|@October 15, 2023||ESV (2016)||ESV Prophets Plan 2023|
- Daniel and the Lion’s Den
The chapter opens with King Darius setting 120 satraps and three high officials over the whole kingdom and that one of officials was Daniel. These government officials would be responsible for collecting tribute and maintaining security throughout the kingdom.
In Dan. 6:3-5, Daniel stood out from among the officials which caused jealousy among the others. They initially wanted to complain against Daniel but found no fault in him (Dan. 6:4). There was no charge they could bring against him with regard to the kingdom. Thus, they resorted to trap Daniel by creating a law to ban Daniel from worshipping his God (Dan. 6:5).
In Dan. 6:6-9, the officials and satraps approached the king in agreement the he should establish and enforce an ordinance that no one should make petition to any god or man except the king for 30 days. The irrevocability of a law of the Medes and Persians is confirmed elsewhere in Scripture (Esther 1:19; Esther 8:8) and secular literature (Diodorus of Sicily, XVII:30). The punishment for breaking this ordinance was being thrown into the den of lions. Without much forethought, Darius agreed and signed the document (Dan. 6:9).
Dan. 6:10-14 describes how Daniel went to his house where he had windows while fully aware of the signed ordinance (Dan. 6:10). The other officials witness Daniel praying to God and seek an audience with the king to report Daniel’s violation of the ordinance. The officials first clarify with the king that he signed the ordinance which the king then confirms (Dan. 6:12). Once confirmed, the officials tell the king that Daniel pays no attention to the king or his injunction but prays to God three times a day (Dan. 6:13).
In Dan. 6:14-18, king Darius is distressed when he hears the report of Daniel. He attempts to rescue Daniel (Dan. 6:14) but the officials and satraps reiterate that the ordinance could not be changed (Dan. 6:15). With a forced hand, Darius commands that Daniel be cast into the den of lions. Daniel expresses his hope that Daniel’s devotion to God would deliver him (Dan. 6:16). A stone was laid on the den and the king sealed it with his own signet (Dan. 6:17), testifying to the issuance, authority and approval of the decree. Darius then spends the night fasting and presumably praying for the safekeeping of Daniel (Dan. 6:18).
Dan. 6:19-24 describes how Darius came “in haste” to the lion’s den “at break of day” (Dan. 6:19), demonstrating that Daniel was king Darius’ highest priority. Darius wanted to know if God was able to deliver him (Dan. 6:20). While showing his concern, Darius implicitly questioned God’s power to save. Daniel responded from the lion’s den that God sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouths and that no harm had come to him (Dan. 6:21-22). The king then sentenced the conspiring officials and satraps with the same punishment as the decree violation and cast them into the den of lions. No salvation came to the officials and all their bones were broken to pieces before reaching the bottom of the den (Dan. 6:24).
The remaining section (Dan. 6:25-28) is of Darius’ decree to the people that they were to “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel” (Dan. 6:25-26). Darius praised God and recognized His greatness, but it is unlikely he came to saving faith here. Here merely accepted the God of Israel as just one of many gods. The chapter ends with Daniel’s prospering during the reign of Darius and Cyrus the Persian (Dan. 6:28).
In one of the most well-known chapters of the Bible, king Darius appoints several officials and satraps over the kingdom. Daniel is one of the appointed officials and quickly stands in his faithfulness, causing jealousy among the rest. The others fail in finding fault in Daniel’s dealings with the kingdom and so they conspire to trap him with regard to his worship of God. They have the king sign a decree that would restrict worship to him alone for 30 days. Daniel proceeds to openly worship God despite his full knowledge of the decree and the officials report this to the king. The king’s hand is forced and Daniel is cast into the den of lions per the stipulations regarding the breaking of the decree. Daniel emerges unharmed as God’s angel shut the mouths of the lions. The officials are sentenced to the same punishment who die along with their wives and children. Darius decrees that Daniel’s God be revered and Daniel prospers during his and Cyrus’ reign.
Daniel’s steadfast and fully open worship of God while knowing of the decree is amazing. He serves an inspiring model for how we are to publicly praise our God despite opposition. It is to be an open worship, seen by others, that they may know that we serve the one, true God. Let us not shy away in fear from overt divine ovation, but instead proclaim it boldly that we follow Jesus!
Scripture Journal Notes
Commentaries & Resources Used
- ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008)
- Faithlife Study Bible (Lexham Press, 2016)
- Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 2016)
- CSB Study Bible Notes (Holman Bible Publishers, 2017)
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Guardian Press, 1976)
- The Bible: A Reader’s Guide (Sterling Publishing, 2011)
- The Infographic Bible (Zondervan, 2018)
- ESV Digital Scripture Journal (Crossway, 2019)