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Daniel 9:15-17

15. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

15. Et nunc Domine Deus noster, qui eduxisti populum tuum e terra Aegypt cum manu forti, et fecisti, comparasti, tibi nomen secundum diem hanc, 9797     That is, as the event itself pointed out. — Calvin. peccavimus, impie egimus.

16. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

16. Domine secundum omnes justitias tuas avertatur, quaeso, ira tua, et excandescentia tua ab urbe tua Jerusalem, monte sanctitatis tuae: quoniam ob peccata nostra, et ob iniquitates, 9898     Or, in our sins and iniquities. — Calvin. patrum nostrorom, Jerusalem, et populus tuus est in probum cunctis vicinis, 9999     Verbally, “all.” — Calvin. circuitibus nostris. 100100     That is, those who are in our circuit. — Calvin.

17. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.

17. Et nunc audias, Deus noster, precationem servi tua, et orationem ejus atque illumina faciem tuam 101101     That is, make thy face to shine. — Calvin. super sanctuarium tuum quod vastatum est, vel, desolatum, propter Dominum.

 

After Daniel has sufficiently confessed the justice of those judgments which God had inflicted upon the people, he again returns to beg for pardon. First, he would conciliate favor for himself; next, he would stir up the minds of the pious to confidence, and so he sets before them that proof of grace which ought to avail to support the minds of the pious even to the end of the world. For when God led his people out of Egypt, he did not set before them any momentary benefit merely, but he bore witness to the adoption of the race of Abraham on the condition of his being their perpetual Savior. Therefore, whenever God wishes to gather together those who have been dispersed, and to raise their minds from a state of despair to cheerful hope, he reminds them of his being their Redeemer. I am that God, says he, who led you out of Egypt. (Leviticus 11:45, and often elsewhere.) God not only commends his own power in such passages, but denotes the object of their redemption; for he then received his people under his care on the very ground of never ceasing to act towards them with the love and anxiety of a father. And when in their turn such anxiety seized upon the faithful as to lead them to apprehend their own utter desertion by God, they are in the habit of seizing upon this shield — God did not lead our fathers out of Egypt in vain. Daniel now follows up this reasoning-Thou, O Lord our God, says he, who hast led forth thy people; as if he had said, he called upon God, because by one single proof he had testified to all ages the sacred character of the race of Abraham. We observe, then, how he stirs up himself and all the rest of the pious to prayer, because by laying this foundation, he could both complain familiarly, and fearlessly request of God to pity his people, and to put an end to their calamities. We now understand the Prophet’s meaning, when he says, the people were led forth from Egypt.

He afterwards adds another cause, God then acquired renown for himself, as the event evidently displayed He here joins God’s power with his pity, implying, when the people were led forth, it was not only a specimen of paternal favor towards the family of Abraham, but also an exhibition of divine power. Whence it follows, his people could not be cast off without also destroying the remembrance of that mighty power by which God had acquired for himself renown. And the same sentiment often occurs in the prophets when they use the argument: — If this people should perish, what would prevent the extinction of thy glory, and thus whatever thou hadst conferred upon this people would be buried in oblivion? So, therefore, Daniel now says, By bringing thy people from the land of Egypt, thou hast made thyself a name; that is, thou hast procured for thyself glory, which ought to flourish through all ages unto the end of the world. What, then, will occur, if the whole of thy people be now destroyed? He next adds, We have done impiously, and have acted wickedly In these words Daniel declares how nothing was left except for God to consider himself rather than his people, as by looking to them he would find nothing but material for vengeance. The people must necessarily perish, should God deal with them as they deserved. But Daniel here turns away God’s face by some means from the people’s sins, with the view of fixing his attention on himself alone and his own pity, and on his consistent fidelity to that perpetual covenant which he had made with their fathers.

Lastly, he would not permit that redemption to fail which was an illustrious and eternal proof of his virtue, favor, and goodness. Hence he subjoins, O Lord, may thine anger be averted according to all thy righteousness, and thine indignation from thy city Jerusalem, the mountain of thy holiness. We observe how Daniel here excludes whatever merit there might be in the people. In reality they did not possess any, but I speak according to that foolish imagination which men can scarcely put off. They always take credit to themselves, although they are convicted of their sins a hundred times over, and still desire to conciliate God’s favor by pleading some merit before God. But here Daniel excludes all such considerations when he pleads before God his own justice, and uses the strong expression, according to all thy righteousness Those who take this word “righteousness” to mean “judgment,” are in error and inexperienced in interpreting the Scriptures; for they suppose God’s justice to be opposed to his pity. But we are familiar with God’s righteousness as made manifest, especially in the benefits he confers on us. It is just as if Daniel had said, that the single hope of the people consisted in God’s having regard to himself alone, and by no means to their conduct. Hence he takes the righteousness of God for his liberality, gratuitous favor, consistent fidelity, and protection, which he promised his servants: O God, therefore, he says, according to all thy prormsed mercies; that is, thou dost not fail those who trust in thee, thou dost promise nothing rashly, and thou art not accustomed to desert those who flee to thee; oh! by thy very justice, succor us in our distress. We must also notice the universal particle “all,” because when Daniel unites so many sins which might drown the people in an abyss a thousand times over, he opposes to this all God’s promised mercies. As if he had said, although the number of our iniquities is so great that we must perish a hundred times over, yet thy promised mercies are far more numerous, meaning, thy justice surpasses whatever thou mayest find in us of the deepest dye of guilt.

He says, again, Let thine anger be turned away, and thy burning wrath from thy city Jerusalem, and from thy holy mountain In joining together anger and burning wrath, the Prophet does not imply any excess on the part of God, as if he revenged the sins of the people too severely, but he again represents the aggravation of their wickedness, causing him to become so angry with them as to lay aside his usual character, and to treat their adoption as vain and fruitless. Daniel does not complain in this case of the severity of the punishment, but rather condemns himself and the rest of the people for causing a necessity for such severe measures. Once more, he sets before God the holy mountain which he had chosen, and in this way averts his countenance from judgment, lest he should reckon with them for so many sins, by which God was deservedly incensed. Here, therefore, God’s election is interposed, because he had consecrated Mount Zion to himself, and desired to be worshipped there, where also his name should be celebrated and sacrifices offered to him. In this respect, therefore, Daniel obtains favor for himself before God, and, as I have said, he excludes all other considerations.

He next adds, Because on account of our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are a reproach to all our neighbors By another argument, the Prophet desires to bend God to pity; for Jerusalem as well as the people were a disgrace to the nations; yet this caused equal disgrace to fall upon God himself. As, therefore, the Gentiles made a laughing-stock of the Jews, they did not spare the sacred name of God; nay, the Jews were so despised, that the Gentiles scarcely deigned to speak of them, and the God of Israel was contemptuously traduced, as if he had been conquered, because he had suffered his temple to be destroyed, and the whole city Jerusalem to be consumed with burning and cruel slaughter. The Prophet, therefore, now takes up this argument, and in speaking of the sacred city, doubtless refers to the sacredness of God’s name. His language implies, — Thou hast chosen Jerusalem as a kind of royal residence; it was thy wish to be worshipped there, and now this city has become an object of the greatest reproach to our neighbors. Thus he declares how God’s name was exposed to the reproaches of the Gentiles. He afterwards asserts the same of God’s people, not by way of complaint when the Jews suffered these reproaches, for they deserved them by their sins, but the language is emphatic, and yet they were God’s people. God’s name was intimately bound up with that of his people, and whatever infamy the profane east upon them, reflected chiefly on God himself. Here Daniel places before the Almighty his own name; as if he had said, O Lord! be thou the vindicater of thine own glory, thou hast once adopted us on this condition, and may the memory of thy name be ever inscribed upon us; permit us not to be so reproachfully slandered, let not the Gentiles insult thee on our account. And yet he says this was done on account of the iniquities of the people and of their fathers; by which expression he removes every possibility of doubt. 0h! how can it happen, that God will so lay his people prostrate? Why has he not spared at least his own name! Daniel, therefore, here testifies to his being just, because the iniquity of the people and of their fathers had risen so high, that God was compelled to exercise such vengeance against them.

His next prayer is, Do thou who art our God hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine forth In these words Daniel wrestles with distrust, not for his own sake privately, but for that of the whole Church to whom he set forth the true method of prayer. And experience teaches all the pious how necessary this remedy is in those doubts which break into all our prayers, and make our earnestness and ardor in prayer grow dull and cold within us, or at least we pray without any composed or tranquil confidence, and this trembling vitiates whatever we had formerly conceived. As, therefore, this daily happens to all the pious when they leave off the duty of prayer for even a short period, and some doubt draws them off and shuts the door of familiar access to God, this is the reason why Daniel so often repeats the sentence, Do thou, O Lord, hear the prayer of thy servant David also inculcates such sentiments in his prayers, and has the greatest necessity for acting so. And those who are truly exercised in praying feel how God’s servants have good cause for such language whenever they pray to him. But I will complete the rest to-morrow.


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