- Lesson 7 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Faith Under Fire” focuses on Daniel 6:1-28.
Darius tossing Daniel into the lions’ den may be the most well-known story in all the Old Testament. Even a toddler is able to tell the exciting story of the ferocious felines, lions, who were unable to devour Daniel because he was delivered by his God.
Apparently, the new ruler was acquainted with Daniel. This is not surprising given that Daniel had been an important government official during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, one of the greatest kings in history. Daniel’s demonstration of exceptional wisdom further enhanced his reputation. This recognition from the king marks the third and final time a pagan king recognizes Daniel’s giftedness and causes him to prosper (1:17-20; 2:46-49).
Once again, however, jealousy over the success of a Judean creates a life-threatening circumstance. Our hero’s character is above reproach, and the jealous manipulators look to Daniel’s daily prayers as the only possible area of accusation. Knowing of Daniel’s devotion, the other leaders correctly conclude Daniel will deny the king’s decrees before he ceases to worship his God.
Concerning the custom of praying three times a day, we are reminded of the words of the Psalmist: “Evening, morning, and noon, I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17). Clearly there were no specific Jewish laws that mandated the number of times per day that one should pray. Some scholars, nonetheless, speculate that the custom of praying three times a day was established during this time of exile. Daniel’s daily prayer was not in rebellion against the royal decree; it was simply his daily discipline of devotion.
Character beyond criticism
Knowing Daniel to be a faithful monotheist (worshiper of only one God), the conniving commissioners and satraps found Daniel as they expected—continuing the prayerful worship of his God regardless of the threat of the lions’ den. Well aware of the king’s fondness for their Judean colleague, they began the conversation with the king by reminding Darius of his own irrevocable decree. Only after the king had confessed that violators would, indeed, receive a violent death from the lions did they declare that Daniel had been unfaithful, disregarding the king’s injunctions as he kept praying three times a day.
The jealous manipulators (commissioners and satraps) despised Daniel. Nevertheless, even Daniel’s enemies knew he was a good and righteous man. Pondering all the ways to point out Daniel’s flaws, they simply concluded his character was beyond criticism. Also, his worship was so habitual and rhythmic they knew his prayer times were predictable. Our hero, Daniel, causes us to question our own spiritual maturity: (1) Would even our enemies testify that we are above reproach? (2) Is our religious devotion part of our DNA, like Daniel’s was? Put another way, is our gathering together with God’s people for worship part of the regular rhythm of our week? Or are we “hit and miss” when it comes to our devotion and worship?
Based on commentary written by Howard Batson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Amarillo, as condensed by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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