What does Daniel 6:21 mean?
ESV: Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live forever!
NIV: Daniel answered, "May the king live forever!
NASB: Then Daniel spoke to the king, 'O king, live forever!
CSB: Then Daniel spoke with the king: "May the king live forever.
NLT: Daniel answered, 'Long live the king!
KJV: Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live forever.
NKJV: Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!
Verse Commentary:
Darius was intensely nervous as he approached the lions' den (Daniel 6:18–19). Though Daniel was condemned to be locked into a pen with lions (Daniel 6:15–17), Darius held out hope that perhaps Daniel's God would provide rescue. As he approached, he called out with that very question (Daniel 6:20). To the king's great relief, Daniel confirmed that he had been spared. The conspiracy against Daniel had failed (Daniel 6:4–7). Those who plotted would face the gruesome death they'd tried to bring Daniel (Daniel 6:24).

Daniel's respectful response emphasizes his unblemished character. Instead of wishing Darius ill-will, he wished him long life. His response prefigures Jesus' response to those who nailed Him to the cross. Luke 23:34 reports that Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The apostle Peter observes that Jesus left us an example so that we might follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). He writes that "when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23). Romans 12:17 commands, "Repay no one evil for evil."
Verse Context:
Daniel 6:19–28 concludes Daniel's encounter in the lions' den. This passage includes Daniel's fate and Darius's reaction. The story comes to a joyful conclusion, rather than the messy end intended for Daniel by his conspiring enemies. They, instead, suffer the fate they planned for an innocent man. The last verses include an endorsement of Daniel's faith, coming directly from Darius.
Chapter Summary:
Babylon's new ruler organizes his territory under 120 satraps and three governors. He intends to make Daniel the most powerful of these, but jealous rivals develop a plot. Knowing Daniel's only "weakness" is loyalty to God, they trick the king into passing an irrevocable law banning prayer. Daniel knows about the law but chooses obedience to God rather than to men. Darius is anguished yet he dutifully follows the law. When Daniel miraculously survives a night in a den full of lions, Darius is elated. He condemns the conspirators to death, and the same lions tear them apart. Darius then proclaims honor on behalf of Daniel's God.
Chapter Context:
At the end of chapter 5, Belshazzar has died and control over Babylon has come to someone identified as "Darius the Mede." Darius organizes his territory under 120 satraps and three governor-level officials. Daniel is identified as one of the three high administrators. After jealous rivals fail to kill Daniel, he continues to prosper in his role. The following chapter begins an extensive record of prophetic visions. The first is a flashback to something Daniel saw during the rule of Belshazzar.
Book Summary:
The book of Daniel contains famous Old Testament stories and prophecies. Daniel was taken from the Israelite people and made an advisor for a conquering empire. He demonstrates faithfulness and wisdom during many years serving in this role. Though Daniel does not deliver a public message, Jesus refers to him as a "prophet" (Matthew 24:15). The first portion of the book mostly describes Daniel's interpretations of dreams and other events. The second portion looks ahead to the end times. Daniel is classified in English Bibles as a "major" prophet, meaning the book is relatively long and the content has broad implications. The book of Revelation echoes and expands on many of the same themes.
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