Daniel 6:16-20; Contrasting Confidences ~ 20220220 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

02/20_Daniel 06:16-20; Contrasting Confidences; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220220_dan06_16-20.mp3

Daniel was the victim of conspiracy. The king himself was conned by his top officials, and now found himself forced to condemn his most competent and trusted official, the 80 plus year old enemy of the state, Daniel, who was caught in the very act, flagrantly violating the king’s latest edict, in his own home, upstairs, on his knees, praying to his God, just as he had always done.

We can estimate the age of Daniel because we know that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and took some of the nobility captive in May or June of 605 BC, and Cyrus conquered Babylon October 29, 539 BC, 66 years later. Daniel was likely around 14 or 15 when taken as a youth to Babylon, so he would have been about 80 when Babylon fell to Medo-Persia. We don’t know how far into Cyrus’ reign this event took place, but Cyrus II (the Great) reigned until 530 or 529, so Daniel would have been between 80 and 90 years old during his reign.

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. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 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.” 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.” 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. 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.” 16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions.

The Quiet Confidence of Daniel

In what do you put your confidence? Is your confidence contingent on your circumstances? Let me ask the question a different way; what kinds of things happen to you that wreck your day or derail your week? What sends you into distress or depression or despair? What is it that creates fear or anxiety in you? What has that effect on you?

When Daniel became aware of the conspiracy, that prayer was outlawed under penalty of death, he continued in his formed habit of prayer. Not only that, but he continued to see God as good and worthy of thanks. ‘He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously’. He gave thanks.

What if God doesn’t answer your prayers? Or he doesn’t answer in the way you had hoped? Daniel was thrown in the den of lions. The Lord didn’t intervene. Look at the quiet confidence of Daniel. He was not shaken by the king’s edict from his settled pattern of prayer, and he wasn’t shaken by the prospect of facing hungry lions. It seems nothing at all in his outward circumstance could shake his confidence in God.

And Daniel makes no complaint. In fact, based on the record we have in the text before us, Daniel doesn’t say anything at all. He didn’t speak a word in his own defense. Daniel doesn’t speak until verse 21. Might we learn something from Daniel here? In what at least outwardly looked like the biggest crisis of his life, Daniel spoke to no one but God.

Back in chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, when they defied him by refusing to bow to his statue, and they calmly asserted their confidence before him;

Daniel 3:17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Daniel had made it clear by his actions that he would pray to no one but the Lord his God, deliverance or no deliverance, regardless of the consequences. And in Daniel’s case it was the desperate king who uttered his hope that Daniel’s God might rescue him from the hungry lions.

The Desperate Crisis of the King

Daniel 6:16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

Daniel was quietly confident in his God, but Daniel’s crisis got the king praying. Darius was desperate. How many of us only seek the Lord when our circumstances are desperate? We don’t know if the king every prayed before, especially seeing that he signed an edict that for 30 days no prayers should be offered except to him alone. But he discovered through his circumstances that he wasn’t enough. In spite of his distress, in spite of setting his mind to deliver Daniel, in spite of his labor till the sun went down, in spite of being the king, he could do nothing. At the end of himself, he finally offers a wish, we might even call it a prayer to Daniel’s God. (I guess, since he was the one offering this prayer, it wasn’t illegal!) He desired to deliver, to rescue, but he had to acknowledge that he was unable to bring about the desired deliverance, and if any rescue was to come to Daniel, it must be from Daniel’s God, to whom Daniel faithfully prayed.

So the king appeals to Daniel’s God in desperation, as a very last resort. Daniel prayed consistently before the crisis, as a settled habit, three times daily. For Daniel, prayer was not a tool for crisis management, but a rhythm of relationship.

We can learn both from Darius and from Daniel. Darius shows us that even if we gain all earthly power, some things are still out of our hands. We are not ultimately in control. We make foolish decisions out of pride, and we have to suffer the consequences of those decisions. Ultimately, we are not enough. We need outside help. Circumstances can show us our need and drive us to our knees.

But Daniel shows us a better way. Daniel lived above his circumstances. He started every day with an acknowledgment that God is God and he is not, that in himself he is not enough, that he is a needy sinner daily in need of God’s amazing grace. And God delights to give grace to sinners who ask him! And he went back to God throughout his busy day. Daniel shows us that spending time, regular time enjoying relationship with the sovereign God of history frees us from being reactionary to circumstances. When our circumstances are staring us in the face, they loom large and fierce. But when we arise from bowing at the feet of the omnipotent One, we gain perspective on those same circumstances. They are tamed, on a leash held by his sovereign omnipotent hand, awaiting his command to do his righteous bidding, ultimately for his glory and for our ultimate good. Daniel could look lions in the snarling teeth and not be afraid, for he knew the one who held their leash. Your snarling circumstances today are on a short leash. Our God is sovereign, and we can enjoy peace in his presence in the middle of the storm.

Faithful Service to God

Daniel 6:16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

What commendation from the king! He knew that Daniel served his God continually. The king also knew that Daniel served him and his kingdom faithfully. He intended to set him over his whole kingdom, ‘because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him ... with regard to the kingdom’. But in his serving the king, the king knew that he was serving his God. Daniel was obeying God’s command through Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 29:7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

In Daniel’s seeking the welfare of Babylon, he was serving his Lord. We read in Colossians:

Colossians 3:22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (cf. Eph.6:5-8)

We are all called to be ministers, full time servants of the Lord Christ. Whatever you do, business owners, manual laborers, food handlers, public servants, elected officials, students, educators, administrators, whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men. Darius understood that Daniel was serving his God continually as he was serving Babylon with integrity.

The Deal Sealed

Daniel 6:16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.

The deal was sealed. No one could now intervene either for or against Daniel save the Lord alone. No foul play from the deceitful officials, no rescuing intervention from the distressed king. Nothing could be changed concerning Daniel, for good or for ill, without the seals being broken. Daniel’s fate, and his tomb, were sealed.

The Frightened Faith of the King

Daniel 6:18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

Here we see the frightened faith of the king. He hoped against hope that Daniel’s God might be able to deliver him. Had the story of the Hebrew’s God delivering the three from Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace some 60 years earlier come down to him? He had hope, but it was feeble and frail. He spent the night fasting, no diversions were brought to him, sleep fled from him. He had a faint hope in God, but it was no quiet confidence like Daniel. He was full of anxiety, worried and afraid. No doubt his vivid imagination got the better of him, the aged Daniel gruesomely torn in pieces by the ravenous beasts. Was it slow and agonizing, or was it over quickly? What grizzly evidence would he find at the crime scene in the morning? Would there be anything left? What would become of the kingdom, if his top officials were such scheming manipulating self-seeking deceivers? What would he do without his trusted Daniel?

Maybe his fasting was merely an expression of grief and mourning. Maybe he felt he could manipulate God by denying himself pleasure and food. He labored by his own efforts until the sun went down to deliver Daniel, and now he spent a sleepless night fasting and denying himself until the sun came up. Fasting can be a good thing, used to train our own hearts that it is God who truly satisfies, not the good things of this world. But fasting is misused if by it we think we earn God’s favor or coerce him into answering our prayers.

Daniel 6:19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

The king is holding on to hope, but it is faint and fleeting. He went in haste to the sealed tomb. He cries out in anguish as he comes near. He doesn’t know if Daniel is dead or alive, but he addresses a question to him in desperate hope. ‘Has your God been able to deliver you from the lions?’ His question is different than the confident statement of the three before the king;

Daniel 3:17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.

They had no question about God’s ability. He is able. Is anything too hard for the Lord (Gen.18:14)? But Darius does not yet know this God. Has your God been able? He expressed his wish ‘May your God deliver you’ and now he asks the question; ‘Has your God been able to deliver you?’

This reminds me of the father who brought his demon possessed boy to Jesus’ disciples, but they were not able to cast it out. Explaining the situation to Jesus, he says:

Mark 9:22 ...But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

He brought his boy to Jesus, hoping he could help. Now desperate, he pleads with Jesus ‘if you can do anything…’ At the beginning of Mark’s gospel,

Mark 1:40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”

He expressed confidence in Jesus’ ability. You can. No one else can, but you alone can. The question is not in God’s ability, but in his will. Is it his purpose in this circumstance to deliver in this way, or will he choose to be glorified another way? When Paul prayed three times that the messenger of Satan would leave him, he received this answer:

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

It is never a question of God’s ability. Jesus responded to the doubting man who asked if he could do anything:

Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Jesus is gracious. He condescends to our faith or lack thereof. His ability doesn’t change. Our experience of his presence changes depending on where our attention is fixed. Darius spent a sleepless night filled with anxiety and fear. Daniel was able to rest and enjoy the presence of the sovereign omnipotent God before whom he regularly bowed. God’s ability doesn’t change, but our experience will either be joy in his presence or fear at our circumstances depending on what or Who has captured our attention.


2022.02.20 Sermon Notes

Daniel 6:16-20 Contrasting Confidence

What circumstance has the power to shake you?


The quiet confidence of Daniel

Daniel 6:10

The desperate crisis of the king

Daniel 6:14-16

Prayer is not a tool for crisis management

but a rhythm of relationship

Regular time in God’s presence frees us from fear

Daniel 6:10

Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord

Jeremiah 29:7; Colossians 3:22-24; Ephesians 6:5-8

Is God able?

Daniel 3:17; 6:20; Genesis 18:14; Mark 9:22-24

Mark 1:40; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10


Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org