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Daniel 9:9

9. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;

9. Domino Deo nostro miserationes, et veniae, 8888     סלה, selech, signifies “to pardon.” It is translated “propitiations,” but there is no doubt about the sense. — Calvin quamvis rebelles fuerimus in ipsum. 8989     Or, because they are rebellious; for the particle כי, ki, is properly causal; but it appears from many passages of Scripture to be taken adversatively, which seems to suit this passage better. — Calvin.

 

Daniel here betakes himself to God’s mercy as to a sacred asylum; for it is not sufficient to acknowledge and confess our sins, unless we are supported by a confidence of our obtaining pardon from God’s mercy. We see numbers who use great prolixity in bearing witness to the truth, that they richly deserve all kinds of punishment; but no good result arises from this, because despair overwhelms them and plunges them into an abyss. Recognition of a fault is in truth without the slightest profit, unless with the addition of the hope of pardon. Daniel, therefore, after candidly confessing the treatment which the whole people had received from God to have been deserved, although so severe and harsh, still embraces his pity. According to the common saying, this is like a drowning man catching at a straw. We observe also how David makes use of the same principle. There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130:4.) And this moderation must be diligently marked, because Satan either lulls us into torpid security, or else so agitates us as utterly to absorb our minds in sorrow. These two artifices of Satan are sufficiently known to us. Hence that moderation which I have mentioned must be maintained, lest we should grow torpid in the midst of our vices, and so indulge in contempt of God as to induce forget-fullness of him. Then, on the other hand, we ought not to be frightened, and thus close against us the gate of hope and pardon. Daniel, therefore, here follows the best arrangement, and prescribes the same rule for us. For, in confessing the people’s wickedness, he does not entirely throw away the hope of pardon, but supports himself and others with this consolation — God is merciful. He rests this hope of pardon on the very nature of God; as if he had said, there is nothing so peculiar to God as pity, and hence we ought never to despair. To God, says he, belong mercies and forgiveness. No doubt Daniel took this phrase from Moses, especially from that remarkable and memorable passage where God pronounces himself a severe avenger, yet full of mercy, inclined to clemency and pardon, and exercising much forbearance. (Exodus 34:6.) As, therefore, Daniel held the impossibility of God putting away his affectionate feelings of pity, he takes this as the main point of his teaching, and it becomes the chief foundation for his hopes and his petition for pardon. He argues thus, To God belong loving kindnesses; therefore, as he can never deny himself, he will always be merciful. This attribute is inseparable from his eternal essence; and however we have rebelled against him, yet he will never either cast away nor disdain our prayers.

We may conclude from this passage that no prayers are lawful or rightly composed unless they consist of these two members. First, all who approach God ought to cast themselves down before him, and to acknowledge themselves deserving of a thousand deaths; next, to enable them to emerge from the abyss of despair, and to raise themselves to the hope of pardon, they should call upon God without fear or doubt, and with firm and stable confidence. This reliance upon God can have no other support than the nature of God himself, and to this he has borne ample testimony. With respect to the close of the verse, it may be explained in two ways: Because, or although, we are rebellious against him. I have stated that I rather approve of taking the particle כי, ki, in the sense of opposition. Although we have rebelled against God, still he will be entreated, and never will be unmindful of his pity. If any one prefers taking it in a causal sense, it will suit tolerably well; as if Daniel had said, the people have no other hope left but the mercy of God, as they have been convicted of sin over and over again. Because we have acted wickedly towards him, what is left for us but to throw ourselves with all our trust upon the clemency and goodness of God, since he has borne witness to his being propitious to sinners who truly and heartily implore his favor? It now follows: —


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