Continuing on with our look at Daniel 6 and his experience in the Lion’s Den, we pick up the passage at verse 11.
11 Then, by agreement, these men came [together] and found Daniel praying and making requests before his God. 12 Then they approached and spoke before the king regarding his injunction, “Have you not signed an injunction that anyone who petitions (prays to) any god or man except you, O king, within the designated thirty days, is to be thrown into the den of lions?” The king answered, “The statement is true, in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be altered or revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, does not pay any attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you have signed, but keeps praying [to his God] three times a day.”
14 Then, as soon as the king heard these words, he was deeply distressed [over what he had done] and set his mind on rescuing Daniel; and he struggled until the sun went down [trying to work out a way] to save him. 15 Then, by agreement, these same men came to the king and said, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be altered or revoked.”Daniel 6:11-15 (AMP)
As a reminder, the governors and commissioners were jealous of this successful man – Daniel. He is rising to the top because of his faithfulness to God. They cannot find fault with him, so lay a trap for him by asking the King to sign a law that states no one can pray to any god or man except to King Darius himself. Daniel, not willing to compromise, goes home and prays to God just as he always did. The governors catch him in the act.
These wicked men approach the king and ask him, “O King, did you not sign some kind of law about praying to any God or man except you? Didn’t you say anyone caught doing this would be thrown into the lion’s den?” The king replies in the affirmative, and confirms he did indeed sign such a law. The governors are quick to point out that Daniel has broken the law.
I imagine the look on King Darius’ face as realisation dawns. Verse 14 tells us he was deeply distressed. Why? I would like to think he is particularly fond of Daniel, and the thought of losing his friendship was a very sad one. However, I suspect another reason may lie behind the king’s distress. We learned from earlier on in the chapter that the governors and commissioners were there to protect the king’s interests. No one did that better than Daniel. The king knows that to lose Daniel to the lions is to lose a valuable asset, and leaves him with only corrupt officials unlikely to act with integrity toward him.
Verse 14 may seem a little odd to our ears. If he is the king, why not just change the laws or pardon Daniel to save him from the lions? You will notice the phrase, repeated more than once in this chapter, “in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be altered or revoked.” Once a law was made in Persia, that was it. No take-backs, no changes. Not even the king could undo a law that he had signed.
We see this at work in the book of Esther. King Artaxerxes, under the influence of the wicked Haman, signs a law that will mean the Jewish people will be killed on a certain day. The actions of Queen Esther exposes the plot, but the king cannot revoke the law. Instead, he puts in place a second law that means the Jewish people can gather together, arm and protect themselves from harm.
King Darius spends the entire day trying to figure out a way out of the predicament. He finds none. There are a number of lessons for us here, but I want to point out the importance of our words. We must not make a commitment we cannot fulfil. We see the impact of hasty words in Judges 11 when Jephthah makes a vow that he will sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his house. Sadly, it was his daughter who came to greet him. Jesus, likewise, urges us to count the cost before we begin (see Luke 14). King Darius here has been flattered by the governors and they have taken full advantage. He no doubt regrets his words, and can find no way out.
We ought to be very careful about what we commit to. When we talked about Daniel being an excellent man, I am certain that part of his excellence lie in the fact that he meant what he said. Too few of us are bound by our words. If we say we are going to be there at a certain time, then we should make sure we are. If we are not sure, then neither should we commit.
Too few of us are bound by our #words – #Bible #JesusTweet
There is no recourse for the king. He finds no way out. Daniel is surely doomed! We will find out what happens when we look at the rest of this chapter another time.
Catch up on previous posts in this series:
Thanks for reading!