Darius was the king of Babylon. This means that his correspondence falls into the same category as Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Babylon, as we have seen many times, describes the love of ruling over other people from a love of self. Nebuchadnezzar represents the falsification of the Word and destruction of truth (AR 47) which draws its strength from an unbridled love of self. As his story unfolds, we see the impact of truth both on the love of self, bringing it into order, and the recognition of the Lord and His Word. In first four chapters, Nebuchadnezzar declines while Daniel ascends.
The final verse of chapter five tells us that Darius was sixty two years old when he came upon the throne of Babylon. Age in the Word always indicates state, and the number of years are the qualities of that particular state. So this age is an insight into the character of this new king.
As we saw in Chapter three, six represents a state of incompleteness, and has the same meaning as "two" (AC 900)—and for the same reason: it is one less than a number signifying completeness. Two comes before three as six comes before seven. Both "three" and "seven" represent completeness, for example, the Lord was in the tomb for three days, or the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The number seven is similar: after creation the Lord rested on the seventh day, and in the Ten Commandments we are instructed to obey that day and keep it holy. "Six" falls just short of this representation of perfection, and so illustrates a state of imperfection.
The picture of Darius begins to emerge as states laying the ground work of faith and goodness, as we put to rest the overt evil depicted by Belshazzar. Initially these states are weak, for they belong to our early regeneration. The root cause of the weakness should not be forgotten: Darius, by killing Belshazzar became the king of Babylon, thus representing our love of self.
But he is different from his predecessors: Nebuchadnezzar progressed in his understanding and appreciation of the Lord’s power, Belshazzar did not. Darius completes the story of Nebuchadnezzar, the chastised love of self. Selfishness is humbled in Darius: he places Daniel at the very head of his government, second only to himself. The implications of this accolade should not be lost: since selfishness is only subdued by the conscience, the conscience needs to become the prime motivator in our feelings, thoughts, and actions.
"Wise men" and "governors" are a theme in the first half of the book of Daniel. While usually failing, these are the first people kings seek advice from. They represent our habitual thoughts (the wise men) and loves (the governors) under our central selfishness. In this chapter, Darius divided his kingdom into one hundred and twenty provinces, each ruled by a "satrap" or governor.
In the internal sense, these officials represent the thoughts and affections springing from the central or ruling love. Darius, like Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar before him, was a king of Babylon, and thus represents our love of self, but a love of self under control. So the satraps represent the affections springing from this love.
The number "one hundred and twenty" is another compound number describing the affections represented by the satraps. In a perfect square, like the number one hundred, the length and breadth are fully equal. Thus the quality of goodness and truth is the same. Ten represents states of remains, or states of goodness and truth implanted in the human mind by the Lord. Ten multiplied by ten doubles this meaning—fullness of remains (AC 1988 ).
For "one hundred and twenty" we must add the final twenty. Twenty is ten times two. As we saw earlier, two represents the state before completeness, the necessary turmoil to achieve that completeness (AC 900). Yet the number two also describes the state of conjunction, where goodness and truth are brought into harmony through the trials and temptations of life.
So the one-hundred twenty satraps symbolize the approaching states of regeneration, where the love of self has been somewhat purified of the profanation, represented by Belshazzar. They mark progress in human regeneration. The truths we learn, represented by Daniel, find fuller expression in daily life.
Darius’ reign is one of promise, which is developed even further: over these one hundred and twenty satraps, Darius appointed three "presidents," of whom Daniel was the first. Daniel would control the land, the satraps would report to him, and he would rule as the de facto ruler of Babylon. This is a long way from the captive boy led out of Jerusalem—it is a long way from the first stirrings of conscience, to the point where our lives are firmly under the guidance and control of the conscience. Daniel’s appointment to this post of authority is a clear promise of victory for truth in our minds, if we are willing to listen to its leading, allowing it to humble and judge us, as Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar were humbled and judged.
The satraps, seeing Daniel’s exalted position, plotted against him. When they could find nothing personally wrong with him, they planned to use his devotion to the Lord to undermine him. This is the essential point of conflict between our conscience and our love of self. Even when the love of self has been subdued, it still retains a tendency to exalt itself. There is something in us which causes us to look back with fondness to the days before we were fighting selfishness, a memory that can be fleeting, yet powerful. It is in that moment when we are vulnerable to temptation. This kind of weakness allows the thoughts and attitudes from selfishness to reassert themselves. We fall back into our old ways.
In these circumstances, though it may not seem so at the time, we are setting ourselves over God—we convince ourselves that our needs, our wants, our desires are more important than anything else. In what might later seem like a moment of spiritual madness, we set aside our conscience and embrace a concept, and attitude, an action we know to be wrong. Like Darius, we have been seduced by pride.
In temptation, our loves give us comfort. If we love goodness, truth, and doing the right thing, then those loves cannot be undermined by temptation. Love forms the basis of our spiritual lives, and if it is good, then it offers us a tranquility of mind and strength of spirit to overcome the temptation. Thus Daniel’s home, where he fled in the face of Darius’ unreasonable demand, is an image of our loves.
If a house represents our loves, then the chambers in the house are the good things springing from those loves (AC 3900). We cannot divorce good thoughts, feelings, and activities from our loves, for love permeates throughout our whole being once we have been regenerated. In temptation we take solace in these, we have to remind ourselves of the progress we have made, that the Lord in His mercy has given us the ability to turn our backs on the pure selfishness which nearly destroys us.
So Daniel knelt facing Jerusalem, his home city, which represents the church in us: the ability to humble and submit ourselves to the Lord. To kneel is a sign of humility and adoration. It contains a recognition of the Lord’s power over our lives.
But it is easy for our selfishness to make ridiculous demands on us, things which would bind the conscience and make it ineffective, things which go against the grain of our concept of truth. Having laid this trap for our conscience, we begin the process of pointing out its non-compliance. How often we tell ourselves we should do this or that, even though we know it is wrong. When our conscience pricks us, and reminds us of the truth, we turn away.
It is so easy to see only the immediate and positive benefits to ourselves, just as Darius must have felt so pleased that no one would ask a favor of any man or god, other than himself. In a country with thousands of household gods, this would have been the epitome of power. How long did it last? How long does any evil last? Many evils give only momentary pleasures before the effects begin to make themselves felt. Adultery, murder, theft, hatred, and revenge only last as long as given vent. Then we have the damage to contend with: guilt, fear, loss of prestige or esteem, loss of love, loss of friends.
The story of Daniel in the lions’ den is one of the best known in the Word. On the surface it tells the story of courage, deliverance and the defeat of pride. In the internal sense it tells of the final battle between selfishness and conscience. Every detail has meaning.
In the Word the image of a lion is used in connection with the Lord. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah who was able to open the sealed scroll in the book of Revelation. He is the lion who roars as He comes to fight for Mount Zion (Isaiah 31:4). Thus the Lord as a lion illustrates His great love for fighting against the evils which infest humanity, and preserving us from them.
In this case, the lions change meaning from beautiful strength to fight against evil and falsity from the Lord’s power, to the "desperate boldness" springing from intense self love. Since self love is bolstered and supported by false reasoning, the den was sealed with a great stone.
The night the king passed in despair represents obscurity, a vital part of temptation (AC 1787, 2694, 7166). Temptations are characterized by doubt about the Lord’s presence, and whether regeneration is actually possible (AC 2334). The doubt begins mildly, but increases in time.
Just as the weeping women found the Lord’s tomb empty, guarded by an angel, so Darius found Daniel alive and well in the midst of the lions. This is a resurrection of sorts, for Daniel should not have survived the ordeal, and would not have survived but for an angel who had shut the lions’ mouths.
All through temptations, the Lord is at our side. He protects our good loves, our conscience, our very desire for regeneration. Divine Providence is always striving to lead us out of temptation, into the fullness and joy of the Lord’s kingdom. This can only happen if we are willing to undergo the temptation. These never take place for their own sake, but for our spiritual development.
Once we have made our decision to submit to the Lord, like Darius in the night, He sets us free from the bondage of temptation. When Darius found Daniel safe, he commanded him brought out of the lions’ den. Then the satraps, who had conjured up and manipulated this near tragedy, were cast into the den. This action, cruel on the surface, reflects the casting away of our final selfish loves.
The aim of the conscience is to bring us to the recognition that God is king. This is a story of victory. We need to know the baser side of our lives, when selfishness runs rampant. Unless we know who we are, we cannot change. Knowledge gives the power to change. Knowledge from the Word forms a plane in our minds into which the Lord can flow. His presence makes a difference to the way we act and react, think and feel. The Daniel side of our character is the means of our salvation, and as the Lord protected the historic Daniel, so He protects and guards our spiritual conscience, making sure it is strong enough to challenge us on points of selfishness, and powerful enough a presence to lead us into the states of blessedness and peace which are His kingdom.