Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.…
I. THE UTILITY OF HISTORY. "And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written" (ver. 2).
1. Its permanence. The "roll" contained the records of past ages. The memory of man could not retain these events. History preserves them. It would be a pity for the nation and Church to let die the events that have made them what they are; history gives permanence and solemnity to life. Cyrus and his edict lived before those who made search into the old records; history causes dead men to live.
2. Its continuity. The roll linked the times of Cyrus with the times of Darius; showed the continuity of human life. There is no interruption in the plan of the world's life; it runs on from one reign to another. There is no interruption in the making of history; it is made by great edicts, as also by common deeds. It show-s the succession of labour: one man issues an edict to commence a temple, another issues an edict to complete it.
3. Its publicity. In the days of Darius the historical records were written and hidden away in the royal treasure-house; now they are printed and widely circulated; hence history is more influential than ever.
4. Its interest.
5. Its admonition. Darius will soon be as Cyrus, only a figure in history; men soon pass from the actual to the historical. Life continues but for a little (Psalm 39:4).
II. THE FORCE OF EXAMPLE (ver. 8). Darius is inspired by the example of Cyrus to issue a decree for the aid of the Jews in their great enterprise.
1. The force of example surviving the flight of time. Cyrus has long been dead; but his edict has power to animate the heart of Darius. The influence of example never dies.
2. The force of example morally beneficial in its influence. The edict of the dead king inspires a new edict of help for Israel. Let us try to leave the influence of good deeds behind us; thus we may help to build temples our hands can never touch.
III. THE WORTH OF SUPERIOR STATION (ver. 6). Darius commanded Tatnai to let the Jews build in peace. It is the work and worth of superior official power to restrain and to keep inferior men in their right place and to their right duty; to see that they hinder not the great moral enterprises of society.
IV. THE SPIRITUAL USE OF MONEY (vers. 8, 9). The king decreed that his tribute should be given to Israel to aid in completing the temple. Money realises its highest meaning in the service of God. - E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.