3-Day Commentary Challenge - Daniel 6

Day 3 of 3 • This day’s reading


6:14. As soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed. The mighty Darius the Mede was trapped in the snare of his own pride and folly—and he knew it. We need only compare his pitiful plight with that of another great king, who was tricked into beheading John the Baptist: “Although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse” (Mark 6:26).

Even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him. How great was the difference between Medo-Persian monarchs and Neo-Babylonian monarchs? It was as great as the difference between gold and silver. Could we ever imagine a Nebuchadnezzar laboring “until sunset” to cancel the effects of some arbitrary decree he had previously issued?

Apparently there was a Medo-Persian law that criminals had to be executed the same day as their crime. This would at least have the advantage of preventing the hatching of counter plots to accomplish the rescue of the accused person.

6:16. Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you. These remarkable words from the lips of Darius the Mede (cf. v. 20) provide a measurement of the impact of Daniel’s testimony for his God in the midst of a pagan court.

6:17. A stone was brought . . . and the king sealed it. Compare the equally futile sealing of the tomb of our Lord (Matt. 27:66).

6:22. My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me. When God delivers supernaturally, He does a complete work. Daniel’s three friends had already discovered this in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. Darius the Mede did not hear the plaintive cry of a man half eaten by lions. Not only were the lions’ mouths shut by the Lord, but their very natures may have been subdued, as during the Flood in Noah’s ark and during the coming kingdom age, when “the lion will eat straw like the ox” (Isa. 11:7; 65:25; see also Ezek. 34:25; Hos. 2:18). Daniel may well have thought also of the poetic picture of a righteous man in the book of Job: “And you will not be afraid of wild beasts and the beasts of the field will be at peace with you”

(Job 5:22–23). Daniel’s trust in God is enshrined also within a great New Testament chapter: “who by faith shut the mouths of lions” (Heb. 11:33).

6:23. No injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Compare the complete deliverance of Daniel’s three friends (3:27) and, even earlier, of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 38:11–13).

6:24. They brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel. It seems unlikely that 122 men plus their families would have been thrown into this lions’ den (120 satraps and two of the three commissioners). It is probable that only a handful of men had engineered this plot and were therefore executed for their wickedness. Nevertheless, ancient kings, like modern ones, were capable of extreme and irrational acts of violence.

They cast them, their children and their wives into the lions’ den. The God of Israel gave a law to His people through Moses that children should not “be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deut. 24:16; cf. 2 Kings 14:6). If Achan’s entire family was stoned to death for his sin, it was because all of them were active participants with the head of the household in this particular sin (Josh. 7:24–26).

But the Medo-Persians had no such merciful law. Wives, children, and other relatives were often killed at the king’s command when a man committed a serious crime against the royal house, thus “nipping in the bud” any possible retaliation by the criminal’s family (to say nothing of the deterrent that such drastic justice would provide for potential enemies). The Greek historian Herodotus presents one clear example of this form of royal justice (Book III, 119).

In this day of vast spiritual apostasy and pseudo-intellectualism, the book of Daniel stands as a mighty rock of inspired prophetic Scripture, totally unshaken by the seemingly endless attacks of critics. May we, as servants of the same God whom Daniel knew, seek His help in reading this precious book with the understanding that He alone can fully provide.

    Note from the Publisher:  We hope that you have been encouraged by this 3-day commentary challenge from John C. Whitcomb.  You can pick up a copy of  Daniel - Everyday Bible Commentary at moodypublishers.com