To avoid being thrown in the lion’s den, Daniel could have done any number of things to avoid prosecution under the trendy new law of the Medes and Persians.
He did not.
Take one look around, whether in the newspapers, magazines, social media, or even in the local coffee shop, and I suspect you will see several people putting their finger to the wind.
Tragically, even some ministers have tried to accommodate the latest laws and trends. The homosexual agenda comes to mind.
The word used by the famous 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon to describe a vacillating person was “trimmer,” referring to someone who does not hold to any one position. The word is derived from the nautical sense of trimming the sails, meaning to adjust sails to take advantage of the wind.
What Spurgeon preached:
Daniel’s prosperity and honors in the new Persian empire excited the envy of the courtiers. Full of sullen spite, and brimming over with jealousy, presidents and princes conspired together to cast him down with calumnious accusations.
We are wont to say that “any stick will do to beat a dog,” so they looked about for any charge with which they might assail him. I have no doubt they watched him constantly, waited eagerly for his halting, all the while basely flattering the man they wanted to trip up. Can they discover a flaw in his accounts? Can they question the impartiality of his judgment? Can they detect a lack of loyalty in the administration of his government? Can they find fault with his private life?
I can well believe that they hunted him here and there till their haughty faces grew haggard in the vain effort to find a cause of complaint, and that they set spies to skulk about his house, and mark his movements, and in fact, they stooped to the meanest stratagems, little heeding how much they compromised themselves if they might but compass his downfall.
But his integrity was proof against all their devices. The more closely they observed him, the more clearly they discerned that he was always diligent, discreet, and devout.
So conscientious and so uniformly consistent was Daniel, both in his character and his conduct, that every effort to entangle him in the meshes of their conspiracy proved to be vain.
At length the devil, who does not often run short of devices, puts them up to a fresh plot. O Satan, you are full of all subtlety. “Let us contrive a new law,” say they, “that shall bring his piety and his patriotism into conflict. He is a Hebrew by birth, and he believes, with all his heart, in only one God.”
So they laid their evil heads together, and devised as cunning a snare as they could possibly invent, and yet, clever as they were, they perished in the trap they had prepared.
They managed to involve the king himself in their iniquitous device, and to entangle him in such a way that he must either sacrifice his favorite courtier, or compromise his own truthfulness, and violate the sacred traditions of the empire.
A royal statute was framed, and a decree published, forbidding any petition to be asked of God or man for thirty days. How preposterous.
In this strait, how will Daniel acquit himself? Will he count it prudent to desert his post, and get out of the way? Nay, Daniel had a soul above such policy.
Yet you might imagine that if he must pray, he would go down into the cellar, or offer his supplications to God in some retired place where he need not challenge notice. His petitions will be heard in heaven without respect to the place from which they are presented. Or it might have been expedient to suspend the vocal utterance of prayer, and offer his supplications silently.
Daniel, however was a servant of the living God, and therefore he scorned thus to temporize, and play the coward. Well does one of the old writers call him, Coeur de Lion, for he had the heart of a lion. Into that den of lions he went, a lion-like man—not cruel, like the beasts of the forest, but far more courageous.
His conscience toward God was clean, and the course he pursued before his fellow creatures was clear. His sense of truth would not suffer him to be a trimmer.
He does not change his habit, but goes upstairs, though he might have known that it was like climbing the gallows, he drops upon his knees, puts his hands together, with his windows open toward Jerusalem in the presence of all his adversaries, and there he prays three times a day as he had done before.
He prays openly, not ostentatiously. He sought no honor, but he shunned no danger. To encounter shame, or to endure reproach, if needful, for the cause of righteousness, had long been his fixed habit, and now that it threatens to bring on him swift death, he swerves not.
Sermon edited with preface by Zach Parker, news editor at The Ouachita Citizen. The excerpt is from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, “The lion’s den,” delivered on Nov. 26, 1903 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.