Sermon for Sunday, November 6, 2022

Den of Legal-liar’s

Daniel 6:1-18

Daniel 6:1–18 (NIV): 6 It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

6 So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. 8 Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

  1. The issue with King Darius, Daniel’s record of history is out of order. 
    1. Darius I was the third ruler of the Persian Empire
    1. Cyrus the great was the first
    1. Cambyses II, Cyrus’ son was the second.  He grew his father’s empire by conquering Egypt.
    1. There was a King Darius the Mede, however, the Medes did not use a governmental structure of satraps, the Persians did.
  2. Satrap-noun: the governor of a province in ancient Persia
  3. Damnatio ad bestias (Latin: “condemnation to beasts”) was a form of Roman capital punishment where the condemned person was killed by wild animals, usually lions or other big cats.  The Persians DID NOT use this form of capital punishment, but Alexander the Great did, King of the Greeks.  In fact, the symbol for his kingdom, emblazoned on the shields of his army, was the lion.

A law is constructed to entrap and ensnare a person or persons personal beliefs and practices.  In this case, it is Daniel’s worship practices towards God against the popular Persian gods and accepted cultural practices.  This has happened before…

Esther 3:9-4:3 (NIV) If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talentsb of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”k

10 So the king took his signet ringl from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”

12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the languagem of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealedn with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jewso—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar,p and to plunderq their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.r

15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.s The king and Haman sat down to drink,t but the city of Susa was bewildered.u

When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes,v put on sackcloth and ashes,w and went out into the city, wailingx loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate,y because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

Daniel the pacifist:  Mahatma Gandhi famously once said that Daniel was the greatest passive resisters that ever lived![1]


[1]              Daniel Smith-Christopher, “The Book of Daniel: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, ed. Leander Keck, vol. 7 (Nashville: Abingdon), 91.

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