A Commentary on Daniel Chapter 6
God Who Tames Lions
INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL CHAPTER 6
Persia has just conquered the Babylonians and Cyrus is well informed that Daniel was third rank in the Babylonian kingdom. He therefore, puts Daniel in charge giving him the highest rank as a member of his new cabinet. The other one hundred and twenty princes were filled with envy that a Jew who was a war prisoner from Babylon should rule over them. So, they contrived a charge against Daniel for insubordination to a new law regarding prayer. Daniel did not start praying or stop praying—he continued to pray as usual. There followed a conspiracy, then an investigation, and an interdict. The scheme worked and Daniel is arrested, indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced. But the whole plan began to unravel and soon backfired and his accusers are put in the lion’s den. The outcome pleases the king and he sends a decree that everyone was to fear and revere the God of Daniel. Daniel was held in high esteem in both political regimes.
EXPOSITION ON DANIEL CHAPTER 6
1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;
This chapter begins with the Medo-Persian Empire, which conquered Babylon in 538 BC. Two years later King Darius died and Cyrus took the throne. The kingdom was divided in one hundred and twenty provinces and a prince ruled each province. This present king whose name is Darius is the uncle of Cyrus who two years from now will be the ruler, however there will be others who will have the same name and rule in Persia.
2 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.
The first acts of a government are to set up a new government to manage the affairs of the kingdom. Who would be better fitted to manage the affairs than Daniel, after all he was fully aware of the territory and how to keep the affairs of the kingdom running smoothly.
3 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.
When the new government was formed it was decided that there should be three presidents over the entire kingdom and that they should report back to the King. The king appointed Daniel as the highest-ranking member of his cabinet. Daniel had an excellent spirit in him. A boy in Spurgeons class read it “an excellent spine was in him,” that was poor reading but good theology. This man Daniel was a man of real backbone. The kind of person described here is a man of boldness, a man of vision, of real character and good disposition. No government is better than the members of its ruling cabinet.
4 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.
No man can have a better recommendation than the one that is herein attributed to Daniel. A wicked plot was formed to try and overthrow Daniel. They chose to attack him on the grounds of his religion. It was a well-known fact that he faced Jerusalem and prayed three times a day. The Persian princes filled with envy did not want to see a prisoner of war ruling over the kingdom. They were jealous of his ability and were fueled with ill will and malice, it was burning in their bones and so the princes’ called a meeting of the minds in order to contrive a charge against this high government official.
5 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.
The plot and conspiracy spread among the princes and while they could not arrive at a charge against his conduct in the affairs of the government, they nevertheless didn’t like his “respect of the Law of God.”
6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
A man with this kind of character and conviction will stand out like a blooming flower in a barren desert. These men were intent on kicking the ladder out from under Daniel. Private meetings were held in the closest of secretes. They have now been granted a meeting with the king.
7 All 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.
Under the appearance of honor to the king the drama begins to take shape. The king’s loyal subjects emerge with a hatchet job on Daniel. Apparently, the king hasn’t seen through the sham. While the meeting is taking place, Daniel probably is somewhere in the kingdom conducting government business.
8 Now, 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.
The vote was unanimous. The prince’s have cast their ballot and all that was lacking was for the king to sign the document. The Medes and Persians believed in infallibility. This law was irrevocable under any and all circumstances, and now all they lacked was the enforcement of the regulation. The Medes and Persians had the crazy notion that any law that was ratified by the king’s signature could never be changed.
9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
The ordinance had been drawn up by their lawyers and the document was now in written form and having passed all legal bodies the king sees no reason not to sign the interdict. After all it will expire in thirty days.
10 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.
Knowing that a conspiracy was formed he did nothing to prevent it. He simply committed himself to God and left the issue to providence. On bended knee he revered and praised God. Daniel didn’t do this for spite because it says, “As he did aforetime.” The enemies of Daniel had witnessed him praying before the edict was issued and knew that they could make such a charge. Now that the interdict has been issued Daniel was not intimidated. Religion is doing what is right.
11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.
They became their own special investigator by spying on Daniel. So far their scheme worked well.
12 Then 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.
Yes, they complained that the poor captive, who is entirely dependant on you for all he enjoys, is far from being grateful and appreciating your favors; regards you not nor pays any attention to your decree. This group of hypocrites pretends that they had just discovered that Daniel was not keeping the edict.
13 Then 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.
The men had a vicious motive for going before the king. The matter is thus presented in as bad a light as possible. A common trick of politicians. When the rulers in Acts 5 forbade the apostles to speak or teach in the name of Jesus they said, “we ought to obey God rather than man.”
14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
Darius seen that he was a victim of a subtle plan. He probably tried to get the conspirators to relent or repeal the law. Darius is like a trapped animal trying to release himself from a trap. The matter is ratified; the thing is fixed, the decision stands.
15 Then these men assembled unto the king, 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.
They remind the king that the law is irrevocable.
16 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.
Daniel is arrested, arraigned, tried, and sentenced. If anyone is going to save Daniel it has to be God.
17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.
What a dilemma! The law demanded that he die, love demanded he live. The large bolder was rolled against the mouth of the pit which was similar to a cave entrance. Daniel’s enemies made sure that the paper work was properly executed, that it has the correct signatures, namely those in authority to execute such a sentence. In this case it required the seal of the king and the lords.
18 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 went to bed without any supper; he had a rough night, tossing and turning, no music, and no entertainment. Darius knows that he has been “had” by his own princes’. He realizes that he has been tricked into destroying his best and most trusted president. His conscience is eating at him like muriatic acid on a concrete floor.
19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
At the crack of dawn, without his breakfast, he rushes to the lion’s den. He’s not in the best of moods since he hadn’t slept all night.
20 And 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?
As he approached the lion’s den he is filled with a compound emotion of hope and despair. To cry out in a lamentable voice surely describes a king who is troubled over his stupid law that he has enacted. So, he shouted sorrowfully, hoping that his voice could be heard through the cave entrance and that the response would be an affirmative answer from Daniel and not the roar of a lion.
21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
Your majesty, live-forever.
The king had been suspended on a spider’s web of hope and despair, not knowing if Daniel was dead or alive. The voice was familiar, same old Daniel, respectful, no resentment or bitterness.
22 My 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 vindicated, his innocence declared. In a candid but respectful manner Daniel explained to the king that his God had preserved him. Daniel says that God had sent an angel to protect him, perhaps the same angel that was sent to deliver Peter from prison in Acts chapter twelve and verse eight.
23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
The king is beside himself with joy over the deliverance, he orders his security forces to roll back the stone and release the captive. Daniel came out of the lion’s den unscathed from the top of his head to the sole of his feet.
24 And the king 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; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
Nearly two thousand years ago Josephus in his book on Antiquities of the Jew writes an article on Daniel in the Lions den. I herewith copy the same.
“Whereupon the king, not being acquainted with their wicked design, nor Suspecting that it was a contrivance of theirs against Daniel, said he was Pleased with this decree of theirs, and he promised to confirm what they Desired; he also published an edict to promulgate to the people that decree Which the princes had made. Accordingly, all the rest took care not to Transgress those injunctions, and rested in quiet; but Daniel had no regard To them, but, as he was wont, he stood and prayed to God in the sight of Them all; but the princes having met with the occasion they so earnestly Sought to find against Daniel, came presently to the king, and accused him, That Daniel was the only person that transgressed the decree, while not One of the rest durst pray to their gods. This discovery they made, not Because of his impiety, but because they had watched him, and observed Him out of envy; for supposing that Darius did thus out of a greater Kindness to him than they expected, and that he was ready to grant him Pardon for this contempt of his injunctions, and envying this very pardon To Daniel, they did not become more honorable to him, but desired he Might be cast into the den of lions according to the law. So Darius, hoping That God would deliver him, and that he would undergo nothing that was Terrible by the wild beasts, bid him bear this accident cheerfully. And When he was cast into the den, he put his seal to the stone that lay upon The mouth of the den, and went his way, but he passed all the night Without food and without sleep, being in great distress for Daniel; but When it was day, he got up, and came to the den, and found the seal entire, Which he had left the stone sealed withal; he also opened the seal, and Cried out, and called to Daniel, and asked him if he were alive. And as soon As he heard the king’s voice, and said that he had suffered no harm, the King gave order that he should be drawn up out of the den. Now when his Enemies saw that Daniel had suffered nothing which was terrible, they Would not own that he was preserved by God, and by his providence; but They said that the lions had been filled full with food, and on that account It was, as they supposed, that the lions would not touch Daniel, nor come To him; and this they alleged to the king. But the king, out of an abhorrence Of their wickedness, gave order that they should throw in a great deal of Flesh to the lions; and when they had filled themselves, he gave further Order that Daniel’s enemies should be cast into the den that he might learn Whether the lions, now they were full, would touch them or not. And it Appeared plain to Darius, after the princes had been cast to the wild Beasts, that it was God who preserved Daniel for the lions spared none Of them, but tore them all to pieces, as if they had been very hungry, and Wanted food. I suppose therefore it was not their hunger, which had been a Little before satisfied with abundance of flesh, but the wickedness of these Men, that provoked them [to destroy the princes]; for if it so please God, That wickedness might, by even those irrational creatures, be esteemed a Plain foundation for their punishment.” 
25 Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
The king sends a proclamation to all 120 provinces in his realm; the letter begins with the words “may peace be unto you”.
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
His proclamation contains the words that Daniels God is to be feared above all other gods. He declares that God is immutable, that his kingdom cannot be overthrown, and that his dominion is forever.
27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
Darius tell the entire world that the reason for his proclamation of trembling before the God of Daniel is because he is able to deliver, rescue, do signs in heaven and wonders in earth and that to prove that he had delivered Daniel from the lion’s den.
28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Daniel was held in high esteem in both political regimes.