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Book of Daniel
Chapter 6

Daniel Chapter 6
Commentary by Ron Beckham
 

Verse 1.  "It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 Satraps over the kingdom, that they should be in charge of the whole kingdom."

This man who was to rule for only two years was actually named Darius Cyaxares, II, in secular historical accounts.  Cyrus, who was the son of Darius’ sister Mundane (why don’t we name any of our daughters "Mundane"?), and of Cambyses the Persian, was to follow Darius as ruler and was the catalyst that united these peoples into the Mede-Persian Empire, that ruled the known world.

Note that Nebuchadnezzar (the head of gold in the dream of chapter two), himself was in charge of the WHOLE of the Babylonian empire.  Compare that with Darius, who appointed 120 people to "be in charge" of the kingdom.  J. Vernon McGee and others have pointed this out as an example of how Darius’ rule was inferior to Nebuchadnezzar.  I think they have a point – Nebbie’s rule was absolute, and I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like that (on such a large scale) since that time.  Darius and Cyrus certainly ran an EMPIRE (not a democracy) but not with the utter control of Nebuchadnezzar.

Another way to look at the decline in quality of these empires, is to consider the men who ran them.  Nebuchadnezzar, though reluctantly, and with much difficulty, turned to God.  Darius and Cyrus had other concerns, but they seemed to have hearts for God.   The Greeks and Romans who followed, on the other hand, were interested only in conquest.  You might argue, what about Emperor Constantine of Rome?  Didn't he know God?  I'm not so sure.  His brand of Christianity seemed to be that his armies would surround some Germanic village and order the people to either be baptized in a local river or be killed!

Verse 2.  "and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss."

I wonder who the other two guys were?  To their contemporaries, the other two might have seemed just as important as Daniel; perhaps even more so.  Yet, their names are lost to human history, and Daniel’s name lives on.  It is not our choices but God’s, that have permanence.  If you want your work in life to last, let your decisions become His choices for you.

Did Daniel (the eunuch) wonder what it was like to be married and have children?   (I think so).  Did Daniel the exile long for his native land?  (Yes, he did).  Daniel lost everything for God.  But, remember that the person who loses in this life, has God’s opportunity to gain in other areas.  If you are suffering loss today, look up and rejoice, for God loves you and has great things in store - if not on earth today, then certainly in eternity.  He has placed great gifts under the "Christmas tree" of each one.  Not always what we expect - BETTER than what we expect.  Let us leave our beds of sorrow and TRUST in Him.

Verse 3.  "Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom."

The king had Daniel in mind for the position of Prime Minister, because "he possessed an extraordinary spirit."  The Spirit seen in Daniel was actually the Spirit of the living God.  It was our Lord who blessed this man.  Darius the king intended to elevate him further, and it was God Who was reaching with love, through this earthly man.  I am DELIGHTED that Daniel the man was being considered for these honors (because he had lost so much and still trusted so much), but as Daniel would be the first to say, it was not Daniel the man who deserved these honors, it was God.

Here was someone who had given himself to God.  Do you want to distinguish yourself?  Then abandon yourself, along with all your hopes and dreams, to Jesus Christ.  Take the focus right off yourself and look to Him.  As Jesus told us in John 15, we are to ABIDE in HIM.  Be like Daniel and have the courage to give up, trust in God, and let HIS greatness (not your own) rule in your life - you will NEVER regret that decision.

Verse 4.  "Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him."

"He was faithful" - Let it be written on our lives; let it be on our tombstones - we were faithful.  Actually, such a statement CAN be made, for it is CHRIST Who is the "author and finisher" of (the One who perfects) our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  If we are faithful, it is actually He who rightfully has all the glory, and yet He shares His glory with us, with "faithful" written on each one.

God looks on the heart.  When He looks on the heart of the person in Christ, He sees His Son in that person, and it is on the ground of Christ in us, that we have standing (faithfulness) with God.  And yes, there are characters in your life who will have you under a microscope and look for every fault (and if you are like me, they will FIND faults, too).  Trust in God, and just like with Daniel, God will bring us through.

Verse 5.  "Then these men said, "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."

Oh that our hands could be washed with innocence, and the good news is that we are CLEAN, in Christ Jesus.  We don’t need to know everything in life, or to experience all that this world pretends to offer.  It is right that we abide in Christ and let Him live HIS life within ours.  And when the accusers come to us they will find nothing in us, save our innocence in Christ.  Keep in mind that when Christ is in us, the accuser comes not against us alone, but against God.

Why is it we are encouraged to NOT defend ourselves when attacked?  (Matthew 5:39 & context).  It is because God has every intention of protecting His children (those in Christ) from any harm.  Are you afraid of Y2K?  Store all the water and food you want.  Fill your mattress with money, but when Y2K is here, God will deliver you.  Do you have an enemy?  God will defend you.  You can TRUST in Him, for He WILL bring you through.

Verse 6.  "Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: King Darius, live forever!"

As mentioned before, watch out for the flattering words of people.  It ought to be the prayer of every person that we might learn to see the hearts (and not merely the words) of those around us.  This does not mean we are to be led by mere suspicion.   We are to be governed by LOVE, given by God.  When we have that love (HIS love), we begin to be able to see the hearts of men.  (Love SEES where suspicion only wonders).

What are WE planning, by the way, when we are sending that memo, or speaking words in a meeting?  Do we have double motives in the things that we do, or the words that we say?  Jesus said, let our "yes" mean YES, and our "no" mean NO, and nothing else.  Let us  speak the truth and do it in love.

Verse 7.  "All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den."

A "satrap" was the governor or a province or a subordinate ruler, in the Persian empire.  A "commissioner" is the representative of an arm of government, who often has judicial as well as administrative powers.

For those who love the Lord, there is coming a time when nothing ever again will be done to us (or by us) through guile or deceit.  "Trickery" will no longer be in the language.  The game of "poker" could no longer exist, for NOTHING will ever again be hidden.  Here we see leaders in government using their offices and power in a secret attack on Daniel.  I think if we knew the true motives behind the passage of new laws, we would be very upset.

We are headed to a place of TRUTH. No lies, no deceit - false motives will not exist.   Right now, we don’t really know WHAT is in the mind of the person across the table, but take heart, people like the guys in this verse will suddenly, one day - be gone!  When someone speaks to us, we will be able to believe the words, for they will be true.  Our Lord will make it so.

Verse 8.  "Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked."

Theoretically and actually, in our culture, we have "checks and balances" allowing us to eliminate bad laws when we find them.  They did not have that luxury in the Persian Empire.  But even in our country, bad laws acquire a kind of momentum or "life" and exist when they should not.  For decades, we have been killing innocent, unborn children – the helpless, entrusted to us by God.

We have not protected them, but instead have killed them by the millions, in most cases simply because they were "inconvenient" at that time.  Jesus said "Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Mark 10:14-15). There is something special and wonderful about every child, no matter how "retarded" they might seem to be.   Yes, they may have a propensity toward a certain disease; and yes, there may be handicaps that may lead to a difficult life.  But God compensates for shortcomings, and He will judge us for cruelty to the innocent, just as surely as He would judge the evil intent of the men in these verses.

Verse 9.  "Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction."

Be careful what you sign, what you allow, what you do.  It’s so easy to just go along with the pressures that are often placed on us, and act without thought or prayer.  Because of the Holy Spirit within us, there should be a warning signal which alerts us to that which is dangerous.  There are times to say "No" and we must learn to use that word.

Verse 10.  "Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously."

Daniel not only knew the document was signed into law, but this bright man knew exactly what it meant.  And still he went, just as he always had done, praying and giving thanks to God.  We should not be changed by mere outward circumstances.  There may well come a time for us when the price of prayer is indeed prison or even death.

For now, we can talk to God all we want, for the most part, and we all know we do not commune with Him enough, in relation to the needs of this world.  Someday, when the cost of prayer might be very great, what will be our response?

Verse 11.  "Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God."

The question is asked, where were Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, during this time?  Scripture doesn’t say, but since Daniel was at least in his 80’s, and possibly in his 90’s at this time, the best answer is that they were probably no longer living, or if they were still alive, no longer in public office (and therefore not a threat to the commissioners and satraps).

As to this verse, we are already seeing a time in our country when prayer in certain public places is forbidden (as in government offices and in educational settings).   We need to pray for the freedom to worship God in public - before that right is taken from us.

Verse 12.  "Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king’s injunction, ‘Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions’ den?’  The king answered and said, ‘The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.’"

There is a danger in countries that laws may be made too EASY to change, which means that any new ruler in power can make things the way he wants them to be, but there are dangers in rigidity, as well.  Here was a bad law, based on poor motives, which was about to be used to kill a good man (Daniel).

Here’s something else:  When a law is made forbidding prayer, it’s a bad law.  Again, for a long time, there have been incidents where Americans have found trouble for praying in a public place.  "Separation of Church and State" is cited, but the underlying idea of that separation is that the state must not dictate religion.  By forbidding prayer; by insisting on secularism in government, the state IS dictating a religious belief - that religion must be kept out of public offices.

Verse 13.  "Then they answered and spoke before the king, ‘Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day."

Children "tattle" on one another.  The scary thing is that adults (with adult privileges) "tattle" also, and are really children in disguise (we never really grow up or we wouldn’t act like we do).  Now, there are good qualities in children, including, for most, innocence.  It’s tragic that we RUN from innocence in our culture, yet many of our personal and cultural problems, stem from a lack of purity.  All is never lost with God, however, for we return to purity when we receive Jesus Christ, made clean (justified) by His blood (Romans 5:9).  Another excellent quality of most children is a wonderful capacity of faith.  Children tend to believe, and we surely need to believe in God.

In this verse, we see men who were like children, but not in a good sense at all.   They became CHILDISH because they were jealous of Daniel, who did no wrong to them, and they wanted to harm him at any cost, simply out of envy.  How much harm is done in this world because of jealous envy? (Give up? --- TONS of harm).

Verse 14.  "Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him."

I like this king, who had a capacity for good, for God.  The other men saw the good in Daniel and hated him for it.  This man had nobility instead of petulance, and loved the good in Daniel.

In today’s world, we avoid distress as much as possible.  We want to be happy at all times - It’s like our national goal.  It was good this king was distressed about Daniel, for happiness is good but honest concern for another person is better.  Our job is to care for others, as led by God’s Holy Spirit.  The Lord will give us something better than transitory happiness - We will be given JOY in the Lord and love in His Spirit.

Verse 15.  "Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, ‘Recognize, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed.’"

When someone decides to be the enemy of someone else, they often do not care about truth.  The Saducees and Pharisees just kept on plotting against Jesus Christ, and revealed their own hearts in the process.  Just like these men in relation to Daniel, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, tended to have no interest at all in who He really was; they just wanted to win; wanted to stay in power.

"These men" who came to Daniel, had encountered a truly good man, and they were jealous of him.  It was not that they also wanted to be "good" in any way – they merely wanted to have what he had, in the sense of power, and they wanted to feel important about themselves.  They were just setting a trap to hurt somebody else.  Beware of setting trips for others, because there is a God who loves the little ones of this world, and the trap will ultimately destroy the one who sets it.

Verse 16.  "Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den.  The king spoke and said to Daniel, ‘Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.’"

Three things about this king:  1) He could function and give orders, even when it was painful for him to act.  2) He obeyed the law, even when to do so was difficult for him.  3) He trusted in God. I would add a fourth - unlike most of the other men around him (those who tricked him into betraying Daniel), he was fast becoming an honest and accurate judge of men.   All too often, we of this time and place, LACK those qualities.

"Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you."  No matter what your circumstances; no matter how deep the pit you may fall into, God Himself is able to deliver you.  Question:  Do you WANT to be delivered by Him?  To "serve" God, as Daniel did, is to trust in Him, to receive the Son (John 6:29).   Do you want Him enough to give Him your life?  If you do, He WILL deliver you.

Verse 17.  "And a stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing might be changed in regard to Daniel."

There are plenty of precursors in the Old Testament, giving advance pictures of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Just like Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac looked ahead to the Messiah, so did this event.  And just as Jesus came -ALIVE- out of that tomb, so we ALWAYS will be alive in Him.  When it seems we are sealed into a tomb of death, we are given LIFE in Christ.

No grave can hold those who trust in the Lord.  When all is lost, we need not fear.  Behind the hand of this king, was the Hand of God.  The hand of the king reached forth, reluctantly, but in judgment only.  The Other Hand (God’s) literally brings life from death.  The person in Christ is free and alive, no matter WHAT the outward circumstances may seem to be.

Verse 18.  "Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him."

From a human point of view, this king had just lost the most wonderful person he had ever met - and by his own hand!  He had LISTENED to the idea of his Satraps, and had gone along, just to placate them!  Most would simply hand themselves over to grief, and we would all understand such behavior.

We need to learn from this king, because he instead gave himself over to prayer (fasting can be a form of prayer, and true prayer is an expression of faith in God). In effect and in our terms, Darius turned off the TV, gave up his midnight snack, and then sought God for Daniel, all night long.

Verse 19.  "Then the king arose with the dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den."

There comes a time when all our good intentions, our actions (good and bad), and our prayers, are at an end.  It’s time to face the circumstances of God’s decisions (and ours) in our lives.  Here’s another good quality of this man, Darius.  Though he was terribly concerned about Daniel, he did not hide from the outcome.  As soon as it was daylight (as soon as the law did not require Daniel to be in that lion’s den), he was up and on his way, ready to encounter the outcome decreed by God.

There is that time when each of us must face the outcome of our actions.  The question is, what will we do when we are faced with what we have done?  This king did what he felt he had to do, but with commendable reluctance.  Daniel, for his part, went to apparent death with dignity and with trust in God.

Verse 20.  "And when he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice.  The king spoke and said to Daniel, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?’"

Again, I really LOVE the fact that this Darius Cyaxares, II, who was a Median king, CARED so deeply for this Daniel, a captive from the land of the Jews.  His kind of love is from God.  It is so interesting that Jesus defines us, not by the perfection of our outward behavior, but by our love (Mark 12:29-31 - Love is the greatest of all).   Darius’ voice was troubled because his heart was filled with the agony of love (and possible loss).

To those who are open to God in Christ Jesus, the Lord gives love.

Verse 21.  "Then Daniel spoke to the king, ‘O king, live forever!"

When the "wise men" used those words for the king, it was just flattery, and he knew it.  Daniel used the same phrase, and they were the most beautiful words this king had ever heard.  Daniel’s intentions were filled with love, and he was sincere in his words to those he served.  Daniel wanted Darius to personally encounter the living God and indeed live forever in Him.  And if you don’t believe that Daniel understood he (along with you and me) would rise again after death, just read Daniel 12:13, where he was promised that he would enter into rest (die) and then rise again at the end.

But as to the words we speak, do people our words believable, or are our words just social conventions?  One person says "God bless you" and it is just words after someone sneezes.  Someone else says those very same words, and we know it is intended that we might be BLESSED in Christ Jesus.  Let us really CARE about those around us, and let them KNOW that we do.

Verse 22.  "My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime."

Daniel was about as innocent as a normal human being could be.  In the area of innocence, he can be compared with Stephen, in Acts, chapter 7, but with a difference.   Notice that this man, Daniel, was delivered from death at this time, whereas Stephen was not.  But their responses, in the face of death, were very similar.   It is the same with us - sometimes we are delivered from trouble; other times we are not.  What we do with what happens to us, is what defines us as people, and here are similarities between Daniel & Stephen:

Both of these faithful men saw visions of God (Daniel 7 & Acts 7:56).  Daniel forgave those who harmed him and so did Stephen (the first chapters of Daniel and Acts 7:60), and both of them continually exhibited great faith in God.  On the other hand, there are great differences - Daniel survived great dangers and lived to be very old; whereas Stephen was killed early and went to be with the Lord.  Surviving?  Not surviving?  Which is best for US?  Actually, we have a 3rd option which is the best of all - to simply trust in God.

Verse 23.  "Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den.  So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God."

Now, to continue the comparison between Daniel and Stephen, BOTH of these men were set free.  Each one was released from their circumstances as whole men.  There was no mark on Daniel at all, but of course, Stephen was temporarily a mess - Only temporarily, however.  Daniel walked out of the lion’s den without a scratch, but the greatest deliverance of all is in Christ Jesus, and Stephen knew that deliverance.   He is alive and he is free.

Just like David prayed in Psalm 51 (especially verse 7), our real need is to be washed clean; not only on the outside, but inside, where the finished work of Christ will set us free indeed.

Verse 24.  "The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children, and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones."

All who sin will be judged.  I remember a sign on a rural property in Tucson, Arizona:  "Trespassers will be eaten; survivors will be prosecuted."   Scary sign.  Even worse is this judgment upon the Satraps - they lost everything (not so different from Daniel who also lost everything - but then he found everything in God).  They lost their careers which they were trying to advance at Daniel’s expense.  If they had previously made fun of Daniel for his inability to have children (he was a eunuch - see chapter 1), suddenly their own children were taken away, right before their eyes.  Their wealth, position, ALL was gone in a moment of snapping teeth.

Stephen’s murderers may have experienced a different outcome (Acts 7:60).   Stephen specifically prayed for forgiveness as to his attackers. Since God is very quick to answer prayer in Christ Jesus, we will spend eternity with some of those who killed Stephen.  One of them for sure, and his name was Saul (a.k.a. Paul) – Read it in Acts 7:58, and on into chapter 8.  Can you imagine a life without Paul?   Stephen faithfully prayed, and God ANSWERED that prayer, by turning Saul the murderer into Paul the man of God.

Verse 25.  "Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language who were living in all the land:   ‘May your peace abound!’"

It is very probable that the phrase "may your peace abound" was a common greeting of that place and time, just as "Shalom alechem" became a traditional greeting in Israel.  I am inclined to regard this part of the king’s edict as MORE than just a greeting, because of what is recorded in the next verse.

Darius had found a peace that was lasting - based in God.  If our hope for peace is merely based in social considerations, it is not rooted deeply enough to last.   Our peace must be rooted and grounded in God, and then it will LAST - forever!

Verse 26.  "I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever."

Sporadically, in history, people have feared and trembled in relation to God, and many have even loved Him.  Jesus died for the sins of the WORLD, and that means every person of every time and place, whether they have precisely heard of Him or not.   This is specifically stated in Romans 2:11-16 and context.  ALL who keep the law will be saved (as to all people of all time, everywhere).

What law do we keep that will satisfy Him?  Mark 12:29-31 - LOVE God and LOVE those around us.  Love satisfies the law and it was made available to every person who ever lived, through the cross of Jesus Christ.  It always has been through faith in our Lord that we are saved (Romans 3:28).  We trust in Him and He gives us His love.

Verse 27.  "He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."

Does God perform signs and wonders today?  You bet.  I can personally testify that God answers prayer and responds to the needs of people; He performs wonders today, just like He always did.  And the greatest wonder of all is of course the changed lives that are given in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 28.  "So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian."

Now, we have learned a lot about Darius, but what about this guy Cyrus?   Amazingly, Daniel was still alive at the time of King Cyrus, and it was this "Cyrus" who eventually gave the decree allowing the Jews to return to Palestine (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:11).

The most wonderful thing about him, is that many years before Cyrus even even lived, the Lord prompted Jeremiah (Jer. 36:22-23), "Cyrus, he is My shepherd, and he will perform all My desires, and he declares of Jerusalem, she will be built, and of the temple, your foundation will be laid."  Before Cyrus ever was, God called him to a specific work.

It’s not simply Cyrus who let those people return, it was God.  And it’s not just Cyrus who was spoken about before he was born - for God spoke words about YOU before you were born, as well.  It’s time to seek Him and let Him fulfill His purpose in you.

He has a plan for us; modified perhaps, because of OUR bad decisions, but He has a wonderful plan – for you and for me.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
www.fridaystudy.org
ron@fridaystudy.org

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