Dan_9:1-2. In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
And, therefore, discovering that the end of the captivity had nearly come, he set himself to plead mightily with God that now he would turn the hand of his love upon the destroyed and desolate city of Jerusalem. Notice that Daniel recollected the exact date when the captivity was to end; and when you and I have had a term put to any trial or chastisement from God, we ought to remember it, and record it among our special memoranda. I am afraid it is not always so. We do not forget when a great sorrow overtook us; we can, probably, recollect when some dear one died; we remember the very day of the week and month when that happened; but are we equally tenacious of the memory of God’s lovingkindness? I am afraid not; yet it should be so. We should be able to write about it as definitely as Daniel did when he said, “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes;” and then mention the time when we had some peculiarly choice communion with God, or when we were led to cry out in more than usually earnest prayer, or when we had a specially gracious answer from our God.
Dan_9:3. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes;
“I set my face unto the Lord God.” This expression is full of meaning. When men resolutely set their faces to prayer, bending their whole mind that way, seeking God, with their faces towards him, not in pretense, but in deep and solemn earnestness, then it is that they succeed with their supplication. Daniel speaks of “prayer and supplications,” by which we may understand that he prayed much amid prayed often, setting apart a regular and considerable portion of his time for the holy exercise. He was a very busy man, for he was the first of the presidents over the hundred and twenty princes; yet, for all that, or because of that, he would have his time for communion with God; and he was wise in so acting, for any portion of our time that is stolen from prayer is also stolen from ourselves. The old saying is true, “Prayer and provender hinder no man’s journey.”
Dan_9:4. And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
You must have noticed how, in prayer, holy men of old were wont to vary the names of God. Here, we find Daniel addressing him as “the great and dreadful God;” but that title was not chosen at haphazard, for the prophet felt that, as Jerusalem had remained so long a desolation, the terrible aspect of God’s character was more conspicuous even than the tender one; yet he coupled with it that gracious truth, “keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments.”
Dan_9:5-6. We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Daniel confesses the sins of the nation, and he spares no proper epithets in describing them: “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled.” He saw at least a shade of different meaning in each word that he employed. These are not vain repetitions; Daniel multiplied his expressions because he had an intense sense of the sinfulness of sin and the guilt of his people. Observe, too, how he notes the aggravation of their sin in their refusal to listen to the messages which God had sent to them by his servants. If there is anything in the world that can make sin to be more than ordinarily sinful, it is when sin is persisted in notwithstanding the manifest warnings of God.
Dan_9:7. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
This verse might be just as truly spoken now as in the first year of Darius, the Mede, for we also can say, “ O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee;”-we cannot find it anywhere else; and the other part of the verse is equally true, for unto us belongs confusion of faces, as it did to the men of Daniel’s day.
Dan_9:8-9. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
What a precious assurance this is! Just in proportion to your sense of sin, will you value it. If you feel that confusion of face belongs to you, you will also rejoice to know that mercies and forgivenesses belong to the Lord, and that he is waiting to bestow them upon all who seek his face in penitence and faith.
Dan_9:10-11. Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
It was a part of that old covenant that, if they sinned against the Lord, they should be scattered among all the peoples of the earth, and their sufferings exactly tallied with what God had threatened. This fact is used by the prophet in some measure as a source of consolation, for he argues that, if God is true to the black side of the covenant, he will also he faithful to the bright side of it; and it is so, he who faithfully fulfils his threatenings will just as faithfully keep his promises.
Dan_9:12-13. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spoke against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
Oh, sad hardness of heart and impenitence that, though Jerusalem had been so sorely smitten, yet the people turned not unto God in prayer!