We have arrived at chapter 6 in our journey through the book of Daniel and itis the last chapter of the historic part of this Bible book. It takes us to a faith experience in the life of Daniel who has reached the age of over eighty years. Again as in previous chapters the faithfulness of Daniel is revealed in which God gets all the honour and glory.
This chapter also reveals the battle between good and evil, between true and false worship or in wider aspect the battle of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan.
The book of Daniel is not written chronologically. What happened in this chapter six is from the early time of Darius after the fall of Babylon. The following chapters Daniel 7 and 8 are still from the time of Belshazzar when Babylon was still in power. Time wise chapter six should be after chapters 7 and 8 and some have even suggested it could be placed after chapter 9 because it is not fully clear at what point of time in the first year of Darius the prayer of Daniel in chapter 9 took place. In Daniel 9 he prays for the deliverance of God’s people out of the 70 year of captivity and it is evident that after Daniel was delivered from the lions that Darius showed great respect for Daniel’s God and was willing to allow Daniel’s people return to Jerusalem. The decrees for this return are recorded in the book of Ezra.
Pastor Alfred De Ligne in his book on Daniel arrives at the following conclusion, page 93 Dutch ed. “That the plot against Daniel was instrumental to make known to the nations the existence of the living God and that Darius issued a decree in favour of the God of Israel. At that time Cyrus got a surprise when it was made known to him what 100 years before his birth the prophet Isaiah wrote about him and what he would do (Isa.45:1, 2, 4, 13) After listening to this Cyrus decided to fulfil what was written about him. We read in Ezra chapter one how Cyrus gave those orders about the return to Jerusalem”.
Other authors dealing with the book of Daniel have arrived at the same conclusion as Pastor De Ligne. Therefore we believe it is reasonable to accept that Daniel’s prayer for the deliverance of God’s people from the 70 years of captivity took place before he had the experience with the lion’s den. Daniel may later have acknowledged that this experience was God’s answer to his prayer We all wonder some times how God answers our prayers, eternity will reveal the truth about all this We may apply Romans 8:28 “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” To love God means to obey him and keep His commandments, John 14:15; 1John 2:3. Daniel lived in strict obedience to God. The lion’s den experience of Daniel was according to the purpose of God. How much time between Daniel’s prayer and that experience is not clear, one most likely in the beginning and the other in the latter part of that same first year.
After the fall of Babylon, Darius started the forming of a new government. Who was this Darius? As with Belshazzar in Daniel 5 Bible critics blamed Bible writers for inventing a name of a person never existing. Regarding Belshazzar later cuneiforms revealed the name of Belshazzar and that stopped the mouth of the critics.
For Darius in 6:1 we have a similar situation. Different Bible scholars have been working and writing to solve the problem satisfactorily. The SDA Bible Commentary vol.4 pp 814-817 deals with it at length and in detail. For your benefit and reading we will quote from Dr.Ed.Thiele’s Outline Studies in Daniel, revised 1965 page 55. Dr.Thiele provides us with a summary of what the SDABC has written at length and in detail. “Summing up, the SDA Commentary favors the view that Darius, the Mede, was Cyaxeces II, the son of Asthyages, who gave his daughter in marriage to Cambyses I. He may have been left on the throne of Media as a figure-head after the death of his father. He would have come to Babylon at Cyrus’ invitation to act in an honorary capacity as king. When in Dan.9:1 he is called the son of Ahasueres (Achashweros), this means possibly that he was the grandson of Cyaxeres”. (Thiele p.55)
We will not spend more time on this issue for lack of further information than only that Dr.Maxwell in his book on Daniel GOD CARES I pages 104-105 discusses this matter as well, with references to Dr.William Shea. Dr.Shea has done a research paper in 1978 entitled “Darius the Mede and Daniel His Governor” and available from Andrews University. Michigan, USA
We continue with the event in Daniel 6 and find out what happened to Daniel under the new regime after the fall of Babylon. Darius did not wait long to get into administrative government business. He appointed 120 princes or “satraps” (NASB) to assist him in governing the whole kingdom. Does that mean the kingdom was divided in 120 provinces and extended later in the days of Queen Esther to 127? Most likely it does.
The 120 government officers were made accountable to three higher supervising officials, called presidents, which means that each president had 40 princes (satraps) under supervision. Daniel was one of these three and number one among them, we may assume chair man of the committee of three. Did Darius have any knowledge about the fact that Daniel in the night of invasion of Babylon had been appointed third person in the kingdom of Belshazzar as a reward for interpreting the writing on the wall?
Was Darius informed about Daniel’s faithfulness and unblemished track record of having been an administrator in the empire of Babylon? Scriptures does not give us that information. But it could have been. Even in today’s 21st century society, change of government party or regime causes change of government officers. But in Daniel’s case as an officer of the former empire and its regime he was maintained in the next empire of Medo-Persia and its regime.
Soon the king found out about the excellent spirit of Daniel and had plans to set Daniel over the whole of the kingdom. It did not take the king a long time to find this out. So it should be today with those who claim to serve the living God that soon they show of what character they are in their earthly affairs with people.
Daniel 6:4, 5
But the plans of the king to promote Daniel to higher office and responsibility, was not to the liking of his fellow government officials. They also noticed what kind of person Daniel was and looked upon it with jealousy. Because of Daniel’s integrity and watchful eye on the king’s business in order that the king should have no damage (6:2), this may refer to no financial loss. These officers may have felt their hands being tied and preventing them from practicing any form of corruption. They also may have found out that he was a Jew, not one of them and more over he was a captive or a prisoner of war. For them there was only one way to go, get rid of Daniel and be free. The first plan was to look very carefully to find if they could accuse him of any wrong doing and report that to the king.
In following this course of action, it remained without any form of success, nothing could be found how small, but they did discover that he was a man very much devoted to his God, the Hebrew living almighty God. The scripture says they could find none occasion nor fault. NASB reads They could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was found in him Under influence of the prince of darkness Satan or the Devil who himself hates true worship of the living God with a passion, a plan was designed to trap Daniel. They were led to act on Satan’s battle ground, the great Controversy between Christ and Satan, true worship versus false worship. This will be the battle ground of the last days before Christ returns, the battle over worship Rev.12:17; 13:15, 14:9-11. That’s why this chapter and that of chapter 3 in the book of Daniel is so important to take notice of and how God will deliver those who remain faithful to Him in view of a death sentence. But they could only trap Daniel if their plans were set in concrete, unchangeable by law. This they did.
Very reverently and politely they approached the king. Quite a number of people were involved, presidents and princes. They really attempted to make an impression upon the king that their request was supported by the overall majority of his government officers.
The king did not know that these men were under influence of the arch deceiver the Devil who is later called by Christ on earth, a liar and murderer (John 8:44). The king also did not ask, ‘where is Daniel? With so many people and all that honour bestowed upon him he became as it were hypnotised or mesmerised
The group of men standing in front of the king told the king all his government officers had decided on a royal statute to issue a decree that in thirty days no one would be allowed to make a petition of any God or man save of thee o King. No law is of any good without a penalty clause, so in this case the penalty clause was to be thrown into the den of lions. They also reminded the king of the fact that such a law would be a law of the Medes and Persians which means unchangeable, whatever the case. The king took the document and signed it into law.
Not for a moment did the king think about where is Daniel my chief officer over this whole group. He did not consider calling Daniel and consulting him on the issue. Was the king trapped in his own feelings of honour and pride? Most likely he was as so many before and after him having been trapped. Satan himself became trapped in his pride, read Isa.14:12-15. The trap was set for Daniel and we will see in the next section what happened.
We can be sure that in no time Daniel became aware of this law and had to make up his mind what to do. We can also be sure he still knew what he had done in the beginning of his captivity and how he made up his mind and what the outcome was, in Daniel 1. He may also have remembered what happened to his three companions when he was absence from the city of Babylon on government duty and how God delivered them. Now in his eighties, some say he may have been 84 years of age, should he waver? He had been loyal to God all those years and God to him. In Hebrews 10:23 we read God is faithful.
A story comes to mind from the Roman time. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, was 86 years of age when he was arrested in 156AD. The Roman officers demanded that he should deny and curse Christ. Polycarp refused and answered, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Polycarp was sentenced to die at the stake February 23, 156AD. He rather died a martyr’s death than denying his Lord.
Daniel being of a similar age but living long before Polycarp showed the same loyalty to his God. We read in Dan.6:10 that after the law was made public as usually Daniel prayed visible with his face towards Jerusalem which could be seen by everybody. Daniel must have known what is written in 1 Kings 8:44 that the people should pray “towards the city” Even in captivity Daniel followed that custom and did not hide it, not even in the face of death in the den of lions. He prayed three times a day as we read in Psalms 55:17 “Evening, morning and at noon will I pray.” Starting at evening which is the beginning of the Biblical day from the time of creation, Gen.1:5, 8, 13, and 19, and 31 like it is said of the Sabbath day in Leviticus 23:32. Daniel continued what he had done before and without any form of compromising or hiding it. Daniel is a strong example for us in the 21st century where we face many challenges to compromise the principles of the Word of God under pressure of culture and cultural changes. Let Daniel be our example and the God of Daniel be our shield, rock and refuge Psalms 18:2, 3. We are reminded that the God of Daniel whom we have to serve in the 21st century is of an unchanging character, Ps.89:34; Mal.3:6; Hebr.13:8 James 1:17
Daniel’s enemies were ready for him with plenty of witnesses. When they saw that Daniel continued as usual they made there way to the king to report what they had seen and were fully assured that they had Daniel trapped without any chance to escape the death penalty.
We like to insert here what Ellen G.White writes about Daniel:” The prophet’s enemies
counted on Daniel’s adherence to principle for the success of their plans. And they were not mistaken in their estimate of his character. He quickly read their malignant purpose in framing the decree, but he did not change his course in a single particular. Why should he cease to pray now, when he most needed to pray? Rather would he relinquish life itself, than his hope of help in God. With calmness he performed his duties as chief of the princes; and at the hour of prayer he went to his chamber, and with his windows open toward Jerusalem, in accordance with his usual custom, he offered his petition to the God of heaven”. (PK.pp 540/1)
It is interesting to notice how Daniel’s enemies approach the king and frame their accusation. They first ask the king if he still remembers what kind of decree he had signed into law. And that this is a law according to the law of the Medes and Persians which alters not. The king answers in the affirmative and that is sufficient for them. Now they make known to the king what has happened and who has transgressed his law. They say it is Daniel and that Daniel you regard so highly and you have promoted to such a high office, but who is from the children of the captivity of Judah, in other words one of the prisoners of war, he is the one O, king, who does not regard you or has no respect for you and does not obey your law.
Immediately the king wakes up and realises what he has done to sign a plot against the life of his best friend and officer, Daniel. Scriptures says he was “sore displeased with himself” he was shocked, “angry with himself “(NLT) that he had allowed himself to be misled so badly. He started to think deeply the whole day, till sunset, what he could do to save Daniel. He was caught and there was no way out as in the time of Queen Esther where a decree was signed into law to get rid of all the Jews, read Esther chapter 7
The king decides against his mind and will and to let be done to Daniel what the law demanded. Daniel is being called to face his execution. But before this took place the king said as follows:”Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.”
We can be sure that Daniel believed this and that God had the power to do so. We have learned from Daniel 6:10 that Daniel gave thanks before his God as he did a foretime. He had a long life of experience with his God behind him. He would not give up trusting God in this case. For Daniel God’s power to deliver was not doubtful, but how sure was Darius, did he really believe when he said “thy God he will deliver thee”? Had Darius knowledge of what happened in Nebuchadnezzar’s time with the three men in the fiery furnace? Or was it wishful thinking of Darius, “thy God may deliver thee”? Different Bible translations give that intention to what Darius said, more like a wish than what he believed firmly. Anyhow the king tried to encourage him and walked with him to the den of lions.
In walking together to the den Daniel may have spoken to the king in terms of faith and that it was not his fault and that he was not holding anything against the king. We are not sure what the two men may have talked together or may have walked in deep silence.
Arriving at the den the king may have told his soldiers let him down gently out of concern for Daniel. Real criminals were thrown like a stone as we will see later.
Two seals were placed over the stone which covered the opening of the den. One seal of the king himself and the other seal of the men who had accused Daniel. Both parties were now sure that no foul play could take place to rescue Daniel in one way or another.
The king went home most likely in deep thought and accusing himself how he could have been so foolish to sign such a law. Because of sunset the night was coming but the king could not sleep. He was not interested in anything, not even music to cheer him up When the first rays of the morning sun were visible he made his way to the den. He gave orders to break the seals and remove the stone. He could not see in the darkness of the den but in a lamentable, troubled voice he said Daniel, servant of the Living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”? (NASB) In using such a voice the king showed his grief and remorse over the situation. How extremely glad he must have been hearing Daniel’s voice answering him. Daniel uses the usual verbal respectful approach from the den up to the king, (Dan.2:4; 3:9; 6:6) and explains what happened during the night that God had sent his angel to keep the mouth of the lions closed so they would not hurt him. Daniel also gives the reason “forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”
Immediately orders are given to lift Daniel up out of the den. The law had been upheld and Daniel could be set free. They checked Daniel, as they checked the three men coming out of the fiery furnace (3:25, 27), “and no manner of hurt was found upon him because he believed in his God” (6:23; Hebr.11:33) God is able, does not matter how high the temperature of the furnace or how strong the mouth of a lion, by faith this all can be overcome and they overcame (Rev.12:11)
As in the case of Nebuchadnezzar after the delivery of the three men from the fiery furnace, Darius also knows what to proclaim, but first real justice has to be carried out. Daniel’s enemies with their wives and children are being rounded up and not gently let down but being thrown in the den of lions. The lions now show that they are and were in Daniel’s case also very hungry because those thrown in the den don’t even touch the ground and their bones are already crushed. For our standard of justice this is too hasty and too cruel, in that time it was no problem.
George McCready price writes “Some commentators have thought that this retributive justice on the conspirators involved only the two presidents (6:2) and their families since they were the ones most guilty. But wholesale executions of even greater numbers were not unknown among the Persians and Assyrians. That their children and their wives should be involved in their ruin is only in accord with the rude ideas of justice which prevailed in ancient times.” (Price 130)
But there is more to it; we may see this as a divine retribution because they had attacked Daniel a servant of the living God, which God may have taken as an act against Himself. Zach.2:8 tell us that who touches one of God’s people touches the apple of His eye.
Read also Deut. 32:8-13; 1Chron.16:22; Ps.17:8. God stood in favour of His servant Daniel. The families may have been seen as guilty by association and only God knows how they were involved by way of talk around the meal table in their discussions about Daniel and what plans they had and how they enjoyed it when he was in the den of lions.
In the history of Israel we have similar cases where whole families were punished. Read Numbers 16:1-35 the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. These families may also have been found by God guilty by association. We have the same in the case of Haman in Esther’s time, the wife of Haman suggested to her husband what to do, Esther 5:9-14. Later not only Haman was executed but his sons as well, Esther 7:9, 10: 9:10. Haman’s wife may have perished as well under the same circumstances.
But there is another twist to this event which can be drawn from Prov. 26:27; 28:10. In common language these scriptures tells us that when a person digs a pit for someone else he may fall in it himself. That’s what happened to the enemies of Daniel and that’s what happened to Haman who made gallows for Mordechai but was hanged on it himself.
What did Darius proclaim? He did what Nebuchadnezzar had done before him, Dan.2:47; 3:29; 4:37. Darius made it a decree for all people in his kingdom. It would be interested to unpack the content of that decree:
- Darius proclaims that throughout all the dominions of his kingdom the God of Daniel be feared. That is the same as in the last day message of God in Revelation 14:7 “Fear God and give glory to Him.”
- Then follows the reason why Daniel’s God should be feared.
a. He is the living God.
b. He endures for ever, is the eternal God
c. His kingdom will not be destroyed.
d. His dominion will be forever.Dan.2:44; Rev.11:15.
e. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Ps.18:2; Dan.4:2, 3.
f. And has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
Daniel is further blessed by God, he prospers, has success, during the reign of Darius and Cyrus the Persian. The KJV Bible commentary reads “Daniel possessed the favour of God and men, wisdom longevity, faithfulness, godly conviction and steadfastness in prayer, what an example.” (NUBR)
We close this study with a statement from Ellen G.White, ”From the story of Daniel’s deliverance, we may learn that in seasons of trial and gloom, God’s children should be just what they were when their prospects were bright with hope and their surroundings all that they should desire. Daniel in the lion’s den was the same Daniel who stood before the king as chief among the ministers of state and as a prophet of the Most High. A man whose heart is stayed upon God will be the same in the hour of his greatest trial as he is in prosperity, when the light and favor of God and man beam upon him. Faith reaches to the unseen, and grasps eternal realities.” (Prophet and Kings p.545).
Pastor Jan T.Knopper
Edited October 2010
Revisited August 2013