Sabbath School Lesson 16 - A Severe Test

Sabbath, April 21, 2018

“Of Daniel we learn that in all his business transactions, when subjected to the closest scrutiny, not one fault or error could be found. He was a sample of what every businessman may be. His history shows what may be accomplished by one who consecrates the strength of brain and bone and muscle, of heart and life, to the service of God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 350.

1. What prominent position was Daniel given in the Persian government? How was this considered by the other presidents and princes in the kingdom?

Daniel 6:1-4 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. 4Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

“Men of promise in business lines should develop and perfect their talents by most thorough study and training. They should be encouraged to place themselves where, as students, they can rapidly gain a knowledge of right business principles and methods. Not one businessman now connected with the cause needs to be a novice. If men in any line of work ought to improve their opportunities to become wise and efficient, it is those who are using their ability in the work of building up the kingdom of God in our world. In view of the fact that we are living so near the close of this earth’s history, there should be greater thoroughness in labor, more vigilant waiting, watching, praying, and working. The human agent should strive to attain perfection, that he may be an ideal Christian, complete in Christ Jesus.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 248.

Planning a trap

2. What did the officers look for to try to pull Daniel down from his high position? What proposal did they come up with and present to King Darius? 

Daniel 6:5-8 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. 6Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 9All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

“The transforming grace of God was made manifest in His servant, and he pleaded most earnestly for the lives of the very men who afterwards, in a secret, underhanded manner made plans by which they thought to put an end to the life of Daniel. These men became jealous of Daniel because he found favor with kings and nobles, and was honored as the greatest man in Babylon.” –Conflict and Courage, p. 251.

Faithful despite the decree

3. What did the men proceed to do as soon as the king signed their proposed decree? In addition to obtaining approval of the law, what else did they do to make sure of Daniel’s death?

Daniel 6:9-13 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. 10Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 11Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

“But before you can expect this help, you must do what you can on your part. Watch and pray. Let your prayers be fervent. Let this be the language of your heart, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.’ Have a set time, a special season for prayer at least three times a day. Morning, noon, and at night Daniel prayed to his God, notwithstanding the king’s decree, and the fearful den of lions. He was not ashamed or afraid to pray, but with his windows opened he prayed three times a day. Did God forget His faithful servant when he was cast into the lions’ den? O, No. He was with him there all night. He closed the mouths of these hungry lions, and they could not hurt the praying man of God.” –(The Youth’s Instructor, October 1, 1855) Lift Him Up, p. 368.

4. Learning of the men’s motives and also fully aware of Daniel’s innocence, how did the king try to deliver the prophet from death? What wonderful words of faith did the monarch express to Daniel in view of what was going to happen?

Daniel 6:14-17 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. 15Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. 16Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

“Those who closely connect with God may not be prosperous in the things of this life; they may often be sorely tried and afflicted. Joseph was maligned and persecuted because he preserved his virtue and integrity. David, that chosen messenger of God, was hunted like a beast of prey by his wicked enemies. Daniel was cast into a den of lions because he was true and unyielding in his allegiance to God. Job was deprived of his worldly possessions and so afflicted in body that he was abhorred by his relatives and friends, yet he preserved his integrity and faithfulness to God. Jeremiah would speak the words which God had put into his mouth, and his plain testimony so enraged the king and princes that he was cast into a loathsome pit. Stephen was stoned because he would preach Christ and Him crucified. Paul was imprisoned, beaten with rods, stoned, and finally put to death because he was a faithful messenger to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. The beloved John was banished to the Isle of Patmos ‘for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 525.

The reward of hope and faith

5. After spending a sleepless night with a heavy heart and fasting, where did King Darius go very early in the morning? What did he cry to Daniel?

Daniel 6:18-20 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. 19Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

“But did Daniel cease to pray because this decree was to go into force? No, that was just the time when he needed to pray…. Daniel did not seek to hide his loyalty to God. He did not pray in his heart, but with his voice, aloud, with his window open toward Jerusalem, he offered up his petition to heaven. Then his enemies made their complaint to the king, and Daniel was thrown into the den of lions. But the Son of God was there…. [Daniel 6:19-22 quoted in part.]” Our High Calling, p. 357.

6. How did the king react when he heard Daniel’s voice? What order did he give immediately?

Daniel 6:21-24 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 23Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. 24And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

“Those who love God will not choose the enemies of God to be their friends. The question was asked, ‘Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them which hate the Lord?’ Will you prefer the association of the irreligious and disloyal, to that of those who are obeying the commandments of God? Will you choose to separate yourself from those who love God, and place yourself as far as possible from the channel of light? You want to keep in an atmosphere of purity and faith, and bring into your character principles that will be as solid timbers. Christians will not choose and cultivate the society of non-Christians. If the Lord gives you a special position in the world, as He did Joseph and Daniel, then he will sustain and keep you in the midst of temptation. But you will never be where you will find too much light, in our world. Then how perilous it is to choose the association of those who love darkness rather than light, and will not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved.” –(Review and Herald, January 16, 1894) Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 295, 296.

7. What decree did King Darius issue after experiencing this great miracle? Instead of his life and influence being destroyed, what happened to Daniel during the reigns of Darius and Cyrus?

Daniel 6:25-28 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

“The case of Daniel was presented before me. Although he was a man of like passions with ourselves, the pen of inspiration presents him as a faultless character. His life is given us as a bright example of what man may become, even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities and privileges within his reach. Daniel was an intellectual giant; yet he was continually seeking for greater knowledge, for higher attainments. Other young men had the same advantages; but they did not, like him, bend all their energies to seek wisdom–the knowledge of God as revealed in His word and in His works. Although Daniel was one of the world’s great men, he was not proud nor self-sufficient. He felt the need of refreshing his soul with prayer, and each day found him in earnest supplication before God. He would not be deprived of this privilege even when a den of lions was opened to receive him if he continued to pray.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 569.

Personal questions

  • What can you say about the life, loyalty, and purpose of Daniel?
  • What great inspiration do you find in his life?

For additional study

“Daniel was true, noble, and generous. While he was anxious to be at peace with all men, he would not permit any power to turn him aside from the path of duty. He was willing to obey those who had rule over him, as far as he could do so consistently with truth and righteousness; but kings and decrees could not make him swerve from his allegiance to the King of kings. Daniel was but eighteen years old when brought into a heathen court in service to the king of Babylon, and because of his youth, his noble resistance of wrong and his steadfast adherence to the right are the more admirable. His noble example should bring strength to the tried and tempted, even at the present day.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 570.