Daniel and Lions Den
(Daniel Chapter 6)
There was more than one man known
as Darius during this time of upheaval as the conquered Babylonian
empire was divided and came under a new government. This student
of the Bible has considered several historical accounts and numerous
commentaries on this subject and the only conclusion that can be drawn
with certainty on who this man was, is to focus less on trying to
untangle the conflicting historical accounts and forcing them to agree
with the inspired account. Rather, we will consider the inspired
text as being the final authority and will harmonize what we do know of
history to conform with what thus saith the Lord in scripture.
Daniel is a composite book,
organized out of chronological order. However, chapter six does
follow as a sequel of recorded events after the fall of the Babylonian
empire so it is correctly placed in sequence after chapter five.
One commentator states that the Darius of chapter 5:31 is a different
man than the Darius of Chapter 6. There were two men named Darius
at this time in Babylonian history. One was Gobryas, also known as
Ugbaru, the governor of Gutium. Darius (Gobryas), was slain less
than a month after the fall of Babylon and
replaced by another man who was known as
Darius who's name was Gubaru.
The Nabonidus Chronicle list a series of events
after the peaceful conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great. However, the
two names generally translated together as Gobryas are actually two
separate names in the Chronicle.
(Line 15 of the Nabonidus Chronicle) - "The
16th day, Gobryas (Ugbaru), the governor of Gutium and the army of Cyrus
entered Babylon without battle."
(Line 19 & 20) - "Cyrus sent greetings to all
Babylon. Gobryas (Gubaru), his governor, installed (sub)-governors in
(Line 22) - "In the month of Arahshamnu, on the
night of the 11th day, Gobryas (Ugbaru) died."
Cuneiform materials from 535-525 B.C. all show
a Gubaru as governor of Babylon (with no cuneiform material available
from the period of Ugbaru's death to 525 B.C.). This either means that
Gubaru and Ugbaru are really separate people, as the Nabonidus Chronicle
states quite clearly, or Gobryas died in line 22 and was then replaced
by someone else with the exact same name, under the same ruler, in the
same office within four years. It is more likely that Gubaru and Ugbaru
were separate people, and that Gubaru reigned from 539-525 B.C. while
Ugbaru died few weeks after the Babylon conquest. This historical
account of the Nabonidus Chronicle aligns with the inspired text
perfectly if we assume that Darius (Gobryas) was never mentioned by
Daniel. It is my belief that
Darius (Gubaru) is the Darius of chapter 6. Darius (Gobryas) was
not in power long enough to do anything, let alone organize an empire.
His death was so close on the heels of the overthrow of Babylon that
Daniel probably didn't bother to mention him.
We don't know for certain, as the
historical accounts get quite confusing when men of the same name are
present at the same time in history. One thing however is certain.
The text of Daniel is inspired scripture, therefore we know it is
accurate beyond question. with that said, we will go to the text.
We are going to start with verse
31 of chapter 5 since it preambles chapter 6 and is obviously speaking
of the same man.
And Darius the Median took the
kingdom, being about threescore and two years old. It pleased
Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which
should be over the whole kingdom.
Chapter 6 is the continuation of
the historical account after the death of Belshazzar, who was co-regent
of Babylon under his father, Nabonidus, who was the son of Evil-Merodach
(Amal-Marduk) who was the son of
Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus, the conquering Persian,
appointed Darius as a king, or governor, over Babylon. Cyrus was
the first in command with Darius being second beneath him. Verse
28 of this chapter seems to place the reigns of both Darius and Cyrus at
the same time. Darius was sixty two years old when this happened
and he promptly started organizing the empire by appointing a hundred
and twenty leaders under him to administrate the affairs of Babylon.
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. 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 almost certainly in his early Eighties
when this happened. The date Babylon fell was October 29, 539 BC.
Nebuchadnezzar assumed the throne in 605 BC sometime after Daniel
arrived in Babylon. Assuming Daniel was at least 13 years old when
he was taken captive, the bare minimum age he could be is 79.
Belshazzar appointed Daniel to the highest
station in the kingdom that he could so obviously when Cyrus and Darius
arrived on the scene, Daniel was among the leaders of Babylon.
Darius was obviously greatly impressed with Daniel's character and
wanted to set him over the whole kingdom. Without a doubt,
Daniel's character exuded honesty and integrity. That was a
quality lacking in most of the people of the time. It was a time
of political upheaval with empires being toppled and divided up amongst
the victors. A wise leader first gathers information, and Darius
soon learned about Daniel and the reputation he had for honesty and
wisdom, what the KJV calls "an excellent spirit" (Daniel 6:3). It's
likely that Daniel was in semi-retirement at this time, but the king
appointed him to be 1 of 3 key administrators over the kingdom of which
Daniel was the highest in authority. These 3 men were to manage
the affairs of the 120 leaders who ruled over the provinces and to
report directly to the king. Daniel proved to be such a superior
individual that Darius planned to make him his number-one administrator
over the entire kingdom. A trustworthy individual was a rare commodity indeed
and Darius wanted to take advantage of that. We will see later in
this study that Darius had a very high opinion of Daniel and held him in
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
Daniel was third in power in Babylon, right under Darius. And the
other two presidents and the leaders were jealous. They wanted to
get rid of Daniel but they couldn't find any fault whatsoever to accuse him of
before Darius. What a testimony to a good and faithful man.
Daniel was an extraordinary man and role model for all Christians today
to look to and emulate. Most government leaders today could
benefit from his example as well.
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.
So they declare among themselves that they
cannot defame Daniel legitimately, therefore they are going to hatch a
scheme whereby they can use his faithfulness to God against him to
entrap him. Daniel had a personal habit of praying to God at
certain times of the day in front of his window in his house which faced
Jerusalem. Obviously enough of the Darius' leaders who desired
Daniel's demise knew this and planned to use it against him.
Then these presidents and princes assembled
together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for
ever. 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.
What a diabolical plan. The first thing
we need to point out is that this organized opposition to Daniel was
substantial. They lied to Darius to be sure for Daniel was in a
position of authority over them and obviously his voice was not present
here. There were three presidents set over the realm of which
Daniel was the leader. It is almost certain here that the other
two presidents were leading this conspiracy against Daniel personally.
They used flattering words to Darius and
pretended to honor him in an official capacity for a period of
thirty days and they wanted it made into a law. They knew Daniel's
personal worship habits. There was no real intent to honor Darius
here. Their sole reason for this entire sham was to dispose of
Daniel. The timeless wisdom of Solomon rings clear upon our
consideration of these flattering deceivers:
"A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.
In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare..."
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 authors of this plot were very clever in the
way the conceived and presented it. They knew that Darius wanted to
unify the kingdom and as quickly as possible transform the Babylonians
into loyal Persians. What better way than to focus on the great king
himself and make him not just the supreme leader but the only person or
god worshipped for an entire month! To emphasize the importance of this
law, the officers requested the death sentence for all perpetrators of
this decree. Anyone who didn't obey it would be thrown into a den
of lions as a means of execution.
If interest here is that a lions den as opposed to
execution by fire was the official decree. It should be noted that
Persians were worshippers of fire and they did not customarily use fire
as a means of executing criminals because they held it as sacred.
"the law of the Medes and
Persians, which altereth not"
This immutability of the king's
commands was special to the Medes and Persians. We see this
reference to the law which cannot be altered in Esther 1:19; 8:8 as
well. From the use of this in Esther we see a national law which
extends beyond the reign of a particular king. The
expression "the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not"
was a significant characteristic of the Medo-Persian empire. We
see here the first example in history of the high principles of law and
order. A law which governs kings as well as subjects. We see
here the beginnings in history of a national law which the rulers must
obey as well as the citizenry and a law which remains in effect from
ruler to ruler.
Darius codified the laws that would govern the
empire in a document called the Ordinances of Good Regulations.
Though no copy of the document has been uncovered as yet by
archaeologists references to the document have been found in
Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions, as well as in several royal
documents. We see here a reference to the "Law of the Medes and
Persians, which alters not." The law was extreme, but it was
consistent, and it applied to the king himself as well as to any
To enforce the law Darius established a
number of judges and held them to a strict standard of
impartiality. Punishments dealt to an unjust judge were uncommonly
severe. This standard had been set earlier during the reign of
Cambyses who reigned before Darius. Under Cambyses a judge
once took a bribe to render an unjust ruling. Cambyses learned of
the deed and had the judge flayed. His skin was then tanned and
cut into strips, which were used to cover the seat of judgment.
This served as a warning to the next judge, who happened to be the
son of the previous occupant. Darius also sentenced an unjust judge
to death, this time by crucifixion. Darius had the man taken of the
cross before he died after considering another of the laws which
insisted that one wrong deed might be pardoned if it was outweighed
by a record of good.
Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
King Darius was not only flattered, he saw this as
a sign that his leaders were uniting under him in support. This
was a new empire and Darius wanted to see it settle into their new
government as smoothly as possible. He unwittingly
complied with the request of the two presidents and whoever else was in
attendance. We don't know for certain who all was directly
involved with the actual presentation of this plot to Darius, but we do
know that it was successful. King Darius signed it into law and,
once signed, it was a regulation he had to observe and it could not be
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.
It was Daniel's custom to pray on
his knees, three times a day to his God in the upper chamber of his
house, the window thereof being open towards Jerusalem. He continued
this custom even after the issuing of Darius' foolish decree.
Daniel's enemies counted on this and
they intended to catch him in the act. Daniel's windows were open,
not closed with lattice-work in the direction of Jerusalem. Daniel
did not go into his chamber and pray to God as a result of the new law.
Rather he was in the habit of doing this and quite simply refused to
alter his worship to God as a result of any manmade law.
The custom of turning in prayer
toward Jerusalem originated after the building of the temple at
Jerusalem as the dwelling-place of Jehovah. The offering of prayer
three times a day-namely, at the third, sixth, and ninth hour, i.e., at
the time of the morning and the evening sacrifices and at mid-day can be
traced back to the times of David, for we find the first notice of it in
Psalm 55:17. Jerusalem and the temple lay in ruins at this time.
Daniel, being in his eighties now, would never again in his life be able
to attend the temple sacrifices and offer his worship to God in the
place where he dwelt among his people. The best he could do was to
offer prayer and supplication to God at the time of day when those
sacrifices would have been taking place.
Let us pause here and reflect on
Daniel's prayer life. If Daniel could find the time to habitually
pray three times a day amidst the business of administrating the
business of an empire, there is no reason why we today cannot do the
same. Which of us can justly say he is too busy to have time to
pray? let us resolve ourselves to adopt this blessed habit, and
commit ourselves to dedicated times of prayer to God. In so doing
we shall find that the blessings from above will manifest themselves in
our lives both in helping us in our day to day duties and by procuring
for us strength and resolve for the accomplishment of our service to
God. Christians today have priceless blessing in that with Jesus
Christ as our mediator, we can lay our petitions at the feet of God
almighty on His throne. And as Christians we are guaranteed that
our prayers are heard by the Almighty. Let us never forget this
and let us avail ourselves of the opportunities we have for prayer.
Our lives will be better for it and we will be blessed beyond measure.
Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making
supplication before his God.
Daniel's enemies went to Daniel's
home with the intent of capturing him in the act. What a feeling
of delight must have come to the minds of the conspirators against
Daniel at such an apparent success of their devious plot. They had
calculated everything perfectly (so they thought). The king, unaware of
their hatred and of their evil purpose had signed the decree. True to
what they knew would happen, Daniel went on in the faithful exercise of
his service to God without regard to human legislation. They were able
to catch Daniel "in the act." Daniel did not even bother to deny the
charges. These enemies of Daniel must have thought at that stage of
affairs that they had everything under control and they would soon be
rid of the man they hated.
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.
They wasted no time in going to the king but
before they revealed Daniel's transgression of the new law, they secured
from Darius an affirmation of the new law and the punishment for
breaking it. They wanted to make sure Darius couldn't back out it.
They obviously were well aware of Darius' feeling towards Daniel and
they knew they were manipulating the king into having Daniel executed.
They were being careful to lay the consequences of this on the shoulders
of Darius instead of their own. They knew Darius was going to be
unhappy about this and they wanted to make sure Darius knew they were
standing on firm legal ground in this deceit. Their intentions
were to hold Darius subject to his own law. This is the same thing
the government officials did with Nebuchadnezzar over his golden statue
in an effort to rid themselves of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.
It didn't work then and as we will shortly see, it did not work here
either and these conspirators got to enjoy the fate they had contrived
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.
As soon as they got Darius' affirmation of the new
law, they exposed Daniel to him. They specifically mentioned that
Daniel does this three times a day. They were making sure that
Darius realized Daniel was standing solidly in transgression of the law.
Not only does he pray to God in direct disregard of Darius foolish
decree, but he does it three times a day. This event calls to mind
scripture about things which God hates:
"These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination
unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent
blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in
running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that
soweth discord among brethren."
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 was upset with himself. He had been
manipulated and he knew it. He then set out to find a way to
deliver Daniel from the sentence of death which the decree demanded.
Darius did not want to have Daniel thrown to the lions. Obviously
Daniel was held in high esteem by Darius, being advanced in age and
absolutely trustworthy. Darius spent the whole day working to find
a way he could spare Daniel. But as we will see, the architects of
this plot were not going to give up so easily and give Darius any
opportunity to back out of the law.
This is pure speculation, but this servant of
Christ cannot help but to place himself in Darius' shoes and try to
imagine what could have been going through his mind during this few
hours before sundown while he was trying to save Daniel's life. If
it had have been me in this predicament, the first thing I would have
done if I did not want the lions to kill Daniel would be to make sure
those lions were well fed before sundown. It would make no
difference whether the lions were bloated or starved if God chose to
save Daniel, however, I cannot help but to speculate on Darius' course
of action . I pray for the tolerance of my brothers and sisters in
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
It was in the evening of the day Daniel was
exposed that these conspirators assembled to remind Darius that he was
bound by his own law to execute Daniel. They even quoted the law
to him: "no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be
changed". Darius was bound by the national law of the Persians
to have Daniel executed. Daniel's enemies hatched this plot and
they manipulated Darius into signing something into law which would
force Darius to do something he would never have done otherwise.
Darius was caught, he knew it and he realized that he had been
manipulated into this and he fully well knew who was responsible for it,
but he had to abide by the national law.
We'll pause for a moment here and reflect on the
abuse of law which started soon after the establishment of a national
law. Those who would use the law of the land as a tool to further
their own desires have been around as long as there has been law.
This is something we see so prevalent in our society today. Law is
used every day to condemn the innocent and vindicate the guilty.
It is a sad testament to mankind's evil ways when laws today which are
designed to provide good to the people are twisted and used as an
instrument of evil. What went on that day in the palace of Darius
was only the frontrunner of thousands of years of similar abuse of law
yet to come. The story here is to show the benefits of a
godly life in the face of death. Sadly, more people follow the
examples of the conspirators in this narrative than of the real hero of
this story. An aged old man who refused to stop serving God no
matter what, not even for a period of thirty days.
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
Darius finally realizing that nothing could
prevent Daniel from being thrown to the lions by law, he acquiesced to
it and had him cast into the den. But before he did, he made a
remarkable statement to Daniel. Darius believed in the existence
of the God of the Jews.
It was a common thing among the
pagans to believe in the intervention of the gods in favor of the
righteous, and particularly in favor of their worshippers. For
this reason, it was that they called on them and that they committed
themselves to these gods in battle and in peril and that they sought
their aid by sacrifices and by prayers. No one can doubt that such a
belief existed and that Darius was being influenced by it.
Darius undoubtedly regarded the
God whom Daniel worshipped as a god, though not as exclusively the true
God. He had the same kind of confidence in him that he had in any god
worshipped by foreigners and probably regarded Him as as the
national god of the Hebrew people. He probably expressed this
belief in reference to any god of any nationality within the realm.
Keeping in mind that these people believed in a host of gods.
Darius had the utmost confidence
both in the integrity and the piety of Daniel and since he believed that
the gods intervened in human affairs, he in Daniel a worthy candidate
for God's protection and he did not doubt that Daniel's God could and
probably would intervene and save him from the lions. Like
Nebuchadnezzar before him, Darius believed in the existence of God.
He just didn't realize that Daniel's God was the only God.
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
Daniel was placed into the lions den and the
opening was sealed with a stone laid upon the opening. Darius
sealed it with his own signet which was the current equivalent of our
modern day signatures. The presidents who contrived this plan were
present as well and they added their signets to the stone. The law
which Darius had signed had a purpose to it, and that was to unite the
people under one leader. It was only for a period of 30 days but
it was law and it was intended to accomplish the loyalty of those
beneath him. Daniel was placed into the lions den so that this
purpose would not be changed. The national was upheld and as bad
as Darius felt about it, he felt he had no choice in the matter.
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.
Then the king arose very early in the
morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
Darius was greatly upset. We see here in
this accounting that he refused to eat and he could not sleep all night.
Daniel had made quite an impression on Darius and there is strong
evidence here that they were friends. And why not? Daniel
was his top president. Doubtless they spent much time together in
the administration of the affairs of the kingdom. A bond of
friendship and trust had developed between them and Darius obviously
admired Daniel's steadfastness because he made specific mention of the
fact that he served his God continually.
Early before the normal activities of the palace
commenced, Darius gave up trying to sleep and went to the lion's den to
check on Daniel personally. He could have sent a servant to do
this but chose to go himself, which testifies of his affection toward
Daniel. We notice here that he went in haste. Daniel and his
fate in the lion's den was obviously the highest priority for the king
at this point.
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?
Darius cried with a lamentable voice, one full of
concern and anxiety. He was really upset about this chain of
events and he genuinely worried about Daniel's welfare. There can
be no doubt the king's concern went far beyond that of a man over a
trusted servant. Darius loved Daniel and it shows plainly in his
conduct towards him over this despicable turn of events they were
embroiled in. Darius knew he had been manipulated. He knew
the presidents who came to him with this sugar coated scheme of theirs
only did it to rid themselves of Daniel and he was upset with himself
over this. And as we shall soon see, Darius disgust and anger with
himself was directed toward the architects of the devious plot that
manipulated him into placing Daniel within the lion's den in the first
Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.
How relieved and surpised Darius must have been to
hear Daniel's voice. We need to note here that Daniel recognized
Darius' voice, even though he was upset. These men had spent
enough time together that they knew each other from the sounds of their
voices. Daniel greeted Darius' voice with the customary greeting
of respect given to all the rulers of the time when they were addressed.
There was no malice nor hint of anger in Daniel's demeanor.
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
There is no reason not to believe that this angel
is the same one that came to the rescue of Shadrach, Meshach and
Abed-nego that day in the fiery furnace. A case can be made that
this angel, this messenger from God, was none other than the
pre-incarnate form of the word of God which in flesh was Jesus Christ
Himself. And if this is indeed the case, then Daniel was
privileged to spend an entire night in the presence of God. And
that is where shelter from all earthly troubles is found. Oh to be
able to be in God's protective presence. Such is the hope we all
hold dear to some day be in the presence of the almighty and be under
His umbrella of love and protection.
Notice Daniel's words next: " forasmuch as
before him innocency was found in me". Daniel was found
innocent before the angel of the Lord and because of this, Daniel was
protected. This statement by Daniel reinforces the belief that it
was indeed the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ who was there with Daniel that
night. Daniel was found innocent before Him and because of that,
He was protected. The application for us is that all who are found
innocent before God shall be protected in the end.
Daniel also said "and also before thee, O king,
have I done no hurt". Daniel and the other two presidents were
specifically chosen to be in authority over the one hundred and twenty
government officials under them so that they could prevent and damage to
the king through misdealing. Daniel's job was to see that the king
was "done no hurt". And in the nicest and most polite way
imaginable, Daniel reminded Darius that such was the case. He had
been thrown into a den of lions, to be executed and he did nothing
whatsoever to bring harm, to the king in any way. Daniel was
innocent and he informed Darius of that in a kind and gentle spirited
manner. One is reminded of the words of Peter about the value God
places on a "meek and quiet spirit" (1 Peter 3:4). Daniel
had such a spirit about him and it served him well throughout his life.
It should be the goal of us all to aspire to that same meek and quiet
spirit that Daniel exhibited even in the circumstances surrounding his
deliverance from the lions in the den.
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
Darius was overjoyed that Daniel was alive and
well. Daniel was taken from the den and inspected for damage and
to the amazement of Darius and doubtless to everyone present, Daniel was
utterly untouched or unharmed by the lions in any way. Just like
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego did not even have a singed hair, Daniel
did not even have a scratch upon him. Call to mind that the stone
set over the mouth of the lion's den was on top of it. there was
likely a drop of some distance involved with being placed into such a
place. Daniel was an old man in his early eighties at best.
There was no harm found on him in any way. God's protection for
those in His favor is absolute. Another term for God's favor is
His grace. Those who are found innocent and living in God's grace
look forward to the same protection.
Daniel was saved "because he believed in his
God". This phrase is by no means saying that Daniel was
saved by belief or faith alone. In verse 22 Daniel said that the
lion's were restrained because innocency was found in him before the
Angel of the Lord. If Daniel had not been found innocent before
the Angel of the Lord, the outcome would have been much different than
it was without regard to whether Daniel believed in God or not.
Obviously there is more to belief here than a mental acknowledgement of
the existence of God. James said it best when he wrote by
inspiration that faith without works is dead (James 2:20; 26).
Even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). If Daniel had
have not lived the kind of life he did in service to God, he would not
have been saved from those lions. James said that faith or belief
without works is dead. Daniel was not saved by a dead faith and
neither is anybody else, then or now.
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.
These are the men who came to Darius with a bogus
scheme of flattery aimed at the destruction of a single man. These
are the men who when Darius realized what was going on appealed to an
authority higher than Darius in order to get what they wanted.
These are the men who connived and planned the execution of king Darius'
most trusted president and friend. These are the men who paid for
that attempted deception with their lives, the lives of the their wives
and of their children. They suffered the fate they had contrived
for Daniel. The words of the Psalmist here are most appropriate, "The
wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast
down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be
broken.", (Psalms 37:12-15).
How awful it must have been to see one's wife and
children thrust into the maw of the lion's den. How hard it must have
been to look in the eyes of one's children who are about to be killed
knowing it was because of their actions this was happening. How
horrific it must have been for these men to watch their children and
loved ones torn apart and devoured because of something they did.
The text indicates that their deaths were rapid. I hope for the
sakes of the innocent that it was and that their suffering was brief.
Darius was a king living and ruling during the
fledgling stages of higher law, but he was still living in an age where
the rulers could inflict horrific punishments upon their subjects.
And indeed the punishment for treason under Persian law was the death of
one's entire family aimed at the eradication of one's entire lineage
from the face of the earth. No doubt this incident was well
publicized in the kingdom. This was in all probability the last
attempt at such treachery perpetrated against Daniel by any of the
remaining government officials during the remainder of his life.
Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that
dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
This is not the first time we have seen a king
under which Daniel served make this official statement. King
Nebuchadnezzar just a few years earlier used almost these exact words to
address the people of the Babylonian empire with a very similar message:
"Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages,
that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you" (Daniel
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.
Just like Nebuchadnezzar before him, Darius made
it official throughout his kingdom that the God of the Israelites was to
be feared and honored. His power and majesty was to be recognized
and honored. Conspicuously absent from this testimony and from the
testimony of Nebuchadnezzar were the words, "God is the ONLY God".
Nebuchadnezzar never stated that, nor did Darius in their public
decrees. While we'll never know this side of judgment whether
these men died righteous or not, we can know for certain that both of
their lives were influenced greatly by Daniel and his unswerving
faithfulness and loyal service to the one true and living God. And
this influence that Daniel had on these rulers manifested itself in the
providential care of God for his children in captivity in a foreign
land. God may have allowed them to be carried away into captivity
for their sins, but He never abandoned them, not even for a second.
His divine hand was at work throughout their ordeal and they were
preserved to fulfill the promise God made to Abraham and to David.
And when their captivity was over and they returned to Jerusalem, they
were finished with idolatry. It had been completely expunged from
So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of
Cyrus the Persian.
Daniel chapter 1 and verse 21 states that Daniel "continued
even unto the first year of king Cyrus". Looking back at verse
20 we saw that Daniel entered into public service at the end his initial
three year training period in Babylon. Daniel continued in public
service until the the first year of Cyrus the Persian, but he lived for
some years after this. Daniel authored the last chapter of the
book bearing his name in the third year of king Cyrus (Daniel 11:1),
providing he wrote the chapter the same year he received the vision.
We do not know exactly when Daniel died, but if he were twelve years old
when he was taken from Jerusalem, then he was in his nineties at this
time. Daniel would never in his life get to worship God from
the temple again. But he did live until the decree went forth from
Cyrus to end the Babylonian captivity and release the Jews from their
bondage to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple.