12. Then said he unto me. Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
12. Et dixit ad me, ne timeas Daniel, quia a die primo quo adjecisti cor tuum ad, intelligendum, et affigendum te, vel, humiliandum, coram facie Dei tui, exaudita sunt verba tua: et ego veni in verbis tuis, hoc est, propter verba tua.
By the angel's commanding the Prophet to be of a serene and tranquil mind, we gather the continuance of his fright, and his being as yet unable to listen with composure. And yet this trembling improved his teachableness. Without the slightest doubt, God desired to prepare his servant in this way to render him more attentive to his disciples, and yet this very terror prevented Daniel from summoning all his senses to listen to the address of the angel. The remedy is exhibited in these words, O Daniel, fear not. The angel did not wish to remove all fear from the Prophet's mind, but rather to calm it, lest his trembling should prevent him from giving due attention to the prophecies which we shall soon discuss. I have already said enough on the subject of this address. As God knows fear to be useful to us, he does not wish us to be entirely free from it, as too great self-confidence would immediately produce slothfulness and pride. God, therefore, wishes our fears to restrain us like a bridle, but meanwhile he moderates this dread in his servants, lest their minds become stricken and disturbed, and thus disabled from approaching him with calmness.
The angel adds, From the first day on which thou didst begin to apply thy mind to understanding, and to afflict thyself before God, thy prayers were heard. This reason sufficiently shews in what sense and with what intention the angel forbade the Prophet's fears -- because, says he, thy prayers have been heard. He was unwilling to banish all fear, but he offered some hope and consolation; and relying on this expectation, he might wait for the revelation which he so earnestly desired. He states his prayers to have been heard from the time of his applying his mind to understanding, and from his afflicting himself before God. These two points may be noticed: first, by the word "understanding" the angel informs us of God's being propitious to the prayers of his servant, because they were sincere and legitimate. For what spectacle did Daniel behold? He saw the condition of the Church entirely confused, and he desired the communication of some mark of favor, which might assure him of God's being still mindful of His covenant, and of his not despising those wretched Israelites whom he had adopted. As this was the object of the Prophet's prayer, he so far obtained his request, and the angel bears witness to God's being entreated by him. We are taught then by this passage, if we are anxious for our supplications to be both heard and approved by God, not to give way to those foolish lusts and appetites, which solicit and entice us. We ought to observe the rule here prescribed by the angel, and fashion our entreaties according to God's will. We know, says John, that if we ask anything according to his will, he will hear us. (1 John 5:14.) This is the first point. The second is the addition of penitence to fervor in devotion, when the angel says, Daniel's mind was afflicted or humbled. A second condition of true prayer is here set before us, when the faithful humble themselves before God, and being touched with true penitence, pour out their groans before him. The angel, therefore, shews how Daniel obtained his requests, by suppliantly afflicting himself before God. He did not utter prayers for the Church in a mere formal manner, but as we have previously seen, he united fasting with entreaty, and abstained from all delicacies. For this reason God did not reject his petitions. He says, before thy God; this expression of the angel's implying that the Prophet's supplication sprang from true faith. The prayers of the impious, on the other hand, always repel the Almighty, and they can never be sure of his being propitious to them. In consequence of the hesitation and vacillation of unbelievers, this testimony to true faith is set before Daniel -- he prayed to his own God. Whoever approaches God, says the Apostle, (Hebrews 11:6,) ought to acknowledge his existence, and his being easily entreated by all those who seek and invoke him. We ought diligently to notice this, as this fault is most manifest in all ages, men often pray to God, but yet through their hesitation they pour forth their petitions into the air. They do not realize God as their Father. Another passage also reminds us how useless is the hope of obtaining anything by prayer, if we are agitated and tossed about in our emotions. (James 1:6, 7.) Unless faith shine forth, we must not feel surprise at those who call upon God losing all their labor through their profanation of his name. Lastly, by this expression, the angel shews us how Daniel's prayer was founded on faith; he had not sought God with rashness, but was clearly persuaded of his being welcomed among the sons of God. He prayed, therefore, to his own God, and for this reason, his petitions were heard. Then the angel adds, he came at his words; as it is said in the Psalms. (Psalm 145:19.) God inclines with desire towards those who fear him; and in this sense the angel waits upon Daniel. It now follows, --