Peer pressure, pride and regret. When most people read Daniel 6, they admire Daniel’s integrity or consider what they can learn from him. But what can we learn from Darius? Darius was a new king who greatly respected and trusted Daniel and appointed him as one of the top leaders of the land. He knew that Daniel was a man with an extraordinary spirit—wise, honest and full of integrity. Darius intended to appoint him over the entire kingdom. (Daniel 6:3) We will see when we get to Daniel 6:16 that Darius knew that Daniel served God continually. Daniel was dedicated; his faith was not something that he took lightly.
The other leaders knew this too, but they didn’t admire Daniel; they were envious of him. So they conspired against him. However, they could find nothing to charge him with because all his ways were upright. They knew that the only way they could entrap him was to make a law that contradicted a law of God. They lied to Darius, telling him that everyone was in agreement with their proposal. Since Daniel was one of the top leaders, Darius would have assumed that Daniel was included in the “everyone”, but he obviously was not. Daniel would never have agreed to a plan that would make it unlawful for him to pray to his God. What made Darius agree to such a thing? His pride allowed him to be deceived by the flattery and false promises of men who had ulterior motives. Interestingly in Daniel 4:37, Nebuchadnezzar recognized God’s power to bring down those who live in pride. Daniel had explained that very thing to Nebuchadnezzar’s son just before Darius became king. (Daniel 5:18-20) Now Darius was falling into the same trap, and would risk the life of the man whom he trusted to oversee his entire kingdom.
When Darius learned that Daniel was to be convicted, he immediately regretted his actions. There was no doubt that Daniel was guilty; Daniel did not deny it. Nor did he do anything to try to save himself. Though he had no assurance that God would save him, he trusted God to do whatever He deemed best. Darius did try to do something, but unfortunately there was nothing he could do. The best he could offer was to encourage Daniel with the words that his God would rescue him. Darius would certainly not have signed this edict if he had considered the possible consequences of his actions, but he only realized them when it was too late. For some reason the Medes and Persians trusted their kings to make such good laws that there was no recourse or appeals process to change them. (Esther 1:19, Esther 8:8) Was this pride too? In both Esther and Daniel, the result was regret. Thankfully, in both cases there were people who prayed to God, and God demonstrated that He was more powerful than the most adverse circumstances.
God saved Daniel from the lions, and He gave Darius a second chance. His next edict was that throughout his kingdom the God of Daniel was to be worshipped. If Daniel (and Darius) had not gone through this hardship they would have missed the opportunity to testify to God’s power and glorify Him. So what can we learn from Darius? 1. Consider people’s motives when they pressure you to do something. 2. Consider the consequences before you make a decision. 3. Don’t let foolish pride sway your choices. 4. Trust God to take care of things when you can’t.