23. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.
23. Tunc rex valde exhilaratus in se, vel, super eo, Danielem jussit educi ex spelunca: et eductus fuit Daniel ex spelunca: et nulla corruptio, vel, laesio, inventa fuit in eo: quia credidit, vel, confisus est, Deo suo.
Daniel confirms what he had formerly narrated concerning the feelings of King Darius. As he had departed in anxiety to his palace, had abstained from food and drink, and had laid aside all pleasures and delights, so also he rejoiced in hearing of the wonderful deliverance from death of God's holy servant. He afterwards adds, And by the king's command Daniel was drawn out of the cave, and no corruption was found in him. This cannot be ascribed to good fortune. Hence God made his power conspicuous in providing for Daniel's safety from the grasp of the lions. He would have been torn to pieces had not God closed their mouths; and this contributes in no slight degree to magnify the miracle, since no scratch or touch was found upon his body. As the lions then spared him, it arose from God's secret counsel; and he marked this more clearly, when his calumniators were thrown into the cave, and were immediately torn by the lions, as he will soon add. But we must notice the reason which is given: He was preserved, since he trusted in his God! It will often happen, that a person may have a good cause, and yet succeed badly and unhappily; because he adds to what is otherwise worthy of praise, too great a confidence in his own counsels, prudence, and industry. Hence it is not surprising if those who undertake good causes often fail of success, as we often see among the profane. For the history of all ages bears witness, to the perishing of those who cherish a just cause; but this arises through their perverse confidence, since they never contemplated the service of God, but rather considered their own praise and the applause of the world. Hence, as ambition seized them, they became pleased with their own plans. Thus arose that saying of Brutus, "Virtue is a frivolous thing!" because he thought himself unworthily treated in fighting for the liberty of Rome, while the gods were adverse instead of propitious. As if God ought to have conferred upon him that aid which he had never hoped and never sought. For we know the pride of that hero's disposition. I bring forward but one example; but if we diligently weigh the motives which impel the profane when they fight strenuously for good objects, we shall find ambition to be the prevailing motive. No wonder then if God deserted them in this particular, since they were unworthy of experiencing his help. For this reason Daniel states, that he was safely preserved, because he trusted in his God.
The Apostle refers to this in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, (Hebrews 11:33,) where he says some were snatched away or preserved from the mouths of lions through faith. Hence he assigns the cause of Daniel's escaping in safety, and recalls us to faith. But we must here consider the meaning and force of the word "believing." For the Prophet does not simply speak of his deliverance as springing from believing Israel's God to be the true and only God, the Maker of heaven and earth, but from his committing his life to him, from his reposing on his grace, from his fixed determination that his end must be happy, if he worshipped him. Since, therefore, Daniel was certainly persuaded that his life was in God's hand, and that his hope in him was not in vain, he boldly incurred danger, and intrepidly suffered for the sincere worship of God; hence he says, he believed in God. We see then that the word "belief" is not taken coldly, as the Papists dream, since their notion implies an unfolded or dead and shapeless faith, for they think faith nothing else but a confused apprehension of the Deity. Whenever men have any conception of God at all, the Papists think this to be faith; but the Holy Spirit teaches us far otherwise. For we must consider the language of the Apostle, -- We do not properly believe in God, unless we determine him to be a rewarder of all who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6.) God is not sought by foolish arrogance, as if by our merits we could confer an obligation upon him; but he is sought by faith, by humility, and by invocation. But when we are persuaded that God is the rewarder of all who seek him, and we know how he ought to be sought, this is true faith. So Daniel did not doubt that God would deliver him, because he did not distrust that teaching of piety which he had learnt from a boy, and through reliance on which he had always called upon God. This, therefore, was the cause of his deliverance. Meanwhile, it is clear that Daniel's trust in God did not spring from any previous instruction concerning the result; for he rather committed his life to God, since he was prepared for death. Therefore Daniel could not acknowledge this before he was cast into the cave, and exposed to the lions, being ignorant whether God would deliver him, as we previously saw in the case of his companions, "God, if he pleases, will deliver us; but if not, we are prepared to worship Him, and to disobey thy edict." If Daniel had been taught the issue beforehand, his constancy would not have deserved much praise; but since he was willing to meet death fearlessly for the worship of God, and could deny himself and renounce the world, this is a true and serious proof of his faith and constancy. He believed therefore in God, not because he hoped for such a miracle, but because he knew his own happiness to consist in persisting in the true worship of God. So Paul says, Christ is gain to me, both in life and in death. (Philippians 1:21.) Daniel therefore rested in the help of God, but he closed his eyes to the event, and was not remarkably anxious concerning his life, but since his mind was erected towards the hope of a better life, even if he had to die a hundred times, yet he never would have failed in his confidence, because our faith is extended beyond the boundaries of this frail and corruptible life, as all the pious know well enough. What I have already touched upon afterwards follows, --