We find the final of the supposed tale tales of Daniel in chapter 6. Daniel is one of the few people in Scripture who everything written about him is positive. He has lived a long time in Babylon and earned a spotless reputation. King Darius learns about this, and decides to appoint him a ruler over his whole kingdom. But some jealous administrators hear about this and scheme to have Daniel discredited before he can be appointed. In this they fail: “They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” So they go after his religion.
The administrators trick the king into issuing a decree that no other God except he is to be worshiped for the next 30 days. Because of his pious, Jewish reputation, they know Daniel will never do this, and thus be sentenced to death. As soon as he hears about the decree, he goes home, opens his window toward Jerusalem, gets on his knees and “gives thanks to his God.” Even though he knows he is likely to be executed he gives thanks! He knew what Paul would command to us some 500 years later, “in everything give thanks.”
Daniel must have been familiar with I Kings 8, or knew of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple. Numerous times in that chapter Solomon says something like this:
29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
Not only did Daniel do what it said, he had a reputation for doing what his God required. His enemies knew this. They catch him praying on his knees three times a day as is his custom, and go tell the king, whose response it interesting:
14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.
We don’t know what those efforts were, but a king who made a decree could not annul his own decree. So he ordered him thrown into the lions’ den, and the king says to Daniel: “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
The king has a fitful night and can’t sleep. First thing in the morning he “hurried to the lions’ den” and calls out “in an anguished voice”:
“Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answers, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.” Overjoyed, the king orders him out, and “no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” Trusting God doesn’t always lead to the results we want, but we trust nonetheless.
Then something happens that seems incredibly harsh and unjust to us:
24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
I found this commentary that tells us why this happened:
This was obviously severe, but it was also according to ancient customs among the Persians. An ancient writer named Ammianus Marcellinus wrote of the Persians, “The laws among them are formidable . . . by which, on account of the guilt of one, all the kindred perish.”
Heathen justice is not biblical justice. But notice what the lions do, whereas Daniel spent an entire night with them and not a scratch was found on him.
The chapter ends with King Darius issuing a decree for all peoples and nations to worship (“fear and reverence”) Daniel’s God. Sorry, king, it doesn’t work that way. But good try. Daniel prospers throughout the reign of Darius and then Cyrus (who may have been one in the same), which is in the 530s BC.
One thing about the supernatural in Daniel, which to unbelieving scholars proves it’s all made up. Supernatural acts in Scripture are rare. God only acts directly in history for a reason, and it’s not to impress people at what he can do. They always have a redemptive-historical purpose. Maybe the supernatural interventions in Daniel (there really aren’t many given Daniel’s long life) are to lend credibility to his eschatological prophecies in the rest of the book. We have seen that the Lord has a direct line to Daniel’s mind, which we’ll see more of in coming chapters.