About six hundred years before Christ was born, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, sent his armies against the country of Judah. After their victory the Babylonians took some of the best young Jewish men back to Babylon to train them to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was one of these young men.
Being in the strange land of Babylon was hard enough for Daniel and his friends, but the king had also ordered them to drink wine and eat rich foods that would not be good for them. In their homes in Judah, Daniel and his friends had been taught to keep the commandments. They knew that it was wrong to eat and drink unhealthy things, but how could they explain this to the leaders of Babylon, who did not even believe in God?
“Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days,” pleaded Daniel, “and let them give us pulse [vegetables and grains] to eat, and water to drink.
“Then let our countenances be looked upon.”
Melzar, who watched over these captive young men, agreed to the test. for the next ten days Daniel and his friends ate and drank only the things they knew they should. At the end of the ten days, Melzar agreed that Daniel and his friends were healthier than the other young men. When they went before the king, he found them to be wiser than all of his wise men.
One day King Nebuchadnezzar decreed that all his wise men, including Daniel, should be put to death. Daniel asked Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, why the king was so angry.
Arioch explained that King Nebuchadnezzar had awakened from an awful dream, and he was disturbed because he had forgotten it. He had asked some of his wise men to tell him what his dream was and what it meant, but they couldn’t do it. The king in his anger had then commanded that all the wise men be killed.
Daniel quickly gained an audience with the king and asked him for time to interpret the dream. When King Nebuchadnezzar agreed, Daniel went home and told his friends about it. Knowing that only Heavenly Father could help them, they prayed. Heavenly Father answered their prayers by revealing the dream and its meaning to Daniel.
Everyone was astonished when Daniel told the king not only what the dream was, but also what it meant. Daniel’s closeness to Heavenly Father had saved all the wise men in the kingdom.
Many times the Lord helped Daniel interpret dreams and do other great things. Daniel often helped the kings of Babylon, and when Darius became king, Daniel was appointed head of all the princes. Many were jealous of Daniel, so they plotted to kill him.
Wicked princes persuaded King Darius to sign a decree stating that no one in the kingdom would be allowed to pray to anyone but the king for thirty days. Anyone who broke the law was to be cast into a den of lions. But prayer was so important to Daniel that, even though he knew he might be cast to the wild lions, he still prayed to Heavenly Father three times every day.
Those wanting to kill Daniel spied on his house. When they saw him praying, they hurried to tell the king. The king loved Daniel and realized what a terrible trick the wicked princes had played. Darius tried to change the law to save Daniel from the lions, but the princes reminded Darius that no law made by him could be changed. When evening came, Daniel was thrown into the den of hungry lions.
Sorrowfully the king said to Daniel, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.”
Then Darius spent the night fasting for Daniel. In the morning, the king rushed hopefully to the den and called, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.”
King Darius was overjoyed and commanded that Daniel be taken out of the lions’ den. Because of Daniel’s faith in God, he had not even been scratched by the hungry lions. Then the king commanded that the wicked princes be cast into the den of lions, where they were killed at once. Afterward King Darius sent forth a proclamation that all the people in his kingdom should worship the true and living God, the God whom Daniel worshipped.