Daniel Chapter 6
Daniel is Thrown into a Lions’ Den
6:1 It seemed like a good idea to Darius to appoint over the kingdom 120 satraps who would be in charge of the entire kingdom. 6:2 Over them would be three supervisors, one of whom was Daniel. These satraps were accountable to them, so that the king’s interests might not incur damage. 6:3 Now this Daniel was distinguishing himself above the other supervisors and the satraps, for he had an extraordinary spirit. In fact, the king intended to appoint him over the entire kingdom. 6:4 Consequently the supervisors and satraps were trying to find some pretext against Daniel in connection with administrative matters. But they were unable to find any such damaging evidence, because he was trustworthy and guilty of no negligence or corruption. 6:5 So these men concluded, “We won’t find any pretext against this man Daniel unless it is in connection with the law of his God.”
Chapter 5 concluded with King Darius the Mede conquering the Babylonian kingdom. This chapter begins with Darius’ rule. With historians there is some disagreement about whether Darius or Cyrus was the first ruler after Babylon’s fall. Some historians give Cyrus the credit for conquering Babylon and Darius ruling shortly after. I’m going with Daniel on this one since he was there and the historians weren’t. So Darius appoints satraps (officials, i.e. governors or princes) over regions of the kingdom to protect the king’s interests (verse 2). The satraps, in turn reported to one of three supervisors, of which Daniel was one, and he was the chief supervisor. This shows how much respect Darius had for Daniel, due to Daniel having an “extraordinary spirit”. Daniel was probably in his early 80’s by this time, yet still serving God and serving his earthly master, faithful in all his service. Then jealously enters, and this starts looking similar to chapter 3 where malicious accusations were brought against Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but this time against Daniel. Daniel is quite a Christian example for us today isn’t he? A man of integrity and faithfulness in all aspects of life. The other side of the coin? Jealous subordinates and co-leaders. Being jealous of another’s achievements, positions, etc is something we need to be on guard against. We are not all the same, not all called to be leaders, or called to the same type ministries, however we all have gifts given by God, and as the Apostle Paul noted, they are all important to the body of Christ, the church. (Romans 12:6–8, 1 Corinthians 12:4–11)
6:6 So these supervisors and satraps came by collusion to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 6:7 To all the supervisors of the kingdom, the prefects, satraps, counselors, and governors it seemed like a good idea for a royal edict to be issued and an interdict to be enforced. For the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human other than you, O king, should be thrown into a den of lions. 6:8 Now let the king issue a written interdict so that it cannot be altered, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed. 6:9 So King Darius issued the written interdict.
Isn’t this sly? Fool the King into doing something he ordinarily wouldn’t do by camouflaging it with the false pretense of wanting only to honor the king. They also knew that the Medes and Persians had this rule, once the King signed an interdict (an authoritative prohibition), it could not be withdrawn, not even by the King himself. Remember this also happened to King Ahasuerus (some translations call him King Xerxes, same person) in the book of Esther, by the sly evil man Haman. Have you ever caught yourself contemplating or doing something for selfish reasons? May God help you and I to guard our actions, that they not be done for ulterior motives.
6:10 When Daniel realized that a written decree had been issued, he entered his home, where the windows in his upper room opened toward Jerusalem. Three times daily he was kneeling and offering prayers and thanks to his God just as he had been accustomed to do previously. 6:11 Then those officials who had gone to the king came by collusion and found Daniel praying and asking for help before his God. 6:12 So they approached the king and said to him, “Did you not issue an edict to the effect that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human other than to you, O king, would be thrown into a den of lions?” The king replied, “That is correct, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed.” 6:13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the edict that you issued. Three times daily he offers his prayer.”
So the trap was set, and the colluders it appeared would get their way. What did Daniel do differently? Nothing. Daniel continued to do what he had done his whole life, worship and pray to God. We are called to obey government laws, except in the case that it would mean disobeying God. What was Daniel praying for? He obeyed scripture, so likely he prayed for the welfare of the city, the return from exile of his people and gave God thanks for all his blessings. Jeremiah 29:12–13 says: 29:12 When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. 29:13 When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul. Yes, God hears and answers our prayers. What a testimony Daniel’s prayer life was to his co-workers and neighbors!
6:14 When the king heard this, he was very upset and began thinking about how he might rescue Daniel. Until late afternoon he was struggling to find a way to rescue him. 6:15 Then those men came by collusion to the king and said to him, “Recall, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no edict or decree that the king issues can be changed.” 6:16 So the king gave the order, and Daniel was brought and thrown into a den of lions. The king consoled Daniel by saying, “Your God whom you continually serve will rescue you!” 6:17 Then a stone was brought and placed over the opening to the den. The king sealed it with his signet ring and with those of his nobles so that nothing could be changed with regard to Daniel. 6:18 Then the king departed to his palace. But he spent the night without eating, and no diversions were brought to him. He was unable to sleep.
King Darius wasn’t angry with Daniel, he was angry with himself for thoughtlessly signing the prohibition. This shows how much he respected Daniel. Note the influence Daniel had on the King, that even he was confident that God would save Daniel. Was Daniel spared from the trial? No, but God cared for him through it. He was thrown into a pit with lions and a large stone covered the opening. Likely it was dark in there, and there was no way out. Daniel may have felt the presence of God there more than anywhere else in his whole life. Have you had trials in your life? I think we all have. We aren’t guaranteed that trials won’t come, in fact we are told they will come, but the Christian has the eternal God and Savior to help us through the trials that come.
1 Peter 4:12: Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.
James 1:2: My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
King Darius spent the night without food, entertainment or sleep. Maybe he prayed too? He was certainly deeply concerned about his friend Daniel.
God Rescues Daniel from the Lions
6:19 In the morning, at the earliest sign of daylight, the king got up and rushed to the lions’ den. 6:20 As he approached the den, he called out to Daniel in a worried voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, was your God whom you continually serve able to rescue you from the lions?”
6:21 Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! 6:22 My God sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not harmed me, because I was found to be innocent before him. Nor have I done any harm to you, O king.”
6:23 Then the king was delighted and gave an order to haul Daniel up from the den. So Daniel was hauled up out of the den. He had no injury of any kind, because he had trusted in his God. 6:24 The king gave another order, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions’ den — they, their children, and their wives. They did not even reach the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
6:25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and language groups who were living in all the land: “Peace and prosperity! 6:26 I have issued an edict that throughout all the dominion of my kingdom people are to revere and fear the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God; he endures forever. His kingdom will not be destroyed; his authority is forever.”
6:27 He rescues and delivers and performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions!” 6:28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
The King anxiously hoped Daniel’s God had saved him. Daniel held no animosity towards the King. His voice was apparently untroubled. Daniel said God had mercy on him because he hadn’t sinned against God or against the King in this whole ordeal. He did what was right. You may also remember Peter’s miraculous release from jail in Acts 12. Imprisoned by Herod, God set him free. The Hymn “And can it be that I should gain” uses the story as an analogy of a person who first sees the light and turning to Christ as Lord.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickened ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
And then there was Paul in Acts 16 in prison. A great earthquake opens the doors and the chains holding the prisoners fall off and they are free. As a result the jailer was so moved that he and his whole household were saved.
With Daniel safe, King Darius then exercises punishment on those who maliciously accused Daniel, and also on their families by throwing all of them into the Lion’s Den. This is brutal but not really surprising for a pagan nation to do such. This would not have been allowed in Israel. Deuteronomy 24:16 forbids it. “The father shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”
Darius praises God and orders his subjects to do the same. So, Kings Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, pagan kings, ended up giving witness to the living and eternal God, sovereign over all. I have to believe this was sweet to the ears of the Jewish exiles there to hear these testimonies spoken by pagan kings. God was working in the place the exiles were living. He did not abandon them.
Daniel is a model of integrity and faithfulness for us. Reading the accounts of Daniel and his 3 friends in this bible book reminds me of a John Wesley sermon I read a few years ago. I don’t remember the title of the sermon, but right in the middle of it he says “Why don’t people just do what is right?” I have to ask myself the question, why don’t I just do what is right? Why do I allow sin to creep into my life, sometimes even bouncing into my life as if I am asleep and paying no attention. Anger, selfishness, pride etc. I have to keep reminding myself of what the early church warned Christians to be on guard against…Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Anger, Envy and Pride. Why can’t I be a Daniel or a Ruth in the 21st century of much mediocre Christianity in America? Remember Ruth’s faithfulness, unselfishness, humility? The Apostle Paul sheds some light for us on this subject. In Romans 7 vs.15 he says For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want — instead, I do what I hate. I can relate Paul. I’m thankful for the bible witness of people like Daniel, Ruth, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and many others. We stumble, the Apostle Paul stumbled, and I suppose the Daniels and Ruths of the bible stumbled at times too, but I am thankful for the witness we have of their faithfulness to encourage us also to be faithful, and strive to do as Wesley says… to just do what is right. And I’m most thankful that God does not abandon his people. He didn’t abandon his exiles, nor does he abandon us. He went even to the extent of sending his Son to die for our sins, that we may be saved. What an amazing God we have!