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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Daniel 6

Verse 5

DISCOURSE: 1131
CHARACTER OF DANIEL

Daniel 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.

AMONGST the numberless things which Solomon denounces as “vanity and vexation of spirit,” is this, that “for every right work a man is envied of his neighbour [Note: Ecclesiastes 4:4.].” No consideration, either of the intrinsic excellency of virtue, or of the benefits resulting from it to the world, will abate the malignant workings of an envious mind. For many years had Daniel, as a minister of state, conferred great blessings on the Babylonish empire [Note: Daniel 2:48-49.]. And now, after the conquest of Babylon, Darius, the Medo-Persian monarch, from a conviction of his pre-eminent attainments, had placed him next to himself in power and authority in his empire also. And such had been the wisdom and integrity of Daniel in the discharge of his high duties, that the persons most capable of discovering any fault in his administration, and most intent on making such a discovery, if any could be found, were incapable of alleging any one thing to his disadvantage. But were they grateful to him for his services? No: they were envious of his talents, his virtues, and his honours, and laboured with all their might to destroy him. “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 [Note: ver. 4.].” This they were constrained to acknowledge, at the very time that they conspired to take away his life. “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.” Here they not only acknowledge the astonishing excellence of his character, but they actually found upon it their hope of prevailing against him; since it was only by placing in direct opposition to each other the commands of God and the commands of man, that they could involve him in any thing which should furnish them with an occasion of complaint against him.

As for their envious malignity, I shall wave all further notice of it. It is the character of Daniel on which I would now fix your attention; a character the more remarkable, as being drawn, not by friends, but by foes; and not for the sake of commendation, but for the sake only of finding out the most successful method of directing their efforts for his destruction.
For the establishment of such a character as this, there must have been in Daniel a very rare assemblage of virtues; which, therefore, it will be proper for us distinctly to consider, in order that we may clearly understand the character itself, and be stirred up to seek, each of us for himself, the attainment of it. Let me,

I.

Open to you the constituent parts of this character—

Here we behold, in combined and unintermitted exercise,

1.

Piety—

[This, beyond a doubt, was at the root of all. And how deeply-rooted it was in him, his enemies themselves proclaimed, when they grounded upon that their hopes of prevailing against him; since, if his piety was not sufficient to bear him up under his present difficulties, their plot, so far at least as a violation of human laws was concerned, would be defeated.
And it is from this principle alone that any real good can flow. Nothing but piety can produce a perfect uniformity of conduct. The corruptions of human nature are too strong to be overcome by any thing but the grace of God. A man may indeed be a wise and experienced statesman, though he fail in the practice of religion and virtue. But no man can maintain, for a long course of years, and under every possible complication of difficulties, a conduct which shall not be open to some degree of censure, especially from those who “watch and wait for his halting;” unless he be assisted from on high, and be in the habit of walking as in the presence of the omniscient God. To this, then, I would call you in the first instance, since without it all human efforts will be in vain. Let your hearts be right with God. Come to him as sinners, in the name of his dear Son. Obtain from him a sense of acceptance with him, and a confidence in him as your reconciled God and Father. Beg of him to write his law upon your hearts, so that you may have an unerring standard, to which to refer every motion of your minds. Look to him for the assistance of his good Spirit under all difficulties; and make it your constant aim to please him. Then will you have within your own bosoms a compass, by which you may find your path in safety through this trackless wilderness; whilst your eye is directed to his law as your rule, and his glory as your end.]

2.

Wisdom—

[In this he must have excelled in a very extraordinary degree; else he never could have conducted himself so unexceptionably as he did, for many years together, in circumstances so intricate and arduous as his. The Queen of Babylon’s account of him to King Belshazzar was, “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and, in the days of thy father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him [Note: Daniel 5:10-11.].” And Ezekiel, in the very life-time of Daniel, spake of him as eminently distinguished in this respect [Note: Ezekiel 28:3.]. Indeed, this was the chief ground of the preference given to him by the King of Persia above all the native princes: “He was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him [Note: ver. 3.].”

In us, too, should this be found; nor can we without it hope to be held in estimation by any, except a few kind and partial friends. To those who are enemies of religion, we shall only give disgust, if our piety be not under the direction and control of wisdom. It is certain that many well-meaning people give very great offence by their injudicious proceedings; yes, and involve themselves, too, in many troubles, which they might, by a greater exercise of wisdom, have avoided. Our blessed Lord cautions us on this head: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine; lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you [Note: Matthew 7:6.].” There may, indeed, be a carnal wisdom, to whose dictates we ought not to listen; for flesh and blood are but blind counsellors to confer with [Note: Galatians 1:16.]: but there is a sound wisdom and discretion, which is highly commendable, and greatly conducive to good. Hence St. Paul says, “Walk in wisdom towards them that are without [Note: Colossians 4:5.].” I cannot but recommend, therefore, to all who are possessed of piety, to take heed how they exercise it; lest, by their weaknesses and follies, they make religion itself to be accounted foolishness, and involve in one common reproach all who profess to serve their God. The resolution of David should be that of every one amongst us: “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way [Note: Psalms 101:2.].”]

3.

Consistency—

[It is clear that Daniel attended to all his duties; as well those which concerned his intercourse with men, as those which had a more immediate reference to God. Happy would it be if the same care prevailed amongst the religious professors of our day! But, in too many instances, religious people set the two tables of the law in opposition to each other; as though a fulfilment of the one necessarily precluded an observance of the other. How common is it for young people to set at nought parental authority, under an idea that obedience to God must swallow up every other consideration. It must, doubtless, swallow up all regard for authority that is directly opposed to it; but many concessions may be made, and should be made too, in relation to matters which involve in them no moral guilt, no direct opposition to a divine command: and where the path of duty is clear, the greatest tenderness should be shewn to the feelings and prejudices of a parent, in the prosecution of it. Filial obedience stands, in God’s estimation, second only to that which we owe to him. There is frequently a great fault in servants also, who, from a pretended regard for God, neglect the duties of their station; and, instead of exercising a becoming respect for their masters, are petulant, and impatient of reproof, and ready on every occasion to “answer again [Note: Here the case of Students was adverted to; and a conscientious observance of academic discipline, together with a diligent prosecution of their academic studies, was strongly enforced.].” In the conduct of superiors, too, there is often much to blame: for it is but too true, that religious duties, as they are called, often induce a carelessness in those which are personal and domestic. But all this gives just occasion of offence; and must be sedulously avoided by all who would maintain a consistent conduct, and adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.]

4.

Firmness—

[On this the enemies of Daniel especially relied. They gave him credit for piety; and they believed that not even the terror of a den of lions would induce him to violate his conscience, and offend his God. In matters relating to the kingdom they could find no occasion against him: but, in what concerned the law of his God, they assured themselves that they should find the desired ground of accusation against him. In this they judged right. He not only would not withhold from God his accustomed sacrifices of prayer and praise, but he would not even appear to do so. He would not even shut his window; lest he should, though in appearance only, give them a ground of triumph over him. He therefore persisted, as before, to worship God in his accustomed way, and publicly to avow his determined adherence to the dictates of reason and religion.
In this he affords to us an admirable example. We must expect “persecution from men, if we will live godly in Christ Jesus.” No piety, no wisdom, no consistency, can disarm prejudice, or suppress the workings of envy. Rather, we must expect opposition in proportion as we make our light to shine before men. No one was ever so blameless as our blessed Lord; yet no one was ever persecuted with such general and unrelenting animosity. But our hearts must be fixed: we must be determined to sacrifice all that we have, not excepting even life itself, rather than dishonour God, or violate his commands. Persons in this respect should know beforehand where to find us, even in the path of duty: nor should the whole earth combined be able to turn us from it. This is the state to which we should all attain; and, under circumstances of whatever kind, we should have that reply upon our lips, “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.”]
This character approving itself to every considerate mind, let me,

II.

Urge you all to the attainment of it—

Let me invite you to consider,

1.

How it honours God—

[Truly, such a conduct as Daniel’s never was seen on earth, except amongst the servants of Jehovah. Nothing but God’s grace can possibly produce it. But, wherever his grace operates, there, in proportion to the measure of that grace, this character is found. No one can ever “behold such light” as Daniel reflected, but he will be instantly constrained to “glorify our Father which is in heaven.” Man could as soon create a world, as form this new creation. Wherever it is found, that acknowledgment must be made: “He that hath wrought us to the self-same thing, is God.”]

2.

How it disarms prejudice—

[A want of piety, or wisdom, or consistency, in a professor of religion, causes “the way of truth to be evil spoken of,” and “God himself to be blasphemed.” But a pious and consistent conduct wrests from the very enemies of God a confession, that “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.” Hence St. Paul, exhorting Titus to “shew himself in all things a pattern of good works,” adds, “that he that is on the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you [Note: Titus 2:7-8.].” I well know that no blamelessness of conduct can conciliate the regards of an ungodly man; for, as long as he loves darkness rather than light, he must hate you: but you may at least hope to “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men [Note: 1Pe 2:12; 1 Peter 2:15.],” and to “make those ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ [Note: 1 Peter 3:16.].”]

3.

How it tends to the welfare of your own soul—

[Beyond all doubt your everlasting reward will be proportioned to your present attainments. As he that “builds on the good foundation nothing but wood, hay, stubble, will suffer loss, and, if saved at all, be saved only so as by fire [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:12-15.];” so he that embraces in his mind, and illustrates in his life, the whole circle of his duties to God and man, will have an entrance ministered unto him abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [Note: 2 Peter 1:5-11.].” The more we have improved our talents, the richer will be the recompence of our fidelity. We may not in this world have such an interposition in our behalf as Daniel had in the den of lions; or see, as he did, the vengeance of God executed on our adversaries: but we shall have strength given us to sustain our trials, and a weight of glory awarded to us in proportion to them. Go forward, then, “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might:” and “hold fast your confidence firm unto the end:” then “your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:58.];” for “if you surfer with him, you shall also be glorified together [Note: Romans 8:17.].”]


Verse 10

DISCOURSE: 1132
DANIEL’S UNDAUNTED PIETY

Daniel 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 did aforetime.

SUCH is the hatred which ungodly men bear to real piety, that it is not possible to serve our God aright without incurring their displeasure. Neither eminence in station, nor prudence of conduct, will screen us from the assaults of their envy and malice. If any thing could have secured the favour of mankind, the wise and benevolent deportment of Jesus must have gained him universal approbation. But he was as much distinguished by the virulence of men’s hatred, as he was by the unrivalled excellence of his own character.
Of all the persons whose history is recorded in the Old Testament, we know not one who surpassed Daniel in wisdom, in integrity, or in a firm adherence to practical religion. His bitterest enemies, who were very desirous of finding in him some fault or error, were constrained to acknowledge, that they should not be able to attain their wishes, unless they should find it concerning the law of his God. Would one not have thought, that a person who could conduct the affairs of a large empire with such skill, as that no error could be imputed to him; and whose piety was so consistent, that not the smallest flaw could be found in his whole conduct, should be universally beloved? Yet, so far was he from being an object of universal regard, that a conspiracy was formed against him by all the great men of the kingdom, and a law was framed, that rendered it criminal to pray unto his God. By this law he had no alternative, but to violate the law and incur its penalties, or to violate his conscience and offend his God.
Daniel, without hesitation, chose the better part: and, “when he knew that the writing (which doomed him to the den of lions) was signed,” he openly worshipped God, precisely as he had done aforetime.
To encourage all who are oppressed and persecuted, to follow his example, we shall,

I.

Make some remarks on his conduct—

[It might be said of Daniel continually, “Behold, he prayeth!” — — — But why, in praying, did he look “towards Jerusalem?” Canaan was the land, Jerusalem the city, and the temple the house, in which God more particularly dwelt. And at the dedication of the temple, Solomon repeatedly entreated that God would hear the supplications of his people which should be offered towards that land, that city, that temple [Note: 1Ki 8:29-30; 1 Kings 8:35; 1Ki 8:38; 1 Kings 8:42; 1 Kings 8:44, but especially 46–50, which specifies what was to be done in a state of captivity, as Daniel now was.]. This had been before practised by David [Note: Psalms 5:7.], as it was afterwards by Jonah when at the bottom of the sea [Note: John 2:4.]: and it may be considered as a typical ordinance, directing us to pray unto God, as our covenant-God in Christ, as dwelling with man, yea, as dwelling in our very nature [Note: John 1:14. ἐσκήνωσεν suggests the precise idea, which the type was intended to convey.]; even to Him, “in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily [Note: Colossians 2:9.].”

In this manner he prayed “three times a day.” It seems to have been the habit of all pious Jews to observe stated seasons of worship three times a day. David practised it in his day [Note: Psalms 55:17.]: and in the Apostolic age the practice was continued [Note: Acts 2:2; Acts 2:15; Acts 3:1; Acts 10:9. The third, sixth, and ninth hours answered to nine, twelve, and three with us.]. One would have thought that a person who had so much secular business upon his hands as Daniel had, should have found it almost impossible to maintain such a practice with any degree of regularity, or indeed with any spirituality of mind: but, if the heart be thoroughly imbued with Divine grace, it will be found neither difficult nor irksome to lift it up to God in prayer, even in the midst of the most urgent business.

Nor was Daniel inattentive to his posture in prayer: “he kneeled upon his knees and prayed.” We do not say that this posture is indispensably necessary to the acceptance of our prayers; because we find instances in Scripture of persons standing when they prayed: but it is sanctioned by the example of the most eminent saints [Note: Thus did David; Psalms 95:6. Solomon; 2 Chronicles 6:13.Ezra 9:5; Ezra 9:5. Stephen; Acts 7:60. Peter; 9:40. Paul; 20:36. a large assembly on the sea shore; 21:5.], and even by our blessed Lord himself [Note: Luke 22:44.]. As for the idle slothful posture of sitting during the time of prayer (as is the habit of too many), we do not hesitate to say, that it is most irreverent, unscriptural, and offensive. But what shall we say to those who defer their prayers till they have lain down in their beds, and then offer some petitions, in the midst of which they fall asleep? Surely it is scarcely needful to tell them what acceptance such services must meet with: they may account it a mercy, if their solemn mockery of God be not visited with some signal judgments: to hope for any favourable answer to such prayers, were folly and impiety. Daniel would not yield to such indolent habits, though he was above ninety years of age; because he knew that the deepest prostration of body should accompany the devotions of the soul, and that nothing but extreme weakness could justify us in dispensing with it.

With all his prayers, Daniel offered also a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving: “he prayed and gave thanks.” This argued the sincerity of his heart. They can feel but little gratitude to God, who do not acknowledge the mercies they have received, as well as ask for the continuance and increase of them. The direction given us by God himself is, “that in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving we should make our requests known to him [Note: Philippians 4:6.]:” yea, it is his express will and command that we should abound in thanksgiving as much, and as constantly, as in prayer itself [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.].

Perhaps it may surprise us, that Daniel offered these his devotions always “with his windows open.” Was this from ostentation? Was Daniel like those Pharisees who “prayed standing in the corners of the streets, that they might be seen and admired of men?” No: Daniel was in a heathen land, where the established religion was idolatry; and where Jehovah was not worshipped or acknowledged. He therefore felt it incumbent on him to let it be universally known, that he was a worshipper of the one true God: he wished to be a witness for God, and against idolatry; and to lead men, by his example, to inquire after the God of the Hebrews, in whom alone they could obtain peace and salvation. And though this habit rendered him singular, and excited the odium of his ungodly neighbours, “he endured the cross, and despised the shame,” and persevered in the performance of his duty without any regard to the opinions of men.
The most extraordinary thing is, that Daniel persisted in this habit “when he knew that the writing was signed.” The writing was the law which had been recently enacted, condemning to the den of lions every person, who, for the space of thirty days, should presume to ask any petition of any God or man, except of the king only. This writing was signed by the king; and the law was thereby rendered (according to the absurd custom of the Medes and Persians) unchangeable. But this could not deter Daniel from serving God, or induce him for one moment to chagne his mode of serving him. He was willing to die for the Lord’s sake; and was determined to suffer all the penalties of the law rather than violate his duty to his God.]
But as there are various other modes in which Daniel might have proceeded, we shall consider his conduct more minutely, and,

II.

State the reasons of it—

Daniel persisted in this open acknowledgment of Jehovah,

1.

From a sense of duty—

[He knew that it was his duty to pray unto his God, and to confess him before men. Had the laws of the realm enjoined nothing contrary to the laws of God, he would have felt it his duty to comply with them: “he would have obeyed every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” But when man took upon him to supersede the laws of God, he felt that he had a paramount obligation to serve the Lord. In this respect he resembled the holy Apostles, when they were forbidden to preach in the name of Christ: they answered the magistrates who laid a similar injunction on them, “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have heard and seen [Note: Acts 4:19-20.]:” “we must obey God rather than men [Note: Acts 5:28-29.].”]

2.

From a regard for God’s honour—

[We will suppose that Daniel had withdrawn from his place of abode, or shut his window and contented himself with worshipping God in secret; he might still have performed his duty as far as respected the mere act of prayer: but what would have been the consequence with respect to God’s honour? Would not the framers of the Law have boasted, that they had triumphed over Jehovah; that they had set up a god superior to him; and that his most devoted servant dared not to confess him? Would they not have said, that the worshippers of Jehovah were as devoid of principle as any other people in the world; for that, with all their professed regard for him, they did not believe him able to rescue or support them; and that they loved their own safety in preference to their God? No doubt, they would have gloried thus, and have despised both Jehovah and all his servants. But would Daniel give occasion for such profane triumph? He abhorred the thought; and therefore he would not relax, or intermit so much as once, his accustomed mode of worship. Similar to his was the conduct of Nehemiah, when Sanballat and Tobiah wanted to intimidate him, and to lead him into an act which should betray a want of confidence in his God: “Shall such a man as I flee? said he: and who is there, that being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in [Note: Nehemiah 6:10-11.].” Thus, whatever specious arguments might have suggested themselves to him for the preservation of his life, Daniel determined to die rather than dishonour God; being anxious only that “God should be magnified in his body, whether it were by life or by death [Note: Philippians 1:20.].”]

3.

For the encouragement of his own people—

[Suppose that Daniel had not thus openly maintained his steadfastness, what would all the rest of his captive brethren have done? Would not they have caught the infection? would not they have dissembled with him, just as Barnabas and others were led away with Peter’s dissimulation [Note: Galatians 2:12-13.]? It would have been to little purpose that he prayed in secret, if he had been so shamefully regardless of the influence of his example. On the other hand, by boldly confessing his God before men, and offering himself up as a sacrifice for him, the rest of his nation must be emboldened to maintain a similar fidelity, and to brave all the threatenings of their idolatrous oppressors. This was the effect produced by Paul’s submission to bonds and imprisonment for the Gospel’s sake: “Many of the brethren in the Lord waxing confident by his bonds, were much more bold to preach the word without fear [Note: Philippians 1:14.].” Daniel, being at the head of the kingdom, knew the vast importance of his example; and therefore on this account, as well as for the foregoing reasons, “would not give place, no, not for an hour [Note: Galatians 2:5.]:” yea, we doubt not but that in offering himself upon the sacrifice and service of his people’s faith, he joyed and rejoiced with them all; and (in his heart) called on them to joy and rejoice with him [Note: Philippians 2:17-18.].]

Address—
1.

Those who live in the neglect of prayer—

[We see in the example of Daniel how a child of God will act: he will pray with frequency, with fervour, with an especial regard to God as his Covenant-God in Christ Jesus: and he will confess his God openly, determining to die for him rather than deny him [Note: Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13.]. Now what resemblance have you to Daniel? He could not be kept from prayer; you cannot be prevailed on to pray: he could not be kept from prayer, though he knew that, for continuing it, he should be cast into the den of lions; and you cannot be prevailed on to pray, though your neglect of it will infallibly bring you into the depths of hell. Not all the terrors of death could induce him to omit so much as one single opportunity of praying; and not all the terrors of damnation can instigate you to pray even once with real fervour and devotion. Only ask yourselves, How often have you prayed like Daniel? how often in the day? in the week? in the year? how often even in your whole life? This question will give you an insight into your state before God. O that it may be the means of bringing you to his footstool, and of forming in you those habits which are altogether necessary to your salvation.]

2.

Those who are habituated to serve their God—

[Be not surprised if you are called to suffer for righteousness’ sake, “nor think it strange if you be tried with a fiery trial.” Should this be the case, we congratulate you upon the honour conferred upon you; and we exhort you to “rejoice and leap for joy; for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you [Note: Matthew 5:11-12.].” Our Lord’s direction is, “Be not afraid of man, who can only kill the body; but fear Him who can cast both body and soul into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him.”

But while we exhort you to “be faithful unto death,” and, like Daniel, to withstand all the powers of earth and hell, we would particularly entreat you to imitate his spirit. In the first place, let your enemies “find nothing against you, except concerning the law of God.” In the next place, conduct yourselves with meekness under your sufferings. You read not of his exciting clamour and rebellion in the state, but of his submitting patiently to the cruelty of his oppressors. We mean not to condemn such an opposition to tyranny, as the law itself admits; but such as is unconstitutional, turbulent, and factious: and we cannot but recommend a cheerful submission to persecution, as, on the whole, most profitable to ourselves, and most honourable to our God [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:12-13.]. Indeed, when suffering for righteousness’ sake, we may expect extraordinary interpositions for our deliverance or support, and may hope to win those who have been the authors of all our troubles [Note: See a most encouraging and well-authenticated instance in Benson’s Life of Mr. Fletcher, p. 309. first edition.].]


Verses 25-27

DISCOURSE: 1133
THE DECREE OF DARIUS

Daniel 6:25-27. Then King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 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 stedfast for ever; and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed; and his dominion shall be even unto the end. 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.

IT is the prerogative of God, not only to defeat all the designs of men or devils against him, but to advance his own glory by the very means which his enemies use to obstruct it. The wisdom and fidelity of Daniel had secured for him at the court of Persia the same influence as he had been honoured with by the kings of Babylon; but the princes of that empire sought his destruction, and, together with that, the subversion of all the influence of Daniel’s God. They devised a plan, in which they too fatally succeeded, to establish a law, by which Daniel must of necessity, if faithful to his God, be condemned. King Darius, when lie saw into what a snare he had been drawn, sought to deliver Daniel from the sentence which the law, so inconsiderately enacted, denounced against him: but he could not prevail; and therefore at last consented to the execution of it on his faithful and unoffending servant. Daniel was cast into the den of lions: and with him, the hope of further protection to the Jewish captives must cease. But behold, God, as Darius himself had hoped, interposed for the preservation of Daniel; and thereby shewed to the conviction of Darius, that he was the One omnipotent and only true God. Darius now ordered the very punishment which Daniel’s enemies had sought to inflict on him, to be executed on them; and immediately issued throughout the whole extent of his dominions the decree contained in our text.
We propose to consider,

I.

His views of Daniel’s God—

We are quite surprised that a heathen, who had so impiously exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, should have such just views, as he shews himself to have had, of the God of Israel. In describing Jehovah, he speaks of,

1.

His essential perfection—

[Darius had hitherto known only the gods of gold and silver, or of wood and stone, which had no existence till they were formed into an image by the hands of man; and which, when formed, were lifeless and motionless as the materials of which they were made. But of Jehovah he had far different views: he saw him to be the eternal self-existent God, who, whilst he alone had life in himself, was the one only source of life and being to all his creatures. Him too he saw to be an unchangeable God, “steadfast for ever” in all his purposes, and immutable in all his counsels.
This is such a view of God as all of us should have: if we see not his self-sufficiency, we shall never feel persuaded of his all-sufficiency for our help [Note: Isaiah 26:4.]: — — — and if we be not convinced, that “with him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning [Note: James 1:17.]” we shall never know whence our own stability arises [Note: Malachi 3:6.], or enjoy the consolation which God himself designs that we should derive from this never-failing source [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18.] — — —]

2.

His universal dominion—

[Here, we apprehend, this heathen monarch did not limit his views to the providential government of Jehovah over all the works of his hands; but that, he spoke also of that spiritual kingdom which should be erected by the Messiah, and which was to be both universal in its extent and everlasting in its duration. The dream and vision of Nebuchadnezzar were well known throughout all the Babylonish empire. In this vision the destruction of Babylon was expressly foretold; and, after the establishment and ruin of three successive kingdoms, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman, a fifth kingdom was to arise, namely, that of the Messiah, which should break in pieces all other kingdoms, and stand for ever. The first part of this dream had now recently been fulfilled; and fulfilled by the very person who had been foretold by name three hundred years before he was brought into the world; and in the precise manner also that had been circumstantially foretold at the same distant period. These prophecies, beyond all doubt, were shewn to Cyrus and Darius, as soon as they became masters of Babylon: and the miracle just wrought by Jehovah in favour of Daniel, brought additional conviction to the mind of Darius, that the Messiah’s reign should be such as had been predicted.

This is a glorious view, of which we should never lose sight. It was this which Abraham delighted to contemplate [Note: John 8:56.], and which has filled the saints of all succeeding ages with unutterable joy. To us, no less than to those of former ages, it yet remains as an object of hope. The predicted kingdom is indeed established; but it is as yet but very limited in its extent: nevertheless we believe that the word of God respecting it shall stand, and that “all the kingdoms of the world shall in due time become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” — — —]

3.

His miracles of love and mercy towards his believing people—

[Here also Darius speaks in general terms: the deliverance of Daniel from the lion’s den is considered by him as a single instance only of the innumerable interpositions which God vouchsafes to his people, and of the wonders which he works in their behalf. The whole history of the Jewish people, from their departure out of Egypt to their final dispersion by the Romans, is one continued record of stupendous miracles and gracious deliverances.
True it is, that miracles are ceased: but wonders, if we may so speak, are quite as common as in the days of old. Wherein is the deliverance of a soul from death and hell inferior to the deliverance of the Hebrew youths from the fiery furnace; or the preservation of Daniel in the lions’ den, to the preservation of believers from the assaults of that roaring lion that is ever seeking to devour them? This view then of the Deity is still to be ever kept in mind, in order that we may never give way to fear, or doubt a moment but that He who hath hitherto delivered us, will go on to deliver, and will preserve us safely to his heavenly kingdom — — —]
Such being his views of the Deity, we are no longer surprised at,

II.

His decree founded upon them—

An external worship was deemed sufficient for senseless idols; but not so for the God of heaven and earth: the decree before us required much more than that. Let us distinctly notice,

1.

Its import—

[The terms “fear and tremble” seem to import only a dread of God, as a terrible being whom it was dangerous to provoke: but the meaning of them is widely different from this. Throughout all the New Testament these words express rather a holy reverential regard, blended with love to Him who is the object of it. St. Paul, when at Corinth, was amongst his converts “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling [Note: 1 Corinthians 2:3.];” not surely with a slavish dread of their wrath, but with a holy anxiety to fulfil his ministry to their greatest advantage. He exhorts servants to “obey their masters with fear and trembling [Note: Ephesians 6:5.],” that is, with a tender conscience, and an affectionate regard to their will. He bids us also to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling [Note: Philippians 2:12.],” that is, with the utmost watchfulness and care. Thus we understand the decree of Darius as enjoining to all his subjects, that they should serve God with a holy and affectionate regard to his revealed will. We conceive that the terms of the decree do in effect enjoin all that worship which is required of us under the Gospel: for David, speaking expressly of the worship to be paid to the Messiah, says, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling [Note: Psalms 2:11.];” which shews that “fear and trembling,” properly understood, does not expel, but only moderates and tempers, our joy. Indeed, “the angel that is represented as carrying the everlasting Gospel throughout all the earth,” proclaims it in terms of similar import, “Fear God, and give glory to him [Note: Revelation 14:6-7.].” We see then, that the decree did go, in fact, to the abolition of idolatry, and to the establishment of the Redeemer’s kingdom throughout that vast empire: only, not being followed up by similar enactments, and a practical exhibition of its import by those who were at the head of the empire, it fell to the ground; as all precepts must do, if not followed up by constant exertions and corresponding examples. One effect however necessarily followed from it, namely, to procure more favour to the Jews throughout the empire, and ultimately to facilitate the reception of Christianity throughout the world.]

2.

The reasonableness of it—

[Who can contemplate the foregoing views of the Deity, and not confess the reasonableness of the decree founded upon them?
Consider the power and authority of God; consider him as the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of the universe; and can a doubt be entertained whether we ought to fear and serve Him? Consider also the love and mercy of God, particularly as manifested in the redemption of men by the blood of his only dear Son, and the blessings vouchsafed to them through his all-sufficient grace; can any one who adverts to this subject question the propriety of surrendering ourselves up, in body, soul, and spirit, to his service? — — — It matters not what rank in society we hold, or what office we may fill; the decree is equally applicable to all, and equally reasonable for all; kings and princes are no more exempt from these duties than the meanest of their subjects: as long as subordination to rulers is enjoined, much more must a duteous regard to the God of heaven be held sacred — — — and, as long as gratitude is esteemed a becoming principle in relation to men, so long must its exercise be obligatory on all towards the Redeemer of the world — — —]

Behold then in this decree,
1.

The effect which God’s mercies should have upon us—

[Darius felt the deliverance of Daniel to be in fact as great a mercy to himself as it was to Daniel: and a sense of this penetrated his soul with a desire to honour that God by whom the mercy had been vouchsafed. This was right. And is it not right that mercies and deliverances should have the same effect on us? Consider what mercies we have received; some public and national, and others private and personal [Note: Here any public or private mercies may be glanced at.] — — — Should no improvement be made of these? Should we not say, “What shall I render to the Lord for all the benefits that he hath done unto me?” Surely these things, and especially the mercies vouchsafed to our souls — — — are calls from God himself to glorify him with all our faculties and all our powers [Note: The particular objects of the Society may here be stated at large.] — — —]

2.

What use we should make of our influence—

[To serve God ourselves is right and necessary: but it is far from comprehending the whole of what is required of us in return for the mercies vouchsafed unto us. We all have influence, which it is our bounden duty to exert: if that influence reach only to a very small circle, we should not on that account think ourselves at liberty to leave it unimproved: nor if it extend over a vast empire, should we be backward to encounter the opposition and obloquy which the exercise of it may bring upon us. Whatever it be, whether more or less, we should regard it as a talent to be employed for God. Even a heathen, and he, we fear, not truly converted, felt this obligation: how much more then should we, who profess to embrace the Christian faith, and to enjoy all the blessings of the Gospel salvation! But we greatly mistake, if we imagine that the influence of any amongst us is small: for if we unite our efforts together, and act in concert with each other, we may do far more than Darius could with all his power. Let any one contemplate the Bible Society, in which the poor, strange as it may seem, do far more than the rich; and see what wonders are doing by means of it throughout the world — — — Let any one contemplate Mission Societies, which are in fact forwarding, as it were, the very decree of Darius, and calling on “all people, nations, and languages to fear and tremble before the God of Israel [Note: ver. 25, 26.]” — — — Let us then rise to the occasion: let us unite as one man: let us not merely issue the decree, but do the thing; providing all the means for it, and carrying into effect the objects we profess to aim at. Thus shall we indeed approve ourselves good and faithful servants to our God, and be rewarded by him according to our improvement of our respective talents — — —]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Daniel 6". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/daniel-6.html. 1832.