13. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
13. Et Princeps regni Persarum stetit coram me, vel, e regione, viginti diebus et uno. Et ecce Michael unus principum primorum 1 venit ad opem ferendam mihi, 2 et ego residuus 3 fui apuds reges Persarum, vel, Persidis.
The angel now assigns a reason why he did not appear at once, and at the very first moment to the Prophet, who might complain as follows, -- "What treatment is this, to suffer me to consume away through grief for so long a period?" for Daniel had remained through three weeks in succession in the severest affliction. God had heard him, indeed, from the very first day; how, then, could he still behold this wretched man thus prostrate in mourning? why did not God cause it to appear openly and really that he had not prayed in vain? The angel now meets this objection, and shews how he had been otherwise occupied in promoting the Prophet's welfare. We ought carefully to notice this, because delay often disturbs us when God does not immediately extend his help, and for a long time hides from us the fruit of our prayers. Whenever our passions burst forth with a strong impetuosity, and we easily manifest tokens of impatience, we must notice this expression of the angel, for our prayers may be already heard while God's favor and mercy is concealed from us. The experience of Daniel is daily fulfilled in every member of the Church, and without the slightest doubt the same discipline is exercised towards all the pious. This is our practical reflection. We must notice, secondly, God's condescension in deigning to explain himself by the angel to his own Prophet. He offers a reason for the delay of the angel's return, and the cause of this hindrance was, as I have already stated, his regard for the safety of his elect people. The wonderful clemency of the Almighty is here proved by his offering an excuse so graciously to his Prophet, because he did not shew himself easily entreated on the very day when prayer was offered to him. But we ought to derive another practical benefit from the passage, -- God does not cease to regard us with favor even while he may not please to make us conscious of it, for he does not always place it before our eyes, but rather hides it from our view. We infer from this, God's constant care for our safety, although not exhibited exactly in the way which our minds may conceive and comprehend. God surpasses all our comprehension in the way in which he provides for our safety, as the angel here relates his mission in quite another direction, and yet in the service of the Church. It now appears how Daniel obtained an answer to his prayers from the very first day of their offering, and yet remained unconscious of it, until God sent him some consolation in the midst of his troubles. A very different interpretation of this verse has been proposed, for some expounders think the angel sent into Persia to protect that kingdom. There is some probability in this explanation, because the Israelites were still under the Persian monarchy, and God may have furnished some assistance to the kings of Persia for the sake of his own people. But I think the angel stood in direct opposition and conflict against Cambyses, to prevent him from raging more fiercely against God's people. He had promulgated a cruel edict, preventing the Jews from building their temple, and manifesting complete hostility to its restoration. He would not have been satisfied with this rigorous treatment, had not God restrained his cruelty by the aid and hand of the angel.
If we weigh these words judiciously, we shall readily conclude, that the angel fought rather against the king of the Persians than for him.
He adds next,
We may now treat this passage a little more in detail. The angel was stationed in Persia to repress the audacity and cruelty of Cambyses, who was not content with a single edict, but would have forcibly dragged the wretched Israelites back again to a fresh exile. And he must have succeeded, had not first one angel and then another confronted him. The angel now informs us how Michael, one of the chief leaders, came up with the requisite supplies. The defense of one angel might have been sufficient, for angels have no further power than what is conferred upon them. But God is not bound to any particular means, he is not limited to either one or a thousand, as when Jehoshaphat speaks of a small army, he states, It matters not before God, whether we be few or many. (2 Chronicles 14:11; 1 Samuel 14:6.) For God can save his people by either a small force or a mighty one; and the same also is true of angels. But God is anxious to testify to the care which he bestows upon the welfare of his people, and to his singular loving-kindness towards the Israelites displayed by the mission of a second angel. He doubled his re-enforcement to bear witness to his love towards these wretched and innocent ones, who were oppressed by the calumnies of their enemies, and by the tyranny of that impious king. Finally, the angel says,
1 That is, one of the chief leaders. -- Calvin.
2 Or, to strengthen me. -- Calvin
3 That is, was left. -- Calvin