Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Daniel, Chapter 6



Chapter 6


5:31  “So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two”:  Critics have long questioned the historicity of Daniel.  They challenge Daniel’s reference to the accession of Darius because there is no historical evidence outside the Bible for his reign.  However, there is another point of view.  Darius may have been appointed by Cyrus to rule over Babylon. According to Daniel 9:1 this Darius was made ruler over the Babylonian Kingdom, this may suggest that he ruled by appointment, rather than by conquest.  According to Babylonian documents the city of Babylon was conquered by Ugbaru, who entered the city of Babylon the night of Belshazzar’s feast (Daniel 5), October 12th, 539 B.C.  Cyrus then entered the city on October 29th. Eight days after Cyrus’ arrival (November 6th) Ugbarus died.  If Darius the Mede is another name for Ugbaru, then the problem is solved.  Since Darius was 62 years old when he took over Babylon, his death a few weeks later would not be unusual. 


6:1-2  One of Darius’ first responsibilities was to reorganize the newly conquered kingdom of Babylon.  120 satraps were appointed and placed under three commissioners, one being Daniel.  From this we learn that Daniel was immediately recognized for his administrative skills, he already had over 50 years extensive experience under the Babylonians. 


6:3  Having shown himself worthy and very capable, Darius makes plans to appoint Daniel over the entire kingdom.  Notice the expression, “because he possessed an extraordinary spirit”.  Some view this as a spiritual gift, but others view this statement as meaning that “in Daniel the spirit was predominant, was uppermost, was enthroned.  Excellent is something that excels, goes beyond, predominates.  We might translate literally, ‘A spirit that excelled was in him’.  The spiritual was the chief thing, not the flesh.  This excellent spirit was a spirit of self-control, a spirit of genuine piety, a spirit of unshaken faith in God” (Butler pp. 225-226).   It was more than mere talent or ability that raised Daniel to such exceeding favor.  Talent without moral strength counts for little. 


6:4  Yet Daniel is not well-liked by everyone, in fact the entire system just instituted stands opposed to Daniel’s position and future appointment.  First they attempt to find some evidence of corruption in his administration, but they are unable.  “Daniel’s irreproachable integrity is little short of incredible in view of his circumstances!  He had come to this land against his will as a prisoner of war; he was requested by a pagan despot to study pagan literature and science and be trained to serve in a pagan court surrounded by luxury, sensuality, lust, self-seeking, idolatry, and ruthless cruelty.  In the middle of all this there grew up this fair flower of a character, pure, true, holy, and stainless.  There are no circumstances in which a man must have his garments spotted by the world” (Butler p. 226).  (Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:15; 1 Peter 2:11-12).


6:5  Even his enemies see his honesty and integrity, and yet plotting against such a man does not shame them into repentance. “We shall not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God”: Could this be said of us?  Are seeking to live with such honesty and integrity that the only way that people in the world could discredit us is to ridicule the Biblical doctrines and practices to which we adhere?  Note, Daniel’s enemies know that he is a religious man, or he has not kept his faith in God silent and neither has he tried to conceal his beliefs or practices.  If all that people can ridicule us for the doctrines or practices that we hold dear, then we should consider such ridicule to be a compliment. Note, there were many practices that Daniel observed that the people in the world did not understand, such as the various food laws, yet Daniel was not ashamed of his God or the commands given by His God.  Are we unashamed as Daniel was? (Romans 1:16)  “What a nuisance Daniel was.  What a disobliging fellow that he gave no occasion whatever to his enemies” (McGuiggan p. 95). 


6:6-9  One wonders why Darius would sign such a document?  Yet, note the flattery of the law, for the next 30 days people could only make a petition to the king himself.  “Conned!  Trapped by the sense of his own power and the wiles of shrewd men.  Self-adoration is so subtle” (McGuiggan p. 96).  Do we allow people to appeal to our own vanity?  Darius apparently yielded to the subtle flattery of thinking himself as being prayed to as a god.  We also learn something about the Persian law system.  According to the Medo-Persian system, laws once enacted could not be revoked, even by the king himself.  “It is a logical deduction that if the Persian king is a god or an earthly representative of a god, then his decrees ought to be irrevocable” (Butler p. 227).  It is the immutability of the Persian law that heightens the drama in the book of Esther where the decree is that all the Jews are to be slaughtered.  In the Babylonian system we saw that the law was subject to the king (Daniel 3), now we find that the king is subject to the law. 


6:10 “Daniel knew that the document was signed…he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously”:  First, Daniel’s enemies knew that Daniel would not compromise.  “Here is the man’s devotion for he did not serve in ignorance. This was no act of bravado; it was his holy custom. Daniel spoke to God.  Position, reputation, and all that goes with those were placed in the open window” (McGuiggan p. 96). Daniel does not “show off”, rather he simply continues to do what he has been doing all these years.  Daniel does not intensify his efforts, rather he believes that God should receive his best all the time and not merely during a time of crisis.  Do we need a crisis to make us really faithful?  Notice that Daniel is probably about 80 years old at this time, he therefore could have yielded to the temptation that he was too old to be dealing with such issues, he could have softened his convictions in his old age, he could have reasoned that such a challenge was for a much younger man, and he could have forsaken God, disillusioned with the fact that after 70 years of captivity, he still was not in his home land.   The prayer that is offered is one of thanksgiving.  It is a prayer of gratitude, even when he knows that his life is on the line.  Daniel is thankful, even when serving God appears to be costing him his life.  Do we resent the uncomfortable situations that being a faithful Christian at times places us in?  In addition, to all this, Darius has been very kind to Daniel.  He plans to advance Daniel above all others in his realm.  Now Daniel must act against a decree from this same Darius.  How easy it would have been to rationalize that abstaining from prayer for a mere 30 days is not that big of deal.  He could always make up for it later.  Do we take daily prayer for granted?  Daniel was willing to sacrifice his life for simple daily prayer.  “It would not at all surprise me if Daniel went to his knees with a sigh, a little sick at heart.  To do this to Darius could not have been easy; perhaps so, but it was done decisively!” (McGuiggan p. 97).


6:11-13  The shrewdness of the ungodly is unbelievable.  They plan together to catch Daniel in violation, notice how they work “together”, they are under the false illusion that there is safety in numbers.  Consider the language they use, “Did you not sign an injunction”?  A little while ago it was that all of them had consulted together to establish a royal decree.  Now it is the king who has done the job. 


6:14  This verse speaks volumes for the relationship that existed between Darius and Daniel.  Darius is not angered by Daniel’s failure to comply with this law, rather he immediately seeks to save Daniel.  The law that he signed is of no consequence to Darius at this point, his consuming desire is to save Daniel.  Darius is now trapped like a wild animal, trying to free itself.  He may have consulted his lawyers, argued with his opponents, poured over past legal decisions, all to no avail. 


6:15  Darius is reminded by his own advisors that he must obey the law that he signed.  “The visit of the informers did not make it any better.  They were hovering around like a sky full of vultures to make sure the victim did not escape them” (McGuiggan p. 97).  Notice how God at times allows things to go down to the final moment or hour.  The purpose for this is to exhaust all human resources and to prove that He can deliver when no other can, to make us understand that He is the only One in whom we can put our absolute trust.  Secondly, such also allows God’s enemies to back themselves into a corner from which they cannot escape.  By browbeating the king when they think that they have him where they want him, these enemies are only sealing their own future doom.  Compare with how God allows things to go right down to the wire in the book of Esther.  Paul noted, “That we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raised the dead, who delivered us from so great a peril of death” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). 


6:16-18  Whether Darius knew about how Daniel’s God had delivered people like Daniel’s three friends (Daniel 3) in the past is not known.  The expression “Your God…will Himself deliver you”, can also be translated, “May your God”.  The king will spend a restless night without sleep and without food.  Notice the irony, a palace and a king and no peace or ease.  Even in a palace and surrounded by earthly pleasures, one cannot hide from their conscience.  “He no doubt remonstrated with himself over and over at being tricked by his own pride and by evil and envious men, all of whom put together were not worth this trustworthy administrator” (Butler p. 233).  “So that nothing might be changed”:  Indeed!  The stone and the seal were so that no one could rescue Daniel, but God does not pay any attention to such human decrees.  “He might as well have tried to stop up Niagara Falls with a Kleenex tissue!” (McGuiggan p. 98). 


6:19-23  From the words of this verse it is clear that the king earnestly desired that Daniel survive but was not sure that such would happen.  At this point the New Testament endorses the historical reality and accuracy of this account (Hebrews 11:33).  Be impressed that in this account we are never told about how Daniel felt in the lions den or whether or not he had a restless night, rather, the person with all the worry and anxiety in this account is the man who is not in the lion’s den!  Notice the statement, “Your God, whom you constantly serve” (6:20), any other type of service is not service.  Darius was not impressed with Daniel because he served God now and then and was hot then cold, but that Daniel was consistent and served God constantly.  Daniel’s faithfulness did not turn off and on, rather, serving God was his life and had been so from his youth. 


6:24  The reason for this severe punishment is that they had used the king as a pawn for their own selfish purposes against an innocent man.  In addition, they are also attempting to use God’s laws against one of God’s people.  It is clear that the lions were very active and very hungry for they did not even wait to get their victims to the bottom of the den.  The only reason why they did not touch Daniel must be what the text says that God miraculously delivered Daniel.  The children and wives of such men were cast in besides, which was a common punishment in Persia.  It does remind us that sins affect far more people than just the person who sinned.  How many families today are being destroyed because of the foolishness of only one of the family members? 


6:25-28  The real purpose of this miracle was not primarily for the benefit of Daniel, for he already trusted God fully, rather, it taught others about God.  Notice that Cyrus is called “the Persian”, the kingdom was one and the same, but Darius and Cyrus were from different ethic backgrounds. 


Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017