Even when we suffer ...
it is not about us

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Daniel 6:16-23
Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions' den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, "Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you."

A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel. Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.

Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions' den. When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?"

Then Daniel spoke to the king, "O king, live forever! "My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime."

Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Next to the Joseph narrative, this was one of my favourite passages in the Old Testament. As I was reading it today, I wondered how Daniel would have felt as he was thrown into the lion's den. The interesting thing was that in the entire narrative, nothing was mentioned about Daniel's experience or emotions in the den. The focus of the entire passage was on the king, how regretful he was in making that decree and how worried he was over Daniel, who was albeit commended for this trust in God. What then was the intent of the passage?

I found in John Goldingay's commentary on Daniel (WBC, 2002) this structure of Daniel 6 that may shed some light:

1–3 introduction: Daniel’s success
   4–10 Darius signs an injunction but Daniel takes his stand.
      11–15 Daniel’s colleagues plan his death.
         16–18 Darius hopes for his deliverance.
         19–23 Darius witnesses his deliverance.
      24 Daniel’s colleagues meet with their death.
   25–27 Darius signs a decree and takes his stand.
28 conclusion: Daniel’s success

(I have not been talking about chiasm for a long time now, and it is time I do!)

From the structure, we see the crux in Darius hoping for deliverance and Darius witnessing the deliverance. As he said to Daniel, "Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you," he soon witnessed the amazing work of the power and grace of God. In a sense, we can see that regardless of how Daniel would have felt and experienced in the ordeal, the more important thing is that God's glory was revealed. It is not that Daniel was not important. He was and God delivered him because of his trust in Him but what is more crucial is the witness that Daniel carried for God.

In the same way, in our own lives, we must be mindful of that when we suffer. It is not that we are not important, we are very precious in God's sight. But there is a bigger picture than our suffering. What is more crucial is the witness and testimony that we show forth to the people around us - that even when we are suffering, God is gracious and merciful to see us through. We must see to it that through us, His love and glory will be evident to all.

We must realise that even when we are surrounded by hungry lions, it is not about us, it is about God.

pearlie

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10 comment(s)

  1. good analytical approach...

    conclusion is very biblical, theological, and ,,,,hehe, very reformed type of message..

    bravo!

    for even going sufferings of life, It is not about us, its about God...to most contempory audience...this maybe a bit not receptive ...?? hehe..

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  2. I thought of something on this passage some time ago...

    I contrast the darius and daniel scenario...doing juxtaposition..

    Theme is: freedom in the Lord.

    daniel acted freely, no fear,,,, of going into lion den.why?

    because of his life devoted to God,having good relationship with God, demonstrated by his daily prayer life...

    but Darius actually is pathetic. he is not free even as king. he bounded by his own words, couldnt rescue, or pardon Daniel, even he really wish so.....

    Today, what make us so vulnerable as Daruis, losing the freedom to do what we want to do???

    we want but cant reconcile with someone, because afraid of losing face? we are bound by bad habit, like smoking...etc? or ....

    God can set us free, and we could then be free to act as we wish ...as we learn from Daniel, devote ourselves, commit ourselves to God thro prayer life, make a decision, submitting to God, believing Him... He can help us , strengtening us to go thro......

    just happen familiar passage, share a bit view..

    small thought...hardly reformed or theological in nature...hehe

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  3. 不肖生 Sceptics,
    Haha ... thanks :) me reformed? Maybe ... and a very confused one I suppose.

    to most contempory audience...this maybe a bit not receptive
    Ya, most probably not at all. Particularly to those who preach wealth and preach health, it would be sacrilegious to say so.

    I agree with your thoughts -- thanks for sharing it with me :) it is a good insight -- indeed the passage presents such a juxtaposition. If we refer to the chiastic structure, we see it very clearly that it presents both of them in turn, A Daniel, B Darius, C Daniel, Darius (D and D'), C' Daniel, B' Darius and A' Daniel. And we see them both acting in allegiance to two different masters. As such, in application, to whom are we pledging our allegiance to.

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  4. tks feedback and providing me the theoretical framework..

    I thinking of that point, relating to the passage, because I already had in mind the problems of some members, and wish to tackle that...

    hehe, told you, I believe in doing audience's need driven sermon...

    Reformed ppl usually dont like that, cos they are very God-centered, word-centered ...hehe

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  5. seems you major in hebrew narrative structure;;

    Robert Alter's "the art of biblical narrative", good book to recommend you. you got already?

    this is small yet ground breaking book.

    a passage in it, expplains why narrative of Judah/tamar, put in between Joseph narrative..very interesting...

    He as a literary critic, embarrassed many bible scholars, who of the historical critical school,,hehe..

    I got a feeling, soon you would be submerged by literary school as i did..

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  6. No, I don't have that book but I have heard about it. Oh dear ... I have 5 books waiting in line now to get.

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  7. yes, too many good books to buy ..even can afford to buy, yet no time to read...

    so recent years, I narrow down to just reading books on literary criticism. I have such luxury because I am not in seminary yet,,,,so can choose what I like to study...hehe

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  8. :) same here, same here, and I get to splurge on books without much thought. But lately, I know I have too many unread books already and have stopped except one or two I think I needed.

    Literary criticism eh? Which are are ones you would recommend? Do you have a listing of your books online? If you provide me your link, I could go take a look. Mine is in anoobi.com, with the link at the top of my blog, if you haven't gone there already :)

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