Daniel Chapter 6 - Daniel in the Lion's Den

NOTE: Answers are provided for only some of the questions. Many questions are primarily to stimulate discussion and there are no right or wrong answers.

1. What stirs up the jealousy and envy of the administrators and satraps? How would they describe Daniel (goodie two shoes, too good to be true, outsider, a threat)?

Actually, they had many reasons to be envious. First is the natural instinct of human nature to envy other people their success. Daniel was honest, efficient and did a good job. Second, Daniel was a foreigner in their midst who did not belong (his customs were different, his accent was strange, he had different interests and goals, his skin color was different). Strangeness breeds suspicion and suspicion breeds resentment, especially if the one concerned is in a more advantageous position than we are. But Daniel was not just a foreigner, he was a Jewish foreigner; antisemitism was just as strong then as it has been in all the centuries since. A third reason for envy is that Daniel’s religion with one Lord God was quite different and somehow more powerful and fulfilling than the local “religion” of worshiping various idols, materials (gold, silver, and bronze), totem poles, and gods.

2. Have you ever found that when you begin to excel, other people look for ways to hold you back and tear you down? How should you deal with those who would cheer at your downfall and even try to hasten it?

As Daniel did, conduct your whole life above reproach. Then you will have nothing to hide and your enemies will have a difficult time finding legitimate charges against you. Of course, this will not always save you from attacks and, like Daniel, you will have to rely upon God for protection. But bear in mind, the Lord’s protection may not be as visible and dramatic as it was in Daniel’s case.

3. Why did the king issue his decree (he was outnumbered, he was stupid, he had an inflated ego, he believed everybody would obey, he wanted to be God)?

The courtiers used the age-old device of flattery to have their way with the king. BY appealing to his pride or vanity, the king signed a law effectively making himself god for 30 days. Even today it is a continuing temptation to the powerful, not only to kings, to assume the prerogatives of God. Probably all five of the “answers” above came into play to some extent or other.

4. How would you describe Daniel’s response to the edict (rebellion, perseverence, faithfulness, disregard, plea for help, courageous, throw down the gauntlet, stupid)?

Daniel did not toe the line by not praying for 30 days, nor did he play it safe by closing his doors and windows and drawing the shades. He openly acknowledged his faith in God and the more people that knew, the better. The history of the church is full of such examples of men and women who have refused to compromise or conceal their faith, even under the threat of torture or death. We honor them as martyrs of the faith.

5. Are there times where a better strategy might be to close the windows, draw the curtains, and pray to God in secret? (John 3:2)

John 3:2 - There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. 2 One night he went to Jesus and said, “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”

We like to think that proclaiming support for God publically and openly is always the best thing to do, but in fact Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. In Russia under communist rule and in China following the Cultural Revolution the church survived and grew by means of worship and prayer behind closed doors. At the time and in retrospect, this seems to have been the best thing to do and certainly reflects the faith, courage and deep devotion of Christian believers.

In the case of Daniel, hiding would have been futile because the conspirators would have caught him at something else during the month. Also, hiding would have demonstrated that he was afraid of the other government officials, which he was certainly not.

6. By continuing to pray openly three times a day, both believers and unbelievers witnessed Daniel’s consistency. From observing you, what can unbelievers determine about your life?

7. If someone who knew my innermost thoughts were to rate my ethics, I would score:
At work   0     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10  
At home   0     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10  
With outsiders   0     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10  

8. When the king discovered the implications of his decree, he felt: (anger toward his advisors, stupid, despair, frustration, trapped, repentant)? In his position what would you have done?

The king probably experienced many mixed feelings. He could, of course, pardoned Daniel (as governors and presidents do today) but apparently felt it was more important to keep the respect of his other advisors. Verse 16 suggests that he may have had some limited faith in the Lord God but he obviously felt that pleasing his own advisors was more important.

9. What saved Daniel (his faith, his innocence, God’s faithfulness, sleeping lions, the king’s prayers)? Think about this before answering.

10. Because of the Persian custom of vindication (an eye for an eye), Daniel’s accusers received the same punishment that they demanded that Daniel receive. Is this supported anyplace in the Bible? (Deut 19:21, Isaiah 3:11, Jeremiah 21:14) What do you think about punishing (innocent?) family members of the accusers?

Remember, we’re in the Old Testament here and much harsher punishments prevail than after Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins. An eye for and eye was still generally the basis of the Jewish law as set down in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

11. In your own life, have you ever experienced God in the midst of a “lion’s den” (of skeptics, critics, persecutors, etc.)? Has you lifeline ever been only God and God alone?

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