Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste to the den of lions.…
If human law and human authority are impotent to save an innocent man from death, the unseen but supreme Monarch will appear upon the scene, and will vindicate the cause of injured innocence. The calculations of human sagacity often prove false. Otto factor is omitted, which entirely vitiates the result. Just as the ruffian is about to seize his prize, a judicial hand is laid upon him, and completely defeats his project. The victor is vanquished; the biter bitten.
I. WE HAVE PRESENTED TO US HERE NOBLE ACTIVITY IN THE PLACE OF INDOLENT EASE. The craft of these base politicians was too short-sighted. Within reach of success, they were doomed to ignominious failure. Fortunately for the interests of justice, the king awoke to the deceit that was practised on him. At once he shook off his lethargy, applied such mental energy as he had to the business of the state, and searched in every direction for an expedient to save Daniel. Now that the king has discovered the treacherous design of his princes, all his wits are summoned to meet craft by craft. No effort shall be left untried by which his trusty and noble servant may be saved. He will no longer be a pliant tool in the hands of others, but a master of his own destinies. The hour was critical for Babylon, and Darius rose to the high demands of the occasion. King he will be yet.
II. THE GUILTY PUNISHED IN THE PLACE OF THE INNOCENT. Darius perceived that it would be perilous to abrogate, in unseemly haste, an edict so lately made. It would weaken the force of all imperial laws. It would loosen the bands of loyalty. It would arouse the sleepless hostility of his captains and princes. He had heard strange reports of the power of Daniel's God to save in times of danger. He believes that the same God will rescue now. The penalty which Daniel had incurred was that he should be cast into the den of lions. The edict did not say that he should be, left there to die. The king's decree would have been fulfilled if Daniel had spent an hour or less amid the caged beasts. All through that dismal night the king had taken counsel of himself. Desiring, on this occasion at least, to do for Daniel all that justice and good will could devise, we cannot doubt that his mind came under the influence of the Divine Spirit. The selfsame God who, through that long night, was giving Daniel courage to control and subdue the lions' rage was also conveying wisdom to King Darius. At earliest dawn the king goes in person to the den, and finds faith in God honoured, human malice frustrated. The king's edict had been observed to the letter. But there was an authority, appertaining to the king, beyond what was embodied in law. He held in his hand the lives of all his subjects. It is clear as noonday that these envious statesmen had basely deceived the king. Under cover of bringing him honour, they thought only of glutting their own malice, and robbing the state of its best servant. It was nothing less than a murderous conspiracy. They were as guilty of murder as if Daniel had died. Justice plainly demanded that summary retribution should follow; and at once these crafty lords were consigned to the death they had prepared for Daniel. Every man shall receive the due reward of his deeds.
III. GOD MAGNIFIED INSTEAD OF BEING DISCREDITED. Profane men thought to use God only as a tool in order to gain their nefarious end. If God was defrauded of his daily tribute of praise, what cared they? If humble souls were deprived of guidance and pardon and heaven, what heeded they, so long as they could lay murderous hands on Daniel? But will men rob God with impunity? Be well assured that God can defend his own! The opposition of vain men shall only advance his cause. The attempt to gag the mouth of prayer shall make even kings vocal in God's praise. When pompous statesmen league themselves against him, "he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh." The proposal was that all prayer should cease for the space of thirty days. The effect was that Jehovah was proclaimed as the True and Mighty all through the Persian empire; and a wider effect has been that God has been more honoured and trusted all the world over. "His Name shall endure for ever;" "To him all flesh shall come."
IV. THE ELEVATION OF THE MAN WHOM MALICE SOUGHT TO DEPRESS. These worldly wise statesmen felt that Daniel was a superior man to themselves. They could not expect promotion so long as they had to compete with him. Hence they resolved that what they could not gain by fair means they would gain by foul means. But they reckoned without their host. It came to pass that they were degraded, and that Daniel was advanced. True merit will, sooner or later, find its fitting level! Now that these grasping placemen are removed from the empire, there is all the more room for Daniel - the more need for an able and trusty councillor. Step by step he rises in favour and in influence. His increasing power brings advantage to the captive tribes of Israel. The sunshine of his prosperity lends brightness to their fallen fortunes. They, too, begin to lift up the head. This event becomes another step in the way of Israel's restoration. And Daniel rises to the enjoyment of a reputation which is world-wide and immortal. "Me shines as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.