By Henry Mahan
Daniel (the prophet of God), who was in captivity, had interpreted the handwriting on the wall for King Belshazzar.
Because of this, Daniel was clothed with scarlet, a gold chain was put on his neck, and he was made the third ruler in the kingdom (Dan. 5:25-29). That night Belshazzar was slain and Darius became the king.
vv. 1-3. Darius set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty princes; and over these princes he established three presidents, of whom Daniel was the Chief President. The king respected and admired Daniel 'because an excellent spirit was in him' and he planned to set him over the whole realm.
vv. 4-9. The other presidents and princes were jealous and envious of Daniel and desired to find a reason whereby Daniel could be discredited before the king. But they could find no fault with this faithful man. They finally decided that the only area in which Daniel could be charged would be concerning his love for, and faith in, the true and living God. Though Daniel was in a pagan society and surrounded by idolatrous people, he worshipped, prayed three times daily, and gave thanks before God (v. 10).
Pretending to honor King Darius, these wicked men drew up a decree (they called it a royal statute) that for thirty days if any person in the kingdom should pray or ask a petition from any god or man, save of King Darius, he would be cast into the den of lions. They knew that in this way they could trap Daniel, for he would never go even a day without prayer. The king was fooled and flattered by these men and signed the degree 'that it could not be changed,' according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not (v. 8).
vv. 10-17. Daniel prayed and gave thanks to God, as he did everyday. Then these men reported Daniel to the king and reminded the king of his decree. Darius was displeased with himself; and, because he admired Daniel he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him (v. 14). There was nothing that Darius could do; the law was established; Daniel had violated the law and the sentence must be carried out. The king commanded Daniel to be cast into the den of lions and said unto him, 'Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.'
vv. 18-24. The Lord did indeed deliver Daniel from the lions. Daniel told Darius, 'My God hath sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me.' Then the king brought those men who had accused Daniel and put them in the den of lions.
This is an Old Testament picture of our deliverance from the judgment and curse of the law of God, which we have broken.
Consider these things!
1. The law of God cannot be changed; it altereth not Unlike Darius' law, which was a foolish one, God's law is holy and just and good (Rom. 7:12). It is a revelation of the holiness and righteousness of our God.
God's law is spiritual and requires not only outward obedience but inward perfection (Rom. 7:14; Matt. 5:21-28).
There are no loopholes and no compromise. 'Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them!' (Gal. 3:10).
2. We have broken God's law
The law of King Darius, which Daniel violated, was a wicked law and should have been disregarded by a true believer; but the laws of our God should be kept; but we have not, do not, and cannot in this flesh obey them perfectly. Sin is the transgression of God's law; and we are all transgressors, sinners, and workers of iniquity (Rom. 3:10-19; Psalm 14:1-3). And, like Darius, we may labor all our lives (till the going down of life's sun) to establish a righteousness, to appease a holy God, or to escape the just condemnation for our sins; but it cannot be done! God will and must carry out sentence and judgment against our sins (Ezek. 18:20).
3. Thy God, he will deliver thee
Darius could not find a way to deliver Daniel from his law. But our Father purposed a way to honor his law, to satisfy his justice (without compromising his holiness), and a way whereby he could be just and the justifier of sinners (Rom. 3:19-26). The Lord Jesus Christ (the God-man) (1 Tim. 3:16) 'came into this world, made of a woman, made under the law to redeem them who had broken the law.' By his perfect obedience he imputed to us his righteousness. By his death (1 Pet. 3:18; Isa. 53:4-6) he took our sins and 'paid it all, all the debt we owe. Sin has left a crimson stain, but he washed it white as snow.' Our God delivered us literally by going into 'the den of lions' for us. He did not come to destroy his law but to fulfill it, not to find a way around justice but to meet it (bearing our sins) and satisfy it in full!
Who can be in the form of God and take the form of a servant?
Who can come to the earth in flesh and never leave the bosom of the Father?
Who can be holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners yet be numbered with them?
Who can be tempted in all points of the law yet be without sin?
Who can die, be buried, and walk out of the tomb victoriously under his own power?
Who can ascend to heaven and be commanded to sit at the right hand of majesty and yet be the man?
Who? The God-man! Our Lord Jesus Christ!
This is the gospel of substitution and satisfaction. Christ, our substitute made full satisfaction to the law and the justice of God on our behalf.