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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Daniel 6



Verses 1-9



Darius had seen and heard enough of Daniel to convince him that his own interest lay in employing him in the most responsible office in the realm. Wisdom, prudence, disinterestedness, conscientiousness, and fidelity, so combined in his character as to mark him out as the man on whom above all others the king could depend. The resemblance in this, as in some other respects, between Daniel in Persia and Joseph in Egypt, is obvious and striking. "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings, and shall not stand before mean men?" "Them that honour me I will honour."

II. The conspiracy (Dan ). Promotion to honour often the precursor of trouble. The presidents and princes could not see Daniel, a foreigner, a captive, a Jew, a man of an entirely different religion from their own, without the worst feelings of our fallen humanity coming into play. "Wrath is cruel and anger is outrageous; but who can stand before envy?" (Pro 27:4). Daniel, too, was a man of uprightness and principle, which the presidents and princes were not. The former, were to receive and examine the revenue accounts of the latter, that the royal exchequer might not be defrauded. But the presidents might be corrupt as well as the princes. Will Daniel connive at their peculation? Daniel was faithful to his sovereign, because faithful to his God. Duty to God secures the faithful discharge of our duty to man. Daniel made his master's interest his own; and hence kept a strict look-out on both presidents and princes. He aimed, according to his office, not only at doing his own duty to the king, but at keeping others at theirs also. Hence his troubles. In a corrupt world, "he that departeth from evil" too often "maketh himself a prey." Daniel's colleagues became his enemies. Like Joseph's brethren in Egypt, they hated him, and must have him out of the way. The question was how? Accusation against his moral or official conduct they could find none. "Every attempt to find a flaw, to prove a weakness, or to justify a suspicion, either of disloyalty or maladministration, failed." The only way to entrap him must be in connection with his religion, in which they knew him to be as strict and conscientious as he was in his official duties. A clever and diabolical scheme was concocted that promised complete success. This was by placing his obedience to God in antagonism with his obedience to the king.

III. The decree (Dan ). The scheme was this. Daniel was known to be a man of prayer, and to repair to his chamber at stated times in the day for that purpose. Get the king to sign a decree forbidding any one to present a petition to either God or man for a whole month on pain of being cast in a den of lions. The king will be flattered by the proposal, and Daniel will be caught. They will watch him, whether he will observe the decree and save his life, or go to his knees as usual. In the latter and most likely case, the decree once signed by the king, the representative of the unchanging deity, being irrevocable, Daniel is a lost man, and they are rid of their rival. The decree being accordingly drawn up, was presented to the king for signature. The weak monarch, not perceiving the object of the princes, perhaps flattered with the appearance of their loyalty and devotion, and pleased at the idea of being thus for a time superior to both gods and men, readily complied with the proposal and signed the decree.

"Oh, purblind race of miserable men!

How many among us at this very hour

Do forge a lifelong trouble for ourselves

By taking true for false, or false for true!"

But for divine interference, this would now have been realised in Darius. The presidents and princes, having obtained their desire, returned home triumphant. Daniel's doom was sealed. Observe from the passage—

1. Godliness no hindrance to greatness, and prayer no obstacle to promotion. Daniel in Babylon and Joseph in Egypt notable examples. In many respects natural. But for prevailing sin in the world, and the influence of him who is its prince and the enemy of all goodness, godliness would be the surest way to greatness, and prayer the certain path to preferment. Godliness and prayer secure the necessary requisites for positions of trust—wisdom, uprightness, and fidelity. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, and it shall be given him." Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, was pre-eminently a man of prayer. General Havelock, though burdened with the care of the army during the terrible mutiny in India, managed to keep sacred for prayer a considerable time in the morning of every day. Sir Thomas Browne wrote in his journal as an admonition to himself, to be sure to let no day pass without calling upon God in a solemn manner seven times in the course of it.

2. The excellence of true religion. "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour." Seen even by a heathen monarch in the case of Daniel. Hence his elevation. His enemies unable to find a flaw in him. His steadfastness in religion the only ground for accusation against him. A godly man firm and fearless in the discharge of his duty. His religion not put on or off to suit the season. Daniel known to prefer fidelity to life, and death to deviation from duty. The part of a truly godly man to act not from expediency but from principle. His inquiry, not what will be most advantageous, but what is right. His concern not to appear, but to be just and good. His aim to please God in the first place, and man in the second. True godliness, symmetrical and all-embracing; extends to principles and practice, to the temper and the tongue, to private and to public conduct, to our duty to God and our duty to man in every relation of life.

3. The depth of human depravity. Seen in the conduct of Daniel's enemies. Hates the good because they are good, and because their goodness rebukes our evil, and stands in the way of our sinful courses. Contrives their overthrow, and even plots their death. Commits murder in the heart, and then, when it can be done safely, in the act. Practises hypocrisy in order to conceal our wickedness and make others accomplices of our crimes. Steels the heart against pity, and finds pleasure in the torture of the innocent. The character and conduct of Daniel's enemies shows what man is by nature since the first sin robbed him of his Maker's image. Left to himself, man exhibits the image of his tempter. It was the testimony of Him who was at once Truth and Love, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." The witness true of unrenewed men, whether Persian princes or pharisaic Jews. History as well as daily observation and experience prove that the Bible picture of man's depravity is not overdrawn,—"Foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another;" "full of envy, murder, deceit, malignity" (Tit ; Rom 1:29). Verily man needed a Saviour, and, thanks to divine mercy, a Saviour has been found. "Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1Co 6:11).

4. The certain exposure of the godly to persecution. Moral excellence no shelter from the shafts of malice, but rather their natural butt. Socrates and Aristides examples among the heathen. A natural and necessary antagonism between light and darkness, good and evil. "The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it that the deeds thereof are evil." "If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." The natural consequence, so long as the world is what it is, "lying in wickedness," or under the power of the wicked one. Its hatred, opposition, and persecution, in one form and at one time or another, the necessary accompaniment of fidelity to God and conformity to Christ. "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you." "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you." "All they that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." To possess Daniel's character, we must be prepared, sooner or later, more or less, to share Daniel's experience. The experience of Daniel only that of Daniel's Lord. "The disciple not greater than his Master."

5. The responsibility of men in power. Darius made the tool of wicked designing men, and virtually the author of a cruel murder. Forgetting the claims of justice, truth, and mercy, and blinded by a foolish ambition, he heedlessly consigned to a dreadful death the best and most faithful subject in his realm. Rulers in a condition either to further or defeat the designs of the wicked. Princes too often allow themselves to be the tool of priests in carrying out their persecuting projects, and so made participators in the death of God's saints. To this source much of the persecutions of Papal Europe to be ascribed. Men responsible for the evil they might prevent, as well as for the good they might accomplish.

Verse 10-11



Daniel's enemies had so far gained their object. The royal decree that was to remove him out of the way was already signed. It only remained to be put into execution. How was Daniel employed in the meantime? Just as usual. Fidelity to God forbade him to yield obedience to the decree; faith in God led him as usual to his closet. With his window open towards Jerusalem, reminding him of the promises of God to His praying people (1Ki ), he kneeled down and prayed with thanksgiving three times a day, "as he did aforetime." A fine exhibition of the man of God here presented. "When Daniel knew that the writing was signed." "He knew too that it was aimed at him, and that it was a compound of malignity and absurdity; but he uttered no reproach, and made no remonstrance either with his persecutors for their injustice, or against them in appeal to the misguided sovereign. ‘He went into his house.' And for what purpose? Not to devise a counterplot; not to indulge in bitter lamentations over his hard lot, or secret repinings at the conduct of Providence; but to pray. This was his habit ‘three times a day,' and he continues the practice as before. The Holy City with its Temple was now desolate, but he prayed with his window ‘open in his chamber toward Jerusalem;' the Temple being regarded by the pious Jews as a type of Christ, while the circumstances of its dedication filled their minds with sentiments of the profoundest awe and solemnity. ‘He gave thanks before his God;' a devout heart finding reasons for gratitude when others can perceive nothing but occasions of lamentation."—Cox.

Daniel as a man of prayer was—

1. Constant. He prayed as he was wont. Prayer had been his habit, and that habit was not likely to be suspended now when it was most needed, though its exercise might cost him his life. A truly godly man prays at all seasons, in the gloom of adversity as well as in the sunshine of prosperity. Daniel had prayed in the midst of public business under Nebuchadnezzar, as one of his councillors of state; he had prayed in the quiet retirement of private life under Belshazzar, when his godliness removed him from the court; he had prayed again under Darius, as ruler over a third part of the empire and First Lord of the Treasury. He prays now in the prospect of a horrible death which he knows his prayers will cost him. "Will he always call upon God?" is asked by Job as the test that distinguishes a true servant of God from a hypocrite. Daniel known in Babylon and at court as the man that served God "continually" (Dan ; Dan 6:20).

2. Regular. Daniel, like the Psalmist, had his regular seasons for prayer, three times a day. "Evening, morning, and at noon will I pray and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice" (Psa ). The rule not suspended even now when his enemies were watching to find him in the act. Prayer with Daniel, as with every truly godly man, more than his necessary food. Morning saw him on his knees giving thanks for the mercies of the night, and craving guidance, help, protection, and blessing during the day. Noon saw him returning to the exercise, seeking refreshment in communion with his God, and a mind kept above earthly things. Evening found him again in his closet, giving thanks for the mercies of the day, and seeking pardon for shortcomings, a blessing on his labours, and the divine presence and protection during the night. Daniel prayed without ceasing, carrying ever with him a prayerful spirit, and, like Nebemiah, lifting up his heart to God repeatedly during the day as occasion suggested. But he felt the need of meeting with God more freely and fully at stated times. "Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer it easily slips from our memory; and therefore, although Daniel was constant in pouring forth prayers, yet he enjoined upon himself the customary rite of prostrating himself before God three times a day."—Calvin. How much may be lost by omitting the prayer "at noon!"

3. Believing. "His windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem." Expressive of his belief in the promise made by God at the dedication of the Temple, in regard to those who should in any place pray towards that house (1 Kings 8.) So David lifted up his hands towards God's "holy oracle" and worshipped "toward His holy Temple" (Psa ; Psa 28:2). Thus Daniel prayed, believing the promise. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Believing prayer that which is made in God's own way and in dependence on His promise. The eye to be now directed in prayer, not to Jerusalem, but to Jesus at God's right hand, the true Temple with its ark and mercy-seat. The promise is now, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you" (Joh 15:16; Joh 16:23). "Seeing that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we many obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4:14-16). Our Propitiation or mercy-seat, for whose sake God can be propitious, pardon our sins, and hear our prayers, is "Jesus Christ the righteous" (1Jn 2:2-3). "What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering" (Mar 11:24; Jas 1:6).

4. Fearless. Daniel went to his chamber—the upper chamber, chosen for quietness and freedom from interruption, like the disciples at Pentecost (Act ; Act 2:1-2). The window of lattice-work open, as usual on such occasions, toward Jerusalem. This now done by Daniel at the peril of his life. Carnal prudence might have suggested a different course for the present. This, however, would have appeared only cowardice and deceit. Daniel acted in the spirit of Nehemiah, who, when tempted by his enemies to shut himself up in the Temple to save his life, said, "Should such a man as I flee?" (Neh 6:11). So Jesus, when some of the Pharisees tempted Him to flee for His life,—"Get thee out and depart hence, for Herod will kill thee,"—said, "Go ye and tell that fox, Behold I cast out devils, I do cures to-day and to-morrow." The fear of God raises us above the fear of man. True faith makes men heroes. "Fear not them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do; rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." The lions' den could be but a shorter way to paradise. The fearlessness of faith not to be confounded with foolhardiness. One thing to put oneself in the way of danger, and another not to go out of the way of duty. Prayer to God as usual was Daniel's duty, though the passage to his chamber was the passage to the lions' den. "It was necessary to testify before men his perseverance in the worship of God; to have altered his habit at all would have been a partial abjuration, and proof of perfidious defection. God not only requires faith in the heart and the inward affections, but also the witness and confession of our piety."—Calvin.

5. Cheerful. Daniel not only prayed but "gave thanks" to God. Thanksgiving naturally a cheerful thing. "I will praise the name of the Lord with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving" (Psa ). Daniel went to his chamber not only to pray but to give thanks. Went, therefore, with a cheerful, not a downcast countenance. Realised how much he had to give God thanks for. That he had been made to know Him, and to know Him as his God and Father, and the Hearer of prayer; that He had been his help and deliverer hitherto; and that even now he was honoured to confess Him before men, and perhaps to suffer for His sake. All these sufficient causes for thankfulness, and therefore for cheerfulness. Daniel solemn in the prospect of death, but not sad. Stephen's face, in similar circumstances, like the face of an angel. Thanksgiving accompanying prayer makes prayer cheerful and joyous. Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth." Remembrance of God's mercies gives brightness, not only to the past, but to the present and the future. "Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice." With the Lord for his God and Saviour, why should Daniel not give thanks and rejoice? "Though the fig-tree shall not blossom, &c., yet will I rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation." Prayer, resting on the promise, cannot but be cheerful; prayer, accompanied with thanksgiving, must be still more so. Hence thanksgiving always to accompany prayer. "Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks." "By prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God" (1Th 5:17-18; Php 4:6). Grace enabled Daniel to give thanks and rejoice in the prospect of a painful death. Faith sings a joyous pan where Nature offers only a doleful dirge. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" So Paul and Silas not only prayed but sang praises to God in the prison. Daniel gave thanks "to his God." That God was "his God" in itself a sufficient ground for thankfulness, whether in life or in death. The expression indicative of the holy joy with which this aged saint poured out his heart before God, even now in the prospect of a lion's den.

6. Earnest. Daniel not only prayed, but "made supplication" (Dan ). Supplication is prayer intensified, a beseeching or pleading for special and needed mercies; entreaty. Prayer always to take this form, or to have supplication connected with it. Hence the two generally conjoined. "With prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God." "Praying always, with all prayer and supplication." "So Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears" (Heb 5:7). The Holy Spirit a "Spirit of grace and supplication;" and makes intercession for us "with groanings that cannot be uttered." The more there is of the spirit of prayer and of felt need, the more there will be of supplication in our prayers. The fervent prayer the effectual one. "Elias prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not," &c. So Daniel employed entreaty in his prayer. That entreaty not necessarily merely for himself. The cause of God, of his brethren, and of his fellow-men, probably more on Daniel's heart at that hour than his own. His prayer that of a burdened spirit, but burdened more for others than himself (chap. 9.) Daniel's prayer always with supplication, but probably now more than usual. "Shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him continually?" For himself he now needed special strength to endure the fiery trial that was to try him; grace to be faithful unto death, and to glorify God in the fire by patience and serenity; the comfort of the Divine presence, if called to suffer the threatened penalty, according to the promise, "When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee;" "Fear not, for I am with thee" (Isa 43:2; Isa 43:5).

Verses 11-23

Verses 24-28



The deliverance of Daniel was a signal display of the power of Jehovah and His presence with His people. Even the king, who seemed to have some idea that God might possibly interpose on His servant's behalf, was probably taken by surprise; like the believers in Mary's house when Peter, released in answer to their prayer, stood before the door. No sooner was Daniel taken up out of the den than judgment began on his enemies. "The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead." Sooner or later "judgment taketh hold of the wicked." Conspicuous reward also awaited God's faithful servant. The whole scene exhibits one of judgment, and affords a picture of another on a larger scale yet to come. We notice separately—

II. The royal decree (Dan ). The deliverance of Daniel was followed by a decree similar to that of Nebuchadnezzar on the return of his reason. The decree was in honour of the true God, who had delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. He is declared to be the living God and steadfast for ever, the Ruler of a kingdom that shall not be destroyed, and the possessor of an everlasting dominion; a God that rescueth and delivereth, and who worketh signs and wonders in heaven and earth. Men were to tremble and fear before Him in every part of his realm, which at least implied that they were to treat His name, worship, and religion with reverence and respect. This exaltation of Jehovah one of the objects of this as well as the other miracles recorded in the book, tending, at the same time, to the welfare of the people in general, and to that of the Jews in particular, as well in providing full toleration for their religion during their dispersion, as in preparing the way for their restoration to their own land. The great object of all God's dealings in providence that men may fear Him, that fear being at once their excellence and their happiness. Such the final issue of the judgments yet to be displayed. "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest" (Rev 15:4). The deliverance of Daniel as a faithful servant of Jehovah proclaimed in the decree, as a testimony at once to His power and faithfulness, and an encouragement to all to make Him their trust in like manner, as the God that delivers and rescues those who serve and trust in Him. Thus Daniel himself was honoured through all the widely-extended realm of Persia. "Them that honour me I will honour." So at last in reference to those who fear the Lord and think upon His name in a God-forgetting age. "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not" (Mal 3:17-18).

1. The certainty of divine judgments. "Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth." Daniel's enemies in fancied security after the king had affixed his seal to the stone over the mouth of the den. The night probably spent in pleasure and mutual congratulations. So on the slaughter of the Two Witnesses (Rev ). But "the triumphing of the wicked is short." The wicked sometimes punished in this world, that men may know there is a God that judgeth; only sometimes, that they may know there is a judgment to come.

2. The godly ultimately delivered out of trouble. Daniel delivered a second time from imminent death when no human power could rescue him. "In six troubles He shall deliver thee, and in seven no evil shall befall thee." Trouble and deliverance the common experience in the way to the kingdom. "Thou knowest what persecutions I endured; but out of them all the Lord delivered me" (2Ti ). "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation) ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev 2:10). The angel that redeemed Jacob from all evil, the Angel of the covenant, stands engaged to deliver the Israel of God from every evil work, and to preserve them to His heavenly kingdom (2Ti 4:18).

3. Events in providence made to promote the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. "The Lord hath made all things for Himself." The course of the world is but the course of divine providence, and divine providence is only God's government of the world He has made, and His conducting it to the end for which He made it. In that providence He makes the wrath of man to praise Him, while the remainder of wrath He restrains. The decree of Darius a foreshadowing of the time when the kingdoms of the world shall become "the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev ). All things made to tend to this ultimate consummation. This the Redeemer's reward, as it is the result of His redeeming work. "He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied." Adequate power provided for the object. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power." What was done at Pentecost at the commencement of the Christian dispensation, only an earnest and pledge of what shall be done at its close. "I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh."

4. The power and preciousness of divine grace. That grace seen in Daniel to be able to preserve the godly in a course of high-toned morality and religion during the course of a long life, in the midst of diversified temptations and in the most unfavourable circumstances. Daniel an example of Psa . "As perseverance is the one final touchstone of man, so these scattered notices combine in a grand outline of one, an alien, a captive, of that misused class (the eunuchs) who are proverbially the intriguers, favourites, pests of Oriental courts, who revenge on man their ill treatment at the hand of man; yet himself in uniform integrity, outliving envy, jealousy, dynasties; surviving in untarnished, uncorrupting greatness; the seventy years of the captivity; honoured during the forty-three years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign; doing the king's business under the insolent and sensual boy Belshazzar; owned by the conquering Medo-Persians; the stay, doubtless, and human protector of his people during those long years of exile.… Such undeviating integrity beyond the ordinary life of man, a worshipper of the one God in the most dissolute and degraded of the merchant cities of old, first minister in the first of the world-monarchies, was in itself a great fulfilment of the purpose of God in converting the chastisement of His people into the riches of the Gentiles."—Pusey.


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Daniel 6:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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