In the Bible, the Book of Daniel tells the story of Daniel, a Babylonian raised to high office by King Darius the Mede. Daniel’s rivals trick the king into issuing an edict to have anyone worshipping a god (other than the king) thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel continues to worship the god of Israel and the king must follow through on his edict, although he is deeply distressed about it. The next day, the king rushes to check on Daniel and is relieved to find him still alive. Daniel explains that his god sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions. The king then condemns Daniel’s rivals (with their wives and children) to be thrown to the lions.
Just a side note: Tanner was the first African American painter to be accepted into international artistic social circles. His painting of Daniel in the Lions’ Den even won an honorable mention at the 1896 Salon at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris (the original 1895 version has been lost).