Daniel 6:11-15; Paying Attention ~ 20220213 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
02/13_Daniel 06:11-15; Paying Attention; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220213_dan06_11-15.mp3
Daniel 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” 6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
No legal battle, no protest, no petitions, no arguing his case or even asking permission.
Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Daniel, conspired against, facing death, is not controlled by outside influence or circumstance. He continues to do what he loves, what he is committed to. Daniel acts as a truly free man, in contrast to the other high officials, consumed by jealousy and lust for power; in contrast to the king, blinded by flattery and manipulated.
Making Petition and Plea
Daniel 6:11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God.
They came as a group, as a mob. Remember, Daniel is in his own house, in his upper chamber, down on his knees. Not the most public or conspicuous place to be caught, except by those so consumed by envy that the assembled together to catch him in the act.
We are told they found Daniel ‘making petition and plea before his God.’ What radical rebellion! What a menace to society! What a dangerous man. Daniel is in his 80’s, probably around 83 years old, a threat to public order, praying alone in the privacy of his home.
He was ‘making petition’; this is the very language of their edict, found in verses 7, 12 and 13. Daniel was making petition; he was seeking, he was asking, he was requesting. What his enemies had manipulated the king to outlaw was the very thing they found him doing.
He was making petition and plea; this word ‘plea’ can mean either to seek or to show mercy; to ask or to give favor or grace. This same word was used in 4:27 to encourage the king to show mercy to the poor. Daniel was seeking grace and mercy, maybe even for those who had conspired against him.
Before His God
Daniel was making petition and plea before his God. Not the king. That’s the issue. It doesn’t matter the content of your prayers so much as to whom they are directed. You can make a request and seek mercy and grace from the tree in your back yard, or a special rock you carry around in your pocket, but that’s not going to help you. You can pray to your own conception of God as you imagine him to be, but that is not the same as praying to the God who really is.
Here’s another excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s fictional correspondence from the demon Screwtape:
“But even if He defeats your first attempt at misdirection, we have a subtler weapon. The humans do not start from that direct perception of Him which we, unhappily, cannot avoid. They have never known that ghastly luminosity, that stabbing and searing glare which makes the background of permanent pain to our lives. If you look into your patient's mind when he is praying, you will not find that. If you examine the object to which he is attending, you will find that it is a composite object containing many quite ridiculous ingredients. There will be images derived from pictures of the Enemy as He appeared during the discreditable episode known as the Incarnation: there will be vaguer—perhaps quite savage and puerile—images associated with the other two Persons. There will even be some of his own reverence (and of bodily sensations accompanying it) objectified and attributed to the object revered. I have known cases where what the patient called his "God" was actually located—up and to the left at the corner of the bedroom ceiling, or inside his own head, or in a crucifix on the wall. But whatever the nature of the composite object, you must keep him praying to it—to the thing that he has made, not to the Person who has made him. You may even encourage him to attach great importance to the correction and improvement of his composite object, and to keeping it steadily before his imagination during the whole prayer. For if he ever comes to make the distinction, if ever he consciously directs his prayers "Not to what I think thou art but to what thou knowest thyself to be", our situation is, for the moment, desperate. Once all his thoughts and images have been flung aside or, if retained, retained with a full recognition of their merely subjective nature, and the man trusts himself to the completely real, external, invisible Presence, there with him in the room and never knowable by him as he is known by it—why, then it is that the incalculable may occur.” [C.S.Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, IV]
It didn’t matter so much that he was praying, as to whom he was praying. That is the real threat. If he truly has access in prayer to the God who is, if that God actually answers his requests and grants him favor, what does that mean for his enemies?
They recognized the danger of prayer, and attempted to outlaw it, to redirect it. Daniel’s enemies were manipulating the king, and if they could reroute all prayers to go through the king, that would put them in ultimate control.
The God-King Entrapped
Daniel 6:12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
The trap is fully set, not only for Daniel, but for the king. Unbeknownst to him, they have the king backed into the corner they contrived. They address him as ‘O king, O king, but they had no regard for him or his position. They merely intend to use him to secure their own desires.
They boldly came near the king with their cornering questions. This is the same word used back in 3:8;
Daniel 3:8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9 They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man ...shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
They came forward or came near to the king. To come near the king uninvited is presumptuous and dangerous as we learn a bit over 50 year later from Queen Esther when she risked her own life entering the court of Ahasuerus (or Xerxes I), king of Persia.
Esther 5:2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
These men presumptuously draw near to the king and ask him to confirm that he did indeed sign the injunction forbidding the petitioning of anyone but the king, and that the consequence for disobedience was death. The king affirms that it is now law and that it cannot be revoked.
Daniel 6:13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
Notice how they introduce Daniel. Not Daniel, one of your top three officials, not the Daniel who became distinguished above all the other officials because an excellent spirit was in him, not Daniel whom you intend to set over the whole kingdom, not Daniel the man of integrity that has served under the administrations of multiple kings. No, they introduce him as Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah. That was almost 70 years ago! He has lived through the rise and fall of the Babylonian empire, served multiple kings with integrity, and now is highly favored by the king of the Medo-Persian empire. And his resume? ‘He is one of the exiles from Judah.’ He is basically a slave, a captive, a nobody. He is one of the leftovers of one of the many conquered peoples deported by Babylon from their homes. An exile has the audacity to disregard both the king and his laws. This cannot be tolerated.
No Respecter of Persons
He ‘pays no attention to you, O king’. This assumes that there is a person who ought to be respected. They argue from the king’s priority of position, that he ought to be the one to whom everyone owes attention. This is how they got the injunction signed in the first place. If he pays no attention to you, who is he paying with his attention? To whom do we owe our attention? (Rom.13:7)
There is some truth to the accusation. Daniel is truly no respecter of persons. His allegiance is to no human. God alone deserves our undivided attention, our utmost respect, and this is exactly what Daniel understands. ‘He went to his house... He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously’ because he knew to whom he was in debt to pay attention. (Mt.22:20-21)
This is exactly what made him the right man for the top job. Allegiances change, empires change, kings and kingdoms fade away. If his allegiance as an exiled Jew was to the Jewish nation, he would do what he could to undermine those currently in power. If his allegiance was to Nebuchadnezzar or the Babylonian empire, could he be trusted by subsequent kings or by the conquering empire? If his primary allegiance was to himself and to seeking his own advancement, like these other high officials, could he be trusted to do what was in the best interest of the king and the country, or would he use other people, including the king, to advance his own interests?
His allegiance was to God alone, who transcends all kings and kingdoms, and who is unchanging and unchangeable. This higher allegiance required him to make sacrifices and decisions that were not in his own personal interest, but in the interest of others.
Or To The Law
He pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed. It’s personal. He pays no attention to you. But it’s also official. He disregards the law. If it was only a personal offense, you could choose to let that offense slide; you might be considered gracious. But you can’t let an offense against the law slide, or you would be unjust, and risk the total breakdown of society. That’s why these officials made sure to get it in writing and have the king sign it so it could not be revoked.
But Daniel did pay attention to the king, and he did keep the laws. He would not be trusted by the king if he did not. But he also knew when a law was out of its jurisdiction. Laws are meant to be for the good of society, the protection of people, to maintain proper order. Galatians 5 lists the fruit of the Spirit and concludes ‘against such there is no law’. What is more loving than to pray for someone, to bring them before the throne of grace and plead for their good and the blessings of God to be on them? A law that forbade prayer was in effect attempting to outlaw love, and that is no law! Daniel understood, as the apostles understood, that authority is appointed by God and rulers are God’s servants for your good (Rom.13:1,4). They also understood that when government reaches beyond its proper jurisdiction and attempts to regulate or prohibit our obedience to God, ‘we must obey God rather than men’ (Act.5:29).
Mighty To Save
Daniel 6:14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him.
Notice the contrast between the calculatingly vengeful officials set on destruction, and the distressed laboring king with his mind set on deliverance. These officials should have been the ones laboring to protect the interests of the king; after all, he had appointed them ‘so that the king might suffer no loss’. And losing Daniel would be a great loss to the king. Under ordinary circumstances, the king would give the order for someone serving him to come up with a solution to his problems. But he is realizing he really has no friends in his own administration. Daniel is the accused, and everyone else is a co-conspirator against him. The king himself had fallen into their trap. If there is to be any help, he must see to it himself.
The response of the king demonstrates the depth of his respect for this exile from Judah who ‘pays no attention to you’. He ‘was much distressed’. He ‘set his mind to deliver Daniel.’ ‘He labored ...to rescue him.’ His eyes were opened to the conspiracy, their jealousy, and his own folly. So he sought to do whatever was in his power to save Daniel.
But it is God alone who saves (Is.63:1; Zeph,3:17). And we may try, but we can’t help him. The king labored till sundown, but all his labor was in vain. This was out of his hands. It is God who rescues, who delivers.
The Folly of the Wicked
Daniel 6:15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
The audacity of these men! They show up as a group and lecture the king about his own laws. They have the king trapped; they know it and he knows it, and they gloat.
But I don’t think their plan was very well thought through. They were after Daniel’s position. He was in the way and they wanted him gone. But did they actually think, after openly manipulating the king and cornering him to act against his will in executing his most trusted official, that he would then turn around and entrust them with anything? We have to expect in the folly of the wicked, that even if they succeed in destroying Daniel, they inevitably will fall into the trap that they have set. Psalm 7 says:
Psalm 7:1 O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, 2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
Psalm 7:14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. 15 He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. 16 His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. 17 I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
2022.02.13 Sermon Notes -
Daniel 6:11-15 – Paying Attention
They found him making Petition
Daniel 6:7, 12, 13
...before his God
Irony: the God-king entrapped
Daniel 6:12; 3:8-12; Esther 5:2
To whom do you pay attention?
Romans 13:7; Matthew 22:20-21
The jurisdiction of the law
Galatians 5:22-23; Romans 13:1, 4; Acts 5:29
Only God is mighty to save
Isaiah 63:1; Zephaniah 3:17
The folly of the wicked
Psalm 7:1-2, 14-17
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org