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DANIEL CHAPTER 6
Daniel is made chief of the presidents and princes of the realm, Daniel 6:1-3. They conspire against him, and obtain an insnaring decree, Daniel 6:4-9. Daniel, excused of the breach thereof, against the king’s will is east into the lions’ den, Daniel 6:10-17. The king findeth him miraculously saved, Daniel 6:18-23. His adversaries are cast in and devoured, Daniel 6:24. Darius by a decree magnifieth God, Daniel 6:25-28.
Of whom Daniel was first: this was Belshazzar’s promise to Daniel, he should be the third ruler in the kingdom, Daniel 5:7,Daniel 5:16,Daniel 5:29; the first was general of the army, the second president of the palace, the third of the land and provinces.
There were three things that made Darius greatly favour Daniel.
1. Because he prophesied the destruction of Belshazzar and his reign, for which cause the king of Babylon favoured Jeremiah the prophet, Jeremiah 39:11, &c.
2. Because he saw so noble a spirit in him, the spirit of the holy gods.
3. Because Darius himself was old and unfit for government, and therefore took Daniel with him into Media, Joseph. Antiq. 10. 12, whereby the Lord by advancing Daniel made careful provision for his church. This was an act of great wisdom in Darius, to prefer men for their parts and merit, and to make them that have most of God in them to be their chief favourites; a thing rarely minded by the princes of the world, who usually favour them most that do most gratify their lusts.
Sought to find occasion against Daniel; made diligent inquiry, and set their wits to work about it: who can stand before envy? This disease always reigns in princes’ courts, every one would be uppermost and chief favourite, and quarrel with all them that stand in their light; their eye is evil because their prince’s eye is good.
Concerning the kingdom; and so to have made him guilty of treason, or other high misdemeanours, unfaithfulness, and falseness in the king’s business; but all their wit and malice could find none, forasmuch as he was conscientiously faithful.
Pliny said of old, it is the custom of courtiers to study how to make innocent men faulty, and Scripture and experience tell us that the most religious are accounted most dangerous to the government, and that debauchery is loyalty; and that flatterers ought to be the best favourites. Ezra 4:12-14; Nehemiah 6:5-7; Esther 3:8; Daniel 3:12, and this text, are plain proofs of it, besides the experience of every age to this day. This was for the honour of Daniel’s integrity, and for a brand of infamy upon his malicious enemies.
The sum of all was this; they had a plot against Daniel and his people, to throw him out of place and favour; to effect that, they fall upon him in the point of religion, which they would make to be treason. How so? They contrived an act of uniformity, by an unalterable law, to ask no petition of any god or man, but of the king, for one month, upon pain of death. They wheedled the king into it, and passed it into a law. The king sees the plot to be against Daniel, and would have saved him, but they held the king to it; they were zealous for executing laws of their own procuring; it was a net they had privily laid for this holy man, and had got him fast.
1. We see the horridness of this decree against God, for it was to ungod him for a time, that Darius might be deified.
2. It is marvellous that Darius should suffer himself to be persuaded to this idolatry, blasphemy, and sacrilege, but that we know it was common to the kings of the East to show themselves willing to be accounted gods. Some give three reasons why Darius was persuaded to it.
(1.) Because he was old, and had not much authority, and by this means he would gain it highly.
(2.) Because by this the superstitious Chaldeans, newly conquered, would be the better kept under.
(3.) Hereby he would seem not at all to be beholden to Cyrus for the share of his government.
3. The wickedness of this decree appeared also in this, that it brake all the bonds of nature’s laws, between superiors and inferiors, for one month.
4. The craft of this cursed cabal is seen in this, that they mind Darius that it was his honour, interest, and duty to see this law executed, seeing it was the custom and constitution of the Medes and Persians, and he himself was a Mede. The Babylonians had no such law and custom, but the others had of old, Esther 1:15,Esther 1:19; Esther 8:8
5. The courage, zeal, and sincerity of Daniel in not baulking the course of his devotion for fear of the king’s edict; but as if he had not been concerned at all in it, being overawed by the fear of God, who was superior to all the gods and princes of the world, he made the command and institution of God alone the rule of his worship.
His windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem: this was, 1 Kings 8:47-49, according to Solomon’s prayer, which doubtless all the devout Jews in their captivity did observe.
Toward Jerusalem; not towards the east, which was the manner of the Gentiles; nor towards the king’s palace, lest that, in compliance with the king’s edict, he should seem to worship him; but towards the west and the temple in Jerusalem, where the holy of holies stood in the west end, and because the temple was the place where the Lord placed his name and worship, and promised to appear, and accept his people and their sacrifices, all being a type of Christ, through whom only the saints are accepted; which doubtless Daniel by faith had an eye to; believing also that God in his own time would deliver them out of this captivity, and bring them back again, and that he faithfully minded these things in the midst of his honours, and riches, and employments.
Kneeled upon his knees: this posture was always used in times of mourning and danger; not that we are tied to this gesture, but it is a comely posture before the great God; noting of guilt at the bar of God’s tribunal, and begging for our lives, by humble confession and humiliation, and craving pardon, and blessing God for his mercies.
Three times a day: thus David, Psalms 55:17. These three times were, one at nine in the morning, which was their third hour of the day, Acts 2:15; the sixth hour was at twelve o’clock, then Peter prayed, Acts 10:9; the ninth hour was our three in the afternoon, which was the time of the evening sacrifice, 1 Kings 18:36; Acts 3:1; it is called
the hour of prayer, and at that our Saviour Christ offered up himself a sacrifice for us, Matthew 27:46,Matthew 27:50. Now Daniel ordered his affairs so, that, though great, they should not hinder his solemn devotions to God.
As he did aforetime; by which we see he was a holy man, also that he did not abate his prayers for the king’s command, nor did he rashly break the law, by doing it purposely, because he did no more than he was wont to do in serving his God. Daniel did not imprudently, much less sinfully, in this action.
1. Because he would have declared by it that he preferred man before God.
2. It was against the law of nature, which commands God to be worshipped.
3. Against the dictates and peace of his own conscience.
4. Against the people of God, whom he would grieve and stumble by this forbearance.
5. Against his enemies, by hardening them in their evil way, and giving them occasion of triumphing and blaspheming.
This design being laid by them, they watched narrowly, and it took; they came and found all open. He feared not to be found praying, he prevented their breaking open doors, and rushing in, or making proof; he owned all, and freely offered himself.
They had enough now, they came with open mouth, they pleaded the breach of the king’s laws, they tell the king he had signed it, and it could not be disannulled; the king’s authority and the honour of the nation lay at stake. The king owned such a law, and it was unalterable.
Here they call him
that Daniel, as, Daniel 6:5,
this Daniel; both by way of contempt, when they had laid him low in their thoughts and words, intending the king should have the same thoughts of him too; hereby they should have the fairer blow at him.
Of the children of the captivity of Judah; a prisoner at mercy, and yet rebelliously slights the king and his laws. What! because he chose to obey God rather than men, and an ungodly law, as this was in the height? Well, that is his great crime, that he prays to his God three times a day.
Regardeth not thee, O king; which we account dishonourable to thy greatness, and unsufferable from such a mushroom as he is. What, do all the native subjects of the king keep his laws, and must this Daniel presume to break them and be indemnified? Wilt thou tolerate this, O king?
He was not wroth with Daniel, as Nebuchadnezzar upon the accusation against the three young men, Daniel 3:19, but he was angry with himself, that he should be so moved by his courtiers, against an innocent person of so much honour and honesty. This made him labour to save Daniel till sun-set. Sometimes blaming his own inadvertency and levity in so rash and sinful a decree. Sometimes considering the great reverence of so holy a man. Then the cruelty and craft in laying snares by laws made on purpose, against the best people in his court and kingdom. Then withal how hard it was to break or elude a law that was by custom unalterable, and how unsafe to reject his princes when they pleaded for the king and his laws.
These were bold men, they were resolved to follow their blows, and would have their will rather than the king should have his in this case; which on the king’s part was honourable and royal, to retrieve an evil act, and to retract, or at least to mitigate, a rigid and, rash decree.
No decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed: thus Haman contrived and pleaded, yet there was a way found to prevent execution, Esther 8:0. Again, this law, which they plead was fundamental to make all laws and decrees immutable, was absurd and impolitic; for laws should be essentially changeable by the law-makers, because they often see greater cause to change a law when it grows obsolete and burdensome, though before thought necessary, than to make it at first; whereof we have sufficient instances in all nations in all ages. Will any legislative power in the world so bind their own hands, as to entail a yoke upon themselves and nation which they and posterity could not remedy? The intent of the lawgiver is the law, the equity of it is the obligation of it, which also is the true measure of its duration.
The king commanded: he had a good mind to do Daniel a kindness, but he could not stem the tide of his flatterers, who being crossed might machinate some mischief against him; having this plausible pretence for it, that they stood for the fundamental laws of the land, which the king endeavoured to null by his prerogative for the sake of one person, his pure vassal, being an alien, and of another religion, which was contrary to that which was by law established. Cast him into the den of lions: thus the best man in the kingdom becomes a sacrifice to the malice of the vilest men; the king consenting and commanding it against his conscience, but for reasons of state; being inexcusable for assuming the honour and worship of a god, exclusive to all other gods and worship; and, for all that he was convinced of the true God, would not worship him, nor suffer others to do it, under pain of death.
Thy God will deliver thee. No thanks to him. Why, then, did he cast the servant of God to the lions to try experiments upon him? No, to excuse himself, and to comfort Daniel; but to little purpose either.
They are resolved to make all fast and sure. So did the enemies of the three young men, by the hellish heat of the fiery furnace. So did the enemies of Christ, Matthew 27:66. So did Herod serve Peter, Acts 12:4, &c. Thus Paul and Silas were made sure, Acts 16:23,Acts 16:24. Thus the heathen persecutors, that thought by variety, cruelty, and universality of persecutions and torments to drive the Christian religion out of the world. And thus antichrist by crusades, massacres, and burnings. In this sealing of the den they took away all power from the king of delivering Daniel, because they knew he favoured him; by which the power and providence of God for his preservation and deliverance was the more signalized, Acts 4:26-28. Thus the Lord gratifies the enemies of his people oftentimes, as if they had a commission from him to do their worst; and they go a great way in it, as far as they have rope, Isaiah 10:6,Isaiah 10:7; Luke 22:53.
Passed the night fasting; yea, and without instruments of music and sleep. The king was in perplexity, he was under great conviction that he had done very dishonourably and cruelly, by hearkening to the counsel of his wicked courtiers; he should have rescinded his rash decree, and rated them for their barbarity against Daniel, and have overruled them, and let him out; he is convinced of all this, and grieves for it, but to little purpose. Many are displeased with themselves for their vices, yet are drawn away with them; and, upon a point of honour, or other carnal ground, never come to true repentance, which consists in a change of heart and life. Herod was like troubled for John Baptist, but for all that, for his oath’s sake to a wanton wretch, and for the company’s sake, he sent and beheaded him, Matthew 14:9.
Watching, and grieving, and being between fear and hope, longing to be satisfied.
Servant of the living God: this was a commendation both of Daniel and his God, though he served both very coarsely.
Is thy God able to deliver thee? is he omnipotent? surely if ever he will put forth his power, it will be in thy case, for thou servest him continually, thou wilt not be frightened from his service by savage beasts, by ramping and roaring lions; now it will appear what thy God will do for his servant. Ah, poor king, God is a better Master to his servants than thou art, even to Daniel.
He prays for the king’s prosperity, though he suffered under his hand.
My God hath sent his angel; he had his eye specially to Him whose cause and honour was concerned in this matter. The Lord either took the lions’ hunger away from them, or made Daniel appeared terrible to them; or, literally, shut their mouths.
Before him innocency was found in me; because by faith he trusted in the Lord, Hebrews 11:33; therefore the papists from hence falsely conclude justification by works and merits, assigning fallaciously a false cause instead of a principal, formal, and meritorious cause; for the word forasmuch or because in Scripture doth often signify an occasion rather than a cause; Psalms 25:11,
Pardon my sin, for it is great. Daniel did not use to argue thus, but the contrary, Daniel 9:7,Daniel 9:18. Daniel pleads the innocence of his cause to the king in suffering, not the righteousness of his person; and that the Lord delivered him to assert his honour in his unjust sufferings.
Before thee, O king have I done no hurt; nor have I sinned against, thee, O king: the fear of God is set before honouring of kings, 1 Peter 2:17.
He trusted in God’s power and faithfulness, not to work a miracle, but committed himself to him as a righteous Judge, who would deliver here, or save him hereafter.
They cast them into the den of lions; thus they digged a pit for another, and fell into it themselves, which the heathens say was a very just law, the law of retaliation, which the Lord doth often observe, as in the case of Adonibezek, and Ahab, and many more.
Them, their children, and their wives: Darius was yet cruel in this execution, because he cast in with them to the lions their wives and children. This is not without precedent in Scripture, as in Korah and his company, Achan, and Haman, for the greater terror. For the king’s justice in this fact, we need not trouble ourselves, it being the custom of the arbitrary tyrants of the East.
In all the earth, i.e. of the known earth then, being chiefly that great empire; for what had he to do in all the world besides? It is usual with the Turk, Tartar, Chinese, to arrogate the same universality with the like pride.
Tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; take heed how they speak evil of this great God, but own and honour him as such; whereof he gives the reason following.
He is the living God, & c. You would take Darius by these words to be a convert: how far this went with him, and how long it lasted, who knoweth? Surely if he were in earnest, he would forsake his idolatry, and set up the worship of the true God in his kingdom, that his subjects might turn from dumb idols, as inconsistent with the living God and his worship. Howbeit, it is clear that Darius had learnt this doctrine from Daniel, whom he heard and honoured, and was the more convinced of it by this miraculous deliverance of Daniel from the lions.
See Daniel 1:21. Who was after Darius’s death, who was called, say some, Nabonnedus. Daniel continued all this time in great honour.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Daniel 6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24