It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” Daniel 6:1-5
It seems like sometimes, when someone distinguishes himself or herself with excellence, all of a sudden there are a rush of people to try and thwart his or her success. I’ve observed this in the workplace over and over again. As soon as recognition comes to a person, it is as if there is a red flashing light over their head and they are carrying a sign that says “Please Attack”.
In the case of Daniel, a number of people actually went out of their way to try and find grounds for charges against Daniel. They examined everything Daniel did with a fine-toothed comb to use vernacular. And they examined everything from the worst possible vantage point to be sure. But they could not find anything.
So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing. Daniel 6:6-9
And so, like many of us, instead of deciding that Daniel was the right person for the job that King Darius had laid out, they decided to take matters into their own hands. In this case, they decided to trick the king and set Daniel up for failure.
Look, if you are a leader or aspire to be a leader, you better have a spirit of discernment about you. Note in the earlier verses that the satraps were made accountable to the administrators so that the King might not suffer loss. Yet what was his leadership team actually doing – setting him up for a loss. One clue that your team may not be acting in your best interests might be the number of “Your Majesties” that get thrown into the conversation or the team seeming to want you to take an action that overly honors you. Another clue might be that they want you to put something in writing or sign something fairly quickly. Hire well.
One thing I do find rather interesting is that despite his high regard for Daniel, apparently, he did not think of the impact on Daniel or notice Daniel’s absence from the group. As a leader, make sure you check with your most trusted leaders on life or death matters for sure. If one is missing from the decision-making group, there might be a reason for their absence and it might be a reason that interests you.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10
Notice how Daniel actually did not overreact – in fact, he did not really react at all. He continued about his business and continued praying in his usual fashion to the Lord. I have no doubt that Daniel knew exactly what was going on. He was a very wise young man and my guess is he knew all about the various attempts to find fault with him and ultimately to frame him. And yet, there is absolutely no indication that he did anything differently upon these occurrences. He knew he was on solid ground and doing the right thing. As a leader, remember that just because someone takes action that is wrong and may appear threatening to you, does not mean you need to take action or change something.
Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
The king answered, “The decree stands – in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”
Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.
Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Daniel 6:11-17
Notice that Daniel asks God for help – God is the only one whose hands are not tied in this situation. Daniel doesn’t ask the king for help – King Darius tied his own hands with the edicts his corrupt minions had him sign into law. And indeed, though he tried to rescue Daniel, King Darius could not break his own laws to do so. When in trouble, seek the help of someone with enough authority and power to actually help you. Many times, the only one with enough authority and power to help you is the God of the universe – this was certainly true in Daniel’s case.
And as a leader, don’t be deceived by a false sense of power. Even kings have to abide by laws.
Now, Daniel did not run away, did not resist the law, did not complain or wail or cry according to this account. He knew what was going to happen. He knew he was going to have to go into the den. Sometimes, there is no escaping your circumstances, even the bad circumstances in your life that are no fault of your own. The only choice you may have is like Daniel’s choice at this point – he chose how he would face his circumstances. He would look to his God for help and continue doing the right things.
I don’t know if Daniel knew that a huge miracle was coming his way. I tend to think not. I believe that he had faith to pray for God to help him and faith to carry on doing what was right. But I would guess that Daniel at the point of being thrown into the den was thinking he would die. Other good men had died before him. I don’t believe that we need to think or know that we will experience a miracle in order for a miracle to occur. We just have to do what God would have us do: look to Him for help and keep doing the right things. And so, in this case, God had other plans than for Daniel to die.
Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 18-23
Notice who spent a sleepless night – the king, the person who would be thought to have the most power and authority in this situation. Leadership is not easy. Mistakes are made, and when mistakes occur that affect the lives of others, leaders may spend some sleepless nights.
Was the king concerned because he liked Daniel so much? I think that factored into it, but I would guess that the king was more concerned because he realized that Daniel had served him faithfully and yet it was the king’s own recklessly signed law that was putting Daniel’s life at risk. Is there anything worse than knowing that something you stupidly did affected the life of a beloved friend or loved one?
Additionally, the king stood to lose he who had distinguished himself with excellence, his best administrator, because of his own foolish action. And looking at the rest of the leadership team, I imagine the king could envision the problems he would have should Daniel disappear from the picture.
At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Daniel 6:24
If we are tempted to take matters into our own hands, it would be good to remember to check our hearts and make sure anything we don’t do anything underhanded or unethical as our actions also affect the lives of our families and friends. More important, if we find ourselves wanting the recognition and success of others in their circumstances, as opposed to the love and caring of God in our own circumstances, the problem goes beyond ethics and leadership. Faith is knowing you are loved even when you are being thrown to the lions.
Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“May you prosper greatly!
“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 & wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:24-28
Today, what this speaks to me out of this passage is that the purpose of God’s miracle was really not about or directed toward Daniel at all. God used Daniel and his circumstances to speak to “all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth” as the king did upon the Lord’s rescue of Daniel. Throughout this whole story, Daniel did what God requires – he prayed and looked to God for help and continued to do the right things. A very powerful testimony of faith.