Dare to be a Daniel (@revpamsmith)

The story of Daniel echoes other stories in the bible – an exile finds favour with the king, other courtiers become jealous and try to destroy him, but are eventually destroyed themselves.

Daniel’s enemies, knowing that his devotion to his God is expressed in daily prayer, trick the king into passing a law to forbid all prayers to anyone other than the king himself. Anyone who breaks the new law will be thrown into a den of lions to be devoured. Daniel refuses to give up praying to God despite the new law, is cast into the lions’ den but is saved by an angel who shuts the lions’ mouths. His enemies are duly cast to the lions themselves to meet the fate they had planned for Daniel.

 

The song Dare to be a Daniel, written in the nineteenth century, doesn’t dwell on the more savage aspects of the story, but on Daniel’s steadfastness in the face of danger and threatened death. The song urges its listeners to be as steadfast in their faith as Daniel himself.

When I looked for Dare to be a Daniel online, the top result was for the Observer’s editorial following the death of Tony Benn in March 2014. Tony Benn was known as a ‘conviction politician’ – although he was brought up in a titled family, he renounced his title to be elected as a Labour MP. He was regarded by many people as a dangerous extremist, and became more radical in his views as he got older, but in his later years came to be regarded as a kind of national treasure for his outspoken opinions and consistent championing of the underdog.

The Observer article starts:

Tony Benn’s great-grandfather was a Congregational minister, his mother a Bible scholar and he was reared on stories of conflict between kings and prophets who preached righteousness. “My dad said to me when I was young,” Benn told an interviewer in 2005, “dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm. Dare to let it [be] known.”

There are plenty of potential aggressors around online, and there may be days when we need a touch of Daniel’s tenacity and faith to go into the lions’ den! We can take encouragement not just from the biblical Daniel but from Tony Benn and others like him – if we hold our beliefs sincerely and firmly, they will be noticed, and eventually respected.   

‘Tony Benn; a courageous Daniel to the last’  appeared on 16th March 2014 and can be found at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/16/tony-benn-a-courgeous-daniel-to-the-last]

 

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