18. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting neither were instruments of music brought before him; and his sleep went from him.
Here Daniel relates the tardy repentance of the king, because although he was in the greatest grief, yet he did not correct his fault. And this occurs to many who are not hardened by contempt of God and their own depravity; they are drawn aside by others, and are dissatisfied with their own vices, while they still indulge in them. Would that the examples of this evil were rare in the world! but they occur everywhere before our eyes. Darius therefore is here proposed to us as intermediate between the ungodly and the wicked -- the righteous and the holy. The wicked do not hesitate to stir up the Almighty against them, and after they have dismissed all fears and all shame, they revel in their own licentiousness. Those who are ruled by the fear of God, although they sustain hard contests with the flesh, yet impose a check upon themselves, and bridle their perverse affections. Others are between the two, as I have said, not yet obstinate in their malice, and not quite satisfied with their corruption's, and still they follow them as if bound to them by ropes. Such was Darius; for he ought constantly to have repelled the calumny of his nobles; but when he saw himself so entangled by them, he ought to have opposed them manfully, and to have reproved them for so abusing their influence over him; yet he did not act thus, but rather bent before their fury. Meanwhile he bewails in his palace, and abstains from all food and delicacies. He thus shews his displeasure at the evil conduct at which he connived. We see then how ineffectual it is for our own conscience to smite us when we sin, and to cause us sorrow for our faults; we must go beyond this, so that sorrow may lead us on to repentance, as also Paul teaches us. (2 Corinthians 7:10.) Darius, then, had reduced himself to difficulties; while he bewails his fault, he does not attempt to correct it. This was, indeed, the beginning of repentance, but nothing more; and when he feels any compunction, this stirs him up and allows him neither peace nor comfort. This lesson, then, we are to learn from Daniel's narrative of King Darius passing the whole of that night in wailing. It follows afterwards, --
1 Others translate "banquet" or "supper;" but this does not agree, because he first said the king passed the night fasting, therefore a different interpretation is more suitable, namely, "musical instruments." -- Calvin.
2 And thus all joys and delights ceased. -- Calvin.