When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he asked one of his officials, Ashpenaz, to search among the children of Judah for some young men who were intelligent, healthy, wise, “without blemish.” The king wanted to train them in the learning and the language of the Chaldeans so that they could serve in his court. Among those chosen were Daniel and three of his friends.
These young men were all that the king asked for, but they were also faithful servants of the God of Israel. Many times serving their Heavenly King caused them problems with their earthly king, but they always chose to obey their God. For example, when the king sent to them the best food he had to offer—rich meat and wine—they asked if they could eat plainer, healthier food. If after ten days they did not appear to be healthy and well, they would eat the king’s food. When the days had passed, the young men’s “countenances appeared fairer” than those of all the children who ate the king’s food.
Years later, the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon, and King Darius the Mede ruled. Daniel was chosen to be one of his advisers, and because “an excellent spirit was in him,” Darius placed him over all the 120 princes he had appointed. Many of the princes were jealous, but they could find no error or fault in Daniel.
They decided to lay a trap for him. They convinced the king to sign a law declaring that for thirty days all requests or petitions had to be asked of the king. If anyone requested anything of his God or of another man, he would be thrown into a den of lions.
Daniel loved his Father in Heaven, and three times every day he went into his chamber and offered a prayer to Him. When the princes saw him through an open window, they went to the king and told him. The king was upset. He knew that he had been tricked. He knew, too, that he had to honor the law he had decreed.
Daniel was put into a pit, or den, with lions. All through the night the king worried. He refused to eat; he refused to listen to music; he didn’t sleep. When morning came, he rushed to the pit and called out, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?”
Daniel answered and told him that God had sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths. He had spent the night in safety and in peace, thanks to the God he loved and served.