14. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
14. Tunc rex, postquam sermonem audivit, valde tristatus est, 1 in se: et ad Danielem apposuit cor, 2 ad ipsum servandum: et usque ad occasum solis fuit solicitus ad ipsum eruendum. 3
15. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
15. Tunc conglobati sunt viri illi 4 ad regem, et dixerunt, Scias, rex, quod lex Medis et Persis est, ut omne edictum et statutum quod rex statuerit, non mutetur.
In the first place, Daniel recites that the king was disturbed, when he perceived the malice of his nobles which had formerly escaped him; for their intention and their object had never occurred to him; he perceives himself deceived and entrapped, and hence he is disturbed. Here again we are taught how cautiously kings ought to avoid depraved counsels, since they are besieged on every side by perfidious men, whose only object is to gain by their false representations, and to oppress their enemies, and those from whom they hope for booty or who may favor their evil courses. Because so many snares surround kings, they ought to be the more cautious in providing against cunning. They are too late in acknowledging themselves to have been overreached, when no remedy is left, partly through fear, and partly through wishing to consult their own credit; and they prefer offending God to suffering any outward disrespect from men. Since, therefore, kings consider their own honor so sacred, they persevere in their evil undertakings, even when their conscience accuses them; and even if justice itself were to appear visibly before them, yet this restraint would not be sufficient to withhold them, when ambition urges them in the opposite direction, and they are unwilling to lose the slightest portion of their reputation among men. The case of Darius supplies us with an example of this kind.
First of all, it is said, He was sorrowful when he heard these words, and was anxious till the setting of the sun about the way of snatching Daniel from death. He wished this to be done, if his own honor were sound and safe, and his nobles were satisfied. But on the one side, he fears disunion if his nobles should conspire to produce disturbance; and on the other side, he is moved by a foolish fear, because he does not wish to incur the charge of levity which awaited him, and hence he is vanquished and obeys the lusts of the wicked. Although, therefore, he labored till the setting of the sun to free Daniel, yet that perverse shame prevailed of which I have spoken, and then the fear of dissension. For when we do not lean upon God's help, we are always compelled to vacillate, although anxious to be honestly affected. Thus Pilate wished to liberate Christ, but was terrified by the threats of the people, when they denounced against him the displeasure of Caesar. (John 19:12.) And no wonder, since faith is alone a certain and fixed prop on which we may lean while fearlessly discharging our duty, and thus overcome all fears. But when we want confidence, we are, as I have said, sure to be changeable. Hence Darius, through fear of a conspiracy of his nobles against himself, permitted Daniel to be an innocent sufferer from their cruelty. Then that false shame is added which I have mentioned, because he was unwilling to appear without consideration, by suddenly revoking his own edict, as it was a law with the Medes and Persians that whatever proceeded from kings was inviolable! Daniel now states this. He says, those men assembled together; when they saw the king hesitate and doubt, they became fierce and contentious with him. When it is said they meet together, this relates to their inspiring him with fear. They say, Know, O king! He knew it well enough, and they need not instruct him in any unknown matter, but they treat him in a threatening manner. "What? dost thou not see how utterly the royal name will be hereafter deprived of its authority if he violates thine edict with impunity? Will you thus permit yourself to become a laughingstock? Finally, they intimate, that he would not be king unless he revenged the insult offered him by Daniel in neglecting his commandment. Know, therefore, O king, that the Persians and Medes -- he was himself king of the Medes, but it is just as if they said, What kind of rumor will be spread through all thy subject provinces; for thou knowest how far this prevails among the Medes and Persians -- the king must not change his edict. If, therefore, thou shouldst set such an example, will not all thy subjects instantly rise against thee? and wilt thou not be contemptible to them?" We see, then, how the satraps rage against their king, and frighten him from any change of counsel. And they also join the edict with the statute, which the king had resolved upon, with the view of impressing upon him the necessity of not changing a single decree which he had often and repeatedly sanctioned. It follows: