We generally recall Daniel 6 as the chapter which details the account of Daniel’s miraculous deliverance in the lions’ den. Less attention is sometimes given to the circumstances which brought him to this severe testing. They are outlined in the early verses of the chapter.
Daniel for years had been living an exemplary life in a hostile environment, a land where there was, with a few notable exceptions, no fear of God. He had seen kings come and go, had experienced personal prosperity and adversity, and even in the court, where from time to time he had held status and authority, and which was a place of luxury and lust, immorality and corruption, he had moved with dignity and godly separation.
Now in advanced years he is called again to very high honour — honour which provoked the envy of those around him. It is pertinent to mention that Daniel clearly never sought such a place for himself. He took the “ups and downs” of life’s changing circumstances just as they came, and proved utterly faithful to his God all the way. The hatred in the hearts of ungodly men surfaced as they planned to remove Daniel from his high office, and they obviously believed that it would be possible to identify flaws and failures in his life which could be used to accuse him before the king. It needs little imagination to recognize that such was their determination that they would have snatched at the slightest failing in Daniel, even though it be utterly insignificant against their own shortcomings! Such are the world’s ways. Deception, corruption and the like often pass as normal — but let even a hint of such things come to light in the life of a Christian, and men are up in arms!
In Daniel’s case they were searching in vain. We may assume that their examination of his life was scrupulous and thorough, persistent and determined. What emphasis it adds to their eventual conclusions. They found no cause for complaint, no fault, no faithlessness, no error, so they were reduced to saying, in effect, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except … concerning the law of his God”, Dan. 6. 5.
What a testimony to a life beyond reproach! And this in such an adverse situation where there was ample excuse for failure — the pressures of that environment must have been intense. The record proceeds to show that, just as Daniel never lowered his high standards of conduct, so he was absolutely uncompromising in his continuing worship and service of God. Humanly speaking his fate was sealed; as far as he was concerned there was no change, and he engaged in prayer and praise “as he did aforetime”, v. 10.
The phraseology, and indeed the tenor of the New Testament writings, puts it beyond doubt that the Christian is also to live blamelessly in the world of men — Philippians 2. 15 pointedly illustrates this. Likewise we are told that the believer should not be surprised to find that men, when they cannot find wrongdoing in his life, will very likely turn to the only other avenue open to them — his allegiance to Christ. But that, says Peter, is a cause for rejoicing, “if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye”, 1 Pet. 4. 14. To most of us in the Western world there has come little in the way of real testing; in some parts of the globe Christians know otherwise. And like Daniel, of so many centuries ago, many of them are standing firm, blameless, upright, their very lives reproving the evil around them. The dramatic intervention that Daniel enjoyed is denied to those who witness for Christ in contemporary society, but they nonetheless know the companionship of Daniel’s God in persecution and reproach for Christ. We do well to ensure that we who experience easier circumstances live in this society which is so morally warped and spiritually perverted in a manner which is transparently honest, upright, that is, blameless. Only in this way can our voice for Christ bear the valuable endorsement of a life which accords with what we say. Only by the power and grace of the indwelling Christ can we so live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”, Titus 2. 12. Only thus will there be vindication at the last—full compensation for the contempt and antagonism of men today.