of corruption, but he was too honorable. They knew the only way to get him was if it had something to do with his religion. So they tricked the king into signing a decree that anyone who would pray to a god other than the king would be put to death.
This is where the story of Daniel in the lion’s den comes in. Because Daniel would not pray to the king, the king’s men had him arrested. The story says that the king was distraught when he realized that Daniel was going to be put to death. He spent the entire day trying to stop it from happening.
Daniel in the lion’s den
When Daniel was locked in with the lions the king went home and did not sleep. He spent the night distressed over Daniel.
In the morning, when the king arrived at the lion’s den, he called out to Daniel and asked if his God had rescued him. And, as you likely are aware, Daniel was alive and well. His words to the king were, “May the king live forever!”
Daniel refused to dishonor the king, even though he had followed through on the order to have him killed. That’s a level of faith and forgiveness I can only hope to attain.
Daniel’s faith influenced the king
The most amazing part of this story is what happened next. The king wrote the following:
“I issue a decree 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.”Daniel 6:26-27
The truth is that 2 of the kings Daniel served under became believers in his God because of the way Daniel lived his life. He was an incredible example for us. We can take the principles we see in the book of Daniel and apply them to our own life. We actually can live out our faith in a culture that opposes it.
Check out Libbie’s book Five for more stories from the Bible