DANIEL - CHAPTER 6
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
In chapter 5 we have been given a symbolic preview of what will be in the coming Tribulation era, with the focus on the destruction of the world’s false religious systems, and here in chapter 6 the time period being symbolically portrayed is also that of the Tribulation, but with the spotlight on the persecution and testing of the believing remnant (of the nations, as well as of Israel) during those seven years.
The prominent figure is Daniel, who is not only the representative of believers of the Tribulation age, but of the Lord Jesus Christ in His humiliation, death, resurrection, and coming millennial glory. It is clear, in fact, that the symbolic picture of the suffering of believers in the Tribulation, is overshadowed by the symbolic portrayal of the Lord’s earthly experience two thousand years ago, and of His coming millennial glory. And fittingly so, for His conduct in the midst of testing is the pattern for that of all who belong to Him, He Himself having given them the assurance, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you .... The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you .... In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn 15:18-20; 16:33).
6:1. “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom;”
6:2. “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.”
As Daniel is a double type here: first, of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also of the Tribulation age remnant, so is Darius also a double type. As the friend and benefactor of Daniel he is a type of God the Father, but as the one to whom alone prayer was to be offered for thirty days, he is clearly also a type of the final beast emperor whom men will be compelled to worship as God, on pain of death. It is to be remem-bered that it was Darius who had overthrown Babylon and seized her power, events which foreshadow the Tribulation age beast’s overthrow of the false church (which Babylon represents), and his arrogation of all her power and wealth.
6:3. “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.”
The excellent spirit which caused Daniel to be preferred above all others, points to the moral perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Pilate declaring twice, “I find no fault in him” (Jn 19:4,6), the centurion testifying also twice, “Certainly this was a righteous man” (Lk 23:47), and again, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mk 15:39); but God, Whose eye can discern what the eye of man can’t - the inward emotions and thoughts - confirmed their testimony to His Son’s excellence, by also twice declaring from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17), “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Mt 17:5).
A miracle of transcendent grace is that God imputes Christ’s righteousness to every believer, so that we too, stand before Him in all the excellence of His perfect Son!
“And the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” So also has the Father determined that the Lord Jesus Christ shall reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords, a further miracle of grace being that “We shall also reign with him” (2 Tim 2:12).
6:4. “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.”
The Jewish rulers similarly sought occasion against Christ, “Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witnesses against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none” (Mt 26:59-60).
And the attitude of the world is the same toward those who belong to Christ, as He Himself warned, see Jn 15:18-20; 16:33.
6:5. “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.”
They were obviously well aware of Daniel’s faithfulness to his God, and having found him equally faithful to his king, they were determined to accomplish his death by devising a scheme whereby his faithfulness to God would require him to disobey Darius. Their unjustified hatred and envy of Daniel is but the foreshadowing of that of the Jewish rulers in regard to Christ, as it is written, “They hated me without a cause” (Jn 15:25), it being recorded also that Pilate “knew that for envy they had delivered him (Jesus)” (Mt 27:18). The world’s hatred of those who belong to Christ is also almost invariably without cause.
6:6. “Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.”
6:7. “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.”
It is clear that Daniel hadn’t been consulted about this resolution, but their use of the word all makes it equally clear that these shrewd schemers intended Darius to understand that Daniel had been consulted.
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.”
They were determined to leave no loophole through which Daniel might elude their murderous design. Once signed by the king, the statute was irrevocable.
6:9. “Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.”
The crafty appeal to the king’s vanity succeeded, and the satisfaction with which he signed the decree is easily imagined, but how quickly his complacency became consternation upon discovering that he had been deceived into signing the death warrant of the man he valued most in all his kingdom!
As noted already, however, his signing this decree forbidding the worship of anyone but him, foreshadows the demand of the Tribulation age beast emperor that he alone be worshipped as God.
6:10. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he had aforetime.”
This verse has sometimes been interpreted to indicate a scornful defiance of the king’s decree, but it is rather a revelation of Daniel’s integrity: he would be faithful to God though it cost him his life. The same integrity marked Christ. Daniel continued doing what he had always done, and the windows opened towards Jerusalem, so far from implying defiance of Darius, declared only his obedience to God, for in 2 Ch 6:36-39, Solomon, speaking by inspiration, and anticipating the day when a disobedient Israel would be captive in a strange land, had said, “If they ... pray towards their land ... and toward the city (Jerusalem) which Thou hast chosen ... forgive Thy people....” Daniel, seeking forgiveness for his people, was being careful to obey the Divinely prescribed order for the presentation of that petition. He faced towards Jerusalem.
His kneeling bespeaks his reverence in God’s presence. His praying three times a day tells of steadfastness in prayer; and his windows, open towards Jerusalem, reveal a meticulous obedience to Divine order, while his doing all this at the risk of his life, tells of a willingness to honor God no matter what the cost. Surely no one will fail to see in this an adumbration of Christ’s conduct, and an example for ourselves.
Contemplation of the symbolic, however, shouldn’t cause us to miss the practical. Despite the pressures of an office that was equivalent to that of prime minister, Daniel made time to pray three times a day. May we who have lighter responsibilities pray less? And should we be less careful than he in yielding implicit obedience to the Divinely appointed order of worship and service? It is worth noting also, that in circumstances little calculated to evoke thanksgiving, Daniel, nonetheless, “prayed, and gave thanks.” Surely this would rebuke our presenting petitions divorced from thanksgiving for past blessings, for we are commanded, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Php 4:6).
6:11. “Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.”
The murderous anticipation with which they had watched for that moment is easily imagined, nor is it difficult to see in their attitude a foreshadowing of
that of the Jewish rulers who watched with the same murderous intent for an opportunity to take Christ.
6:12. “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.”
How eagerly they must have assembled before the king, and how careful they were to have him certify with his own lips, not only the details of the decree, but also its irrevocable character, thus making it the more difficult for him to make any attempt to save Daniel.
6:13. “Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.”
Their oily language, and feigned concern for the king’s honor, fail to disguise their venomous hatred of Daniel, nor could the same feigned concern for God’s honor mask the equally murderous hatred of the Jewish leaders against Christ.
6:14. “Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.”
There is no question as to the high esteem in which Darius held Daniel, and it is to his credit that he exhausted every possible expedient to deliver him out of the hand of his enemies, though without success, but it isn’t difficult to see in these details the foreshadowing of what occurred in connection with the Lord’s false arrest and arraignment before Pilate. The conduct of Darius and Pilate is identical, “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him,” The Roman governor was as anxious to deliver Christ out of the hand of his accusers, as was Darius to deliver Daniel, but also without success.
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.”
The princes’ cunning manipulation of Darius, that resulted in Daniel’s loyalty to God being equated with disloyalty to the king, bears remarkable resemblance to the Jews’ manipulation of Pilate, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar” (Jn 19:12).
The blood lust of the enemy, however, would be satisfied with nothing less than the death of both Daniel and Christ, for in both cases the hatred emanated from the same evil source, Satan.
6:16. “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.”
The reluctance with which Darius finally delivered Daniel to the will of his enemies is but the OT figure of the reluctance with which Pilate delivered Christ to the will of His enemies. That Darius knew more of God than did Pilate, however, is indicated perhaps in his words, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” Whether he had much confidence in the assurance given his friend is open to question, but there is no uncertainty about his familiarity with Daniel’s loyalty to God. His words, “Thy God whom thou servest continually,” declare the certainty of his knowledge of Daniel’s faithfulness to God. It would be well if those acquainted with us had the same certainty relative to our relationship with God!
6:17. “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.”
There can be no question that the placing of the stone, and the double sealing, were not by the wish of Darius, but by the demand of Daniel’s enemies, and none but the spiritually blind will fail to see the parallel between the placing of the stone on what was meant to be Daniel’s tomb, and the similar placing of a stone on the mouth of the cave that was Christ’s tomb (Mt 27:60). Nor will even the unbeliever refuse to acknowledge the remarkable “coincidence” that in both cases the stones were sealed to prevent any frustration of the enemy’s purpose.
6:18. “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.”
This testifies to the high esteem in which Darius held Daniel, but it is interesting to note that Pilate’s wife spent an equally restless night in connection with Christ, “When he (Pilate) was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Mt 27:19). It is quite possible that the troubled night spent by the Median king is but the OT foreshadowing of the similarly troubled night spent by the wife of the Roman governor.
6:19. “Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.”
The arrival of the sorrowing king at the supposed tomb of Daniel “very early in the morning,” is reminiscent of the coming of the mourning women to the tomb of Christ also “very early in the morning,” (Mk 16:2).
6:20. “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?”
It would be difficult to find a more eloquent testimony to Daniel’s faithfulness toward God than the twice repeated words of the king, “Thy God, whom thou servest continually” verse 16, and here again in verse 20. Daniel was no secret disciple. His loyalty to God was public knowledge. We would do well to ensure that our own faithfulness to God is also a matter of public record, particularly in view of the Lord’s warning, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Mt 10:32-33). The king’s description of God as “the living God” would indicate that Daniel had made known to Darius the very great difference between Jehovah, and the so-called gods worshiped by the nations. We should never forget that the reason we have been left here on the earth is also to make God known to the people around us.
6:21. “Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.”
6:22. “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, 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.”
No spiritual mind will fail to see in Daniel’s emergence from the lions’ den a figure of the Lord’s resurrection. The joy of the king is easily imagined, and few will have difficulty seeing in it a picture of the joy of the Father on the resurrection morning, and also a foreshadowing of that of the women, who having come to the sepulchre, also early in the morning, heard from the lips of the angel the joyous tidings, “He is not here: for He is risen.... And they departed ... with fear and great joy” (Mt 28:8).
The reason for Daniel’s preservation is instructive. It was because he had been faultless Godward and manward, and so was it with Christ. Even when bearing our sins, He Himself remained sinless. Death had no claim upon Him, except that which He Himself gave it when He made Himself accountable for our sins.
6:23. “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.”
Daniel’s experience, however, was but a shadow of the terrible reality endured by Christ. Daniel, unscathed, could assure the king, “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me,” and “Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him.” It was very different with Christ. When He was delivered up to the will of His enemies there was no protecting angel to “shut the lions’ mouths,” and when He “Was taken up out of the den,” i.e., was resurrected, it was the print of the nails in His hands and feet, and the spear wound in His side (mute witnesses to what He had endured in “the lions’ den), that convinced the terrified, doubting disciples that it was He Who stood alive before them.
6:24. “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; 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.’
The punishment was perfectly fitted to the crime. What they, unjustly, had desired for the innocent Daniel, they themselves were compelled to receive. The type will be fulfilled in that soon coming day when the Lord returns in power and glory to judge the nations, and avenge the suffering inflicted upon His own by an unbelieving world in the Tribulation. Those unbelievers will be banished bodily into hell, as it is written, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal” (Mt 25:41-46).
We should note incidentally, that God is a God of absolute justice Who will neither punish the children for the sins of their fathers, nor the fathers for the sins of their children, see Eze 18:20 “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” The consignment of the wives and children therefore to the den of lions, with the husbands and fathers who had falsely accused Daniel, can be only because they too, had endorsed the wicked scheme.
It is instructive also to remember that these men and their families had undoubtedly sought to curry favor with the king by praying to him during the thirty day period. They represent those who will worship the beast in the Great Tribulation, and in the fate that befell them we have the foreshadowing of what will befall the beast worshippers when Christ returns to judge the nations and establish His millennial kingdom.
6:25. “Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied unto you.”
This pronouncement of peace, following the typical resurrection of Daniel, and the typical coming judgment of the nations, reminds us that there can be no peace for individuals or for the world apart from the death and resurrection of Christ, as it is written, He has “made peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20).
6:26. “I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destr- oyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.”
6:27. “He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”
The prophetic nature of the book of Daniel leaves no doubt that this proclamation of Darius points forward to what will be in the coming Millennium. During that reign of peace, all men will “tremble and fear” before the God of heaven, the believers rendering their obedience willingly and joyfully; the unbelievers, by compulsion, for in that halcyon age no rebellion will be permitted.
6:28. “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
This points to the eternal character of Christ’s reign. As Daniel prospered (advanced) during the reigns of these two kings, so will Christ reign, not just in the Millennium, but throughout eternity.
It is interesting to note that while Darius means investigation: the dwelling will be full of heaviness, Cyrus means possess thou the furnace. Daniel’s prosperity during the reign of Darius, points to the millennial reign of Christ, a reign that will follow the judgment (investigation) of the nations, with its resultant “heaviness” for those condemned at that judgment, but since the furnace is the figure of affliction for God’s people in the past, Daniel’s prosperity in the reign of Cyrus, declares that Christ’s reign which is eternal, will be one in which the “furnace” will be under His control. His redeemed will never again experience affliction.
We should note also that God’s use of Daniel’s experiences to foreshadow those of Christ, doesn’t preclude His use of those same events to also foreshadow the Tribulation experiences of the believing remnant. Like the Lord, and Daniel, they too will be hated, persecuted, and “cast into the lions’ den.” But God’s hand will preserve a remnant through the trial, and the Millennium will reveal that they too will have suffered no hurt, for their enemies will be destroyed, and the martyrs raised to eternal life in heaven, while the survivors will be brought out of the Tribulation into the Millennium, where they will enjoy the beneficent reign of Christ over a redeemed and transformed earth, and God will be glorified unto the uttermost bounds of creation.