Darius' Decree: Daniel's Disobedience, and
Consequent Exposure to the Lions: His Deliverance by God, and Darius'
1. Darius—Grotefend has read it in the cuneiform inscriptions
at Persepolis, as Darheush, that is, "Lord-King," a name applied
to many of the Medo-Persian kings in common. Three of that name occur:
Darius Hystaspes, 521 B.C., in whose
reign the decree was carried into effect for rebuilding the temple
4:5; Hag 1:1); Darius
Codomanus, 336 B.C., whom Alexander
overcame, called "the Persian" (Ne 12:22), an expression used after the rule of
Macedon was set up; and Darius Cyaxares II, between Astyages and Cyrus
[ÆSCHYLUS, The Persians,
hundred and twenty—satraps; set over
the conquered provinces (including Babylon) by Cyrus [Xenophon, Cyropædia, 8.6.1]. No doubt
Cyrus acted under Darius, as in the capture of Babylon; so that
Daniel rightly attributes the appointment to Darius.
3. Daniel was preferred—probably because
of his having so wonderfully foretold the fall of Babylon. Hence the
very expression used by the queen mother on that occasion (Da 5:12) is here used, "because an excellent
spirit was in him."
king thought to set him over the whole
realm—Agreeing with Darius' character, weak and averse to
business, which he preferred to delegate to favorites. God overruled
this to the good both of Daniel, and, through him, of His people.
4. occasion … concerning the
kingdom—pretext for accusation in his administration (Ec 4:4).
5. It is the highest testimony to a godly
man's walk, when his most watchful enemies can find no ground of
censure save in that he walks according to the law of God even where it
opposes the ways of the world.
6. assembled together—literally,
"assembled hastily and tumultuously." Had they come more deliberately,
the king might have refused their grant; but they gave him no time for
reflection, representing that their test-decree was necessary
for the safety of the king.
live for ever—Arrian [Alexander, 4] records that Cyrus was
the first before whom prostration was practised. It is an undesigned
mark of genuineness that Daniel should mention no prostration before
Nebuchadnezzar or Darius (see on Da 3:9).
7. The Persian king was regarded as
representative of the chief god, Ormuzd; the seven princes near him
represented the seven Amshaspands before the throne of Ormuzd; hence
3:4) refused such homage to
Haman, the king's prime minister, as inconsistent with what is due to
God alone. A weak despot, like Darius, much under the control of his
princes, might easily be persuaded that such a decree would test the
obedience of the Chaldeans just conquered, and tame their proud
spirits. So absolute is the king in the East, that he is regarded not
merely as the ruler, but the owner, of the people.
All … governors … counsellors,
&c.—Several functionaries are here specified, not mentioned
in Da 6:4,
6. They evidently exaggerated
the case of the weak king, as if their request was that of
all the officers in the empire.
den of lions—an underground cave or
pit, covered with a stone. It is an undesigned proof of genuineness,
that the "fiery furnace" is not made the means of punishment here, as
3:20; for the Persians were
fire-worshippers, which the Babylonians were not.
8. decree—or, "interdict."
that it be not changed—(Es 1:19; 8:8). This immutability of the king's
commands was peculiar to the Medes and Persians: it was due to their
regarding him infallible as the representative of Ormuzd; it was not so
among the Babylonians.
Medes and Persians—The order of the
names is an undesigned mark of genuineness. Cyrus the Persian reigned
subordinate to Darius the Mede as to dignity, though exercising more
real power. After Darius' death, the order is "the Persians and Medes"
9. Such a despotic decree is quite explicable
by remembering that the king, as the incarnation of Ormuzd, might
demand such an act of religious obedience as a test of loyalty.
Persecuting laws are always made on false pretenses. Instead of bitter
complaints against men, Daniel prays to God. Though having vast
business as a ruler of the empire, he finds time to pray thrice a day.
Daniel's three companions (Da 3:12), are
not alluded to here, nor any other Jew who conscientiously may have
disregarded the edict, as the conspirators aimed at Daniel alone (Da 6:5).
10. when Daniel knew … writing …
signed—and that, therefore, the power of advising the king
against it was taken from him.
went into his house—withdrawing from
the God-dishonoring court.
windows … open—not in vainglory,
but that there might be no obstruction to his view of the direction in
which Jerusalem, the earthly seat of Jehovah under the Old Testament,
lay; and that the sight of heaven might draw his mind off from earthly
thoughts. To Christ in the heavenly temple let us turn our eyes in
prayer, from this land of our captivity (1Ki 8:44, 48; 2Ch
6:29, 34, 38; Ps 5:7).
chamber—the upper room, where prayer
was generally offered by the Jews (Ac 1:13). Not on the housetop (Ac 10:9), where he would be conspicuous.
upon his knees—Humble attitudes in
prayer become humble suppliants.
three times a day—(Ps 55:17). The third, sixth, and ninth hour; our
nine, twelve, and three o'clock (Ac 2:15; 10:9; 3:1;
10:30; compare Da 9:21).
as … aforetime—not from contempt
of the king's command.
11. assembled—as in Da 6:6, "assembled" or "ran hastily," so as to
come upon Daniel suddenly and detect him in the act.
12. They preface their attack by alleging the
king's edict, so as to get him again to confirm it unalterably, before
they mention Daniel's name. Not to break a wicked promise, is
not firmness, but guilty obstinacy (Mt 14:9; Mr 6:26).
13. That Daniel—contemptuously.
of … captivity of Judah—recently
a captive among thy servants, the Babylonians—one whom humble
obedience most becomes. Thus they aggravate his guilt, omitting mention
of his being prime minister, which might only remind Darius of Daniel's
regardeth not thee—because he regarded
14. displeased with himself—for having
suffered himself to be entrapped into such a hasty decree (Pr 29:20). On the one hand he was pressed by the
immutability of the law, fear that the princes might conspire against
him, and desire to consult for his own reputation, not to seem fickle;
on the other, by regard for Daniel, and a desire to save him from the
effects of his own rash decree.
till … going down of …
sun—The king took this time to deliberate, thinking that
after sunset Daniel would be spared till morning, and that meanwhile
some way of escape would turn up. But (Da 6:15) the conspirators "assembled
tumultuously" (literally) to prevent this delay in the execution, lest
the king should meantime change his decree.
16. Thy God … will deliver
thee—The heathen believed in the interposition of the gods at
times in favor of their worshippers. Darius recognized Daniel's God as
a god, but not the only true God. He had heard of the
deliverance of the three youths in Da 3:26, 27 and hence augurs Daniel's deliverance. I
am not my own master, and cannot deliver thee, however much I wish it.
"Thy God will." Kings are the slaves of their flatterers. Men admire
piety to God in others, however disregarding Him themselves.
17. stone … sealed—typical of
Christ's entombment under a seal (Mt 27:66). Divinely ordered, that the deliverance
might be the more striking.
his own signet, and … of his
lords—The concurrence of the lords was required for
making laws. In this kingly power had fallen since it was in
Nebuchadnezzar's hands. The Median king is a puppet in his lords'
hands; they take the security of their own seal as well as his, that he
should not release Daniel. The king's seal guaranteed Daniel from being
killed by them, should he escape the lions.
18. neither were instruments of music,
"concubines." Daniel's mentioning to us as an extraordinary thing of
Darius, that he neither approached his table nor his harem, agrees with
Xenophon's picture of him as devoted to
wine and women, vain, and without self-control. He is sorry for the
evil which he himself had caused, yet takes no steps to remedy it.
There are many such halters between good and bad, who are ill at ease
in their sins, yet go forward in them, and are drawn on by others.
19. His grief overcame his fear of the
20. living God—having life Himself, and
able to preserve thy life; contrasted with the lifeless idols. Darius
borrowed the phrase from Daniel; God extorting from an idolater a
confession of the truth.
thou servest continually—in times of
persecution, as well as in times of peace.
is thy God … able—the language
of doubt, yet hope.
21. Daniel might have indulged in anger at the
king, but does not; his sole thought is, God's glory has been set forth
in his deliverance.
22. his angel—the instrument, not the
author, of his deliverance (Ps 91:11; 34:7).
shut … lions' mouths—(Heb 11:33). So spiritually, God will shut
the roaring lion's mouth (1Pe 5:8) for
forasmuch as before him innocency—not
absolutely (in Da 9:7, 18
he disclaims such a plea), but relatively to this case. God has
attested the justice of my cause in standing up for His worship, by
delivering me. Therefore, the "forasmuch" does not justify Rome's
doctrine of works meriting salvation.
before thee—Obedience to God is in
strictest compatibility with loyalty to the king (Mt 22:21; 1Pe
2:17). Daniel's disobedience
to the king was seeming, not real, because it was not from contempt of
the king, but from regard to the King of kings (compare Ac 24:16).
23. because he believed—"Faith" is
stated in Heb 11:33 to
have been his actuating principle: a prelude to the Gospel. His belief
was not with a view to a miraculous deliverance. He shut his eyes to
the event, committing the keeping of his soul to God, in well-doing, as
unto a faithful Creator (1Pe 4:19),
sure of deliverance in a better life, if not in this.
24. (De 19:19; Pr 19:5).
accused—literally, "devoured the bones
and flesh." It was just that they who had torn Daniel's character, and
sought the tearing of his person, should be themselves given to be torn
in pieces (Pr 11:8).
their children—Among the Persians, all
the kindred were involved in the guilt of one culprit. The Mosaic law
expressly forbade this (De 24:16; 2Ki 14:6).
or ever—that is, "before ever." The
lions' sparing Daniel could not have been because they were full, as
they showed the keenness of their hunger on the accusers.
26. Stronger than the decree (Da 3:29). That was negative; this, positive; not
merely men must say "nothing amiss of," but must "fear before God."
28. It was in the third year of Cyrus that
Daniel's visions (Da 10:1-12:13) were given. Daniel "prospered" because
of his prophecies (Ezr 1:1, 2).