They Did Jehovah’s Will
Daniel Served God With Constancy
IT IS rare for the course of history to change overnight. Yet, that occurred in 539 B.C.E., when the Babylonian Empire was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians in just a matter of hours. By that year, Jehovah’s prophet Daniel had been living as a Jewish exile in Babylon for almost 80 years. Likely in his 90’s, Daniel was about to face one of the greatest tests of his integrity to God.
After Babylon’s fall, things initially seemed to go well for Daniel. The new king was Darius the Mede, a 62-year-old man who looked upon Daniel with favor. One of Darius’ first acts as king was to appoint 120 satraps and to elevate three men to the rank of high official.* Daniel was one of those three favored men. Recognizing Daniel’s exceptional potential, Darius was even intent on giving him the position of prime minister! Just then, however, something happened that abruptly changed the king’s plans.
A Devious Plan
Daniel’s fellow high officials, accompanied by a large group of satraps, approached the king with an intriguing idea. They implored Darius to establish a law stipulating: “Whoever makes a petition to any god or man for thirty days except to you, O king, should be thrown to the lions’ pit.” (Daniel 6:7) It may have seemed to Darius that these men were avowing their loyalty to him. He may also have reasoned that this law would help him, a foreigner, to reinforce his position as head of the realm.
However, the high officials and the satraps did not propose this edict for the king’s sake. They were “seeking to find some pretext against Daniel respecting the kingdom; but there was no pretext or corrupt thing at all that they were able to find, forasmuch as he was trustworthy and no negligence or corrupt thing at all was found in him.” So these devious men reasoned: “We shall find in this Daniel no pretext at all, except we have to find it against him in the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:4, 5) Aware that Daniel prayed to Jehovah daily, they sought to make this a capital offense.
Perhaps the high officials and the satraps harbored animosity toward Daniel because he “was steadily distinguishing himself over [them], forasmuch as an extraordinary spirit was in him; and the king was intending to elevate him over all the kingdom.” (Daniel 6:3) Daniel’s honesty may have created an unwelcome restraint against corruption and graft. Whatever the case, these men convinced the king to sign the edict, making it part of “the law of the Medes and the Persians, which is not annulled.”—Daniel 6:8, 9.
Daniel Remains Steadfast
After learning about the new statute, did Daniel stop praying to Jehovah? By no means! Kneeling in the roof chamber of his house, he prayed to God three times a day, “as he had been regularly doing prior to this.” (Daniel 6:10) While he was praying, his enemies “crowded in and found Daniel petitioning and imploring favor before his God.” (Daniel 6:11) When they brought the matter to the king’s attention, Darius was distressed that the law he had signed would implicate Daniel. “Till the setting of the sun he kept on striving to deliver him,” the account tells us. But even the king could not rescind the law he had enacted. Daniel was therefore taken to the lions’ pit, evidently a sunken or underground place. “Your God whom you are serving with constancy, he himself will rescue you,” the king assured Daniel.—Daniel 6:12-16.
After a sleepless night and fasting, Darius hurried to the pit. Daniel was alive and unharmed! The king’s response was immediate. He had Daniel’s enemies and their families thrown into the lions’ pit as retribution. Darius also made it known throughout the realm that “in every dominion of my kingdom, people are to be quaking and fearing before the God of Daniel.”—Daniel 6:17-27.
Lesson for Us
Daniel was a fine example of faithfulness. Even the king, who did not worship Jehovah, noticed that Daniel served Him “with constancy.” (Daniel 6:16, 20) The Aramaic root word translated “constancy” basically means to “move in a circle.” It suggests continuity. How well this describes Daniel’s unbroken integrity to Jehovah!
Daniel developed a pattern of constancy long before he was cast into the lions’ pit. As a young captive in Babylon, he refused to consume food or drink prohibited by the Mosaic Law or defiled by pagan ritual. (Daniel 1:8) Later, he boldly declared God’s message to Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 4:19-25) Just hours before Babylon’s fall, Daniel fearlessly proclaimed God’s judgment to King Belshazzar. (Daniel 5:22-28) So when Daniel faced the lions’ pit, he continued in the faithful course he had established.
You too can serve Jehovah with constancy. Are you a young person? Then act now to develop a pattern of constancy by rejecting this world’s bad association and corrupting conduct. If you have been serving God for some time, maintain a pattern of faithful endurance. Do not give up, for each trial we face gives us an opportunity to show Jehovah that we are determined to serve him with constancy.—Philippians 4:11-13.
The term “satrap” (literally meaning “protector of the Kingdom”) refers to a governor appointed by the Persian king to serve as chief ruler over a jurisdictional district. As an official representative of the king, he was responsible for collecting taxes and remitting the tribute to the royal court.