Daniel and the Lions: a political thriller

As we conclude our tour of the first six chapters of Daniel, we come to the best known story in the whole book: Daniel in the lions’ den. Although we won’t get to the literal den of lions until tomorrow, as we read the set-up of the plot we’ll notice that Daniel’s already very much in a metaphorical den of lions. He’s surrounded by jealous and scheming enemies who wish to do him harm, frequently described as “lions” by David:

Psalms 57:4 I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. (See also Ps 22:13, 21; 35:17.)

The story begins with the new king, Darius,* appointing Daniel as one of his three key administrators – and grooming him for the top job. Which doesn’t go down well with all the others, having this foreigner put in charge:

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