Daniel 6:26 is found within possibly one of the most popular Bible stories of all time, often referred to as Daniel and the Lions’ Den. Daniel, a prophet of God, ministered during the entirety of the Babylonian Captivity (roughly 605—535 BC). During this time, God’s people were in captivity under the dominion of Babylon and then Persia. Toward the end of the captivity under the rule of King Darius of Persia, the king issues a decree that says, in part, “He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end” (Daniel 6:26, NKJV).
Earlier in Daniel 6, the Persian king signed a decree that, for 30 days, anyone who made petition to any god or man besides Darius would be thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6:7–9). The lions’ den would have been a cave-like structure filled with lions that were purposefully deprived of food. The hungry lions were useful in the task of execution. The decree specified “death by lion” for all who would worship or pray to anyone other than the king of Persia.
As Daniel remained loyal to God and continued to pray and commune with God, some of Daniel’s enemies told King Darius about Daniel’s continued prayers to God. Of course, Daniel’s enemies framed their accusation in harsh terms: “That Jew named Daniel, who was brought here as a captive, refuses to obey you or the law that you ordered to be written” (Daniel 6:13, CEV). The result was that Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den.
The next morning, as King Darius inquired about Daniel’s status at the lions’ den, he found Daniel was still living. Darius recognized that God had delivered Daniel from the mouth of the lions, showing God’s rule over creation. God is sovereign and in control, even to the point of keeping Daniel alive in a deadly situation. Daniel would certainly have been devoured if God had not intervened on his behalf.
As a result of the show of God’s power, Darius made another decree that required all the peoples who lived in Persia to fear and worship the God of Daniel. Darius makes the statement in Daniel 6:26 that God’s dominion shall endure until the end. Here is the entire decree:
“To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth:
Peace be multiplied to you.
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
For He is the living God,
And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
And His dominion shall endure to the end.
He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions” (Daniel 6:25–27, NKJV).
Daniel 6:26 is an accurate record of what King Darius said. The question is, was Darius being truthful in what he said about God’s dominion enduring to the end? When working with descriptive passages in the Bible, one must be careful to apply the text correctly. For example, during Jesus’ trial in Matthew 26, the priests who are accusing Jesus and trying to have Him crucified make the claim, “He has blasphemed!” (Matthew 26:65). The fact that the statement was made is true, but the statement itself is false. Jesus did not blaspheme or wrongly claim deity, for Jesus is God. So, the transcription of the Pharisees’ statement is accurate, but the Pharisees were wrong in their statement.
So, was Darius correct in his statement that God’s dominion shall endure to the end? Can we trust that God’s dominion will endure, based on King Darius’s claim in Daniel 6:26? King Darius certainly wasn’t a theologian or a prophet, and while he seemingly took a liking to Daniel’s God after seeing His power, it would be a stretch to say he could speak on God’s behalf. However, Darius makes the claim based on the signs, miracles, and wonders of God (Daniel 6:27). God utilizes signs, miracles, and wonders to establish authority throughout Scripture (see Daniel 4:3, 34 and Hebrews 2:4).
To judge Darius’s words, we compare them with what Scripture says elsewhere. When we do that, we see that Darius spoke the truth. We know with certainty that God’s dominion will be everlasting, based on other passages in which God or one of His emissaries is speaking. Christ’s “kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:33). God’s kingdom will be a place of peace and fellowship with God “forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Of the Messiah, God says, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:7). And Daniel himself says, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14, BSB).