The Pattern of Practical Piety

When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10 CSB)

King Darius of Medo-Persia had been duped and flattered into signing a law limiting all prayer by his subjects only unto him for thirty days. The penalty for breaking said law? Being thrown into a den of lions. Colleagues jealous of Daniel’s success were the culprits. Daniel, now in his eighties, had lived his entire adult life a Jewish exile in Babylon. How had he survived? The help of the Most High God.

Who had given Daniel and his friends favor with the steward during their early years in Babylon? God (1:9). Who had blessed him with knowledge and understanding, even of dreams and visions? God (1:17). How were Nebuchadnezzar’s officials (including Daniel and his friends) delivered when unable to interpret his vision? Daniel urged his friends to ask the God of the heavens for mercy concerning this mystery (2:18). The God of the heavens revealed the mystery to Daniel and Daniel praised the God of the heavens (2:19-23). Daniel reluctantly, but faithfully and compassionately, told Nebuchadnezzar of the fall that his pride would bring him (4:19-27). Daniel accurately revealed the fate of the proud and blasphemous Belshazzar on behalf of the Most High God (5:22-28). Even in his old age, Daniel had found favor with a further ruler of the land, Darius.

Daniel’s life was characterized by a consistent and ordinary practice of piety. That is, he prayed to God, honored God, served a “secular” vocation to the glory of God, and generally exhibited a simple, if unflinching, faith in God. He did not parade his faith. However, he lived it out and daily partook of the ordinary means of grace at his disposal. In chapter 6 we find that, as Jesus would later warn us, the world hated Daniel because of his quiet faithfulness that led him to distinguish himself above them (6:3). He lived a life above approach and so they schemed to try and trap him between his vocation to serve Darius, his boss, and his commitment to worship his Lord, the Most High God (6:4, 5).

Daniel learned of the new law and its penalty. What did he do? He did not fret, rationalize, go into hiding, or search his concordance for verses that might give him a way out of the apparent dilemma. He continued his daily pattern. He prayed. As S. R. Driver points out, “it is not a question of a positive sin which he will not commit, but of a positive duty which he will not omit.” He simply continued his lifelong habit of worship of God.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to remain faithful when persecution comes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About Joseph V. (Josh) Carmichael

Board Certified Chaplain. Ordained Minister. Adjunct Professor. Writer. Husband to my dear wife. Father of six young men. (PhD, SBTS; MDiv, RTS; MBA, UA)
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