Finding God in the midst of a sleepless night

This painting by the Victorian artist Briton Riviere depicts Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

According to the Old Testament story, Daniel was a Jewish exile who rose to prominence at the Babylonian Court. Some resented his success and pressurised King Darius into having him thrown to the lions.


What a terrible night of anguish that was for Daniel… and for King Darius, too! The King bitterly regretted his weakness. The story goes that, come morning, he rushed to the lions’ den and was overjoyed to find Daniel unharmed. He proclaimed the God of Daniel to be ‘the living God… who delivers and rescues.’


The Lion’s Den is a powerful image of the human mind in the turmoil of a sleepless night when anxieties pace round and round our heads like menacing lions. We may identify with King Darius, fretting for someone we love who is in danger, or we may know how it feels to be tormented by guilt or self-reproach. For us, too, God is ‘the living God… who delivers and rescues.’ The morning light transforms everything.


Look carefully at this painting…



What does it tell us about Daniel?


What prayer might be emerging?