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Office Politics

Daniel 6—The story of Daniel in the lion’s den

Here is a case of a Bible story that is extremely pertinent to everyday adult life that has been trivialized and cutesified for us in Sunday School class when we were little. In fact, it’s so familiar, I don’t think I need to quote it for you here. You probably remember that Daniel was thrown into a den of lions by some mean old person, but because he prayed and because he was a Good Guy, the lions suddenly decided he wasn’t tasty and didn’t eat him.

But in reality, Daniel was the victim of some pretty vicious office politics.

If you examine this passage again, you will find that Daniel and the king were very chummy, and that several of Daniel’s rivals were very jealous. In fact, Daniel was about to be made their manager, something which they couldn’t stand. So they plotted about how to out-maneuver him, but they couldn’t find any dirt, because Daniel was such a goody two-shoes that they had nothing to bring against him.

“I’ll bet the only way we’ll ever trip him up is in his religion,” they said, “and what good will that do us?”

So they hit upon the idea of looking at his personal religious beliefs. Now Daniel was a Jew, and as a Jew he could only worship and pray to the One True God, which he did, three times a day. But Daniel’s rivals thought up a nice, patriotic-sounding law that restricted all petitions and prayers to the king alone under penalty of death. Then they tricked the king into making it into a royal decree to go into effect for one month.

Of course, Daniel continued his daily prayers. Daniel’s enemies, seeing that Daniel had fallen right into their trap, brought this matter to the attention of the king, who was greatly distressed by this unforeseen consequence of the law he had decreed. But Daniel’s enemies pressed him, recalling the legal principle that there are no exceptions to the law. The king found himself bound by his own law to punish Daniel, his friend.

The king was as terrified as Daniel was when Daniel entered the lion’s den. It is a terrible thing to be manipulated into position where you must bring about the demise of a person you admire and trust! When the time was up, the king rushed to the lion’s den at the earliest possible moment, and found that Daniel had survived. Then Daniel’s enemies were punished for their treachery.

Now I want you to notice some things:

So the next time you are out maneuvered in office politics, and the people whom you thought were your friends find themselves consigning you to the lion’s den under political pressure, take heart. Trust in God, and don’t let your perceptions be distorted. The lions won’t hurt you, and you can come out a winner.