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In the Ketuvim of the Tanakh (writings in the Old Covenant) we read of Daniel. In that book Chapter 6 is the story of Daniel and the lion’s den.
Most everyone knows that story, how the other chiefs assigned to rule the kingdom of King Daryavesh tried to find some wrong with Daniel, who the king had appointed above all of them, but no matter how hard they looked couldn’t find a single thing wrong with him. So they fooled the king into issuing a decree that they knew Daniel would not follow, which was to not ask anything of any God other than the king or the king’s gods. Knowing that Daniel prayed to his God every day, after the order was signed they found Daniel praying to God while facing Jerusalem and brought him before the king. The king was forced to throw him into the lion pit. We are told how Daniel’s faith in God protected him from the lions, and the next morning when the king went to check on him Daniel was unharmed. The the king threw the other chiefs who conspired against Daniel into the pit, and they didn’t fare so well.
The bible states it was his faith in God that saved Daniel. No doubt about that. But…was it just Daniel’s faith? We are taught that, but let’s look closer at what it says in that chapter.
Starting with verse 16 in the NIV version, this is what is written:
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. 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.
There is no argument that Daniel’s faith was a contributing factor, but I think we need to also consider the faith of King Daryavesh. Look at what he did after being forced to send Daniel to his death:
- When he sent Daniel to the pit he acknowledged God as someone able to save;
- He fasts and afflicts himself all night, which culturally was a means of sacrificing to obtain the favor of one’s god; in this case the God of Daniel;
- When he goes to check on Daniel the next morning he asks if the Living God- another acknowledgement of God as unique- has been able to save Daniel;
- The letter King Daryavesh sends throughout his kingdom after this further acknowledges and recognizes the God of Daniel as a powerful and living God whose kingdom will never be destroyed.
I do not think that what Daryavesh did indicates he converted, but it does show that he had faith in Daniel’s God and recognized God as an all-powerful and “true” God. I believe the humility, faith and respect Daryavesh showed for God also contributed to Daniel’s rescue.
In the Book of Daniel we see similar actions by King N’vukhadnetzer (Nebuchadnezzar), such as when he lost his sanity for 7 years and when Daniel’s friends were saved from being thrown into the fire.
This is one of the many wonderful things about our God: not only is he willing and able to save but he is also willing to accept the prayers of anyone, even those that do not worship him exclusively, so long as they come before him humbly and repentant.
God will use even those who do not worship him for good as long as they come before him respectful and humble. Daryavesh had many gods but he showed great faith in the God of Israel, which I believe contributed to the saving of Daniel from the lions.