Thursday

26 November 2020

Daniel 6:6-23

Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. (v. 10)

Psalm 32

Background

Chapter six is the last of the narrative part of the Book of Daniel before it moves into the visions of Daniel. The story of Daniel in the lions' den features larger-than-life characters and comic elements, bearing many resemblances to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Both stories tell of enduring persecution and both seem designed to be told out loud. Neither are necessarily designed to be seen as history in the way we would understand it.

With the demise of Belshazzar and the Babylonians at the end of chapter 5, we now have Darius, King of the Medes and Persians in power. It is widely believed that the Persian king at the time was Cyrus (for example see 2 Chronicles 36:22). This was possibly a mistake or a deliberate alteration. Others, trying to smooth everything out, suggest that Darius may have been the throne name for Cyrus.

If the narrative is based on an historical account, despite at this point being around 80 years old, Daniel has discovered himself back within the inner circle of the royal court. As the book indicates on numerous occasions, Daniel is a diligent worker and prospering. In common with all political dramas, this creates enemies of his less successful colleagues, who begin plotting. Yet the only thing they can find to use against him is his devout faith.

The book of Daniel, taken as a whole, shows a belief that God is present everywhere, not just in the Temple. Yet Daniel is following a tradition dating back to a dedication of praying towards the Temple as a focus for prayers to the God who is everywhere (see 2 Chronicles 6:18-21, 36-39).

It should be noted there is no mention that Daniel expected himself to be saved from the ravenous lions. As the Monday notes highlighted, the Book of Daniel was of particularly importance during the second century BC when the Jews were threatened by the Greek rulers who followed Alexander the Great. Their experience was that God did not save everybody, and the challenge was to be faithful whatever the cost.

To ponder:

  • Though you might know God is everywhere, in what ways are specific places of prayer and worship important for your faith?
  • Daniel clearly had a set rhythm of prayer. Do you find having a rhythm of prayer beneficial? Why is that the case, or why not?

Bible notes author

The Revd Will Fletcher

Will is a presbyter in the Central Sussex United Area where he has pastoral oversight of Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and Hurstpierpoint Methodist churches. Will enjoys life in Sussex with his wife, Helen, and in his spare time is a member of Patcham Silver Band.

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