Reading through the Bible together
Cyrus’ general, Gobryas, (also called Ug-ba-ru or Gu-ba-ru in the inscription) was the one who killed Belshashar that night in Babylon. He had invaded Babylon when the Euphrates was at its lowest and the gates of the city had been left open. Then Cyrus went on an extended military campaign and did not come back until a month later. He had placed Gobryas temporarily on the throne who then took the throne-name Darius the Mede (v. 1).
An excellent strategist in the first year of his reign, Darius appointed 120 satraps over the kingdom. While Daniel wrote in Aramaic, one cannot miss the Persian words he used because Babylon was a cosmopolitan city, and it was still so when the Medes and Persians took over.
With the help of God, Daniel distinguished himself as a good statesman and "the spirit of God was in him" (v. 3). He became one of the three highest officials under the king. Jealous of his achievement, the other two tried to find problems with him (v. 4). They could not, because he was not corrupt, not negligent, and extremely trustworthy. Legally they could do nothing against him, so they turned to his religion (v. 5). They persuaded the king to issue a decree and seal it so it could not be repealed that anyone who made a prayer to any god or person for 30 days, except to Darius should be cast in the lions’ den (v. 7). This was one 12th on their 360 day year calendar which contained the hemerologies, or the day to day predictions for the king of what he should or should not do to avoid the anger of the gods.
When Daniel heard about the decree he opened his windows and prayed to God three times a day just like before. He decided not to change (v. 10). The other two officials witnessed his "illegal" religious practice (v. 11). They knew that the law of the Medes and Persians cannot be repealed (v. 12). So they turned against Daniel as one who prays three times a day to his God which was against the law (v. 13). We know that continuous worship and prayer is the key to spiritual success in our life.
Great stress came over the king when he was told what had happened because Daniel was his best friend, and was about 83/84 years old (v. 14). He tried until sundown to save him with no success. Then the men reminded the king that the law cannot be repealed (v. 15). So he was forced to give the order to throw Daniel into the lions’ den. As they did so, Darius called out to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you" (v. 16). Then they put a stone over the hole of the den and sealed it with the king’s seal and the seals of the nobles (v. 17). This way the nobles could control the king and the king could control the nobles.
That night there was no sleep, no food, no entertainment for Darius (v. 18). Darius saw the sun coming up and at the first light he ran to the den to see what happened (v. 19). In heart-pain he called out to Daniel to see whether the servant of God was still alive, to see if the living God, “your God” whom you serve continuously, has He been able to deliver you from the hungry lions? (v. 20).
Much to the joy of Darius the Mede (v. 23) Daniel praised God for a saved life. His trust in God saved him from any kind of wounds of the lions (v. 23). The roles were reversed for the accusers and they and their wives and children were thrown into the den and crushed and eaten by the lions (v. 24).
To make an application to our day of what happened to Daniel, we can say that church leaders from the local church upward, are at times thrown in the den of critics but because when they trust God, no lasting emotional wounds will be found with them. And where there is a tribal system with extended families, and the leader of a tribe is against the king, then the whole tribe becomes suspect. Even though the actual perpetrator is caught and eliminated, there is no individualism, the whole tribe remains under suspicion because they are part of a network like a spider web.
After Daniel was pulled out of the lions’ den, Darius wrote to decree calling people to reverence the God of Daniel whose kingdom will not be destroyed and whose dominion will never end (vv.25-26).This decree was placed in the archives for the future rulers of the Medes and Persians. Darius testified that God rescues and saves, He performs signs and He performs wonders both in heaven and on earth (v. 27).
That year and the next Daniel prospered and then Cyrus took over the throne from Darius. The last date we have of Daniel was in the third year of Cyrus in 536 B.C. when he had that long vision of chapters 10 to 11 with successive kingdoms until the resurrection at the end of time.
Daily Your remnant is thrown in the den of critics and suffers negative gossip and false accusations. Rescue and protect these Daniels and Danielas. In Your Holy Name we pray. Amen.
Koot van Wyk, DLitt et Phil, ThD.
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea.