Devotional # 76. 3/3/14. Daniel 6:1-28
Introduction. The setting is the great Babylonian empire, where Darius is king. Daniel lived through the entire time the empire was in existence and helped rule it for 45 of those 70 years. At the point of this story Daniel was probably over 90 years old! (Source 1). This is around 537 BC (Source 2).
vv. 1-5. The Plan. We see that King Darius had set up his kingdom with him at the top and then three governors directly below him. Then 120 satraps (“a subordinate ruler”, Source 3) that reported to the three governors. Daniel was blessed by God for his faithfulness, having an “excellent spirit” means he had a good attitude. So the King recognized how responsible and wise Daniel was. This reminds me of Genesis 41 when Joseph was made second in command in Egypt. The other two governors and all the satraps were jealous of Daniel so they planned against him to get rid of him and level the political playing field. They find that Daniel has integrity and is loyal to the king and is committed to the one true God. And that’s where they find their ammunition. Because Daniel loved the Lord they knew that they could trap him in his commitment to keep God first.
Can you imagine how Daniel must have felt, knowing he was being set up by his employees and peers? Would we want to be vindicated, would we try and fight it or would we trust God to take care of us? Have you ever been betrayed?
vv. 6-9. The Decree. This reminds me of the story of Mordecai from the book of Esther. Have you read Esther? It is a great story. If you want an amazing short story read the book of Ruth. If you want a slightly longer (only 10 chapters) exciting detective story then read the book of Esther! It fits with this story in Daniel both how Mordecai was set up and also the decree of the Medes and the Persians.
Here the governors and satraps know that if they appeal to the king’s pride they will get him to sign this decree. But what does this say about Daniel’s dedication to pray to God? The rulers knew that Daniel wouldn’t obey the law because he hadn’t backed down when he and his friends were told to eat certain food (Daniel chapter 1), his friends didn’t back down when they were told to worship a giant idol (Daniel chapter 3) and he had a personal relationship that meant more to him than any earthly law. Would our enemies be able to trap us in this way? Do we always make time to pray to the Lord and read the Bible? I hope that I would be found guilty of this “weakness” by my enemies if they ever came looking. Interestingly our enemy, Satan, is doing just that every day.
vv. 10-15. The Decree in Action. We see that there was no confusion, Daniel was there and knew the law had passed. He didn’t care. He worshipped God three times a day and this wasn’t going to stop him! Notice that Daniel got down on his knees when he prayed. I used to think that praying on your knees wasn’t important. But as I have matured in Christianity I see the many reasons for praying on our knees. 1. It hurts (which keeps me awake and focused on Him), 2. It reminds me that I am not # 1 but I am the servant of the Most High God, 3. I can’t walk around and get distracted, I am stationary and it is very apparent what I’m there to do*. Now this isn’t the only way to pray and it’s not magic and it won’t necessarily get an answer faster but your relationship with God will grow if you focus completely on him and act intentionally!
The king had been so caught up in himself that he had forgotten that this would affect Daniel. Everybody knew Daniels beliefs, everybody knew he prayed to God regardless of where he was, but the king forgot. And he felt really bad for it. He didn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep. He tried finding loopholes but there weren’t any. Once a decree was made within the Medes and Persians Law it was binding. Absolutely no going back.
*I have bad knees that I go to the doctor for once a month but it is more important to me to endure a tiny bit of discomfort now and strengthen my relationship with my Creator than protect my knees. So that eliminates that excuse!
vv. 16-22. Salvation. It’s funny how short the section on Daniel being saved from the lion’s den actually is. The miracle of God simply happens by God’s doing. It doesn’t need a great description. There doesn’t have to be a big reasonable explanation. It happened. And it drove king Darius to worship the one true God. It is interesting that when we put ourselves at #1 sometimes it takes us putting someone else in danger for us to recognize God’s sovereignty.
vv. 23-24. Justice. I find it interesting that the king was “exceedingly glad” that Daniel was saved. Although it was by Darius’ command that all the men died, it was judgment on the men for sinning against God. When you get to the root cause the men had coerced the kingdom to worship a man instead of the one true God. The fact that the families died is similar to the sin of Korah in Numbers 16 and Achan in Joshua 7:20-26. David Guzik notes that this was common punishment for breaking (or bending) the Persian law, all would perish for the sin of the other involved (Source 4).
vv. 25-28. Doxology. Darius makes “amends for the dishonour he had done both to God and Daniel” (Source 5). Darius doesn’t just write to his family or his subjects but he writes to all people. He has found a universal truth: that there is ONE true God. And only the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (and most recently, Daniel) is in the business of doing miracles. In the business of protecting His children and delivering them.
Conclusion. Deliverance. Salvation. These are the themes of this story as we see so poignantly pointed out by the lips of a Gentile king. God saves His people. Don’t we know this? And yet, we need the reminder. Daily. I can wrap this up by telling you that God will shut the mouth of the difficulties that you will face this week but that would be selling God short. God is preeminent and consequently is the only one who can save us from our sins. So the enslaving sin that was pulling us into hell is released if we cling to Him. Just as Daniel was a prisoner surrounded by lions that should have killed him and was saved miraculously by God, we were prisoners surrounded by sin that should have killed us but we’ve been saved miraculously by God. Jesus dying on the cross was our salvation and it is our duty to share that with all the Gentile kings, governors and satraps we come into contact with each day. With our good attitude and commitment to reading the Bible and a mature prayer life we will win them over to the God of Daniel.
Source 1: Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 340, 345.
Source 2: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1236.
Source 4: David Guzik, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Dan/Dan_6.cfm?a=856001
Source 5: Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry Commentary, OT, p. 1093.