Daniel 6:1-3. It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty 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 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.
Kings are never satisfied. The empire of Darius was always growing, and a chapter or two farther on we find that he had a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. There is no end to the greediness of man, and what does he get by it after all? One pair of hands can only do one man’s work; he only gains more toils, and he has now to distribute the cares of his State among others. Then how good it is for any man when he is guided to a right, honest, and hearty helper! Such was the lot of Darius. How advantageous, too, it may be for the people of God when a man like Daniel is put in the high places of the land! Doubtless he was exalted, not only for his own sake, but that he might be as a brazen shield and bulwark for the people of God in that foreign land. No extortions would now be committed on the Jewish race, for they had a friend at court. Blessed be God, we have a friend at court too, one who will take up our cause, and speak for us to the King of Kings
Daniel 6:4. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault;
Who can stand before envy? High places furnish very uncomfortable seats, for even if God exalt a man, men will try to pull him down; but he is an honourable man indeed who puts his enemies to their shifts before they can find anything against him.
Daniel 6:4-7. Forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 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.
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. We do not know with what ingenious arguments they moved the king’s mind to pass this, but we think we can conceive them. He had just conquered Chaldea; they would, therefore, say, “It will be an excellent test of the obedience of your new subjects if you touch them upon the point of their religion; try whether they will for thirty days abstain from addressing their deities.” Perhaps, too, since Darius had a colleague on the throne, the younger Cyrus, who was much more popular than he. They may have egged him on by hinting that Cyrus was much too vain, and that, therefore, if he would not allow anyone to address a petition, even to Cyrus, for thirty days, it would tend to show who was really loyal to Darius, and it would also test the temper of Cyrus. I cannot tell how they did it, but somehow or other they managed to lead the foolish old man to carry out their designs.
Daniel 6:8. 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 Babylonians entrusted their king with absolute power; hence he could will this or that as he chose. The Persians believed their kings to be possessed of perfect wisdom; and hence they never allowed a law to be changed, for that would be to suppose that the king who made it had made a mistake, a thing which could by no possibility ever occur. There is an amusing instance given by a modern traveller, who tells us that a few years ago one of the later Persian kings said he would never remove from the tent in the plain until the snow had gone from some mountains to which he pointed. It happened to be a very late summer, and the snow was long in melting, and his gracious majesty had to keep his place in his tent, while his troops were perishing with fever in a low marsh-district, until they procured men to sweep the snow from the tops of the mountains in order that he might be able to move. It is inconvenient for men to play the God; they cannot do it without bringing serious difficulty and danger upon themselves. So did Darius on this occasion. I never like men who, when they speak a hasty word, say they cannot alter it. Rash vows are better broken than kept; you had no right to say you would do the thing; much less have you any right to do it when you have said you would do it. However, the law of the Medes and Persians could not be altered.
Daniel 6:9-10. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into the house;
That is right; the less we have to do with man, and the more we have to do with God the better. He did not go to the king to complain, but he went into his house to tell his God about it.
Daniel 6:10. And his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem,
That much-loved city, though now in ruins.
Daniel 6:10. He kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
‘Twas bravely done. A man in a meaner position might have carried out his devotions in private without sin, but not so Daniel. He is a representative man: he must not play the coward; it is incumbent upon him to be more especially and deliberately public in all that he does, for if he be seen to slink in never so small a degree, then all the saints will lose heart.
Daniel 6:11-13. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God 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. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel,
Here is impudence! But they called Jesus Christ “this fellow.” Why? Daniel was the chief of the presidents, the prime minister of the king, and yet they say, “That Daniel.” Ill-hearts generally have ill-mouths, and what can you expect but ill-words out of ill-mouths?
Daniel 6:13. That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah,
That captive, that slave, that serf — so they seemed to put it, forgetting that he was their master by virtue of his high office.
Daniel 6:13-14. Regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself,
There was a little conscience left. Calvin does not like the man at all. He says, What right had he to sign a decree hastily, which might take away the lives of the best men in his dominion? And his repentance does not seem to be a repentance of the act, but only of the consequences.
Daniel 6:14. And set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
Here was a great king, made himself out to be a god, and yet he cannot have his own way. When that famous potter, who was a true Christian, was brought before the king, the king said to him, “Unless you change your views, I shall be compelled to have you burned.” “Ah!” said Bernard de Palissy, “you are a king, and yet say, ‘I shall-be compelled,’ and I am a poor potter, but no man can make me use those words; I will be compelled to do nothing against my conscience.” Oh! the holy bravery of men who are saved! When Bonner had one of the martyrs before him, he said, “I will convince you; a blazing faggot will convince you.” “A fig for your faggot,” said the man, “or a wagon-load of them; I can stand and burn better than you can wear your mitre.” So the saints of God are strong, and can bid defiance to the adversary through divine grace.
Daniel 6:15. 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.
This is the reason of his deliverance, not his innocency, but his faith; we are told by Paul that it was faith that shut the mouths of lions.
Daniel 6:16-24. 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. 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. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music 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. 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? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ months, 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. 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. 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;
Which was a piece of injustice, the throwing in of their wives and children, though we cannot say as much of the throwing of them in.
Daniel 6:24. 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.