Taken from his home and family in his youth, Daniel had live for many years in exile. He was probably in his eighties when Darius became king. Daniel was still very active in government, and had been promoted from an advisory position to a high administrative post. Because of his “excellent spirit” (the blessing and favor of the one true God) he had been promoted by King Darius to one of the top three positions in the kingdom, with plans to make him Prime Minister. The hand of God was on Daniel, and it was evident to everyone. If you work under a lost employer or supervisor, the quality of your work and the godliness of your behavior can be a powerful witness for the Lord — but prepare to be misunderstood by jealous coworkers who do not understand your motivation or the source of your strength.
Driven by jealousy, Daniel’s two counterparts held secret meetings to find any “dirt” they could on him. They found none. Daniel had a long, spotless record of integrity. Their only option for taking Daniel down was a devious one. They would trick the king into creating a law forbidding something Daniel was already doing: praying to the one true God.
The men appealed to King Darius’s ego, convincing him to sign a law that would elevate him to the status of a god. The only worship allowed for the next month, including prayer, would be directed to Darius. Anyone found being disloyal to the king and praying to any other deity would face execution in a most horrifying manner, death by lion. How did Daniel respond? He didn’t! He was aware of the new law and the penalty for breaking it, but he stuck to his routine of disciplined prayer anyway. Verse 10 reveals the quiet strength of the man: he prayed and praised the Lord, kneeling before a window that opened toward his homeland. He did not acknowledge the king’s silly claim of divinity, and he not try to hide his devotion to the one true God.
When Darius heard that Daniel had been arrested, he was “much distressed” (v.14). He knew he had been used: the law was not meant to honor him, but to condemn his most trusted assistant. Knowing that the law was irrevocable, the king finally conceded that Daniel must be thrown to the lions. Protocol required that Darius personally seal him in the den, which he did reluctantly. It would take an act of God to save old Daniel from the hungry lions.
We are told that the king did not sleep that night, but Daniel probably did! God had sent an angel to “shut the lions’ mouths” and Daniel was released from the den unharmed! In one miraculous act of protection, God had honored His man, shamed Daniel’s enemies, and proven that He was the true God (and Darius was not). The plan backfired tragically on the two conspirators, who received the punishment they hoped would be Daniel’s. No angel was dispatched to protect them as they were thrown to the lions, and they died in their sins, a gruesome death. The king learned from their mistake and signed a new law, one that promoted worship of Daniel’s God, the one who “rescues and saves His people” (v.27).
Let’s follow Daniel’s example today: disciplined prayer, humble obedience, bold faith, and quiet trust in “the living God who endures forever” (v.26).