These small group studies of Daniel contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Daniel 6 Inductive Bible Study – Verse by Verse Commentary With Questions – Daniel and the Lion’s Den

Outline

I. A righteous person is a good testimony (1-3)
II. A righteous person will face opposition (4-9)
III. A righteous person boldly stands on his convictions (10-16)
IV. A righteous person is never abandoned by God (17-24)
V. A righteous person makes a difference for the Lord (25-28)

I. A righteous person is a good testimony (1-3)

Discussion Questions

•Why do you think Daniel was appointed to such a high position in the new administration?
• What are the marks of a good employee?
• How is your reputation at your workplace?
• How can you become a better employee?

Cross-References

1 Peter 2:13-16 – Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Daniel’s shining reputation –

Daniel is now probably a little over 80 years old. He served in a high position in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. Then he served in a high position in Belshazzar’s kingdom. Both of these were Babylonian kings.

In Daniel 5 we learned about the overthrow of Babylon. Persia almost miraculously conquered this powerful capital in one night. It would be expected that the new foreign king would bring in his own officials and get rid of the previous administration. And yet Darius chose to have Daniel as one of three rulers he set over the entire kingdom.

Reflect – Why would the conquering king establish Daniel in such a prominent position?

Evidently, Daniel had a very good reputation. He was known as a person full of integrity. He was known as a wise, faithful, and loyal leader. The king wanted to find rulers who would protect his interests so that he “might not suffer loss” (verse 2.) Daniel fit the bill. And thus he served as a top official in at least three administrations spanning 6 decades. Daniel was a good employee with a good testimony. Employing Daniel brought real value to his employers.

Application – Are you a good employee like Daniel was? Do you have integrity as he did? Do you faithfully serve your boss’ interests? As Daniel did, we work for bosses who are often not believers. We work for companies that do not honor God. How can we serve God while still being good employees?

From a worldly perspective (your bosses’ perspective), a Christian employee has both some negative and positive sides. The negative is that the Christian employee will not blindly obey everything, even the sinful things, he is asked to do.

The Christian accountant should not be willing to change the numbers. The Christian salesman should not be willing to exaggerate how good the product is. The employee who loves Jesus should not be a slave to his work, which would be a lower priority than his family.

If your boss only sees the negative side, you will not last long in your job. But there is a positive side too. An employee who follows Jesus should be trustworthy. That means he will be honest with his boss and company. Just as he will not cheat the customer, he will not cheat the company either. Good employees should arrive on time and work hard.

Once I noticed a program on CBS Sport’s website for watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that takes place every March. One of the advertised features of this program was that it had a “Boss Button.” The boss button allowed the watcher to close the video screen and open a fake spreadsheet at the click of a button. It was designed to encourage people to watch while at work. But to do this in secret without permission is stealing from the company.

A Christian employee should work hard even while the boss is out of the room.

Daniel kept being promoted because he was a faithful employee and served the interests of the king.

While other officials served their own interests and selfishly pursued personal gain, Daniel would not be corrupted. He was honest with his superiors and told them the cold, hard truth.

A follower of Jesus makes a good employee. It is not a guarantee that you will be promoted like Daniel was. And yet, if you are a good employee and work hard and behave with integrity, it is very likely that you will be successful.

Proverbs 22:29 – The one skilled in his work will serve before kings.

II. A righteous person will face opposition (4-9)

Discussion Questions

• Why did the other rulers seek to accuse him?
• What did their investigation uncover?
• What can we learn about Daniel’s character from their failure?
• Would they find that you are “too” devoted to the Lord from the world’s perspective?
• Do unbelievers in the world today seek to accuse believers?
• Why or why not?
• How did they deceive the king?
• In what ways did they influence the king to pass this law?
• Is this an effective way to make a petition to an authority?
• Should we use this method?
• Why could the laws of the Medes and Persians not be changed? Is this a good idea to have a rule that a law cannot be changed? Why or why not?

Cross-References

Psalms 37:12-13 – The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.

Psalms 37:32-33 – The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 – Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Philippians 2:15 – Be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

1 Peter 3:16-17 – Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Jealousy motivated these politicians to scheme against Daniel –

1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Do you know who Satan wants to devour the most? He wants to devour believers who have good testimonies. A good testimony for the Lord is a powerful tool to draw others to himself. A believer with a good testimony is like a lighthouse bringing ships in through a storm to a safe harbor. Satan wants to put out the light. His first method is often to tempt believers and get them to fall away. We saw this back in Daniel 1 when Daniel and his friends were tempted by unlawful food. When that doesn’t work, his next method is often to get rid of the person to extinguish their light.

Notice in this passage that all of these other officials were united against Daniel. Together they went to the king and requested a new law, a law forbidding prayer to anyone except for him for 30 days. There were a total of 120 satraps and 3 administrators. 122 of them stand against Daniel. Not one spoke up in his defense. Not one disagreed with their plan. These were career politicians. Many of them surely hated each other’s guts.

Reflect – What motivated them to plot against Daniel?

They are all jockeying for position. Each one wants to move higher up the chain. Make no mistake, they are not friends, not in normal circumstances. And yet here they are all united. This is the work of the enemy. A believer with a strong testimony will attract opposition from many sides.

2 Timothy 3:12 – Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Did you know that persecution is promised? If you live for God, you will be opposed. A lot of believers like to claim God’s promises. Did you ever claim the promise of persecution? It may not be our favorite one, but it is there to prepare us so that we will be ready when that moment comes.

If we are not prepared and are caught by surprise, we might not have the resolve or perseverance to face that persecution and endure. Much of the battle takes place before the actual moment of persecution.

Opposition may come from different sources. It could be a parent who is opposed to the gospel. It could be co-workers who are out to get you. It could be a government that is hostile to believers. Or it could be persecution from the majority people group in your country. Know that if you live a godly life for the Lord, you will be opposed. If you never face this, it is possible you are too much like the world.

Reflect – How can you prepare ahead to face persecution?

Application – Do not be surprised when you are persecuted for the gospel. Dig your root deep into Christ and His Word so that when persecutions come, you will have a solid foundation. Practicing standing up for right in everyday choices will help strengthen you so that you will not compromise when bigger tests come your way.

2. Daniel was blameless. –

We know that Daniel publicly was a good and faithful employee with a good testimony. What about his private life? We see a powerful statement about Daniel’s character in verse 4.

Daniel 6:4 – Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.

These people tried every method of spying on Daniel’s secrets. Their investigations would have included checking his projects and paperwork, asking questions of his co-workers, and examining his house and possessions.

Throughout history, political adversaries are very good at bringing out the secret sins of their opponents. Most investigations can turn up plenty of dirt because as the saying goes, “everyone has a skeleton in their closet.” Well, Daniel didn’t.

Although they tried as hard as they could, they could find nothing even remotely shady in Daniel’s personal or professional life. In fact, the only thing they could find to accuse him of was that he was too zealous in his service to God (5)! He was too faithful to God! Wow! Isn’t that amazing?

Daniel had a shining testimony. It wasn’t an act. It wasn’t faked. He wasn’t one person at the office and another person at home. He wasn’t one person at church and another person in front of his friends. He wasn’t one person on Sunday and another person on the rest of the week. Daniel was the real deal. This is who he was. He was a righteous person who lived like it no matter where he was or who was watching.

Application – Put yourself in Daniel’s place for a moment. Imagine that a team of detectives investigates your life. Their goal is to dig out your secret sins. They want to expose you. They want to prove that you are a different person during the week than on Sundays. So they dig into every aspect of your life. What will they find? If they were to check your credit card bills and banking account history, what will they find you spend money on? What will they find out about your truthfulness in paying taxes? If they were to look at your internet browsing history, what would they see there? If they were to check out the movies you watch, the music you listen to, or books you read when no one else is around, what would they discover? If they were to observe how you treated your family members and recorded a video of it, would you want to play it in church on Sunday?

If they had the ability to go even deeper and record the thoughts you think when you are all alone, what would they find? What would the final report be?

Think for a moment about what you would be most afraid of them finding. Brothers and sisters, if you could think of anything, then today take it to the Lord. Repent. God can help you be righteous. God can help you have a testimony as pure and blameless as Daniel’s. A person of integrity and righteousness can live with no fear of being caught.

Titus 2:7-8 – Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

3. Lessons from the officials’ interaction with King Darius –

From these verses, we are reminded of two things that we should not do.

A. We should not use flattery and manipulation to achieve what we want as these officials did. Also, we should not let ourselves be manipulated by flattery. You can see a clear difference in this book between Daniel who talks straight with the kings and these wise men who slant everything to suit their own purposes.

B. We should not make promises without thinking through it very carefully. The king made a grave mistake in accepting their deal without taking proper care to consider its ramifications.

4. They lied to the king saying that they had all agreed – This was not true as Daniel had not agreed to the plan.

5. They proposed to make a man a god for thirty days – Their idea was to make Darius a god for 30 days simply by royal decree. Such an idea would have been sure to appeal to Darius’ ego. After all, his loyal subjects clearly adored him so much, that it was only right that he bless them with the opportunity to show their sincere affection!

These officials knew how to manipulate the king by stroking his vanity and ego. Today such a law seems insane and likely to invite immediate revolt. However, in the ancient world it was common for emperors to be worshiped as deities.

Application – As Jesus told Satan, worship the Lord your God and serve Him only (Luke 4:8). Some governments demand a nearly worship-level of devotion. And in Revelation we learn that is the way the world will be going in the end times. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun. Throughout history, one of Satan’s most tried methods of attack is to get people to replace God with another object of worship: idol, self, money, hobby, evolution, or a person. Is there someone or something in your life vying for your highest allegiance?

III. A righteous person boldly stands on his convictions (10-16)

Discussion Questions

• Did Daniel change any of his habits after he heard the law was passed? What would you do if this law was passed today?
• Why not?
• What does this reveal about his character?
• When did the king realize his mistake?
• What could he do about it?
• What can we learn from this about how laws should or shouldn’t be passed and the structure of government?
• What can we learn about how decisions should or shouldn’t be made?

Cross-References

Luke 14:26 – If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

1 Kings 8:48 – If they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name.

Psalms 95:6 – Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

Acts 5:29 – But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Daniel stands firm – What does Daniel do when he hears about the decree? The same thing he always does! Daniel does not change at all. He doesn’t compromise his faith. He doesn’t hide.

You always have a choice. No one can make you sin. The story of Daniel proves it is true. Once again it looks like Daniel had no choice. Before, he was a young teenager standing up against the most powerful king in the world. Now he is an old frail man once again standing up against the most powerful king in the world. Most people his age would just want to live out the rest of their days in peace.

I don’t believe Daniel did this with the goal to make a statement. It wasn’t done in anger or pride. He did it simply because it was who he was. He wouldn’t and couldn’t change his very nature. He had been praying this way for decades. So for him to do it again was the most normal and natural thing in the world.

2. Daniel didn’t change his behavior and then try to justify it – Daniel could have justified changing his routine, just for these thirty days. After all, a person can pray anywhere, right? A person can pray with his eyes open. A person can pray with the door shut. Daniel could have simply gone to bed and shut his eyes and prayed silently before sleeping. No one could have possibly known. No one could have accused him. He could have avoided the wrath of the king. He could have avoided the accusations of the other officials. He could have kept his job and ability to influence people in the future. And it would have been so easy to do that. He certainly knew he could have done these things, but he still prayed in front of an open window facing Jerusalem.

Reflect – Why didn’t Daniel choose a less confrontational way to worship God for these thirty days. Would it have been right for Daniel to change his routine and pray secretly for 30 days until the decree expired? Why or why not?

Daniel was a man of conviction. Changing his routine would have appeared to be compromise because it was. He would have lost his testimony and moral authority. It is likely that Daniel’s influence was instrumental in the decree soon after this allowing the Jews to return to Judah after the seventy-year captivity. While we know God is sovereign we can also see that the decisions we make are important and have far-reaching consequences far beyond what we can even see.

James 4:17 – So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

We can three things about Daniel from his actions here:

A. He was bold. He did this in front of an open window without letting fear of the consequences stop him.

B. He had faith. Every time in the past he took a leap of faith, God had caught him. He had lived his entire life up to this point with faith in God, trusting that God would take care of him. And each time God did. Thus his faith grew stronger and stronger. He knew that God was more powerful than any earthly kings. And he knew that God would be with him again. For you too, when you take a leap of faith, God will show Himself faithful and your faith will be increased for the next time.

C. He had conviction. Daniel had a clear sense of right and wrong. He didn’t let the fads or opinions of the day sway him. But he stood straight and firm, unflinching because he knew he was standing on the truth.

Application – Are you a person of conviction? We need to carefully study the Scriptures and build up a foundation of principles on which we will stand no matter what. Many of these convictions will be very different from the world’s opinions. They will be tested and opposed. But a conviction is a strong belief in your heart that you should not compromise no matter what others say.

I was blessed with parents who had strong convictions and taught me to have the same.

Once my father agreed to an odd job to build a fence for a customer at a certain price. When he started working on it, he realized the entire lot had bedrock just beneath the dirt’s surface. Building the fence required digging numerous posts through solid rock. It took him far more time than he had calculated. In addition, he had to rent a jackhammer. It ended up costing him more than he made. But he had made a promise so he kept it. That example has served to motivate me to this day.

I would encourage you too to be a person of conviction. First, be clear in your mind about right and wrong. And then stand firm on the truth no matter what opposition you face. Your actions, right or wrong, will reflect back to God.

3. The king did not properly think through the ramifications before issuing this new law –

Proverbs 18:13 – If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

Proverbs 20:25 – It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,” and to reflect only after making vows.

Application – Do not make rash promises. Do not sign contracts without reading them. Do not make important decisions because of pressure put on you. Take the time to think, pray, and ask counsel first. Many disasters can be avoided by slowing down before making a promise.

4. The Persian law that laws couldn’t be changed was ill-conceived – Likely, this law existed because of an incorrect belief that the king was infallible. If the king never made a mistake, then why allow a law to be changed?

The inherent pride and ego in this law are clearly evident. Everyone makes mistakes. It would be wise to allow for some method of repealing a law that is later shown to need changing.

Application – It is better not to make guarantees if you can avoid it. Instead, say that you “plan” to do something or will “probably” get it done. Or you can say “if it is the Lord’s will, I will do this or that.” (James 4:15)

IV. A righteous person is never abandoned by God (17-24)

Discussion Questions

• Why was Daniel not eaten?
• How could this happen?
• Why do you think Daniel defended himself after the fact, not before?
• What happened to his accusers?
• What principle does this illustrate?
• What does this show about the miraculous nature of Daniel’s deliverance?

Cross-References

Psalms 34:7 – The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Hebrews 11:33 – Who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.

Isaiah 3:10 – Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them,
for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.

Galatians 6:8 – For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Proverbs 28:10 – Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way
will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. God did not forsake Daniel – Daniel was forsaken by the king who felt he had no choice but to follow the law and have Daniel thrown to the lions. However, he was never abandoned by God. These were lions that were purposefully starved in order to make them as ravenous as possible. Yet they didn’t open their mouths to kill Daniel.

He says in verse 22 that God sent his angel to “shut the mouth of the lions.”

Daniel does not sound the least surprised. And why should he be? God is in the business of doing miracles. He miraculously caused Daniel and his friends to look healthier after only ten days in chapter 1. He miraculously gave Daniel the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s two dreams in chapters 2 and 4. He miraculously delivered Daniel’s friends from the fiery furnace in chapter 3. And he miraculously wrote on the wall and prophesied the downfall of the Babylonian kingdom in chapter 5. What are a few lions to God?

2. The lions’ den was not a scene from a children’s storybook –

Some pictures portray the lion’s den as a pretty little place with light streaming in and Daniel pleasantly conversing with the lions or using them as a pillow. The lions’ den was not that pleasant. It was meant to be a place of torture and death. It was likely dark, rank, and filled with human bones. It was designed to be frightening. The text describes a stone rolled over and placed on top. So likely there were no windows either.

The scene makes us recall the words of David hundreds of years before in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Application – As God did not abandon Daniel to the lions, He will not abandon you either. God is still doing miracles. He still intervenes on the behalf of His people. No matter what dark valley you need to go through, God is there with you. No matter how lonely and abandoned you feel, God will never leave you or forsake you. No matter who stops loving you, God will never stop loving you.

3. Daniel is vindicated –

Daniel 6:21-22 – Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

Daniel knew that defense was useless beforehand. The law couldn’t be changed. He was not going to apologize or make any excuses. Afterward, he was vindicated and took the opportunity to use his influence to reach out to the king, preach God’s saving power, and remind the king of his loyalty to him and even more to God.

V. A righteous person makes a difference for the Lord (24-28)

Discussion Questions

• How did God use Daniel in the life of Darius?

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Daniel’s enemies are punished – The ones who conspired against Daniel were punished in exactly the same way they had desired for Daniel. The outcome reinforces the Biblical principles that you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:8, Proverbs 28:10).

Certainly, it was good for the kingdom to get these officials out of leadership who so opposed God. He also had their families killed.

Take note of an important rule of biblical interpretation. Recording the historical narrative of what happened is not an endorsement. The Mosaic law specifically forbids children from being punished for their parent’s sins and vice-versa.

Application – Sow the right types of seeds in your family, work, church, and neighborhood and you will reap a blessed and fruitful harvest.

2. Darius made a decree honoring God –

Only days before this king had proudly declared himself to be a god. He demanded prayer from his subjects and forbade prayer to anyone or anything else. And yet now he does a complete 180-degree turn, commanding his subjects to fear and revere the “God of Daniel.” He proclaims that Daniel’s God is the “living God” and that His kingdom will last forever, unlike his own kingdom which he knew was temporary. He ascribes miracles to God. Not only was the king himself convinced of this. But he issues a decree proclaiming this for circulation throughout the whole kingdom.

Because of one man’s conviction and refusal to compromise, a beacon of light is shown for the entire kingdom to see. How many lives were touched and changed because of Daniels’ firm faith? It’s almost countless.

Not only were many lives changed then, but lives are also still being changed now almost 2600 years later. Many scholars believe that the magi who went to visit Jesus after His birth were familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures and Yahweh largely because of Daniel’s influence in the Persian kingdom.

Application

When you make a stand for God, it will also make a difference. Firstly, it will help you to grow in your own spiritual journey. Beyond that, it will be a light to the people around you. Small actions of obedience to God can make a great difference in His kingdom. In what area do you need to make a stand for God?

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