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Relationship to Daniel. The relationship of Chapter 6 to Daniel as a whole, and in particular to the account of the fiery furnace in Chapter 3, is discussed at Daniel. The historical setting of Chapter 6 is also discussed at Daniel.
Story. Chapter 6 tells the story of Daniel being cast into the den of lions. Chapter 6 has six principal parts.
- Verses 1-3: Daniel is promoted over the whole realm.
- Verses 4-9: When the princes can find no fault in him, they obtain a royal decree forbidding prayer to God.
- Verses 10-13: When Daniel prays to God anyway, the princes report his violation of the decree.
- Verses 14-20: The king is powerless to save Daniel and can only pray that God will do so.
- Verses 21-24: God saves Daniel from the lions by an angel, but the princes are eaten.
- Verses 25-28: The king commands all people to tremble before Daniel’s living God.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 6 include:
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- a. Daniel is promoted over the whole realm (6:1-3)
- b. when princes can find no fault in him, they obtain a decree forbidding prayer (6:4-9)
- b. when Daniel prays to God, princes report his violation of the decree (6:10-13)
- c. king is powerless to save Daniel and can only pray that God will do so (6:14-20)
- b. God saves Daniel from the lions by an angel, but princes are eaten (6:21-24)
- a. Darius commands all to tremble before Daniel’s living God (6:25-28)
In the second section (6:4-9) the princes can find no fault in Daniel, so they obtain a law they know his religious devotion will cause him to violate.
In the third section (6:10-13) the princes execute their plan, reporting to the king that Daniel has violated the law and insisting that he be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel had even left his windows open while praying, inviting people to see that his religious devotion is greater than his fear of death. Daniel prays publicly and trusts to no human power of deliverance, such as praying in hiding, suggesting a parallel to the fourth section in which the king must concede that the only power by which Daniel can be delivered is prayer to God.
In the fifth section (6:21-24) Daniel is delivered from the lions because of his innocence and faith. The princes are not innocent, and the lions quickly kill them. Like his three friends in the fiery furnace (Chapter 3), Daniel is delivered by an angel.
The story would work without the fourth section (6:14-20), but the story's meaning would be greatly reduced. This section makes the point that Daniel could not be delivered by any earthly power, not even by the king. At the end of the day Darius is reduced to expressing his hope that “Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” The king then spends the night fasting, recognizing that the only help he can offer is supplication to a power greater than himself.
In Chapter 3, God delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the king's power. Here Daniel is delivered when the king is powerless to do so. In both cases, God's power to deliver excels that of the king.
In the final section (6:25-28) King Darius, who was powerless to deliver Daniel, commands that his subjects tremble and fear before the living God who, as in chapter 3, does deliver and rescue (6:26).
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