The Book of Daniel Chapter Six
by Cooper P Abrams III
Daniel in the Lion's Den
Chapters 1- 6 of the Book of Daniel are the historical section and are in chronological order. The Book begins with Daniel as a young man being brought into Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Judah and deported the Jews. This Chapter Six is last of the historic information as Daniel is now an old man. The events in this chapter take place shortly after the Medes and the Persians take Babylon under the general Darius the Mede. He is also named in ancient documents as Gubaru, and was appointed governor of Babylon by Cyrus the king of Persia.
It appears that Darius learned of Daniel's interpretation of the hand writing on the wall (Dan. 5) and of his appointment by Belshazzar as the second ruler in the kingdom. He also learned of Daniel's outstanding moral character, leadership abilities and his relationship with God. Darius shows himself a brilliant leader in that he appoints Daniel as the chief of three presidents who were over a hundred and twenty princes who would rule the kingdom. Verse 2 states Darius, who is called the king of Babylon, did this because these were honest men and would cause him "no damage" meaning "no lost."
Daniel 6:3, states that Daniel had an excellent spirit about him and was preferred above the other presidents. Darius seeing Daniel's excellent character thought to put him in charge over the whole "realm" which referred to all of Babylon. Daniel became the third ruler of Neo-Babylon which was a part of the Persian Empire ruled by the king Cyrus.
When anyone lives a righteous and godly life there will always be those who are offended. Paul states this in 2 Timothy 3:12 saying "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." A life of godliness will stand in sharp contrast to the lives of those who live worldly lives. A worldly man will resent having his sins exposed and often will seek to silence or destroy that which exposes him. This was the case with Daniel. His godly character, and God's blessings on his life, had elevated him to a position above all others in Babylon. His subordinates then hatched a plan to bring him down.
Jealousy is a the motive behind many evil works. We must understand that a godly man has little defense against such attacks. A righteous man's actions can be predicted, because people know he will serve the Lord and will obey the Lord. It is easy to set a trap for an animal who has a set pattern of its life and travels specific routes. So it is for those who would destroy God's man. Daniel's character was of being unquestionably faithful to God. It was known he could not be persuaded to deny or be unfaithful to God. His enemies saw this as an opportunity to destroy him.
These satraps (Babylonian officials) apparently hated Daniel and wanted him removed from over them. We must understand that Daniel dealt with them all fairly and honestly and they had no valid reason to hate him except that he was a godly man.
All these presidents after coming up with their clever plan, take it to Darius. They hail him with great fanfare "King Darius, live forever!" Darius, probably thinks that they are coming representing Daniel also, because he is their chief. They cunningly used flattery to lay their trap. We have heard of the person who smiles to our face and sticks a knife in our back. That is a good description of what these evil men were doing.
They proposed there be made a decree that any man who asked any petition of any God or man for thirty days be cast into the lion's den. These men hated Daniel, but could find no legitimate fault in him, so invented one.
Darius was the new king and it probably pleased him to see his subordinates wanting to honor him in such a way. This new decreed would promote Darius as being even above all the gods of the Babylonians, Medes and Persians. As supreme ruler, under this law, all men would recognize his superiority. So probably without thinking about the consequences of this decree Darius signed it and it became an irrevocable law.
Under Babylonian law, once the king made a decree, it was the law and even he could not withdraw it. Of course these plotting satraps knew this and knowing that once the king realized what had been done he would be obligated to carry out his orders.
When Daniel learned the decree had been signed it did not deter him from his daily routine of praying to God. As was his custom he knelt in front of his open windows that faced toward Jerusalem and three times each day prayed to God. Notice that Daniel's prayer was one of thanksgiving to the Lord. Daniel lived 800 years before Christ, but he understood the principle that Jesus taught in Luke 12:4-5 "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." Daniel was a man of faith. He lived the truth that Paul expressed to young Timothy, "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12).
Those the brewed the plot against him assembled outside his window and waited until Daniel began to pray. At Daniel's appointed time he appeared, knelt before the Lord and prayed as he always did. Confident in God's grace Daniel prayed, knowing fully they he would be apprehended and would be thrown to the lions.
These schemers then hastened to tell the king, probably overjoyed that their carefully made plan had worked perfectly. Before the king that reminded him of the decree he had signed and that is was irrevocable. With the law established they then told the king that Daniel had broken this law and was seen praying to God, three times a day.
As verse 14 reveals Darius was greatly displeased with himself for being so gullible. Darius, greatly respected Daniel and knew that these men had done him a great injustice. Instead of honoring Darius, these scheming petty officials had played him for a fool. Daniel as a great administrator and the king did not want to lose him. For the rest of the day, Darius labored to try and save Daniel, but to no avail. Darius, too was troubled by this cunning plot that had sealed Daniel's fate. The evil men who had contrived the plot boldly reminded the king that he could not change or withdraw this law once it had been signed. The king as well has his subjects were bound by the law, so having no choice. So Darius ordered Daniel brought to him and cast into a pit filled with vicious hungry lions.
The lion's den was a cave in the ground which had a small opening with high walls so the lions could not escape. These lions were kept as instruments of capitol punishment. Murders, thieves, law breakers who were sentenced to death were cast in to this cave to be devoured by lions. The lion were probably not well feed and when someone was cast down among them they would all rush upon the condemned person and each lion trying to fulfill his hunger would tear the victim to pieces. Darius then has a stone placed over the entrance and he sealed it with his seal, as did the other satraps that were all there. This seal was made of wax and was king's official seal carved on a ring. Once the entrance was sealed anyone breaking the seal would be killed.
It is interesting that as Daniel is regretfully cast among the lion, the king says, "Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee." That is quite a statement for a pagan king to make. Note the king states Daniel served the Lord "continually." Daniel's testimony was well established which was the reason the plot against him was foolproof. Daniel lived his life for the Lord and everyone knew it. Darius too, recognized where Daniel's character came from. His statement shows a tremendous faith in Daniel's God. He knew of the greatness of God, because of Daniel's devotion and service to Him. He also knew that Daniel had gone to prayer, determined that even in the face of a horrible death, he would honor God.
Daniel was a man the same as you and I. He was no different and had not been given any spiritual ability to serve the Lord greater than any of us has. What made the difference was his love of God and personally commitment to Him. There is not one of us who could not live as Daniel did and could not trust God as Daniel did. He put aside all personal ambition and made the Lord first in his life, and in doing so gained reward beyond our ability even to understand. He was respected by honorable men, promoted to positions of service and leadership to others. Most of all Daniel was a credit to God and by his life he glorified God and upheld God's truth.
Darius appears to be deeply grieved by the treachery of his satraps and the danger Daniel was in. The king could not sleep all that night, nor did he eat or allowed the musicians to play their instruments. All this reveals something about Darius. He was too was a man of character. It greatly upset him that this great injustice that had been done against Daniel who was an innocent and godly man. I also probably angered him that these plotters had cunningly undermined his authority and choice in appointing Daniel as his administrator.
Early in the morning the king arose from his bed and sleepless night and hurried to the lion's den. When people were thrown to hungry these lions they did not live. We can confidently say. . . no one had escaped the lion's den, yet still Darius expressed hope. It is well for us to realize however that with Daniel there was a glimmer of hope....that hope was the great and Almighty God Daniel served would save him. On reaching the den Darius with a "lamentable" voice called to Daniel. The kings voice showed the great concern he had for Daniel and with great emotion, his voice trembling, hoping against any reason for hope he calls out to Daniel. "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?"
Can you imagine the joy and relief that flooded over Darius as he heard Daniel reply "O king, live for ever. 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 6:21-22).
How many times, has a persecuted and betrayed child of God, been saved when God sent his angel to protect him from the lion's of the world? Satan and his evil forces seek constantly to destroy those who live for the Lord, but we have God's promise, as Hebrews 13:5 says, ". . .I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." If we trust the Lord we will live by that principle and we will be found faithful.
Can you think for a moment about what many have lost at not being faithful. To some family, children, a job, hobbies, a home, and a thousand other things are more important to them than being faithful to the Lord. The test comes not as dynamic as was Daniel's, but just as critical and important. Many people in the crisis show their lack of faith. At a restaurant in a public place some are ashamed to pray. Spouses with unsaved wives and husbands so not pray at meals at home. On the job, people hide their being a Christian afraid of offending or subjecting themselves to ridicule. Many refuse to witness to others because they feel it is too embarrassing.
Some time again your author got a letter from a pastor who told me of a man who was a deacon in his church. He said they had a revival meeting and the evangelist preached a message on having an unashamed commitment to the Lord. This man who have been saved over twenty years and a long time deacon in his church got up and confessed later to the congregation that no one in the factory where he worked all these years knew he was a Christian. But he said that had all changed and he was now telling people when the opportunity came that he was a Christian and was telling people about the Lord Jesus. He said what a wonderful change had come over his life since he stood up and ceased to be ashamed of the Lord Jesus and that he was a child of God.
We will not be cast into a lion's den, but the world around us is full of intimidating vicious lions who will rail on us with their mouths and abuse us personally when we take a stand for the Lord Jesus. One reason the local church should be so important to us is because among other believers there is security and can be great comfort.
Darius was overjoyed when Daniel answered and he immediately commanded that he be taken from the den. It was clear as Daniel emerged from among the lions that he had suffered not even a scratch. This was a great miracle of God, and clearly it was Daniel's faith that had allowed God to preform it. We must make the application by saying that God wants to greatly use each of us, but he cannot if we do not life by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Seeking after God simply means obeying him and following His instructions to us. God cannot bless the unfaithful nor those who do not trust Him. How many miracles we could have seen in our lives had we been faithful, but were lost because we were not fully trusting the Lord.
God is a just God and He says that vengeance is His and that He will repay those who abuse and persecute believers. (Romans 12:19). Darius then commanded that these sinful men who had hatched the plot against Daniel and the king be taken, with their wives and children and cast in unto the lions. To show the magnitude of the miracle of being God delivering Daniel, as these people were throw to the lions, they were torn to pieces before they even reached the bottom. There could be no mistake that unless God had intervened Daniel too would have been devoured.
Darius then make a stunning decree: "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. 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" (Dan. 6:26-27).
In this decree there is not doubt that Darius believed in God, in His power, and that He is our eternal God. This decree which magnified God was even stronger that Nebuchadnezzar's decree of Daniel 3:29. In the Bible we hear no more of Darius although there are several others mentioned who bear this title. Darius appears to like Nebuchadnezzar to bowed himself in belief to God and it is possible both men were saved.
This event stands out in the Bible as one of the greatest acts of faith and of an example to us of the faithfulness of God to those who love and serve him.