All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. - Psalm 64:9
A prominent rabbi was once asked by his students how one can improve their faith in God. The rabbi's suggestion was to study those parts of the Bible that dealt with faith. By studying these stories of faithfulness and meditating upon them, our own faith is strengthened. Indeed, faith inspires faith.
According to the Jewish sages, Psalm 64 is a prophecy about one such story of faith. The psalm refers to the time when Daniel, who according to Jewish tradition was a direct descendant of King David, was thrown into the lions' den.
The psalm begins with a reference to an evil plot. In the book of Daniel, Chapter 6, we learn that the officers of King Darius were extremely jealous of Daniel, one of the three most powerful men in the kingdom. In fact, Daniel was poised to become the Prime Minister of the entire kingdom. The other officials were not keen on the idea, and so they devised a plan to discredit Daniel.
They convinced King Darius to sign an edict that forbade anyone from praying to any person or god besides the king himself. Anyone caught violating this law would be punished by death. The king agreed to the edict, never guessing that this was a conspiracy against Daniel. As could be predicted, the edict did not deter Daniel, and he continued to pray to God three times a day. It wasn't hard for the officials to catch him in the illegal act, and they quickly arrested him and brought him before the king. The king, who actually loved Daniel, had no choice but to obey his own law and throw Daniel into the lions' den.
In verse 8, David predicted, "He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin" and that's exactly what happened in the story of Daniel. Daniel wasn't touched by the lions. In the morning, the king joyfully lifted Daniel from the pit - and then had the ministers who accused Daniel thrown into it instead. Their own words brought about their ruin.
What's so inspiring is that Scripture tells us Daniel was saved "because he had trusted in his God" (Daniel 6:23). Faith was the cause of his salvation. This miracle inspires us to hold on to our own faith. It inspired King Darius as well who issued a decree that everyone must worship the God of Daniel, "For he is the living God and he endures forever . . . He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth" (Daniel 6:26-27). This is alluded to at the end of Psalm 64: "All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done."
Yes, faith inspires faith. Today, let's be inspired by Daniel's faith, and like him, put our full trust in God. In turn, let us share our stories of God's faithfulness to us so that we may inspire faith in others as well.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President