Summary: Daniel’s faith was tested again in his refusal to compromise on his worship of God contrasting with the corruption of King Darius’ court.
DANIEL 6 - IN THE LION’S DEN
The title to this chapter is symbolic of the situation in which Daniel found himself. Here we have a character study of three types of people, the Good, the Bad and the Indifferent - as symbolised by Daniel, his enemies and King Darius. All three types are met in daily life and what is more, all of us fall into one of those categories. Let us see if we can identify ourselves as we explore their actions and motives. Firstly:
There can be no doubt that the men who had been appointed by Darius to administer his kingdom, apart from Daniel, were very wicked men. The Persian empire stretched over a large area covering many of the lands we know as the "Middle East", often unwilling members of the empire, so it was necessary to impose law and order with a firm hand. As Darius could not possibly rule by himself he divided the kingdom into 120 provinces, each with a governor who reported to three administrators, one of whom was Daniel.
It is clear from the story that Daniel was far superior in ability to his two colleagues and the king was so impressed that he toyed with the idea of appointing Daniel as the prime minister. That is when the trouble started. In addition to jealousy we should remember that these men knew that Daniel belonged to an alien race, for he was a Jew. It is easy to imagine the thought process of his fellow administrators and governors: "Why should this fellow take precedence over us; he’s not one of our countrymen. Daniel’s about to become the top man. He must be stopped!"
They began to watch Daniel like a hawk, but to their great annoyance he was "squeaky-clean"; he never put a foot wrong. Human nature has not changed much in two and half thousand years. In so many countries of the world corruption is rife and the only way to get on or to get permissions is to slip an official a "backhander", a bribe, perhaps disguising it as a commission. But Daniel would not touch that kind of thing. Try as they may, his colleagues could not find any trace of negligence or of improper dealing.
What a testimony to have, not from friends who might be rather more tolerant and turn a blind eye to some imperfection, but from enemies on the lookout for some fault. The reluctant conclusion of the close scrutiny of Daniel’s conduct was, "They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent" (4). How do we match up against such a standard? Personal integrity is not connected with being spiritual. There are many non-Christians who are upright of character, but how much more should Christians be beyond reproach.
The wicked administrators, the Bad, came to the conclusion that any attempt to prove disloyalty, corruption or negligence by Daniel was doomed to failure. If they were going to find any way of trapping him, it must be in some other direction. It was the same when the Lord Jesus was brought before his judges - he was without fault. What an accolade! What a standard for us to follow!
These evil leaders of Babylon were not to be defeated. By "hook or by crook" they were out to have him killed. The devil must have told them to "play the religious card". If they were going to find some way of trapping him, it must be in relation to his religious faith, but they were determined to find a chink in his armour. If we are Christians, whether we like it or not, we are marked people, we are under observation.
Right from the beginning of their history, the people of Israel were set apart from the surrounding nations because they were given a different set of values through God’s revelation to them - he had chosen them by his grace to be a light for all others. Even though they often failed miserably they were hated for being different. In the case of Daniel, it was his purity of life which could not avoid giving offence to his wicked contemporaries, the Bad, because he showed them up for what they were.
When anyone makes this claim for his religion by his righteous living, he is bound to face the same problems as Daniel faced. Jesus warned his disciples that if they witnessed to him clearly and faithfully and served him loyally they would never be able to avoid presenting the same kind of offence to those who opposed that way of life. The same thing happen to Jesus himself. His very perfection only served to increase the hatred of those who were conscious of their own guilt.