James Nisbet Commentary - Daniel 9:7 - 9:7

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James Nisbet Commentary - Daniel 9:7 - 9:7

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


(for the close of the year)

‘O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day.’


It is evidently only true and right that in religious things, as in worldly things, we should—at the end of the year—look matters fairly in the face, and take stock of our spiritual possessions, and see how we stand in our trafficking with the Eternal.

I. Every retrospect must be humbling.—And if any man can look back and not be humble, it can only be because his standard is very low, or his memory very defective.

When we come to look closely at things, I marvel if we do not find that our property in the year consists mainly in failure, shame, and sin; and we should be quite ready to echo Daniel’s words—‘To us belongeth confusion of face, as it is this day.’

In the period of 365 days, if only each day had been marked—as it might and ought to have been—with the smallest possible improvement, how great and clear the progress would be at the close of it!

During all these days, there has not been one which has not had its special mercy. God’s good hand has been everywhere; and His patience with us has been wonderful! And each one could tell of his own special mercy which he has received. And not a few of us would be ready, this day, to place highest in the scale of our mercies some sorrow—so sweet was the comforting, and so good its after-fruits!

How many religious impulses, how many deep convictions, have there been in the past year!

Let me ask you individually, What have you to show, this day, that you have done—this past year—for God? Where is the proof of your spiritual growth? Have you kept even your own intentions and the promises that you yourself made to yourself from time to time? Do you honestly say that you have mastered ‘the sin which doth so easily beset you’:—your temper, your pride, your bodily passions? Could your own room bear witness to more private personal religion? Could your Church testify to a greater love of worship and sacred ordinances? Could the Holy Table of our Communion tell of your growing love to Jesus? Is any one really better because you were ever born? And in your best things was the motive right? Has any one thing proceeded from you—thought, or word, or act,—which came from the pure love of God?

Is this our property in the year? Do I mean that you have done nothing good? God forbid! Far from it. I believe and am sure that you have done much that has been good, very good. Great kindness—much effort—many good works. But that was not ours! God did that. That will be put to His account. There are only two things in which we have property—our sins and our Saviour.

II. Now, let me speak to you about God’s ‘righteousness.’ That ‘righteousness’ is awful! Has He said a word? He will do it. Has He said, ‘The soul that sinneth it shall die’? It shall die! Are you a sinner? You must die. God cannot falsify a word. Only a perfect obedience can satisfy the righteousness of God. He must govern His empire with the strictest justice. No mercy can ever come in to interfere with that justice! That justice must commend itself at the last day to all creation. Every spot of sin must pay its penalty.

Is that all true? I say it is our greatest comfort; it is our only comfort. Our whole salvation rests upon it. ‘The righteousness of God!’

Were He not ‘righteous,’ we should all perish! See! He has made a wonderful compact. Christ represents the world. As your Substitute, Christ died. God accepted the Substitute, and showed His acceptance by His resurrection. Your death, then, your punishment, is over. You have died. You are punished in your Representative Head. Believe it, and it is true. Then a righteous God cannot punish you. Would it be righteous to punish twice? Nay more! He must see you in your Head. Therefore He must see you, poor, vile sinner, righteous. He must be pleased with you. He must love you. He must love you dearly. He must love you as He loves His own Son. He must have you with Him for ever and ever.

Oh! the wonder of wonders, that makes ‘the righteousness of God’ the sinner’s peace; that makes mercy justice, and condemnation a thing impossible!

This ‘righteousness’ belongs to God. He devised it; He made it; it is His property—because He is God. Believe it! make it yours! Christ took your sins, and made them His, and in those sins He died, and so your sins died. They are not yours. They are His. They are not alive, they are dead: they cannot live. There is no resurrection to a dead sin.

It is very pleasant to rest upon the mercy of God; but you will find it a far better thing, and a stronger foundation under you, to rest on His ‘righteousness.’ It is such a rock to lean on!

I do not ask my pardon at God’s hand as a boon. I claim it as a right. ‘God, forgive me—for Thou art righteous!’ This was St. Paul’s own confidence: ‘Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the Righteous Judge’—because He is ‘righteous’—‘the Righteous Judge shall give me at that day.’ And this is the word of the song of the redeemed—with which they confess—with one heart and one voice—that they owe all their glory and their joy to one source—‘Just and True are Thy ways, Thou King of Saints!’

III. From ‘the righteousness of God’ let me draw one very practical lesson for the close of the year.

As far as in you lies, be like God. Be you also ‘righteous.’ Close this year righteously.

If you have a debt—discharge it!

If you owe a duty, or an act of love to any one—pay it!

If you have robbed any one—restore it!

If you have said a false word about any one—unsay it!

If you have injured any one—undo it!

Let not the last sun of the year go down on anything that is unrighteous. Be able to say,—for God Himself has provided a way, by which a sinner, bankrupt, bankrupt in everything—can say it, ‘I have paid all my debts to God and man. I have no account now unsettled for time or for eternity.’

Rev. Jas. Vaughan.


‘It is a sad catalogue when we come to make out the moral inventory of life. And I do not wonder we are so slow to do it. And when we attempt it, we like to see it all so falsely coloured, through the medium of our own fancy, and what fond relations and foolish friends talk of us! But we must do it; we must do it accurately; we must do it soon. For if not now, when on a dying bed, God help us! when He comes, it will be too late! There are two codes of law to which we all are subject. There is the moral code, the laws which affect society; and there is the spiritual code, the laws that have more immediate relation to God Himself.’