Daniel and the Den
Daniel Given Prominence in Darius' Administration (1-3)
This Darius who became the governor over the Babylonian kingdom was likely Gubaru.
For information, go to https://www.andrews.edu/library/car/cardigital/Periodicals/AUSS/1982-3/1982-3-04.pdf beginning at page 234.
Gubaru was likely one of Cyrus' leading generals, who was assigned to rule Babylon, and quickly went to organizing the kingdom while Cyrus continued his conquests to the east. In organizing the kingdom, Darius appointed 120 rulers to give an account of the leadership and decisions to three high officials, Daniel being one of them. Daniel, as per his custom, distinguished himself above all the other officials, and Darius made plans to give Daniel a position that would have all 120 rulers reporting to him (1-3).
Daniel Plotted Against (4-9)
Daniel's promotion came with the intrigue of jealousy and ambition. The other two high-ranking officials were in no way delirious to lose their position, so they vetted Daniel to find fault and complaints against him. To their surprise, there were none—he was faithful, a person without the flaws of political corruption or misuse of powers or even negligence in his duties (4).
The officers decided if they were to undermine Daniel, then it would need to be for some failure regarding religious law and not dereliction of duty.
They made a search for some violation of religious code, which would make Daniel vulnerable to being out of step with the new governor, Darius (5).
The plan they devised was to seduce Darius and prey on his insecurity. They would expose the king to disloyalty among his closest counselors, especially Daniel.
Here is how it seems to have gone down. Some of the 120 rulers came to Darius just before Daniel had been given the position of chief over them. This group of counselors advised Darius to give a period of thirty days and have everyone report directly to him to decide all matters. It wouldn't matter if they were petitioning a god or a man; they were to come to him first and get permission to make the request. In this way, they assured Darius they could discover together if there were any conspiracy working against him. In following their advice, they told Darius he could prove out everyone's loyalty, to see if anyone tried to go to Daniel and usurp his authority. Before giving Daniel such unlimited power, they were laying the groundwork of calling his character into question before Darius.
The evil officers further advised Darius to forbid all his rulers from even praying to other deities, to show their fidelity toward him as the gods' unrivaled representative (6-7). Darius turned the advice into an unbreakable and irreversible injunction and then signed the injunction into law (8-9).
Daniel's Fidelity (10-13)
Daniel was well aware of the contents of the document and the consequences, but did not break his habit nor complain to Darius. Instead, Daniel went to his home where there was a window facing Jerusalem. There, on his knees, he prayed three times a day as had been his custom for decades. It was this daily prayer habit that kept Yahweh at the center of Daniel's existence (10).
Daniel's opponents had been spying on him, assuming he would not break with faithfulness, leaving him susceptible to incrimination. Daniel could easily be found making petition to Yahweh on behalf of the Jews, the city, and the temple because that had been his unbreakable, well-known custom (11).
Daniel's adversaries reported to the king that someone had violated Darius' law and reminded him of the consequence—the lions' den. Darius agreed; the law could not be revoked nor could clemency be granted, so the law stood as written (12). The evil officials then told Darius of Daniel's violation of the law three times daily. After giving eye-witness evidence, they wasted no time reminding Darius that Daniel was a Jew who had, many years before, come to Babylon as an exile, and he had no respect for the laws and customs of Darius (13).
Darius's Vexation (14-15)
Being in great distress, Darius knew he had been duped and sought the rest of the day to find some means to legally overturn his law or to set Daniel free. Darius had till sunset to figure it out, but came up with no legal idea to free his most favored ruler. The evil officials revisited the king just before the sunset deadline to remind him of his duty to execute Daniel by throwing him to the lions and to remind him the law could not be changed.
Daniel Thrown to the Lions (16-18)
Darius had Daniel arrested and taken to the den of lions. The king stated to Daniel his own hope that his God would deliver him and then placed Daniel in the den. Once in the den, Darius placed the stone over the mouth of the cavern, having it sealed. Darius then stamped the seal with his signet so that the stone could not be opened by any but himself on the following day (16-17). Darius then went back to his palace and spent the night without food, dancing girls, and concubines; he was left alone for one tormenting and sleepless night (18).
The Next Morning (19-23)
As soon as the sun appeared in the sky, the king arose and ran to the den of lions. As he neared the cave, he began to cry out in anguish and concern for Daniel, asking of his welfare. Daniel's only chance was his God's protection. Darius screamed out, asking Daniel if his God had been able to deliver him (19-20).
Daniel answered, holding Darius guiltless of the matter, "O King, live forever," and then assuring him God had sent an angel to shut the mouth of the lions. Daniel claimed God's miraculous preservation had been somehow linked to him on the basis of three events:
a) Surrender: Daniel's habit of praying demonstrated an act of complete submission to and trust in Yahweh.
b) Blamelessness: Daniel's guilt-free heart was an act of Yahweh's total commitment to forgive Daniel at every level of his life.
c) Non-Resistance: Daniel purposed in his heart that he would seek no harm against Darius even in prayer.
Daniel could stand before the lions in complete peace and confidence, covered in Yahweh's grace (21-22).
With joy, Darius had Daniel "taken up out" of the den, indicating the cave was beneath the ground. When the nearly ninety-year-old man was inspected, it was discovered he had suffered no harm or injury of any kind, and it was determined by Darius that it was because he had trusted God (23).
The Evil Officials (24-26)
Darius then demanded the evil officials, along with their wives and children, be cast into the den. Before they reached the bottom of the cavern, they were overpowered and broken in pieces and then quickly eaten (24).
The Proclamation of Darius (25-27)
Darius then made a decree and had it translated into the language of everyone in the 120 provinces. He blessed them with peace and then directed them to fear the God of Daniel (25-26). Darius here fell short of calling upon his realm to consider Daniel's God as Yahweh, the ultimate and only God, but as "a god" to be respected.
Darius went on to claim God as:
a) timeless in endurance
c) a rescuer by nature
d) a miracle worker
e) known for saving Daniel from the power of lions (26-27)
Daniel's Success (28)
There is much argument here. Either Darius and Cyrus were the same person (unlikely), or they were two different people, a split kingdom of sorts, in Daniel's view. I hold to the split kingdom of Daniel's view. Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian ruled together. Cyrus was top leader over all. Cyrus had left the Mede, Darius, to rule over the Babylon kingdom, while he took his army to conquer the world. When Cyrus returned, he took his place as the single ruler of the kingdom and made his capital in Susa. It is stated here that Daniel prospered during the short reign of Darius and during the reign of Cyrus when he returned.