In Daniel chapter 6, we read how bureaucrats who resented Daniel’s authority tricked King Darius into signing an edict forbidding anyone from praying to someone besides the king himself. If someone was caught disobeying the edict, that person would be thrown into a lion's den. The intent was to catch Daniel and to get rid of him that way.
Unfortunately for the plotters, things didn’t go quite as planned. Oh, they caught Daniel praying and reported him to the king, and according to custom there was nothing the king could do to get Daniel out of his predicament. Daniel was lowered into the lions’ den and a rock was placed over the mouth of the den to prevent Daniel from escaping. The king and some members of his retinue placed their seals on the rock and went away.
But here is where it gets interesting. The lions did not harm Daniel. So when King Darius came to see if Daniel was still alive the next day, Daniel answered that the lions’ mouths had been sealed to prevent them from harming him.
"My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” Daniel 6:22
It may have been a miracle, but if lions are indeed ferocious predators, they are not devoid of compassion. Let me share a real event that happened in a remote village in Ethiopia a few years ago that reminded me of Daniel’s story.
Three lions chased away a band of men who had abducted a 12-year-old girl in order to force her to marry one of them. They had beaten her repeatedly to make her give in, but the lions heard her cry and attacked the men and forced them to run away, leaving the child behind. Then the lions sat around the girl and watched over her until the police came to get her. When she was rescued by the police, they left and went back into the forest. The girl had to be treated for cuts caused by the beatings she had endured, but the lions had not hurt her. She was safe and was returned to her village.
Why some men think that beating a girl will make her want to marry them is beyond me. How beautiful to see the lions come in to protect her. It makes the traditional story of Daniel come alive for me in a very real way.
A note from the Safe Church team: Michèle’s article reminds us that our world is a very broken place. We watch with heavy hearts as girls as young as 10 years old are forced into child marriages. Abuse against women still remains a significant problem globally. This young woman in the story would be considered one of the lucky ones that escaped a terrible, abusive marriage, but she did not walk away unscathed. We need to continue to put measures in place that work towards a world where abuse is not tolerated. We continue to pray and actively work towards that goal.