Put yourself in Daniel’s shoes. You were taken, as a young boy, from your family, your country, your culture. You were made a captive, given a different name, and made to learn a new language, culture, and religion. Your life in this empire has continually be threatened and yet you have been faithful and obedient to your God. Now, you are an older man, serving yet another wicked king and nothing, it seems, has changed. This is Daniel. He represents a truly faithful life. A life of faithfulness to God perseveres through all seasons.
Daniel’s story is one of persistent faithfulness. Now, in his advanced years, he is not planning a retirement, focusing on leisure, or even considering how he has earned a break. He is not saying to himself, “you’ve done your part.” He is not now playing it safe and seeking his golden parachute to glide into his final days without worry. Daniel remains as diligent in service to the Lord as always.
The text reveals his persistent faithfulness in a number of ways. For starters, he stands out among his colleagues. He “became distinguished above all other high officials and satraps” (v. 3), the text tells us. He was recognized as a man of good character, great wisdom, and “excellent spirit.” Secondly, he is also a man of integrity. For, when the same colleagues conspire to get rid of Daniel they “could find no ground for complaint of any fault” (v. 4). He was faithful and it evidenced itself in his daily life. Daniel wasn’t one man in front of his superiors, and another behind their back. he was not hiding some dark secret. he had integrity.
Finally, the text tells us that Daniel was committed to his God. In fact, it’s his commitment to God which the officials can use to get him into trouble, it’s all they have (v. 5). Daniel’s faithfulness to this God persists through all seasons. Even after the decree, making it illegal to pray to other gods, is passed Daniel still sits and prays to Yahweh. What’s fascinating about this passage is the phrase: as he had done perviously (v. 10). Nothing has changed for Daniel. He doesn’t stop praying because of this law. Nor does he start praying because of the law. He prays three times a day just as he has always done. A life of faithfulness persevere in the face of difficulty, only when it has been cultivated in the routines of the mundane. Even as Daniel faces yet another threat, he simply continues to do “as he had done previously.”
Our inclination when we read this chapter is to focus on the lion’s den itself more than the context of that trial. We marvel, and rightfully so, that God keeps the mouths of hungry lions closed. And we all have hungry lions in our lives, and we wonder if God will keep their mouths shut too. He might. But regardless of that outcome, one of the ways God helps us when we are thrown into the lion’s den is by encouraging and empowering a life of faithfulness throughout all other seasons. If we wait for the lion’s den before we start pursuing faithfulness we won’t have the guts to sustain it in that moment. We must pursue faithfulness in all seasons in order to tap into it when the hungry lion licks his lips.
How do we do this? We do it in three specific ways:
- Make spending time with God a routine – don’t count on it to just happen, schedule real meaningful time with God. Make it part of your daily grind because the routine will keep you into close connection with God. Even if the quality isn’t always great, the quantity will help to cultivate a desire for God.
- Prioritize His Plan Over Your Own – consider what God wants in any given situation and ask yourself what would bring the most honor to Him. Sometimes our focus is on relief of pain, but God’s grace and glory ought to be more important to us (2 Cor. 12:1-10). Focus on what God wants for you more than what you’d like to have.
- Surround yourself with godly influences – Daniel wasn’t alone in the empire. He had three friends whose own example sets him up for this episode with the Lion’s Den. Those friends had a fiery furnace experience that prepared Daniel to respond with similar faithfulness. Surround yourself with people who will encourage faithfulness and walk with you in it.
This is what we do now, not when the lion’s roar, but today when there is nothing going on. If you look back over your life and see that perhaps there are years of unfaithfulness, don’t fret. God has brought you to this point now to encourage and empower faithfulness today. We have all failed in some degree or another, there is always right now. Seize it and pursue faithfulness today.
Daniel’s encounter with the lions ends positively. Not all lion mouths remain closed. Yet, the main emphasis of the passage is Daniel’s life of faithfulness that persisted in all seasons. The seasons without the lions prepared him for the season that they came. Pursue a life of faithfulness.