DANIEL CHAPTER 6.
Daniel in the Lions’ Den.
DANIEL A VICTIM OF JEALOUSY. — V. 1. It pleased Darius, when he had fully taken over the government of the kingdom, to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, called satraps in secular history, which should be over the whole kingdom, as governors of the smaller sections, or provinces, into which the empire was divided, v. 2. and over these three presidents, chief prefects, or ministers, of whom Daniel was first, not higher in rank, but first in dignity, that the princes might give accounts unto them, the satraps thus being responsible to their superiors chiefly in financial matters, and the king should have no damage, his interests being taken care of by virtue of this statesmanlike arrangement. V. 3. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, that is, he showed himself superior to them, because an excellent spirit was in him, chap. 5, 12; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. This intention the king very likely made known, with the result that it stirred up the jealousy of the other presidents. V. 4. Then the presidents and princes, actuated by an envy which caused them to disregard the best interests of the kingdom, sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom, that is, they tried to find some delinquency in the work of his official position; but they could find none occasion nor fault, no reason for impeachment, no ground for an accusation, forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him, he was beyond reproach in his entire administration. “Fidelity is the leading political virtue of the servant or officer of a government, in like manner as justice and mercy should be the ornament of rulers.” (Lange.) V. 5. Then said these men, in conferring with one another concerning ways and means of removing the hated rival, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel except we find it against him concerning the Law of his God, regarding the practice of his religion. This is the course which is often followed by the enemies of the believers: if they cannot discredit the Christians in any matter pertaining to their duties, they try to show that the observance of their religious worship is dangerous to the state. V. 6. Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, running to him in stormy haste, with fierce impetuousness, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live forever! V. 7. All the presidents of the kingdom, a statement which stretched the truth rather dangerously, the governors, and the princes, or satraps, the counselors and the captains, the lower prefects, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, rather, “that the king ought to establish a statute and issue an interdict,” that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, within the next thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. The request was cleverly worded to flatter the king, particularly since it seemed to be the desire of all the officials of the realm. V. 8. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, recording the proclamation by stamping it with his official seal, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not, it could not be repealed in the Medo-Persian Empire. V. 9. Wherefore King Darius, carried away by the suddenness and the fervor of the request, which hardly gave him time for reflection, signed the writing and the decree, placing his royal seal upon the interdict and thus establishing it for his entire realm. V. 10. Now, when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, when he found out that the edict was established by the affixing of the king’s seal, he went into his house, and, his windows being open in his chamber, in the upper story of his house, toward Jerusalem, where he could be undisturbed in his devotions, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, according to ancient Jewish custom, Ps. 55, 17, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime, the royal decree changing his custom of daily worship not one whit. He did not indulge in stormy protests, but quietly ignored a law which virtually, if not actually, demanded from him a denial of the true God. Such passive resistance is often the most effective protest against laws interfering with the service of the true God. V. 11. Then these men assembled, they came together frequently for hasty and tumultuous meetings, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God, the open windows of Daniel’s chapel enabling them to spy upon him without trouble. V. 12. Then they came near, they arranged for an audience immediately, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree, reminding him of it, insisting on calling it to his remembrance, Hast thou not signed a decree that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered, without hesitancy and guile, for he was not aware of their hidden intention, and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not, thereby indicating the certain punishment of anyone who might transgress the royal edict. V. 13. Then answered they and said before the king, full of joyful satisfaction over the fact that the king’s answer suited their design so well, That Daniel, to whom they refer with sneering contempt, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom one might always reasonably suspect of an act of rebellion against the king’s authority, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, the intimation being that Daniel maliciously spurned the edict and thereby openly challenged the king’s authority, but maketh his petition three times a day. V. 14. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, literally, “sorrow came on him,” he was deeply grieved and troubled by this turn of events, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him, for he prized Daniel’s ability and faithfulness very highly; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him, he pondered over the matter and held the conspirators off in the hope that some way of escape might be found before morning. V. 15. Then these men assembled unto the king, they pressed upon him in a most importunate and tumultuous manner, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. The success of their entire infamous plan, in fact, was based upon this tradition. V. 16. Then the king, unable to find an excuse or to hold out against the conspirators, commanded, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions, the execution following the sentence at once, as custom required. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, since he was powerless to help him in this extremity, Thy God, whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee. This did not amount to a confession of the true God, but was merely a pious wish that the God of the Jews might prove equal to this emergency. V. 17. And a stone was brought, probably one used for similar executions, and laid upon the mouth of the den, over the opening through which the condemned were cast down; and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, of the highest officers in his realm, that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel, that is, that no one might interfere, either by attempting to liberate him or by working his evil will upon him. It is significant that Daniel made no effort to have his execution delayed or suspended, but calmly placed the outcome in God’s hands. True faith in God rests upon His will, no matter what may come, knowing God’s ways are always good and right, and all things work together for good to them that love God.
DANIEL’S REMARKABLE DELIVERANCE. — V. 18. Then the king went to his palace and passed the night fasting, unable to sleep or eat for worry about the fate of Daniel; neither were instruments of music brought before him, rather, “neither were concubines brought to him”; and his sleep went from him, he was in genuine distress, decidedly ill at ease on account of the course into which he had been drawn. V. 19. Then the king arose very early in the morning, with the dawn, as soon as it became light, and went in haste unto the den of lions, the royal zoological gardens being located conveniently near. V. 20. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice, which testified to the sorrow possessing his heart, unto Daniel; and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, whom he was ready to acknowledge as such in accordance with Daniel’s confession, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, with constant, unflagging devotion, able to deliver thee from the lions? V. 21. Then said Daniel unto the king, calmly answering the king from his position down in the pit, O king, live forever! V. 22. My God hath sent His angel, who may even have been visible to the eye of Daniel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths that they have not hurt me, forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me, God had declared him not guilty by preserving him so wonderfully; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt, that is, by transgressing the edict of the king he had not become guilty of rebellion against the person of the king, as the king’s personal interest in his case also demonstrated. V. 23. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, on account of the miraculous deliverance which Daniel had experienced, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den, through an opening which made it convenient for him to be removed. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, not so much as a scratch from the paw of one of the ravening beasts, because he believed in his God, and this firm confidence was rewarded by the Lord in this manner. V. 24. And the king, who now realized that the enemies of Daniel had used him as their instrument in trying to vent their jealous spite, commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives, according to the custom of the country, and since they were guilty of the same wickedness as the men; and the lions had the mastery of them, fell upon them and overwhelmed them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den, they were reduced to a pulp before their bodies reached the bottom of the pit. V. 25. Then King Darius, still under the influence of the miraculous deliverance which he had witnessed, wrote unto all people, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth, in issuing a solemn proclamation, Peace be multiplied unto you. V. 26. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom, as far as his kingly power extended, men tremble and fear, in reverent awe, before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and steadfast forever, eternal and unchanging, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end, outlasting all earthly kingdoms. V. 27. He delivereth and rescueth, literally, “He is a Deliverer and Rescuer,” and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, such as are outside the laws of nature, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions, who would ordinarily have torn him to pieces in the twinkling of an eye. V. 28. So this Daniel, the same one of whom the princes had spoken so contemptuously, prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus, the Persian, for the Persian monarchy followed shortly after the Median. The miracles which the Lord performs in the interest of His children are intended to serve, among other things, for the unbelievers, so that they also may realize that the God of Israel, the God of the Christians, is the true, living God, the only Savior and Redeemer.