6:1 Darius decided it would be good to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom.
Historical evidence indicates that Darius the Mede was not the conqueror of Babylon but was appointed as ruler over the kingdom by King Cyrus the Persian. Though this chapter refers to Darius as “king,” his job description resembled that of Belshazzar, who presided over Babylon under the authority of Nabonidus.
Darius established a ruling counsel in Babylon, which consisted of 120 satraps who governed the various regions of Babylon’s kingdom. As in chapter three, satrap is an archaic Persian word that refers to a provincial governor who ruled over a distinct region, either a small prominent city or a larger territorial district. In essence, the Medo-Persian government structure diluted the monarch’s authority, fostered greater differences in opinions, decisions, styles, and ideas and, as a result, created the perfect atmosphere for political corruption where one group or person struggled for power over another.
6:2 Over these satraps were three officials. Daniel was one of these officials. The satraps were to report to these three officials so that the king wouldn’t be cheated.
Three presidents supervised the 120 satraps to oversee the financial management of the king’s assets. Darius established this chain of command to avoid involvement with the routine, menial problems associated with leading a great dominion and also as a means to protect his monetary interests. Basically, he delegated many of his financial tasks to these three presidents and then along to the 120 satraps, so Darius served more as an administrator than as an absolute monarch. Daniel, chosen to be one of these three presidents, likely gained this position because of his honest, trustworthy, and godly character, whereas many of the king’s subjects took advantage of their positions of authority by robbing the king and then hiding their actions with altered records.
6:3 This man, Daniel, distinguished himself among the other officials and satraps because there was an extraordinary spirit in him. The king thought about putting him in charge of the whole kingdom.
Daniel’s godliness permeated his every word and action, which kept him unspoiled by the wealth and position he had gained. Darius favored Daniel over the other two presidents because Daniel had proven himself to be trustworthy. To reward Daniel for his honorable stewardship, Darius considered promoting him to an even higher position of authority.
6:4 So the other officials and satraps tried to find something to accuse Daniel of in his duties for the kingdom. But they couldn’t find anything wrong because he was trustworthy. No error or fault could be found.
Whenever one person or group is esteemed above others, it often leads to jealousy among the less favored. Likewise, the other two presidents and the satraps probably despised Daniel because Darius so greatly respected him. Certainly, Daniel’s ethnic heritage as a captive Israelite must have further fueled their resentment. These men searched for some justifiable reason to discredit Daniel’s impeccable reputation as a fit ruler, but they found none. This does not imply that Daniel was perfect. It simply means that these conspirators found no suitable reason to disqualify Daniel from the position. Because Daniel gave God total control of his life, his sins—at least in the sight of the worldly eyes that sought to judge him—were insignificant, so he was beyond human reproach.
6:5 These men said, “We won’t find anything to accuse this man, Daniel, unless we find it in his religious practices.”
Since they were unable to find justifiable reasons to discredit Daniel, these resentful rulers concocted a scheme to incriminate Daniel and to provoke his dismissal. They maliciously fabricated a charge by targeting Daniel’s greatest attribute: his relationship with God. They knew that Daniel prayed three times a day in his room as he sought God’s guidance for his life, so they decided to entrap him by creating legislation that would conflict with the laws of Daniel’s God.
6:6-7 6So these officials and satraps went to the king as a group. They said to him, “May King Darius live forever! 7All the officials, governors, satraps, advisers, and mayors agree that the king should make a statute and enforce a decree. The decree should state that for the next 30 days whoever asks for anything from any god or person except you, Your Majesty, will be thrown into a lions’ den.
A representative group of the conspirators, possibly even just a minority of the court who had access to the king, assembled before Darius. After addressing the king with the customary greeting, these men claimed that every official throughout the kingdom had conferred on the matter when, in actuality, they likely misrepresented the true number of officials that had concurred. Even if all 122 of the other rulers had agreed on the matter, they had not consulted Daniel, Darius’ most esteemed ruler, and so it was with deception that these conspirators approached the king.
Once before the king, they explained their proposal for a new decree, which prohibited anyone from petitioning any god or person other than the king for thirty days, seemingly ample time to entrap Daniel. The conspirators then announced their prescribed punishment for breaking their proposed law. Anyone found guilty of violating this law would be thrown into the lion’s den, a common method of execution during this era. The king’s men wished to execute this law and its punishment immediately.
Obviously, these men cleverly devised this recommendation to manipulate the king with flattery. Such a decree certainly inflated Darius’ ego. Scripture does not emphasize that Darius was an egotistical king, as were Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, but to varying measures, all people succumb to the sin of pride, and these men obviously preyed upon Darius’ natural prideful inclinations. Furthermore, Darius probably viewed the proposal as a gesture of respect and honor since the decree had been formulated by his appointed leaders and not by him.
Many souls hunger for the living hope that they see in the lives of believers. However, like the conspirators who sought to entrap Daniel, there are others in this world: perhaps strangers, coworkers, peers, or even family members: who vehemently oppress those who claim the name of Christ.
2Rescue me from troublemakers.
Save me from bloodthirsty people.
3They lie in ambush for me right here!
Fierce men attack me, O Lord,
but not because of any disobedience. (Psalm 59:2-3)
Corrie ten Boom, a committed Christian, suffered imprisonment in a German concentration camp for hiding Jews in her home during World War II. Ms ten Boom states, “In countries where Christians suffer great tribulation, even persecution, I have seen how the Lord used weak people and children as channels of streams of living water. Their own strength was not enough, but they trusted Him who filled them with the Spirit: not of fear, ‘but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’”
As Christians, no matter our age or level of spiritual maturity, the attacks of others wound us. However, we need to change our focus and perception, so we can perceive these struggles for what they truly are—moments that demand our total dependency upon God.
We do not have to fear persecution because, although none of us desire to be incriminated by others, what better charge could be laid to our account than to be identified as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? “28So don’t let your opponents intimidate you in any way. This is God’s way of showing them that they will be destroyed and that you will be saved. 29God has given you the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:28-29). The only area of Daniel’s life that incriminated him was his intimate relationship with his heavenly Father. Can the same be said of us? “Christ means everything to me in this life, and when I die I’ll have even more” (Philippians 1:21).
6:8 Your Majesty, issue this decree, and sign it. According to the law of the Medes and Persians no one could change it or repeal it.”
The presidents and satraps then asked the king to sign the recommendation into law, making it legally binding. The conspirators knew that the decree could not be overturned once the king signed it, but they also cunningly made the decree short-term (thirty days) since Medo-Persian laws were otherwise irreversible. James M. Freeman, author of Manners and Customs of the Bible, explains the confining nature of Medo-Persian law: “The strict etiquette of the Persian court obliged the king never to revoke an order once given, however much he might regret it, because in so doing he would contradict himself, and, according to Persian notions, the law could not contradict itself.” “If it pleases you, Your Majesty, issue a royal decree. It should be recorded in the decrees of the Persians and Medes, never to be repealed” (Esther 1:19). A law, however, could be “neutralized” by executing another decree that stated the opposite of the previous one.
6:9 So Darius signed the written decree.
Darius, upon the urging of his officials and with a heightened sense of importance, signed the decree into law without considering the ramifications of his actions.
6:10 When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went to his house. An upper room in his house had windows that opened in the direction of Jerusalem. Three times each day he got down on his knees and prayed to his God. He had always praised God this way.
It did not take long for news of the decree to reach Daniel. Perhaps, the conspirators even sent men to notify Daniel as soon as the decree was sealed. However, despite the decree’s deadly ramifications, Daniel did not evade the issue or change his practice. Peering through his window toward Jerusalem, Daniel continued praying to Jehovah three times a day. He proved his commitment and faithfulness to God by praying openly and boldly according to Jewish custom. “I will bow toward your holy temple. I will give thanks to your name because of your mercy and truth. You have made your name and your promise greater than everything” (Psalm 138:2).
6:11 One of those times the men came in as a group and found Daniel praying and pleading to his God.
Some of the satraps, maybe even the presidents themselves, arrived outside Daniel’s window and saw him praying just as expected. In this way, they collected their witnesses and evidence against Daniel.
6:12 Then they went and spoke to the king about his decree. They asked, “Didn’t you sign a decree which stated that for 30 days whoever asks for anything from any god or person except you, Your Majesty, will be thrown into a lions’ den?” The king answered, “That’s true. According to the law of the Medes and Persians the decree can’t be repealed.”
The conspirators approached Darius, yet before they informed him of their findings, they repeated to him the decree because they knew that he highly favored Daniel. The men again clarified the king’s obligation to execute the punishment. Darius not only confirmed the validity of the decree but also reaffirmed that “according to the law of the Medes and Persians” neither this law nor its punishment could be rescinded.
6:13 They replied, “Your Majesty, Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, refuses to obey your order or the decree that you signed. He prays three times each day.”
The conspirators finally disclosed Daniel’s identity as one who had transgressed the law, and not just once but three times a day. They also undermined Daniel by referring to him as “one of the captives from Judah.” They further alleged that Daniel had disregarded the king and his decrees by breaking this law.
6:14 The king was very displeased when he heard this. He tried every way he could think of to save Daniel. Until sundown he did everything he could to rescue him.
After hearing from his officials, Darius realized the impact of his rash decision and his helplessness to postpone enforcement of the penalty. Although he knew he had been swindled, he could not annul the matter, so he spent the rest of his day trying to circumvent the law, hoping to spare Daniel’s life.
Daniel did not wait until the crisis, the signing of the decree, to begin his prayer life. Even before the crisis, his prayers were perpetually lifted to the God that he so intimately knew, and despite the bleak circumstances, Daniel faithfully prayed expectantly. “Be happy in your confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually” (Romans 12:12). Certainly, if Daniel thought that God would not hear his prayers and answer them, this wise man would not have squandered his time. Daniel, however, knew that omnipotent God would act in a mighty way. Therefore, the frequency of Daniel’s petitions did not demonstrate a lack of faith.