9. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him.
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.
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:
2 Or, because they are rebellious; for the particle