14. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
14. Et vigilavit Jehovah super malum, et immisit illud 1 spuer nos: quai justus est Jehovah Deus noster in omnibus operibus suis quae fecit, hoc est, facit, et non auscultavimus voci ejus.
Daniel confirms what he had formerly said respecting the slaughter which afflicted the Israelites not being the offspring of chance, but of the certain and remarkable judgment of God. Hence he uses the word rqs, seked, which signifies to watch and to apply the mind attentively to anything. It is properly used of the guards of cities, who keep watch both by night and by day. This phrase does not appear to me to imply haste, but rather continual carefulness. God often uses this metaphor of his watching to chastise men who are far too eager to rush into sin. We are familiar with the great intemperance of mankind, and their disregard of all moderation whenever the lusts of the flesh seize upon them. God on the other hand say's he will not be either slothful or neglectful in correcting this intemperance. The reason for this metaphor is expressed in the forty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah, where men are said to burst forth and to be carried away by their appetites, and then God is continually on the watch till the time of his vengeance arrives. I have mentioned how this word denotes rather continual diligence than hasty swiftness; and the Prophet seems here to imply that although God had endured the people's wickedness, yet he had at length really performed his previous threatenings, and was always on the watch, and rendering it impossible for the people to escape his judgments upon the wickedness in which they indulged. Therefore hath Jehovah closely attended to the calamity, and caused it to come upon us, says he. With the view of comprehending the Prophet's intention more fully, we must notice what God pronounces by Jeremiah in the Lamentations, (Lamentations 3:38,) where he accuses the people of sloth, because they did not acknowledge the justice of the punishments which they suffered; he blames them in this way. Who is he who denies both good and evil to proceed from the mouth of God; as if he were pronouncing a curse against those who are ignorant of the origin of calamities from God, when he chastises the people. This sentiment is not confined to a single passage. For God often inveighs against that stupidity which is born with mankind, and leads them to attribute every event to fortune, and to neglect the hand of the smiter. (Isaiah 9:13.) This kind of teaching is to be met with everywhere in the prophets, who shew how nothing can be worse than to treat God's judgments as if they were accidents under the influence of chance. This is the reason why Daniel insists so much upon this point. We know also what God denounces in his law: If ye have walked against me rashly, I also will rashly walk against you, (Leviticus 26:27, 28;) that is, if ye do not cease to attribute to fortune whatever evil ye suffer, I will rush against you with closed eyes, and will strive with you with similar rashness; as if he had said, If ye cannot distinguish between fortune and my judgments, I will afflict you on all sides, both on the right hand and on the left, without the slightest discretion; as if I were a drunken man, according. to the expression, With the perverse, thou wilt be perverse. For this reason Daniel now confesses, God watched over the calamity, so as to bring down all those afflictions by which the people was oppressed.
In this passage we are taught to recognize God's providence in both prosperity and adversity, for the purpose of stirring us up to be grateful for his benefits, while his punishments ought to produce humility. For when any one explains these things by fortune and chance, he thereby proves his ignorance of the existence of God, or at least of the character of the Deity whom we worship. For what is left for God if we rob him of his providence? It is sufficient here just to touch on these points which are often occurring, and of which we usually hear something every day. It is sufficient for the exposition of this passage to observe how the Prophet incidentally opposes God's judgment and providence to all notions of chance.
He next adds, Jehovah our God is just in all his works. In this clause the Prophet confirms his former teaching, and the phrase, God is just, appears like rendering a reason for his dealings; for the nature of God supplies a reason why it becomes impossible for anything to happen by the blind impulse of fortune. God sits as a judge in heaven; whence these two ideas are directly contrary to each other. Thus if one of the following assertions is made, the other is at the same time denied; if God is the judge of the world, fortune has no place in its government; and, whatever is attributed to fortune is abstracted from God's justice. Thus we have a confirmation of our former sentence by the use of contraries or opposites; for we must necessarily ascribe to God's judgment both good and evil, both adversity and prosperity, if he governs the world by his providence, and exercises the office of judge. And if we incline in the least degree to fortune, then God's judgment and providence will cease to be acknowledged. Meanwhile, Daniel not only attributes power to God, but also celebrates his justice; as if he had said, he does not arbitrarily govern the world without any rule of justice or equity, but he is just. We must not suppose the existence of any superior law to bind the Almighty; he is a law unto himself, and his will is the rule of all justice; yet we must lay down this point; God does not reign as a tyrant over the world, while in the perfection of his equity, he performs some things which seem to us absurd, only because our minds cannot ascend high enough to embrace a reason only partially apparent, and almost entirely hidden and incomprehensible in the judgments of God. Daniel, therefore, wished to express this by these words, Jehovah our God, says he, is just in all the works which he performs. The meaning is, the people would not have been so severely chastised and afflicted with so many miserable calamities, unless they had provoked God's wrath; this might be easily collected from the threatenings which God had denounced many ages beforehand, and which he at that time proved in real truth to be in no degree frivolous. Next, a second part is added, as not only God's power but. his justice shines forth in the slaughter of the people; and I have touched briefly on each of these points, as far as it was necessary for explanation. But we must notice the Prophet's allusion in these words to those numerous trials which had fallen upon the faithful for the purpose of proving their faith. They perceived themselves the most despised and miserable of mortals; the peculiar and sacred people of God was suffering under the greatest reproach and detestation, although God had adopted them by his law with the intention of their excelling all other people. While, therefore, they perceived themselves drowned in that deep whirlpool of calamities and disgrace, what would they suppose, except that God had deceived them, or that his covenant was utterly annihilated? Daniel, therefore, establishes the justice of God in all his works for the purpose of meeting this temptation, and of confirming the pious in their confidence, and of inducing them to fly to God in the extremity of their calamities.
He adds, as a reason, Because they did not listen to his voice. Here, again, he points out the crime of the people who had not transgressed through ignorance or error, but had purposely taken up arms against God. Whenever God's will is once made known to us, we have no further excuse for ignorance; for our open defiance of the Almighty arises from our being led away by the lusts of the flesh. And hence we gather how very detestable is the guilt of all who do not obey God's voice whenever he deigns to teach us, and who do not instantly acquiesce in his word. It now follows, --