Week Forty-Five: Daniel 1-6
In the end of Daniel Chapter 5 and the beginning of Daniel Chapter 6, we are introduced to King Darius the Mede. Who is this king who conquered Babylon and organized the Persian Empire? In the history books, Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon. Also, Darius the Great ruled after Cyrus and after the fall of Babylon; this Darius the Mede is not that king. Old Greek versions of Daniel 6:1 name this king as Arta Xerxes the Mede, but there is no historical documentation that coincides with any of the facts given to us in the Old Testament about this King Darius.[i] Other theories attempt to equate Darius the Mede with a governor of Babylon whom Cyrus appointed to rule there or other theorists speculate that this king is Cyrus the Great’s maternal uncle who ruled for a time with Cyrus in Persia.[ii]
Even though the Book of Daniel may not be regarded as a reliable guide to history by many scholars, we can glean much from Daniel’s example of integrity. Whomever this royal magistrate was, he was ruling over a vast empire – so vast that he could not rule it alone. Instead, he appointed 120 princes to rule over specific areas and then he set three presidents over the princes. The princes were to give the presidents an accounting of their stewardship. Daniel was appointed as the first of these three presidents. He was preferred by the king because of the “excellent spirit”[iii] that was in him.
The other presidents and the princes tried to find something wrong with Daniel’s judgments. They were not happy about being under his watchful eye and they hoped to bring some bad act of Daniel’s to the king. But “forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.”[iv] He was both a righteous man and a great administrator. The work that he did for the king was stellar.
Daniel was truly a man of INTEGRITY. His business life and spiritual life were one and the same. As a man of the world and as a man of God, no one could find fault with his actions.
Barbara A. Lewis said: “Integrity is defined as moral soundness, genuineness, wholeness, and incorruptibility. It includes our beliefs, that way we think and speak, and the way we act, especially when no one is watching. It is being honest with ourselves, others, and God. When we have integrity, we live by our beliefs and standards.”[v]
Daniels’ integrity did not stop these presidents and princes from being jealous of him and from trying to destroy him. The only possible flaw they could find was his consistent following of the law of his God, for Daniel was known to be faithful in his devotions and did not hide his prayers and talks with God.
Playing to the vanity of the king, the presidents, princes, and all the members of government asked the king to establish a statute that for thirty days, no one in the kingdom shall petition any God or man save the king, or the man shall be cast into the den of lions.[vi] They also encouraged him to proclaim the edict in writing so that it could not be changed.
Daniel knew of the decree, but that did not change his devotions to God. He continued to pray three times a day with his windows wide open so that anyone could see him praying and thanking his God, just as he had done before.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed: “Developing congruency and avoiding the compartmentalization of one’s life is, of course, necessary for the wholeness and integrity we all crave, but which is so elusive at times. So many of us have a ‘public self’ and a ‘private self.’ Jesus made it crystal clear that outer appearances and inner feelings must, ultimately coincide.”[vii]
The princes knew that the integrity of Daniel would not change, even in the face of death. They brought the news to the king, and the king had no choice but to follow his decree. When the king realized what he had done, he was “sore displeased with himself”[viii] and tried to deliver Daniel, but the law was established and even the king had to obey his own decree.
Keeping our integrity is worth every sacrifice. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland warned: “The human body is by nature flawed. It is subject to structural failure. But more challenging to deal with than physical flaws are the spiritual flaws that result in a failure of the integrity of the soul. Internal conflicts created by the dissonance between what we believe to be right and what we actually do can be even more debilitating than failures of physical health.”[ix]
The end of the story is well-known because Daniel was miraculously saved by an angel sent by God.
But Daniel’s faithful devotions also changed the heart of a powerful magistrate, which opened up missionary work for the people and nations under his dominion. The governmental ruler had gained an understanding that Daniel’s God was the living God and declared: “I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.”[x]
The best missionary work we can do is to be faithful in our devotions to God with our windows wide open, so that our spiritual selves and worldly selves are bound together, becoming a person of wholeness and integrity.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf blessed us in our pursuit to be people of integrity, showing the world our true spiritual selves: “As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bless you with the confidence to be a living testimonial of gospel values, with the courage to always be recognized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with the humility to assist in His work as an expression of your love for Heavenly Father and His children.”[xi]
May we find joy in the Lord this week as we strive to be people of integrity who have the courage to be recognized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
[i] Phillip J. Long, “Daniel 6:1 – Who is Darius the Mede?”, Reading Acts, February 4, 2020.
[ii] Tom Finley, “Who wrote the Book of Daniel?” Talbot School of Theology Faculty Blog, March 2, 2022.
[iii] Daniel 6:3
[iv] Daniel 6:4
[v] Barbara A. Lewis, “Integrity,” Liahona, April 2018.
[vi] Daniel 6:7-8
[vii] Neal A. Maxwell, “A More Excellent Way,” Deseret Book Co., 1973, pp. 126-127.
[viii] Daniel 6:14-15
[ix] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Integrity,” Delivered at the US Military Academy at West Point, NY on May 7, 2010.
[x] Daniel 6:25-26
[xi] Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Missionary Work: Sharing What is in Your heart,” GC April 2019.