Verses 1–3: Daniel, Prime Minister of Medo-Persia
At approximately eighty-two years of age, Daniel was appointed as the new Prime Minister over the Medo-Persian empire. Serving under Daniel were three satraps, or presidents, to administer over the areas of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.
Verses 4–15: Jealousy Leads to Attempted Murder
Like Lucifer in heaven, the subordinates of Daniel were filled with jealousy. They had hoped to find something against Daniel to disqualify him as Prime Minister, but they could find nothing. Then the devil impressed their prejudiced minds to find a way to destroy Daniel through his religion. These unholy princes noticed how Daniel faithfully obeyed the laws of his God. If they could only frame a law against the law of Daniel’s God, then they could find him guilty of breaking the laws of the Medes and Persians.
It was a well-known fact that Daniel prayed three times each day. He was a man of deep faith, who lived in obedience to God’s Ten Commandments. According to the first and second commandments, God’s people are not to petition any other god. See Exodus 20:2-6. Therefore, the presidents and the princes came to king Darius to sign a new edict that all men were to petition the king only for the next thirty days. If any one were to worship someone other than the king during this time, then they would be thrown into the lion’s den.
The king was flattered by this unprecedented gesture. No other king of the Medes and Persians was ever considered a god. These devious princes assured Darius that this high honor was not only earned on his part, but that it may serve to solidify the empire. After signing the new law, the presidents and princes reminded Darius that the laws of the Medes and Persians cannot be altered.
When Daniel heard of the new edict, he understood that the princes endeavored to destroy him. Yet, he would not lessen his fidelity to worship God as he had always done. Communion with his Creator and Redeemer was his joy and strength. It was even more precious than life itself.
Spies were ready to catch Daniel praying to his God. Since Daniel continued to worship God as before, the spies had all the evidence they needed before the ink was fully dry.
The princes wasted no time in bringing their charges against Daniel. Upon hearing the charges, the king saw that the purpose of the edict was to destroy Daniel. But what could he do? Even though the princes deceived him, any law established by the king of the Medes and Persians could not be altered. If only he could go back in time and refuse the honors of being worshiped like a god! He was disappointed in himself for being so foolish in signing the new edict.
Verses 16–28: The Almighty Delivers Daniel
Before Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, the king said to Daniel, “Thy God Whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee” verse 16. Darius was familiar with the deliverance of the three Hebrew youth in the fiery furnace. The king now prayed that the God of Daniel would intervene again.
It was a very long, sleepless night for the king. While he was in anguish, the enemies of Daniel were rejoicing. As the sun began to peak above the horizon, the king ran to the entrance of the lion’s den. Filled with both anguish and hope, the king cried out, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” verse 20. The answer was “Yes.” The God of Daniel had intervened and had shut the lions’ mouths.
What a stark contrast between those that believe in God, and those who believe in using the power of the state to enforce religious decrees to destroy the righteous. What a contrast between those who serve God faithfully and those who are bent on their own selfish ambitions to rule.
There may be various reasons why certain people would seek to destroy or hurt you. Perhaps people are envious of your popularity, wealth, talents, and opportunities. Perhaps they feel you have done them some wrong and wish to have you suffer. It may be that this person or these people are in bondage to a world of hate, constant division, and negativism. In Daniel’s case, those subordinate to Daniel’s high position as Prime Minister of the Medo-Persian Empire were envious of him. They simply wanted his job, and could not tolerate him being above them. Their envy was so great that they would even conspire to have him put to death. It is quite obvious that Daniel had done them no wrong, but they desired to destroy him as the Pharisees had wanted to destroy Jesus. In one way or another, He was a threat to them.
Under the new edict, Daniel did not waver from his fidelity to worship God three times each day. Instead of avoiding the wrath of his enemies by obeying the unjust edict, Daniel prayed for strength to endure the inevitable consequence. It was more important to him to receive the unjust lashes of the wicked than to lose any strength of his hold on God.
In our fallen world, it sometimes seems that the wicked prosper. The false accusations against one of God’s followers may be as poison to the people’s minds. Under such circumstances what is best for us to remember?
In the end, the wicked definitely do not prosper. Truth is eternal, but all that is evil is short lived. All sin will eventually come to an end.