Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 6

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Verses 1-3


Daniel 6 is the last chapter of the historical part of the book. It is a highlight in the prophetic interpretation. Daniel 1-5 take place in the Babylonian realm. Daniel 6 takes place under the rule of the Medes and Persians. The Babylonian empire existed for about seventy years, that of the Medes and Persians will exist for about two hundred and ten years.

In Daniel 3-6 moral characteristics of the ruling pagan forces are shown in various histories. In it we see an increasing hostility towards God.

1. In Daniel 3 Nebuchadnezzar belittles God by presenting Him as a God Who cannot deliver (Daniel 3:15).
2. In Daniel 4 Nebuchadnezzar ignores God and boasts of his works as the result of his own effort and merit (Daniel 4:30).
3. In Daniel 5, Belshazzar defies and insults God by mocking objects from God’s house and glorifying his own gods (Daniel 5:23).
4. In Daniel 6 we have the height of enmity against God. Here we see a ruler, a man, who bumps God off the throne and takes the place of God (Daniel 6:8-2 Samuel :).

This apostasy of God is presented to us in the New Testament as the hallmark of the end of the times of the nations. In the second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul foretells the coming apostasy and relates it to the revelation of “the man of lawlessness …, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-Numbers :). From Revelation 13 we learn that this man of lawlessness is the second beast, the beast of the earth (Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:15). Darius’ decree to address every request to him alone is a foreshadowing of the actions of this through and through evil man.

Incidentally, it is good to note that it only concerns the injunction and not the person of Darius. Darius as a person seems to have had a better character than the licentious and self-willed Belshazzar we had before us in the previous chapter. In this chapter he appears sympathetic in his attitude towards Daniel. There is no doubt that he has sincere admiration for Daniel. He even has a sleepless night because of him and is very pleased when he discovers that Daniel is still alive. Like Nebuchadnezzar, he finally comes to the recognition that there is only one God, and that is the God of Daniel.

However, a warning is also appropriate. We have to be careful not to be too impressed by certain characteristics that seem pleasant to us. It will not come as a surprise if it turns out that the man of sin will also be an extraordinarily charming man with a very attractive appearance, someone who comes across as sympathetic. Corruption is in the heart.

Darius Wants to Promote Daniel

The opening verses are the introduction to the injunction that Darius will publish. We indirectly find in this that jealousy is the reason for issuing his royal decree. The area over which Darius is in charge is so large that he divides the kingdom, which is the original Babylonian empire, into one hundred and twenty districts, each with one satrap. Above these one hundred and twenty satraps, he places three commissioners to whom the satraps are accountable. The commissioners must be trusted representatives of the kingdom, because they must ensure that the king is not disadvantaged. He can only give such a task to people he can trust. Daniel is one of the commissioners.

Darius has an eye for the person, or maybe he has been told that Daniel possesses an exceptional spirit. In Daniel he sees someone who is of the greatest significance for his kingdom. He is thinking about appointing him as a kind of viceroy. Given the reaction to this, the king will have spoken his mind. It must have been difficult for the commissioners to be held accountable to this exile from Judah. But now that the king intends to put Daniel above his fellow commissioners as well, they will have been filled with jealousy (cf. Ecclesiastes 4:4). If anyone is caught in envy, no means is too bad or cruel to use it (Proverbs 27:4). Motivated by envy they all go in search of a means to get rid of Daniel.

Verses 4-5

Looking for an Accusation

In their search for an accusation they could bring against Daniel to the king, they find nothing. On the contrary, they discover that he is reliable, without corruption or anything he has done wrong. They are forced to admit that Daniel cannot be caught in any error because he does not make any. That is indeed a very remarkable fact in that circle of governors. This is where people often use illicit means to bring in even more than they already have.

The people of the world also take a close look at our lives as Christians, in order to speak evil of us. They will speak evil of us anyway. However, if there is no valid reason, they will be ashamed if they revile our good behavior in Christ (1 Peter 3:15-Nehemiah :). Like Daniel then, we are strange elements in the world today. We are exhorted to do “all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-Nehemiah :). We may ask ourselves: ‘How do we do our work? How do we behave towards our neighbors?

The only possibility they see is to find something against him in the law of his God. In order to use this option, they must have been familiar with Daniel’s religious customs. But even there they find nothing. Daniel is faithful to the king and he is faithful to his God. Yet now they see an opportunity to get rid of him. They have to come up with something that will make him unfaithful to his God. They go looking for something in his service to God that gives them a weapon to eliminate him.

We too are increasingly faced with such matters. There are more and more laws that are anti-Christian. Not that every law that goes against God’s Word should lead us to action. We have a law that allows abortion, but women in the Netherlands are not (yet) obliged to have an abortion. But when we are faced with a law that forbids us from calling homosexual relationships sin, we do come to the area that demands something of us, as we cannot go along with that law. We cannot obey laws that oblige us to do something that goes against the Word of God.

Verses 6-9

To Acknowledge Darius as God

The hypocrites are of one mind in the evil and go to the king. They greet him with the usual greeting. Then they come up with their proposal, a proposal that is a great flattery of the king. The only reason we can think of that this proposal has a chance of succeeding is the pride of the king. These people must have known that and they respond conveniently. The proposed law does not require a long discussion. Without any enquiry as to why the proposed law is signed by the king, including the sanction in the event of violation.

The real reason for enactment of this law is to eliminate Daniel. The law as such is nonsensical. Even today laws are made for no other purpose than the elimination of Christians. We must be aware that all anti-Christian laws are only intended to eliminate Christians or at least to suppress Christian influence. Everything is ultimately aimed at banning every thought of Christ. The enmity concerns Him.

It is always about laws that are nonsensical. With every law that is intended to eliminate Christian influences, the petitioner commits a suicide attack. Christian influences have always been beneficial to all areas of life. Removing them is foolish and opens the door to all kinds of malicious elements that only hurt society instead of doing good. Such laws instead of increasing happiness only bring more and more plagues to society that ravage and torment the people.

While writing the rules above, I saw an example of this on the opinion site Habakuk.nu. It is an opinion article about sexually transboundary conduct. The author points out that the much-praised legally obtained freedoms blur and erase the boundaries that God has given as protection. He cites as an example the boundaries given by God with regard to sexuality. Take that away and the following is observed, not by a Christian institution, but by a secular research group:

Sexual transboundary conduct, 84% of boys and 66% of girls between the ages of 15 and 25 years of age, has to do with this subject. The younger you are sexually active and the more changing your contacts, the greater the risk. And then we are almost always talking about a form of physically or psychologically enforced sex, whether or not under the influence of alcohol. And despite all the acquired freedoms of the sexual revolution, the result is still anger, fear, guilt or a distorted attitude towards sexuality. (End of quote; italicization by me, GdK.)

In Darius we see that he is caught in the deceit of flattery to be venerated as the only God for thirty days. This makes him a slave to his subjects. What he does is to enact a law in which he substitutes himself for God (cf. Isaiah 14:13-2 Chronicles :). For thirty days he is the only god to whom a man may address himself. It is the supreme form of rebellion against God: the idolization of man.

Verse 10

Daniel Prays to His God

When Daniel hears of the injunction, he is not afraid. He does not submit a request for exemption to the king. He also does not seek the conversation with his opponents. He goes home immediately. Back home, he goes to his room chamber to pray according to his habit, leaving the consequences to God. Praying is not something special for him, it is part of his life. For him it is as natural as breathing. Prayer is not something for special events, an escape valve for when the pressure gets too high. It is not a spontaneous religious burp when suddenly a difficulty arises. When Daniel prays here, it is the continuation of something he is used to.

For us it is also important to make prayer a habit that we will not allow to be robbed of or forbidden. This approach to prayer is completely different from praying out of routine. No instruction is given to us as to how often we should pray. However, we are told several times that we must persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). We are not prescribed an attitude of prayer either. We do find clues. We can kneel, stand or lie down. Our attitude will fit with what is in our hearts to pray for. When we are in great need, it is conceivable that we are kneeling or even lying stretched out on the ground. If there is thankfulness and praise to God that will happen more in standing.

Whatever attitude it is, it will be a respectful attitude. After all, we are approaching the holy God. Certainly, we may call Him Father, be close to Him and speak with Him in a confidential way. But that doesn’t mean we’re dealing with Him in a popular way. Confidentiality does not exclude respect.

Daniel does not only pray, he also gives thanks. He finds reasons to give thanks, despite the very threatening situation. According to Solomon’s prayer he prays, with the windows open, in the direction of Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:48). He is used to praying with open windows and did not close them for this occasion. He wants to keep his clear view on heaven, as it were, and he also wants to keep the connection with heaven open in practical terms.

Through his dealings with God, Daniel comes to do what is forbidden to him. Here he cannot obey the government. He wants “to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). He refuses to address Darius instead of God, because God has said that He does not give His honor to anyone else. For the first commandment is: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). Daniel has to deal with this in the first place and to be obedient to it, and therefore he refuses the king’s injunction.

Our personal prayer may also be an open and visible matter to all. We do not have to do that secretly. Prayer for eating in a restaurant or at work is a testimony. Even during a business trip it is important to openly show that you are different from the rest. This is evident not only from not participating in wrong talk and activities or not going to wrong places, but also from praying and reading God’s Word. Daniel refused any compromise for himself and we must do so as well.

Daniel gets down on his knees. His attitude is in line with what he does. He could also have done it standing or walking, so that no one would notice that he was praying. He does not adjust his prayer attitude so as not to be noticed. Nor does he change the times of his prayers. As always he prays three times a day, perhaps following the example of David (Psalms 55:17). For example, he will not pray at night during those thirty days, so as not to be seen.

There is another important aspect to Daniel’s prayer and that is that he does not pray before the eyes of the people, but before the eyes of God. People are allowed to see him pray. But he does not do it for the people, but for God. With the Pharisees it is different. They pray to be seen by men (Matthew 6:5), ignoring the fact that God does not pay attention to their prayer, yes, their prayer is even an abomination to Him. Instead of praise from people, Daniel is confronted with the enmity of people. This proves the authenticity of his prayer. Any hypocrisy is alien to it. Our serving of God is only proven to be real when it takes place under the pressure of enmity.

Verses 11-13


The men know Daniel’s habit and the times when he prays. They also know his character that he will remain true to it, whatever the consequences. Unanimously in their malicious plan they go to Daniel’s house. They lurk, as it were, and perceive what they expect. There they find a praying and supplicating Daniel. Now they have what they want: a violation of the law enacted, because he is addressing someone other than Darius. Now they can charge and convict him. However, the indictment is not the result of a failure in his service to God, but rather the result of his faithful serving of his God. Their conspiracy succeeds because they rightly count on Daniel’s consistent attitude in serving his God.

Maybe they have heard him pray and beg for mercy. If Daniel has indeed been aware that these people see and hear him, it will have only made his prayer and supplication more fervent. He makes “petition and supplication before his God”. Whatever people can plan against him, above them he sees the face of God. That he makes petition and supplication means that he does not expect any possibility of salvation from himself. Nor does he appeal to any excellence that would be in him. To make petition and supplication means that he expects everything from God alone, without any merit of his own. To make petition and supplication excludes any right to be heard.

When the men have found that Daniel has just continued to pray, they immediately go to the king to have him charged. They don’t waste any time. When they are with Darius, they first remind him by means of a question of the law he promulgated. They also point out the punishment for the offence. The king says that he has enacted that law and adds that the law is irrevocable.

Well, they have an offender. Triumphantly they call the name: Daniel. They add that he is “one of the exiles from Judah”. With this they express their contempt for all who are out of Judah as exiles among them. As an accusation they say to Darius, that Daniel did not heed him, the king, nor the injunction he signed. In this way they try to work on his sense of honor (cf. Daniel 3:12).

Verses 14-18

Cast Into the Lions’ Den

When Darius understands what is happening, how he fell into a trap, he blames himself. He tortures his brain for a solution if something could redeem Daniel. It is about something that can free him from his own laws. But that is impossible. The longer he thinks, the more it becomes clear how much he is a slave to his own laws. That makes the big man very weak at the same time. Nebuchadnezzar did not have such laws.

The men, with some contempt called “these men” (Daniel 6:15), not only keep an eye on Daniel, they also keep an eye on Darius. They know his predilection for Daniel. They notice how much the king is looking for ways to free Daniel from the lions. But that will not happen. Hypocritically, they remind him that nothing should be changed about a law of the Medes and Persians. Then Darius can do nothing but cast Daniel into the lions’ den. Before he lets him be cast into it, he expresses his confidence that the God Who is constantly or persistently honored by Daniel will redeem him. At the same time Darius confirms that Daniel did nothing to deserve the lion’s den. He justifies Daniel before his prosecutors.

When Daniel is cast into the pit, a stone is placed on it that is sealed with the signet ring of the king and with the signet rings of his nobles. Daniel’s’ fate is sealed in several ways and is immutable. Liberation from outside is impossible and inside death is present in all its horror. After this act, the king moves to his palace. The man who has set down that he must function as a god for thirty days has no rest. That is not because he receives so many requests from people, but because his conscience tortures him. He doesn’t want a diversion and he can’t sleep. Thus the night passes for him.

There is a parallel to be drawn between Darius and Pilate. Just as Darius has been manipulated by his commissioners and satraps to kill Daniel, so the Jews manipulated Pilate to condemn and kill the Lord Jesus (John 19:12-Nehemiah :). Just as Darius seals the stone of the den, the den, which is a grave for Daniel, so Pilate has the grave of the Lord Jesus secured and sealed (Matthew 27:65-Revelation :). That Pilate washes his hands in innocence (Matthew 27:24) does not wash away his sin. We don’t read about Pilate that he had a sleepless night of it, but his wife does. Darius has no rest that night, just like Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19).

Verses 19-23

Taken up Out of the Lions’ Den

When Darius goes to the den early in the morning, the grave of Daniel, it turns out that Daniel is still alive. Early in the morning it also appears that the Lord Jesus lives. Daniel is here a picture of the Lord Jesus in His resurrection. When the nations become aware of this, they will acknowledge that He has the rule. With Darius we see that in Daniel 6:26-Hosea :.

That Darius goes to the den and speaks to Daniel is quite special. Normally there is no reason to assume that Daniel would be alive. The punishment was not for nothing to be thrown into the lions’ den. It was impossible to imagine a more certain death. Yet Darius must have felt something of the power of the God of Daniel. He can only have this feeling through his contact with Daniel and what he may have learned about him from other sources. He addresses Daniel several times as a worshipper and servant of God. He has seen in the life of Daniel who God is and what He is capable of. Then it is inevitable that this God is also able to redeem Daniel from the lions.

At the king’s request Daniel testifies that his God has sent His angel who has shut the lions’ mouth (cf. Acts 12:11). We read more about the lion’s mouth in Scripture. David rescued his sheep from the lions’ mouth (1 Samuel 17:34-Habakkuk :). This is a picture of the Lord Jesus who rescues his sheep from the lion’s mouth, that is to say from the power of the devil, for he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He cares about them (cf. Amos 3:12).

The Lord Jesus experienced the lion’s mouth when He hangs on the cross and evil people slander Him: “They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion” (Psalms 22:13). He asked His God to be saved from this: “Save me from the lion’s mouth” (Psalms 22:21) and was answered: “You answer me” (Psalms 22:21). “He was heard because of His piety” (Hebrews 5:7). God has heard Him by raising Him from the dead. This is shown in the sequel to Psalm 22.

The fact that the Lord Jesus experienced the lion’s den means that He entered into the circumstances of His own. He has also experienced what His own experience, and that is why he can sympathize with them. His attitude in it is our example, for while He experienced the lion’s mouth He relied upon the LORD, as is also said here of Daniel (Daniel 6:24). Paul also speaks about being “rescued out of the lion’s mouth” (2 Timothy 4:17). He stands before the world ruler Nero, but is aware that the Lord stands with him. We are also dealing with world rulers who increasingly show the character of roaring and destructive lions.

There is another aspect to the salvation of Daniel from the lions. That other aspect is his faith. For we read of a faith by which believers “shut the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:33). In the midst of the lions, he had a rest in his trust in God. In Psalm 57 we read how David sings of his experiences and talks about lying down “among lions” (Psalms 57:4). Daniel had that faith and God responded to it by sending His angel. But Daniel does not boast of his faith towards Darius. In front of Darius he honors God Who saved him from the lions’ mouths.

Daniel says that his innocence is the reason why the lions did not inflict any injuries on him. This is also established when he is removed from the pit. This is the same as what has been found with the three friends when they come out of the furnace of blazing fire (Daniel 3:27). He has done nothing against the LORD, nor against the king. This testimony of innocence and his being saved from any injury will also be given by the faithful remnant of Israel. They can give it because Christ, the true Innocent, has borne the guilt of the remnant.

Because Daniel was in the lion pit, the requirement of the law has been met. Now he can be freed from it again, taken up out of it. As said, that is a picture of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He is risen because everything that the law demands of man is fulfilled in Him and through Him in His death. Therefore He could be raised up by God.

Verse 24

The Enemies in the Lions’ Den

When Daniel has been freed from the den, it is time to judge his enemies. They have knowingly sought his downfall. Now they will be given their just deserts. They are cast into the den they had intended for another person. Here the word becomes true: “The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place” (Proverbs 11:8; Proverbs 21:18). With the prosecutors, their wives and children are also cast before the lions.

Sin often has consequences not only for the perpetrator, but also for his family and relatives. The law states that children may not be executed for the fathers sins (Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Ezekiel 18:20). However, this is not an event in Israel, but in a pagan country. If in Israel children die with their sinning father, as with Achan (Joshua 7:24-Lamentations :), it seems that somehow they have supported sin, by which they deserve the same judgment. But the father is the main responsible person and by his sin is the cause of the judgment that comes over other family members.

As soon as these people are cast into the lions’ den, the lions attack them and crush them. This happens even before they have hit the ground. It is clear from what is happening here that the lions have not attacked Daniel because they were not hungry. The pure voraciousness of the lions makes the miracle that they have not inflicted any injuries on Daniel even greater. From his enemies the lions don't leave any of the bones in one piece. They crush all their bones.

The saying that whoever digs a pit for someone else falls into it himself (Psalms 57:6; Psalms 7:16; Proverbs 26:27; Ecclesiastes 10:8), applies not only to persons, but also to nations. For them it sounds prophetic in Psalm 9: “The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught. The LORD has made Himself known; He has executed judgment. In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared” (Psalms 9:15-Nehemiah :). This psalm speaks of the liberation of the God-fearing remnant in the end time. Then the wrath of God is poured out upon the enemies and they die in the trap they set. In the last verse quoted it is also about “the wicked”, that is the antichrist. He also perishes in his own evil works.

Verses 25-27

Darius’ Decree

The testimony Darius gives about God and His power goes beyond what Nebuchadnezzar has ever testified. Nebuchadnezzar bears personal witness of Him (Daniel 2:47; Daniel 4:1-Exodus :), and has given his people only the command that no derogatory things should be said about God (Daniel 3:29). But Darius commands that all peoples in his empire must fear and tremble before God, which means that everyone has to take account of Him in their lives. It is an appropriate testimony at the end of the historical chapters. What Darius says clearly applies to the kingdom of peace. He represents and is the mouth of the nations that will be in the kingdom of peace. They shall proclaim and praise the glory, honor, and majesty of God. Great respect fits towards that great and mighty and awesome God.

Again he calls God “the God of Daniel”. Daniel is a picture of Israel’s faithful remnant that will also pass through a time of great distress and will be redeemed from it by God. The peoples and nations will bear witness to this, they will acknowledge that He is the redeeming and saving God, He “Who has [also] delivered Daniel from the power of the lions”. Darius also calls God “the living God”. That is also an expression that goes far for a pagan monarch. Often God is so named to indicate the contrast with the dead idols.

He also acknowledges that the Being of God and His kingship are unchanging and eternally inviolable. No outside power can exercise any influence on His Being or His dominion. His power is so great, that He carries and leads the entire world dominion. In doing so, He does not lose sight of any of His own, not even the little ones and the few, but redeems and saves them.

He does this with means such as signs and wonders which refer to Him. He does these signs and wonders both in heaven and on earth. He is the sovereign Lord to Whom all things belong and Who has all things at His disposal to use them for His purpose. That these things are so, He has shown in the delivery of Daniel from the power [lit. hand or claw] of the lions. The first thing a prey has to deal with is the lion’s claws, only then does the lion’s mouth come into play.

Verse 28

Prosperity of Daniel

The last message in the historical chapters about Daniel is that he enjoys success in the reigns of the second world empire. But here too there is a prophetic picture. It is more than just a communication about Daniel’s success. We have seen in the previous verses that Darius in his testimony of the God of Daniel, the living God, represents the hearts of the nations in the realm of peace.

The naming of Cyrus expands that image even further. We can see Cyrus as a picture of the Lord Jesus. What is said of him by the prophet Isaiah, at least reminds us of this. We read that the LORD says of him:
“[It is I] who says of Cyrus, ‘[He is] My shepherd!
And he will perform all My desire.’
And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’
And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid” (Isaiah 44:28).

Also the next verse about Cyrus strongly reminds us the Lord Jesus:
“Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut” (Isaiah 45:1).

Cyrus is called “My shepherd” and “His anointed” in these verses, names that remind us directly of the Lord Jesus. In addition, Cyrus was the tool in God’s hand to free His people from the hand of Babylon. All in all, it seems justified to see in this last verse a picture of the kingdom of peace, where the faithful remnant will live in peace and prosperity under the blessed reign of the Messiah. The peoples will rejoice in their peace and prosperity and share in it. For everything honor and glory will go to God. He is the Processor and Maintainer of it.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Daniel 6". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/daniel-6.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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