Chapter 6 (Introduction)
Chapter Six of the Book of Daniel is perhaps one of the most familiar in the Bible and certainly is the most well-known in this Book. Daniel spent only one night in the Den of Lions, but he spent a lifetime from a boy of 17 years old until he was about 90 years old in the palace of pagan kings.
It was more dangerous to live in that palace than it was to spend a night in the Den of Lions. The lions could not touch him, but yonder in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar and with good King Darius and King Cyrus, Daniel had some enemies.
The Scripture reminds us that this step from the Babylonian Kingdom to the Media-Persia Kingdom is not a step upward, but a step downward.
You remember when we were studying the beast of the second chapter that as we study the beast and as we move downward in kingdoms from the head of gold to the shoulders and the arms of silver and then the farther you go that the kingdoms are decaying and one is becoming inferior to the one before it.
Unity is being divided; under King Nebuchadnezzar we had an absolute monarchy, an autocratic reign, but immediately we learn when the Medo-Persians are in control there is an hierarchy set up, for in the beginning of chapter six, we are told that.
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 princes, which should be over the whole kingdom.
And over these three presidents of whom Daniel was first, that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. With the opening of this chapter we have again moved ahead historically. The “head of gold” of the image in the dream has now disappeared. It has been removed from the number one spot of world power.
Instead of Babylon, we have the Medo-Persian Empire, which was represented by the arms of silver in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. Darius ruled for only two years. Cyrus, who followed him, was Darius’ nephew. This is what brought the empire together into the Medo-Persian Empire, which now ruled the world.
Although we have moved into another empire, we still find Daniel in the position of Prime Minister.
When we were considering the multi-metallic image of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay in chapter two, it pictured deterioration in a number of ways.
There was deterioration in position and in the type of metal. Here we can see that the inferiority of this kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar’s is quite evident. Nebuchadnezzar’s reign was autocratic. He did not share authority with anyone.
Darius had 120 princes who shared responsibility and leadership with him. Over this group Darius placed three presidents who served as officers between the princes and the king. There was a distribution of responsibility and rulership. These three presidents, Daniel being one of them, held their position “so that the king should have no damage.”
The presidents were to prevent the princes from stealing from or undermining the king in any way.
Daniel was the “number one” president.
Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
Daniel was a spirit-filled man and the king had such confidence in him that he placed Daniel next to himself in position and power.
Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
Now Daniel had lived a remarkable life and these men could not find anything in this man’s character or in his background which they could seize upon and make something negative of it.
The apostle Paul says to all believers:
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked, and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.
Paul also had a personal testimony in
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.
Daniel was also different. God makes His people different.
Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
This was certainly a case of Daniel’s good being “evil spoken of.” They knew that Daniel was faithful to God and was dependent upon Him. His prayer life was something that was well known; therefore, they are going to have to present a conflict between the king and Daniel’s religion.
6Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
These men were very subtle; so, the king yielded to their flattery and he drafted the decree thereby elevating himself to the position of deity and prayer was to be offered only to him.
8Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
Darius yielded to his weakness and now this decree which has gone out, signed by the king, cannot be changed. All this puts Daniel in a bad spot but Daniel was not a coward. He would keep his faith strong, so he went about his usual prayer life.
11Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; 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 and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. 14Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored until the going down of the sun to deliver him.
Darius could not change his own law.
Nebuchadnezzar would have been able to. This is evidence of the deterioration from one kingdom to the next.
Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.
Verse 17 tells us a stone was put against the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring, that the purpose could not be changed concerning Daniel.
Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
The king didn’t sleep but Daniel did.
19Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
I don’t know if the king expected Daniel to answer, but Daniel answered.
21Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me, forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
Daniel was polite and respectful. Daniel evidently has been given the same assurance as had his three friends.
When the king was previously confronted with signing this petition, they were involved in falsehood. They said, “All the presidents and princes, the governors, the counselors and the captains have consulted together to establish a royal statue, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for 30 days save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.”
That’s not true; in fact, the most important president wasn’t there. In fact, the most important president was to be in this trap. The king was elated; he didn’t notice that Daniel wasn’t there. He should have caught that, but the king is going to be “caught” in a trap of flattery.
Notice, they said, “King, we’ve decided to make you God for 30 days and anybody who prays in this vast kingdom, has got to pray to you. No other gods can be prayed to.”
The king liked that. After all, these had to be good administrators, wise, a likeness to God, and the more he thought about it, the better it felt, but he didn’t think clearly and the next thing he knew he was signing a decree; that we find out later that he didn’t want to sign it.
There’s a verse of Scripture in the Book of Proverbs 27:4 that I want to share.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Nobody. These men were so filled with envy that they would trick their own king into signing something, in their hearts, they knew he didn’t want to do!
The whole plot was built upon the vanity of the king. Daniel 6:9 tells us:
Wherefore King Darius signed the writing and the decree.
The decree was established according to the law of the Medes and Persians.
Remember when we studied the Book of Esther and the rulers were the Medes and Persians and Esther went in before the king to save her people from death and she said, “If I perish, I perish”…but
the king held out the scepter to her and she got her message across to him and the Jewish people were saved from death.
In the Medes and Persian government the people thought that their monarchs were infallible and therefore if they were infallible they could never make a mistake and if they never made a mistake any decree that was issued could never be changed. The king himself could not change the law, for that would be admitting his fallibility, when in essence everybody was supposed to believe that he was infallible, so the law of the Medes and the Persians became a law that could never be changed. Here’s another illustration of the fact that the kingdom of the Medes and Persians were of an inferior level than the kingdom of the Babylonians.
Can you imagine Nebuchadnezzar ever writing something he couldn’t change? You know what the Bible says about him? “Whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive.” If he changed his mind, he would slay the one he thought to keep alive and keep alive the one he intended to slay.
King Darius had written it and he couldn’t do anything about it. It was down on paper. It was settled. We come to verse 10. The king has been tricked through falsehood and flattery and he has written down what he didn’t want to write down.
Verse 10, Daniel comes into the picture again.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Daniel did just what he was accustomed to doing when he heard that the decree had been signed. Daniel was like David in this respect. In Psalm 55:17 we read of David: Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
When the pressure was on, Daniel did not change. He kept on doing what he was accustomed to doing. That’s one of the greatest characteristics of godliness in the life of a person: that he/she can move through the difficult circumstances of life, untouched by the things that life throws at them because of the consistency of their example, and the godliness of their walk. They can just go right on no matter what happens and not be affected by the times.
In that area, I have a lot of work to do, plus other areas but God’s not through with me yet.
1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
No matter what happens, just go forward.
The Jews always pray toward Jerusalem. Lots of people wonder why. No one in the Bible does anything incidentally.
1 Kings 8:46-53 (Part of King Solomon’s prayer)
46If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; (Now that is what happened to Daniel and his people.) 47Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land wither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; 48And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: 49Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, 50And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them: 51For they be thy people, and thine inheritance which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron: 52That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee. 53For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD.
It was an act of faith on the part of exiled Jews to pray toward the land from which they had been taken captive. It was a way for them to say by their prayer and posture: God we believe your promise, that you will someday return us to our land.
So, every day, when Daniel prayed, he prayed toward Jerusalem. So, Daniel’s reaction when the decree was made was to just keep on doing what he had been doing all along.
11Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; 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 and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.
And the trap was sprung shut and Daniel was caught in it and the king was caught in it and there wasn’t anything that could be done.
The courage of the man of God to do what he knew carried with it the penalty of certain death is just another evidence of the character of this great man of God. He hasn’t changed one bit since he was a teenager.
The more I study the life of Daniel, the more I desire to be like Daniel, for what we’ve studied here, what was the basis of his greatness? Why was he like he was?
He was of excellent spirit. He had a good attitude. A good attitude will take you a long way in life. I heard once, and I haven’t forgotten it: “A good attitude will determine your altitude” …how far you’re going to go.
Daniel had credibility. You could believe in him.