IN A DEN OF LIONS
--DANIEL 6.--SEPTEMBER 24.--
"The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them
that fear Him, and delivereth them."--Psa. 34:7.
AT THE TIME of this study Daniel was an old man. He had been long in service, wise and faithful in his administration of the government entrusted to him. He had seen the Babylonian Dynasty perish. In its place came the empire of the Medes and Persians. By these also Daniel's grand character was recognized--his loyalty to principle, his faithfulness as a public servant, his obedience to God and the principles of righteousness. The new Universal Empire was divided into one hundred and twenty provinces with one hundred and twenty governors. Over these were three presidents. Over these presidents was King Darius, [R4875 : page 347] above whom, as chief emperor, was Cyrus. Daniel was one of the three presidents, made such because of his recognized integrity and ability.
What a compliment was thus paid to this noble, consecrated Jew, and how the recognition of his ability marks the breadth of mind of some of the rulers of the past! Their desire to have such a man in high repute and authority seems to evidence their good intentions in respect to the governing of the world. Indeed, we believe that this is true also of many noble minded, modern monarchs--that they give to their subjects the best government of which they are capable, according to their own imperfect judgments.
That which will specially mark Messiah's Kingdom will be that it will not only have perfect ideals in respect to human government, but that it will be backed by Divine power, before which every knee shall bow and every tongue shall eventually confess.--Phil. 2:10,11.
ENVIOUS OF DANIEL
From all that we know of the governments of the Orient, present and past, they have been full of dishonesty, of what in our day is designated "graft." As an illustration: it is said that in the China-Japan war, [R4875 : page 348] contracts for cannon and other war materials were given to manufacturers closely allied to government officials, and that the most shame-faced dishonesty was practiced--for instance, that wooden cannon were delivered and mounted upon fortifications, while the contract money, which was paid for the genuine article, went to the thieves. A man like Daniel, in so important a place as that which he occupied as one of the three presidents or supervisors of a great empire, was sure to be in the way of grafters--a hinderer of their schemes. Realizing that he could not be deposed, the first step was to find some fault with him which would secure his removal; but the man's integrity and uprightness in general gave no hope in this direction.
Finally a scheme was concerted. They knew that Daniel's religion lay at the foundation of his entire course in life. They must involve him along the line of his devotion to his God or not at all. King Darius, like every other man, was approachable through flattery. It was a custom of the East to closely associate the king with religion. He was supposedly a favorite with his god, else he would not enjoy so high a station.
Working upon this theory, the conspirators, high in office, approached the king with a project which they assured him would help to make strong and united the various parts of his empire. It was this: that the king should be recognized for a month as the only channel of mediation or access between his subjects and their god or gods. The claim was that such a recognition would elevate the dignity of the throne in the minds of the people. King Darius of course felt flattered and at once agreed to the arrangement and issued an order to that effect--never for a moment thinking of what might be the result in the case of Daniel; and never for a moment suspecting that his counselors were seeking to entrap him and to legally accomplish the death of his most trusted officer.
PRAYED THREE TIMES DAILY
Daniel heard of the decree, but altered not his usual custom of praying three times every day before a window of his house which looked out toward Jerusalem. Morning, noon and night he remembered his God and remembered his vows of faithfulness to Him and called to mind the gracious promises respecting the Holy Land, that it would yet be the center of the whole earth and of God's holy people; that eventually, through these, Divine blessings would be extended to every nation, people, kindred and tongue.
Some one has remarked that, as the sharpening of scythes in harvest time does not mean lost time or energy, so also time spent in prayer is not lost as respects the affairs of life. Unquestionably the best men and women in the world are those who pray, and pray regularly, who bow the knee, as did Daniel. Unquestionably the moments thus taken from earthly affairs are well spent and bring more than commensurate blessings upon the worshiper and all with which he has to do. Unquestionably it is impossible to live a consecrated life in neglect of prayer. What would Daniel have been without his praying time! How would his faith in God have persisted in that heathen land? How would his loyalty to principle have maintained itself in the midst of corruption had it not been for his communion with his Maker? To the Christian this privilege is still further enhanced by a realization that "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous," in whose all-prevailing Name we may approach with courage the throne of heavenly grace, and obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need.--Heb. 4:16.
JEHOVAH SENT HIS ANGEL
The conspirators were on the lookout for Daniel. They had witnesses ready to testify, not that they had seen Daniel do anything wrong, but that he had violated the edict which the king had been entrapped into making and signing. The matter was laid before the king and he was reminded that it was one of the principles of the empire that even the king himself could not change or alter an edict once sent forth. King Darius felt himself bound hand and foot and ensnared--trapped. All day he sought means whereby he could avert the consequences of his royal mandate, but he found none. He explained the matter to Daniel, assuring him that he believed that his God was able to deliver him. What a beautiful testimony to the uprightness of Daniel's life!
Daniel was cast into the lion's den and the stone for a door was secured with thongs, the knots of which were sealed with the king's signet, a safeguard against its being tampered with. That night, we are told, was one of great distress to the king. He could think only of his faithful officer, the noble man so unrighteously treated. He was ashamed of the part which he felt compelled to take in the matter. He was abroad early in the morning, after a sleepless night, to call to Daniel, to learn whether or not he were still alive. His joy of heart was great when he learned that he was still safe, that his God had sent His angel to stop the lions' mouths. Daniel was soon lifted from the pit! Daniel was vindicated! His God was vindicated! And the king now made another decree--that those counselors who had thus sought the life of a faithful man should themselves be put to the test by being cast into the same den of lions; and this in their case meant destruction, as the result proved.
Oh, that every Christian could and would live as high above the world's standards as did Daniel, so that their enemies might see clearly that they have no ground for charges except those to their credit; that their God whom they serve is indeed the true God.