It pleased Darius to set over the Kingdom.
(W. H. Rule, D.D.)
Of whom Daniel was first
(Joseph Parker, D.D.)
I. THE WORLD HONOURS CHARACTER WITH ITS RESPECT. And that is far better thing than position, riches, and fame. Have character rooted in God, and if men mock you to the face, you may be sure that in your deep heart they think of you as Balaam did of Sarah. The respect in which the good man is held comes out when he is dead.
II. THE WORLD HONOURS CHARACTER WITH ITS MATERIAL BLESSINGS. This is not an invariable rule. Some cannot bear the risks of prosperity. Many of us do well to pray, "Give me neither poverty nor riches." Yet it is generally true that character wins the places of trust, and character keeps the places it gains. Illustrated by Joseph and Obadiah. But how does God honour character? With His approval, and with the sense of that approval in a man's own soul. With His special acceptance in the world to come. By making it witness for him here on earth; as in this case of Daniel God makes the men of character to be in His world as "salt," as "cities on hills," and as the "Light." Their highest honour lies in their influence, their witness, and their work.
(Robert Tuck, B.A.)
(John Cumming, D.D.)
graving tool. The first mention of such a thing occurs curiously enough in connection with the act of Aaron in making the golden calf. Though he would fain have us believe that the molten gold took that peculiar shape of its own accord, it appears in evidence that he "fashioned it with a graving tool" — a "cheret" as it was called in the Hebrew tongue — in which we distinctly trace the original derivation of our word "character." At first, then, this term stood for an instrument — a means to an end. But by a very natural transition it came to be applied to the result. From the tool attention is inevitably directed to the work of art, from the pencil to the painting, from the chisel to the finished sculpture. We preserve, however, the original use of the word when speaking of a man of parts. We say, "He is a character," thereby signifying that he impresses others, that he cannot be overlooked, that he is indeed a graving tool with the added element of life. It is, in fact, this power of impressing others by the force of our own personality that distinguishes man from the brute creation. Charles Dickens once remarked that "some very fine ladies and gentlemen might as well have been born caterpillars for any good they do, or any impression they make on the world." But, dear friends, God has not placed us here to be caterpillars lazily crawling over the smooth surface of things, and leaving no trace behind. He intends that we should be carving tools; that under His hand, and each in his own sphere, we should press heavily upon and cut deeply into this disordered world, seeking to shape it more after the mind and will of its Lord. This brings us at once to the practical question. We cannot stop at the tool. That is often a very rude and primitive affair. But the design or inscription written or graven therewith, what vast and varied possibilities are there? Even animals can make marks after a fashion — as some of us possibly know by experience — very ugly and painful ones. But they can usually be predicted. Every youth secretly hopes to make his mark and to pass for something in the world. What sort of a mark will be yours. No one can predict that. We can only hope and pray. Much might be said as to the elements of character, for, as Bishop Butler reminds us, it is, of a complex nature, there being greater variety of parts in it than there are features in a face. "Giving all diligence add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. These being the elements which make a manly and Christian life a word may be said as to their cultivation. Human nature is the raw material out of which character has to be manufactured, and very tough stuff it is. It has to pass through the mill a good many times before it is good for anything. Not forgetting the requirements mentioned by the apostle in the passage just quoted, we may add one or two others that go to the making of a man. One important factor is Labour. Dr. Arnold insisted that the difference between one man and another was not usually ability but energy; and Lord Lytton tells us that he made it a rule never to trust to genius for what could be won by toil. Another and most unwelcome agent in this process is trouble. "Great sufferings," says a powerful writer, "swell the soul to gigantic proportions." This had probably much to do with the strength of Daniel. Simplicity of aim, sincerity of aim, and modesty of manners are also essential to a healthy nature. And so is a perfectly trained will. The importance of arriving at and adhering to an intelligent decision cannot be too strongly emphasized. We are all acquainted with the description of the irresolute man who wastes the first half of the day in hesitating which of two courses to take, and the other in reproaching himself for not having taken the other. Only when all these qualities are present and active; only when those springs of action — our thoughts, desires, and affections — are cleansed by the Spirit of God and fed by communion with Him, do we attain our complete and destined development. We fall short of our own capabilities if we fall short of God. The result of this varied discipline and careful training is to exhibit what comes out so clearly in the life of Daniel. One of the most accomplished scoundrels of the last century declared that he would give ten thousand pounds for a character, because he could make above twenty thousand by it. Considered even from this sordid standpoint character represents capital, commands credit, and is a negotiable asset. The day has passed when is this land a man could rise to the highest place in the estimation of his fellows merely by the circumstance of noble birth. He must be and do something. Merchants and tradesmen often complain of the havoc and loss entailed by excessive competition. But there is a rising market for moral integrity and a brisk demand for it. To men of different callings I often put the question, "Is there s good prospect now for a young fellow in your business?" And the answer is almost invariably this, "Yes, he may do nicely if he is square, sober, and industrious; there are so many of the other sort, you know." So it is vice not virtue that is the drug on the market. Cleverness minus character — the world reeks with it. Most of the world's woes are in fact traceable to this pestilence, Satan himself being the chief example and promoter of it. In the hour when, after sufficient trial, it becomes known that you at least can be depended upon, you will become a person of importance. The world surely needs and is waiting for such as you. King Darius had that gift so essential to a ruler — the power to discern moral excellence. And finding it, he had a courage to utilise and reward it. He is worthy to be king who prizes virtue above rank. Hence "this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm." Only when men of sincere conviction, high principle, and indisputable integrity are at the helm of affairs is there any hope for the prosperity of any people. Not politics, not commerce, not creed, but character is the supreme test of prosperity and the harbinger of peace. When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice. Thus the welfare of nations comes at last to be simply a matter of the individual spirit and conduct.
(A. E. Hutchinson.)
Because an excellent spirit was in him.
HomilistAll men have what we call a conscience, something within that concerns itself with the right and wrong of actions. A good conscience is something more than a sincere conscience. Many sincere consciences are bad consciences. We learn here certain facts concerning the man of a good conscience, or excellent spirit.
I. THAT HE IS INFLEXIBLY HONEST IN ALL HIS WORLDLY TRANSACTIONS. Where there is true loyalty to God, there will be honesty towards men.
II. THAT HE OFTEN EVOKES THE ANTAGONISM OF UNJUST MEN. What led to the Crucifixion of Christ but this?
III. THAT HE IS INVINCIBLE IN HIS LOYALTY TO HEAVEN. In extreme danger he did nothing, but just went on with his ordinary life.
IV. THAT IS A DISTURBING FORCE TO THE SOUL OF HIS PERSECUTORS. The king had a miserable night.
V. THAT HE IS EVERMORE IN THE SAFE KEEPING OF HEAVEN. Daniel ascribed his deliverance to an angel. What better angel has God in his universe than a good conscience?
VI. THAT HE IS SURE TO MEET WITH A RETRIBUTIVE VINDICATION. What became of the enemies of Daniel?
VII. THAT HE IS THE BEST AGENT TO BRING THE WORLD TO TRUE WORSHIP. "Then King Darius wrote unto all people," etc. Learn
(1) (2) (Homilist)
1. A spirit of self-control. He kept his body under. He held the mastery of his animal nature. He laid an iron hand upon his appetites and passions. here is a lesson on a temperate and physiological habit of life that young men would do well to attend to, who propose to invest any capital in their brains.
2. A spirit of genuine piety, He was, above all, a man of God. I believe that his convictions were the fruit of early training. To him, God was a reality, a living and reliable friend, to whom he could take every difficulty, and on whom he could trust in every danger. It was this that carried him through. It was his "excellent spirit" that led to his preferment. His piety actually led to his promotion.
3. A spirit of unshaken faith in God. All through his troubles, he never lost confidence in God, never failed to betake himself to him in prayer. Daniel's faith in God was too deep mud strong to suffer any serious shock from spurious philosophy.
(J. T. Davidson, D.D.)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (G. Campbell Morgan, D.D.)
(2) (3) (4) (G. Campbell Morgan, D.D.)
(3) (4) (G. Campbell Morgan, D.D.)
(G. Campbell Morgan, D.D.)
(G. Campbell Morgan, D.D.)
(C. H. Payne, D.D., LL.D.)
1. It is always safe to do right. There are many who think otherwise. They will try to soothe conscience by saying that they approve the right, and that, under more favourable circumstances, they would certainly do it. But swerving from duty makes it easier to do wrong again; and there lies the danger. When we are resolutely doing God's will, He will open up a way for us. A man of weak faith and weak will, yields to circumstances, and excuses himself by saying that he could not help it. We should rule circumstances, and not allow circumstances to rule us. Fortune follows in the footsteps of faith.
2. Daniel's love of private prayer. That man is always strong for duty, and strong against temptation, who has learned to prevail with God! Daniel not only maintained communion with God in spirit, but he had also stated times for prayer. His public life was upright and beautiful, because his inner life was devout and prayerful. He made it the habit of his life to take everything to God in prayer. Special times for private prayer may soon enable the Christian to live constantly in the atmosphere of heaven.
3. Daniel's decision of character. A man may be pious and prayerful, and yet, if he lacks decision of character, he is liable to be led into any form of evil. What the world and the Church want to-day are men who have some backbone in them; men who will do right, and do it at all hazards.
4. Daniel's Faithful Friendship. When he was promoted by the king he did not forget his three companions.
5. Daniel's Contentment and Resignation to his lot. We find no murmur or complaint that God dealt hardly with him in allowing him to be carried away captive. He was able to see the providence of God in his captivity. No man has ever risen in life by repining at his lot, and by spending his strength in lamenting over lack of opportunity. Daniel's success depended largely upon that contentment that always accompanies a loving confidence in God, and cheerful submission to His will.
6. Daniel was most courteous and amiable in his manner. This gave him great power over men. He was a true gentleman — that is, he was both gentle and manly. He was too manly to be weak and irresolute; and he was too courteous to be coarse and offensive. Courtesy and gentleness give a man great power over his fellow men.
7. Daniel's Business Fidelity. Some narrowly pious people would have said that he had far too secular duties on his hands. They would necessarily interfere with his spirituality of mind and his intercourse with God. Daniel did not think so. Because he gave himself to prayer he could busy himself with secular things and not suffer; and because he was so busy with secular affairs he needed his frequent seasons of prayer. It was because Daniel lived in the presence of God that he was able to leave such a noble record of the administration of the affairs of the kingdom We may make Daniel's life our own, if we have Daniel's faith, and trust as Daniel trusted.
(S. Macnaughton, M.A.)
Then the Presidents and Princes sought to find occasion against Daniel.
I. Let us look at the conduct of there Presidents and Princes as affording illustrations of THE LENGTHS OF WRONGDOING TO WHICH THE SPIRIT OF ENVY, WHEN IT IS ONCE YIELDED TO, WILL CARRY MEN.
II. Let us see, in their speech concerning Daniel, an instance of THE TRIBUTE WHICH, IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, VICE IS ALWAYS COMPELLED TO PAY TO VIRTUE.
III. Let us meditate upon the feeble and wicked compliance of the king with their blasphemous request, as revealing THE POWER OF FLATTERY TO LEAD MEN ASTRAY.
IV. Let us study the behaviour of the man of God in the hour of trial, that we may ADMIRE HIS COURAGE, IMITATE HIS SPLENDID EXAMPLE, AND, BY GOD'S HELP, MAKE HIS GLORIOUS VICTORY OURS.
I. One is the influential character of the deputation. It consisted of presidents and satraps, two presidents and perhaps a considerable number of the satraps. It is not likely that all the one hundred and twenty satraps were present in Babylon at one and the same time. The deputation therefore consisted of the highest and most influential officers of state.
2. Another is the turbulence of their zeal. They are said to have "assembled together," or rather, as in the margin, "came tumultuously." They approached the king in his palace, not with calm deliberation, but in stormy haste. And the excited eagerness of such influential men, especially as the kingdom had been only recently subjugated and received, could not fail to impress the king.
3. Another is that the proposed statute was recommended by the whole body of his rulers. This was certainly false, as Daniel, the wisest ruler of them all, had never been consulted; and possibly there were others, especially in the remote provinces. It seems, however, likely that all the rulers who were consulted were of one mind as to the desirableness of getting such a statute, and of thereby effecting the favoured Jewish statesman. Such a representation on the part of this influential and resolute body of men would naturally have much weight with the king.
4. And another is the high honour which the statute would confer on Darius. He was to be regarded not only as a god, but as the god for the period of a month. This certainly was a most extraordinary proposal; but it would not seem so extraordinary to Darius as it does to us. His grandfather, Deioces, the king of the Medes, sought to inspire hie people with the idea that he was more than a man; and it was the belief of the Persians that their kings were an incarnation of the Deity. Their proposal was thus in the line both of the popular belief and of the king's natural desire for self-exaltation.
(Joseph Parker, D.D.)
1. That marked outward peculiarities of worship afford a ready subject of attack! Elaborate ceremonials oftentimes vex the minds of plain and practical men, and stir up all kinds of strife and controversy. Therefore it is well not to assign an undue importance, or an undue prominence, to outward ceremonials.
2. That we should not be ashamed frequently and openly to make confession of our faith. The days of religious persecution are past, it is hoped never to return. But the days when a religious profession excites ridicule and scorn are by no means vanished. Many a man who could not be tempted out of his faith has been laughed out of it.
3. That impiety ever is at war with piety, and injustice with justice. Good and evil can never agree together, they must ever be at war.
4. That all of us, like Daniel in the Scriptures, and like Christian, in the "Pilgrim's Progress," must pass through the lions to the palace beautiful. This world oftentimes in our hour of gloom seems to us but a den of darkness, a den filled with the wild beasts to which our sins and errors may be fully compared. If we walk along the narrow road of life, we see on both sides dangers and roaring lions, temptations and snares of all kinds, ready to overwhelm us. If we but advance, we shall find that the dangers which appeared to threaten us disappear, the mouths of the lions are stopped, the lions, it may be, are chained.
(R. Young, M.A.)
Except we find it against him concerning the law of him God.
I. AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT. In him, and seen to be in him. For be a man's spirit excellent or the reverse, it cannot be hidden. It comes out. The churl, the cruel, the malignant man, may mask the spirit, and hypocritically appear what he is not. But such are often surprised into conduct in which the real bad spirit is revealed; or they weary of playing a part. The spirit of Daniel was the secret of his elevation by Darius. How it showed itself is not told. He was a man of rare sagacity, and of incorruptible integrity. He had a kingly soul, with a spirit that thrilled his very silences, looks, tones, with excellence. We are more as forces in the world, than speakers and toilers. The Spirit we are of is an essential part, the largest part of our influence. It is the eloquence of tone and look and silence — it is ourself. Let the spirit be right and the life will be.
II. FAITHFULNESS TO DUTY. Daniel had enemies. They plot against him. He was faithful to his earthly master, because in all faithful to his Master in heaven. The secret of his faithfulness was that very piety through which his foes sought to assail, and take his life from the earth. There still is the secret of well doing, and continuance in well-doing, whatever be the station.
III. PRAYERFULNESS. Busy had been Daniel's life. But he was never too busy to pray thrice a day. From this habit, not even peril of death could daunt him. Daniel knew that the writing was signed, but it made no difference. For he knew also the helpful and sublime privilege of prayer. The baffled king sought by delay to save Daniel. It was in vain. The den probably was an underground cave. This method of punishment is attested by the discovery of statues and bas-reliefs among the ruins of Babylon. Daniel was willing to meet his fate. Prayer to God was the necessity of his life. Life might be surrendered rather than prayer. Life fruitful is ever life prayerful.
IV. TRUSTFULNESS. What a moment when the aged prophet was cast into the den! Daniel was calm. He trusted in God. From early youth, through manifold perils, Daniel had trusted in his God. He had never been put to confusion, nor would he be now. The angel Jehovah was with him.
(G. T. Coster.)
I. THE VERY UNFAVORABLE SOIL IN WHICH A CHARACTER OF SINGULAR BEAUTY AND DEVOUT CONSECRATION MAY BE ROOTED AND GROW. What sort of a place was that court where Daniel was? Half shambles and half pigsty. Luxury, sensuality, lust, self-seeking, idolatry, ruthless cruelty were the environment of this man. In the middle of these there grew up this fair flower of a character, pure and stainless, by the acknowledgment of enemies, and in which not even accusers could find a speck or a spot. There are no circumstances in which a man must trove his garments spotted by the world. There were "saints in Caesar's household." It may sound a paradox, but it is a deep truth that unfavorable circumstances are the most favorable for the development of the Christian character. For that development comes, not by what we draw from the things around, but by what we draw from the things in which we are rooted, even God himself, in whom the roots find both anchorage and nutriment. The more we are thrown back on him, and the less we find food for our best selves in the things about us, the more likely is our religion to be robust, and thorough-going, and conscious ever of his presence. He that has vitality enough within him to keep hold of Jesus Christ has thereby power enough within him to turn enemies into friends, and unfavorable circumstances into helps instead of hindrances. Purity, and holiness, and communion with God do not depend on environment, but upon the inmost will of the man.
II. THE KEEN CRITICS THAT ALL GOOD MEN HAVE TO FACE. In this man's case their eyesight was meaded by the microscope of envy and malice. However unobtrusive and quiet a Christian person's life may be, there will be some persons standing close by who, if not actually watching for his fall, are at least by no means indisposed to make the worst of a slip, and to rejoice over an inconsistency. We do not need to complain of that. There will always be a tendency to judge men who by any means profess that they are living by the highest law, with a judgment, that has very little charity in it. And it is perfectly right that it should be so. Be content to be tried by a high standard.
III. THE UNBLEMISHED RECORD. These men could find no fault. They were very poor judges of his religion, and they did not try to judge that; but they were very good judges of his conduct as Prime Minister, and they did judge that. The world is a very poor critic of my Christianity, but it is a very sufficient one of my conduct. If we call ourselves Christians, we are bound, by the very name, to live in such a fashion as that men shall have no doubt of the reality of our profession, and of the depth of our fellowship with Christ. And it is by our commom conduct men will judge us.
IV. OBEDIENT DISOBEDIENCE. The plot goes on the calculation that, whatever happens, this man may be trusted to do what his God tells him; no matter who tells him not to do it. Daniel brushes the preposterous law of the poor, shadowy Darius on one side, in order that he may keep the law of his God. If earthly authorities command what is clearly contrary to God's law, a Christian is absolved from obedience, and cannot be loyal unless he is a rebel. Obedience to God needs always to be sustained. In our little lives, the motto, "This did not I, because of the fear of the Lord," is absolutely essential to all noble Christian conduct. These people calculated upon Daniel, and they had a right to calculate upon him. Could the world calculate upon us?
(A. Maclaren, D.D.)
I. IN CHILDHOOD, There is intense personality of teaching in the example here presented. As he was a child of the captivity, so are we. We are heirs of another kingdom. That kingdom is to come; we are to be trained for it. Parents are to follow a higher standard than this world can give. As the Chaldean lore of Daniel was all sanctified by piety, you are to see that the wisdom which is from above is made prominent in the training of your child for God.
II. IN HIS YOUNG MANHOOD. In Daniel's treatment of himself young people may learn a useful lesson. Self-indulgence emasculates moral as well as physical vigour. The purity of innocence retained is better than that which comes by repentance and pardon.
III. AS A MAN, FULLY OCCUPIED. He was a statesman, and scientist as well. No man in this city is as busy to-day as was he. Yet he found time to pray thrice a day. He took time, and so may you.
IV. IN THE DEN OF LIONS. It was his prayerful communion with God that now risked his spiritual life and fortified him against perils which otherwise would have destroyed him. The den of lions was, indeed, a historic reality. Yet it was no less a figure of the tribulations into which our Lord Jesus and all his followers are thrown. We are powerful if we are in communion with God, and powerless if we attempt to cope with Him alone.
(Bishop W. C. Doane.)
I. THE HONORABLE TESTIMONY BORNE BY HIS ENEMIES TO HIS EFFICIENCY IN OFFICE. By the death of Belshazzar, and the conquest of Babylon, Darius, the Mede, had added an extensive territory to his empire, teeming with a numerous population. Such an addition required a corresponding increase in the staff of officials requisite for its management. Darius, admiring the administrative talents of Daniel, and having unbounded confidence in his character, formed the purpose of making this Daniel prime minister over the whole empire. Hence arose a conspiracy among Daniel's associates in office. They have become jealous of Daniel, and seek his downfall.
1. The enemies of Daniel had powerful motives to seek his downfall. Motives impure indeed, but powerful. The spirit of envy had seized them. It cost them something to tolerate the Jewish statesman as an equal, but they could not brook his being their superior. Promotion to him was degradation to them.
2. They had ample scope. When men are bent on doing mischief, they can generally succeed, even where the sphere is limited, and the chances comparatively few. Shortcomings in accounts, and cases of maladministration on the part of Daniel could not have escaped the quick eye of his two rivals. Errors of this kind would have served their purpose. But they found "none occasion nor fault."
II. THE LAST RESORT OF HIS MALICIOUS ENEMIES. They basely plot for his ruin concerning his religion. The cowardly conspiracy, together with its terrible recoil on the conspirators, is fully developed in the remainder of the chapter. The enemies of Daniel are "taken in their own trap, and are fallen into the pit their own hands have digged."
1. There was another chance, and that chance lay in the man's religion. Daniel was known to be eminently devout. Prayer was the element of his soul's existence. Thorough honesty and honour might sufficiently explain the accuracy of Daniel's accounts. But his religion was something beyond common honesty and honour. Without true religion, without a life of prayer, without a life of faith on the son of God, and obedience to his commands, without a life in which the moral nature shall have its share of attention, in which the soul shall get spiritual culture, and preparation for the future, your life, however satisfactory in other respects, is an incomplete thing, and if persisted in, will eventually prove a failure.
2. Daniel's religion was reliable. His enemies and rivals knew this, and matured their plans accordingly. They saw in Daniel an honest and fearless professor of religion; a man of decision, the tone of whose piety was elevated, whose religious habits and exercises were fixed and punctual. They could make his frequent prayers to God a sure basis of calculation, in forming their schemes for his overthrow. Nor did they over-rate his constancy.
3. Eminent piety and thorough efficiency in business are not incompatible. Some have a notion that personal religion and proficiency in any trade or profession cannot go together. And, indeed, we do not always find piety and skill united. It need not be that the two are separated. And religion supplies the highest motives for the efficient discharge of all duties.
III. Religion not only places us under the power of mighty motives, IT ALSO SUPPLIES IN ITS HOLY EXERCISES THE BEST PREPARATION FOR MEETING THE CLAIMS OF OUR EARTHLY CALLING. There is a wear and tear of the system incessantly going on, in the pursuit of any trade or profession which demands occasional relief. The wheels of life want oiling. There is a fountain of strength free to all. Daniel knew its power. He found relief at the throne of grace, in his prayers and regular communings with God. Three times a day he retired and prayed. Here was the secret of his strength. Our religion, while it is spiritual, is practical.
IV. SUCH A COMBINATION REFLECTS HONOUR ON RELIGION, AND MATERIALLY AIDS ITS ADVANCE. Manifest discord between the religious profession and the common life, dishonours the name of Christ, creates doubt in the minds of men as to the power of His truth, fills their minds with a false and unfavourable impression of its general influence, and thus tends to strengthen those prejudices, already too strong, which prevent their forming a just estimate of a true Christian life. In this respect we have all to confess manifold deficiencies. Let us, however, remember and imitate Daniel's conduct, and we may yet render the cause of Christ important service. Combine thorough effciency in business with all the exercises of piety, and you will in your own person demonstrate that the two things can co-exist.
(David Jones, B.A.)
I. WHAT THE BELIEVERS MAY EXPECT FROM THE WORLD. The world is very little altered since the days of Daniel. Occasion against the believer is sought with equal earnestness, though not perhaps, with equal openings. This enmity should not come out on the Christian as a strange and unexpected thing. It should enter into his reckoning.
II. WHAT THE WORLD WILL EXPECT FROM THEM. It is evident from the context what opinion had been formed concerning Daniel's moral character, by those who had leagued together to compass his overthrow. We should take heed that we knowingly afford no vulnerable point, no exposed and unguarded quarter, on which we may be assailed by the envenomed arrows of the ungodly. Like Job, we should put on righteousness that it may clothe us. To this a great auxiliary is singleness of mind. The human mind is so constituted that man is always under the guidance and control of some one master-principle to which all Others are subordinate or subservient. To realise consistency of conduct we should seek unity of motive.
III. THE HAPPY CONSEQUENCES THAT MAY RESULT HERE, AND THAT WILL RESULT HEREAFTER. If actions be ours, consequences, even as to the present life, are in the hand of God alone. It is ours to purpose, but he fulfils.
(T. Dale, A.M.)
1. The baseness of envy. Daniel's character was, long ere this, fully established in Babylon. Darius had promoted him. We can easily imagine how distasteful such a promotion must have been to the Persian nobles. How hard do we find it to bear quietly the promotion of others. Let us tremble lest anything in the advancement or welfare of others excites a malign sentiment in our minds, lest we come to envy them that which, by the appointment of providence, has become theirs, and which they have a right honestly to keep and to enjoy: — the moment such a disposition arises in our minds, that moment are we Daniel's persecutors, without the power.
2. Daniel's Crime. In what way his ruin was to be accomplished does not as yet seem clear to those who have resolved on that view. Possibly they were not as incorruptible as he. Possibly they had consciences that allowed them to do what Daniel's conscience forbade him to do. How very unpleasant it is to have an upright person near us when we want to do wrong! Very perplexing and annoying this Jew Daniel, a perpetual decalogue before them, telling them they have broken all its precepts. He must be removed. To get rid of him, however, will require considerable skill, nothing less than the invention of a new crime hitherto unheard of in the annals of idolatry.
3. The rash-resolve of a weak king. On the side of his self-importance the poor king was caught; He forgot the impiety of the request, and established the statute framed by Daniel's enemies.
4. Daniel's unmoved perserverance. All through his life he has been a man of prayer. Prayer is with him a necessity of his nature. Learn a lesson here. Religion must be all, or it is nothing. Every day of your life it will say to you, what Daniel s said to him, "Without me ye can do nothing," and the religious life which in youth was your calm and deliberate choice, whose power and beauty you so imperfectly apprehended, will then become the necessity of your nature, the secret of your happiness, the source of your inspiration and the blessing of your house.
5. Darius the Mede had gone too far to retract. He is obliged to think now, after the act is done, instead of thinking beforehand, and he cannot sleep.
6. An interposition by miracle God had sent his angels and the mouths of the lions had been shut. How this was done we know not, nor can there be much profit, in our speculations on the matter. But it was done. If any of you ever resolve to serve God, never fear the lions' den that may come. God will interpose in some marvellous way at the right time; a friend will be raised up that will be as an angel of God; troubles will disappear as soon as you meet them. God says, "Them that honour me I will honour."
(W. G. Barrett.)
I. HIS CHARACTER.
1. His consistent integrity. For this we have the evidence of his enemies.
2. His habitual piety.
(1) (2) 3. Daniel's special confidence in God. Not professed with his lips, but calmly and touchingly exhibited in his actions. II. GOD'S MYSTERIOUS DEALINGS WITH HIM. 1. They were deeply mysterious. God permits his enemies to succeed. So God often deals with the world; in his Church; with individual Christians; and with his own son he did so deal. 2. See Daniel delivered and God's dealings explained. Consider the effects of this deliverance on Daniel; on the King; on the enemies of God; on the people and cause of God. Apt representation of God's universal providence — all things shall terminate as He wills, and shall glorify Him-in the world at large; in the Church. Individuals continually perceive the blessed results of their afflictions, trials, darkness, and fears. How truly this was shown in the Son of God, need hardly be observed. Let the timid, the undecided, or the inconsistent, go and study the character of Daniel. Let them confess their faith as he did. (F. Close, M.A.)
(2) 3. Daniel's special confidence in God. Not professed with his lips, but calmly and touchingly exhibited in his actions. II. GOD'S MYSTERIOUS DEALINGS WITH HIM. 1. They were deeply mysterious. God permits his enemies to succeed. So God often deals with the world; in his Church; with individual Christians; and with his own son he did so deal. 2. See Daniel delivered and God's dealings explained. Consider the effects of this deliverance on Daniel; on the King; on the enemies of God; on the people and cause of God. Apt representation of God's universal providence — all things shall terminate as He wills, and shall glorify Him-in the world at large; in the Church. Individuals continually perceive the blessed results of their afflictions, trials, darkness, and fears. How truly this was shown in the Son of God, need hardly be observed. Let the timid, the undecided, or the inconsistent, go and study the character of Daniel. Let them confess their faith as he did. (F. Close, M.A.)
3. Daniel's special confidence in God. Not professed with his lips, but calmly and touchingly exhibited in his actions.
II. GOD'S MYSTERIOUS DEALINGS WITH HIM.
1. They were deeply mysterious. God permits his enemies to succeed. So God often deals with the world; in his Church; with individual Christians; and with his own son he did so deal.
2. See Daniel delivered and God's dealings explained. Consider the effects of this deliverance on Daniel; on the King; on the enemies of God; on the people and cause of God. Apt representation of God's universal providence — all things shall terminate as He wills, and shall glorify Him-in the world at large; in the Church. Individuals continually perceive the blessed results of their afflictions, trials, darkness, and fears. How truly this was shown in the Son of God, need hardly be observed. Let the timid, the undecided, or the inconsistent, go and study the character of Daniel. Let them confess their faith as he did.
(F. Close, M.A.)
1. Daniel does not go out of his way to show his determination to honour his God before his king. He simply persists quietly in a practice which he felt to be his duty. Come what would, he must honour God at any risk and st every cost.
2. Daniel prayed thrice a day. We might have expected prayer only at the morning and evening sacrifices. It has been objected that three times was a Parsee, not a Jewish custom. But see Psalm 55:17; and for mid-day prayer, see Acts 10:9.
Consulted together to establish a royal statute.
(Joseph A. Seiss, D.D.)
Therefore King Darius reigned the Writing and the Decree.faith. The true self cannot be touched with the mightiest of persecutors or the cruellest of inquisitors, — the true self which comes from God, and belongs to God, and witnesses for God, cannot be delivered to the tormentors. It defies captivity; it is indestructible and immortal.
"As for me, I will call upon God;
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud;
And he shall hear my voice."So Daniel went to his room three times a day: he trod that path so often that the grass could not grow upon it." He goes to pray as aforetime; and he has his windows open. Like Paul, in later days, he "knew whom he had believed"; like Moses, he "saw Him who is invisible." He knew whom he worshipped. There was no need to trace back the church records for years to find out whether this man had ever made a profession of religion. See him as he falls upon his knees. He is not careful to inquire whether there are any outsiders, or whether they can hear. There are men listening there near the open window: the hundred and twenty princes have taken good care of that.
Now when Daniel knew that the Writing was signed.
1. The royal meat, dishes, and wine-vessels, in the low opportunities of the flesh, tempting the senses to excess
2. The golden image set up on the plains of Dura, as the thousand-fold attractions of outward possession and prosperity, office and station sanction the lust of them.
3. The princely court and crown and ceremony of Babylon, over-riding common consciences, in the whole fascination and imposing influence of earthly power, invested with the highest advantages and brilliant paraphernalia of social distinction.
4. The decree of an idolatrous worship, in everything among us which goes to put man in place of God, man's opinions in place of Gospel truths, and human fancies for a revealed and justified faith. We need not use the hard names, which describe the extreme indulgences and servitudes of these four formidable passions; we need not say, gluttony, avarice, sycophancy, or infidelity. Let us choose moderate words, and try to put it home to ourselves fairly, just as it is. Look at the same four thus: sins of the appetites; sins of selfish accumulation; sins of inordinate desire for position; sins of religious laxity and negligence. These beset us all, with all the artful and boundless possibilities of growth, mastery, perdition of the soul. Over all these perilous tempters we are shown here one steadfast and victorious master — religious fidelity. It wears in this saintly prophet a peculiar charm. It is a fidelity intensified, yet without boasting or pretension, incorruptible without self-confidence, fixed without obstinancy, patient without pusillanimity, invincible in front of men and princes, but humble and docile as the pet of' the Lord. For a fidelity like this there is an involuntary and almost universal admiration among men that fall farthest short of it. So far the best sentiments of human nature second the requirements of our religion. Place a Daniel, an Elijah, a Gideon, or a Joshua before them, and they see, they confess the stamp of greatness on his spirit. So far the Bible and the soul answer to each other. The same divine hand that has wrought this feeling into the common human heart has woven traces of it into human history.The four successive steps which mark the birth and growth of each great cause, institution, or reformation among men, are these:
1. The great truth wakened m the mind of some man or men, in the form of an idea, and a faith by the Spirit from whom all good gifts come.
2. The jealous and the selfish opposition of worldly interest — the Pharaohs and Caesars and Herods, the Nebuchadnezzars and Belihazzars, the scribes and Pharisees, of Society, of the state, and even of the church — carrying on a determined warfare with the light.
3. The triumph of fidelity, brave and patient.
4. The general recognition and confession of the glory and beauty of the faithful life. Only let in time enough after a man sacrifices himself for a true principle, and the common testimony of men will honour him. More than that, it will not effectually and unanimously honour anything else on earth, but such fidelity. It is one of the most striking proofs that a righteous God really rules the earth, to see this constant reversal of human judgements going on — the humble exalted, and the rejected canonised. Recall the case of Bernard Palissy, a poor, but thinking and believing mechanic of France, thrown into the old Bastile, on St. Bartholomew's day, for his Protestanism. Charles the Ninth came to visit and threaten him in the prison, saying to him, "Palissy, I am forced to give you up to death, unless you renounce your religion." "Forced!" answered the triumphant prisoner; "they that force you, King Charles, cannot force me. I can die, and so I am free. But you and all your nation cannot compel me, simple potter as I am, to bend my knee to an idol, or a lie." Everybody knows whence the spirit in that man came, and everybody acknowledges its power. Men are heard to say, "There are terrible times coming." It may be so, we know nothing of the future. But prosperity is a harder test of fidelity to Christ than misfortune. But instead of looking out for dangers that shall imperil men's souls when worse days come, we should be wiser if we were looking for them just where we are. In business, in politics, in company, in families, in schools, the question will have to go forth once more like a dividing sword, "Who is on the Lord's side?" Many persons are now pleading for mild and liberal exhibitions of Christian conviction. The greater truth is, we are all servants answerable only for doing declared duties, for confessing Christ before men, and seeking not our own glory, and being found faithful unto death. Ours is not to order results, but to do duties. The prophet stands in just this trial-place of his holy independence The special peril of this sort of character, is that it becomes conscious of its strength, proud of its independence, and before it is aware, substitutes the human heroism of self-reliance for the holy fidelity of Christ's self-sacrifice. How many high examples of Christian courage have fallen by that cunning temptation — the humility of the cross vanished! See in Daniel the graceful freedom from that ostentation of conceited and opinionated firmness. Christian fidelity is as meekly dependent on God as it is fearless of his enemies.
(Bishop Huntington, D.D.)
I. HIS PIETY. It was not mere profession. It was in the heart, real, deep, and vital. He had brought his religion into Babylon, and it grew and flourished in that most unfavourable climate. It was tried — and tried severely, and it is only by trials such as those which Daniel endured, that a man's religion is proved to be sincere. He was so devoted, and so holy and excellent a character, because he was a man of prayer. The remarkable thing about his piety is, that it made him a thoroughly consistent character.
II. HIS PERSECUTION. Though he was a good man, he had many enemies. A man may be hated and persecuted, merely because he is religious.
III. HIS UNCOMPROMISING DECISION. He had never yet swerved from the path of duty — that duty which he owed to God, all the time that he had been at Babylon. If lie had yielded, or seemed to yield, by not praying, as he did before, what would his enemies have said of him? Doubtless, that his principles were not worth much, his religion was no better than that of others. What then does he do? Precisely what he did before.
IV. THE BOLDNESS OF DANIEL ARISING FROM HIS CONFIDENCE IN GOD. He looked at the lion's den, and was not afraid of it. He knew that God could be with him there. O this cold, calculating prudence, this worldly forethought! It thinks only of the present. Let it not enter — never let it be once harboured in your breasts. Act with decision, act with uncompromising boldness: do your duty at all times, and under all circumstances, and leave results to God.
V. HIS WONDERFUL DELIVERANCE. The king did all he could to save his servant; and was delighted when he found Daniel's God had proved able to protect him. Adhere then to your principles, at all times and under all circumstances; adhere to those principles that will answer conscience, and practise them at all times, and under all circumstances, and then God will give you his blessing.
1. The encouragement this narrative affords us to make a faithful and becoming stand for the truth, and, 2, against any encroachment upon its sacred boundaries. It will be necessary
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (C. Marshall, M. A.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (C. Marshall, M. A.)
(3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (C. Marshall, M. A.)
(C. Marshall, M. A.)
(C. Marshall, M. A.)
I. DANIEL'S CHARACTER. It may be almost doubted if any one in the Old Testament of whom we learn as much was so entirely free from faults and sins. No one can doubt for a moment that Daniel was subject to the infirmities which mark our poor human nature; but the blemishes are not recorded. The character of Daniel appears all the more beautiful if we consider where and when the owner is supposed to have lived. In an Eastern Court. Learn,
1. This man is a marvellous example to us all. His pure life is a proof that God can keep his people in all positions.
2. This man's good life in high office shows that faithfulness to God is quite consistent with the faithful discharge of proper duties in the highest office. Daniel did not neglect religious duties, yet he did not neglect his duty to his King.
3. This man's conduct teaches us that our first duty is to conscience and God. Here is a man who cares more for God than for his own ease, comfort, and safety. This was the spirit of the martyrs.
II. DANIEL'S TRIALS. His were real. And yet he does not seem to have felt them much. Some of the holiest and best men have had crosses to bear. All the saints of God, ancient and modern, have had them.
III. DANIEL'S CONDUCT UNDER TRIAL. He kept silence while the plot was being hatched. He did exactly what he was accustomed to do when the decree was signed.
IV. DANIEL'S DELIVERANCE. It was as complete and glorious as were his obedience and faith. The deliverance is a remarkable illustration of the power of faith and prayer. More things are wrought by prayer than some men think. Do not lose your belief in a God who hears and answers prayer.
(Charles Leach, D.D.)
I. THIS CASE TEACHES YOU THAT GOD SOMETIMES ALLOWS HIS PEOPLE TO BE PLACED IN SITUATIONS IN WHICH THEY ARE SHUT UP BY HIS PROVIDENCE EITHER TO SUFFER OR TO SIN.
II. LEARN FROM DANIEL TO POSSESS YOUR SOUL IN PATIENCE AND PRUDENCE IN THE DAYS OF SEVERE TRIAL. Daniel adds nothing, by way of insult, to his persecutors, nor of defiance toward his sovereign, nor yet does he omit any thing from fear of danger. He worships God just as he had been accustomed to do. It is sometimes said Daniel did wrong in disobeying a law which had been passed by the highest legislative power in the country. First, I have no sympathy with the "higher law" faction of our times; but it is certainly clear that the foundation of all law is the will of God. Governments are ordained of God. The will of God is aback of and above all social compacts or civil enactments. Secondly, as all the authority which man possesses over man is derived from God, so that authority is limited by the Divine law, and therefore the laws of man only bind when they are not inconsistent with the law of God. The moment any decrees of man require what God has forbidden, or forbid what God has commanded, they cease to be binding upon the conscience, and in such cases it is our solemn duty to protest against them, and to disobey them. Resistance and passive obedience may be pressed to a point when they become sinful. The edict of Darius, thirdly, was tyrannical, and opposed to the plainest commands of God. It would have been, therefore, sinful in Daniel to obey it.
III. Learn then, young men, THE DUTY OF SURRENDERING YOURSELVES AT ONCE CORDIALLY AND WITH A WHOLE-HEARTED MAGNANIMITY TO THE SERVICE OF GOD. Daniel kept back nothing. He did not waver or hesitate. But as soon as his hour of prayer comes, though he knows the decree is signed, he goes to his chamber, there to offer his protest against this impious decree, and to give his testimony for the supremacy of his God. Why do you peril your life, Daniel, for a mere form? why will you make yourself a martyr for the little matters of keeping your windows open, kneeling down, and speaking your prayers aloud? Surely, you are not going to sacrifice your splendid emoluments and high station by refusing to obey the king for the short space of thirty days. Consider too, O mighty man! chief of the presidents, how valuable your life is to others. Consider how much you owe to your countrymen, whose cause is in your hands, and to the Church of the Living God. Surely, you will not put in peril all these great matters by such obstinacy. How many, or which, or whether any of these pleas were suggested to Daniel, I know not. There are always plausible apologies at hand for treachery to the immortal soul, and treason to God; but no one can doubt how Daniel replied to such cowardly proposals, if indeed any one ventured to name them to him. I would rather refrain from praying altogether, than pretend to neglect it while I was secretly engaged in it.
(W. A. Scott, D. D.)
Homilist.The character of Daniel is a very noble one. His princely spirit shone in his captivity. He was one of those noble natures that no circumstances can keep from rising to the proper level
I. HIS UNIMPEACHABLE INTEGRITY. Not even his most virulent enemies could find occasion against him or detect a flaw.
II. HIS UNFAILING FIDELITY.
III. HIS UNFLINCHING COURAGE. He served his God without ostentation on the one hand or concealment on the other.
IV. HIS HABITUAL PIETY. He was not hardened by his captivity nor exalted by his honour.
V. HIS CHILDLIKE FAITH. He never distrusted his Lord's purposes, plans or power.
I. FAITH. This was the life of his life.
1. His faith was an early possession. As a youth he believed in right, and in the Invisible God of right. It was this principle that was the moulding force in his boyhood's character, conquering all that was adverse to him in the temptations of his masters, or the example of his companions, and compelling the admiration and trust of those who could not understand the secret spring of his conduct.
2. His faith was cherished in adverse circumstances. Not only was there the temptation to paganism, and materialism, and animalism which Babylonish life cast like so many meshes about the young captive, but there was the deprivation of all the ordinary outward aids to religious faith. No temple, no ceremonial, no sacrifice came to his aid. He had solely to depend on the personal but, thank God, inalienable "means of grace," of private prayer.
3. His faith discovered in him a glorious future. He had visions of the colossal dynasties of men falling under the blessed dominion of the Son of Man.
4. His faith realised the Invisible Present. True faith ever does that, even though it cannot always descry the future. His faith saw God, Duty, Conscience. And so, whilst it was, in its visions of the future, "the substance of things hoped for," it was, in its perception of the present, "the evidence of things not seen." He was marked by, —
II. HUMILITY. He does not talk of his faith; he simply and, as in the act before us, with all the simplicity of naturalness, manifests it. Dr. Pusey strikingly calls attention to this reserve of Daniel "Chief statesman of the first empire in the world, he has not recorded one single voluntary act of his own." Notice,
1. The signs of his humility. He says little of himself or his exploits; his book tells much more of what befell him than of what he did.
2. The producing cause of this humility. It was doubtless his faith, his vision of the unseen present and the unseen future, that hushed and awed and humbled him. Just as grandeur of scenery hushes all thoughtful men, making them feel nothing amid its immensities so the scenery of the invisible world and the sight of the Invisible God abashes all pride, and quickens, in Daniel as in Isaiah, the spirit that cries, "Woe is me: I have seen the Lord of Hosts." Unbelief may be proud, half belief may be conceited, thorough belief is ever reverent and lowly.
III. CONSTANCY. The very name of Daniel has come to be a synonym for resolution and endurance. And deservedly, for his faith enabled him to be firm.1. In spite of subtle temptation. The great ordeal of his life was much more searching than that which came to the three Hebrew youths. They were challenged to open idolatory; and they nobly refused, choosing rather the "burning fiery furnace." Daniel was invited simply to neglect prayer to the true God. He was constant,
2. In spite of protracted trial. There were repeated efforts on the part of the envious and the malign. There was a long-continued captivity. He taught, and he worked, even as he prayed, at the end just "as he did aforetime." He was marked by —
IV. COURAGE. This is involved in constancy, and yet is so conspicuous that it commands separate notice. Evidenced by
1. His openness.
2. His dignity.
3. His calmness. The spirit of the worked towards the godly remains unchanged.
(U. R. Thomas.)
1. In order to succeed in life a man must possess decision of character. Sir Fowell Buxton says, "The longer I live the more I am certain that the great difference between men, between the feeble and the powerful, the great and the insignificant, is energy, invincible determination, a purpose once fixed, and then death or victory." The reason why so many men fail in life is want of purpose. They start for a certain goal, and then allow themselves to be diverted from their purpose.
2. Success begets jealousy. Daniel's excellent spirit was a crime in the eyes of the other officials. Scripture says, "Jealousy is the rage of a man." "Substitute for jealousy an everlasting emulation. Seeing others good let us try to be better. Seeing others industrious, let us work more hours. Seeing others benevolent, let us resolve on giving a larger percentage of our means for charity."
3. Learn how to meet trouble. When trouble came, what did Daniel do? He went into his house and prayed. He placed the matter before the Most High. How differently men act when in trouble! The real man does what Daniel did. "There is only one explanation of the mystery of sorrow possible, and that is, that life' is an education." Then learn from each trial.
4. Sin always brings punishment. "It is a terrible thing to have done evil. It comes up again from ten thousand points." Look at the brethren of Joseph after thirteen years. Life is uncertain, and the unexpected often happens. Do not lose everlasting happiness for any earthly consideration. Look at the end — keep your eyes on the unfading crown, and then sin will lose its attraction.
(Ernest R. Gill.)
1. First and foremost of those windowed outlooks with which God has so graciously endowed us, is that of FAITH. The prophet said he "saw visions of God," and if he did, it must have been through this window of faith, because through it eternal realities become as though they were present. Other windows may become closed or dim; the more reason why we should keep steady and bright this blessed outlook of faith into things spiritual and eternal.
2. There is another window through which the soul may look out upon the ideal and the fair; and that is the window of HOPE. The natural attitude of the human soul is an expectant one. Hope is an important element in the Christian life. Life will go merrily on under the power of a sunbeam on a distant spot in the path. Through the window of hope we see the breaking of a golden dawn upon the distant prospect; the narrow chamber of earthy circumstances gives place to sweeter possibilities, which may become present realities under the transforming influence of Christian hope.
3. Then there is the window of MEMORY. It may be that Daniel was not unmindful of this outlook into past scenes and associations. To be often at the window of memory keeps the heart young amid the ageing and withering influences of the present.
I. First, let me invite your attention to DANIEL'S HABITUAL DEVOTION: it is worthy of our study. We might never have known of it if he had not been so sorely tried, but fire reveals the hidden gold. Daniel's habitual devotion. We are told that aforetime, before the trial, he had been in the constant habit of prayer. He prayed much. There are some forms of spiritual life which are not absolutely essential, but prayer is of the very essence of spirituality. He that hath no prayer lacks the very breath of the life of God in the soul. Daniel always had subjects for prayer and reasons for prayer. He prayed for himself that in his eminent position he might not be uplifted with pride, might not be taken in the snares of those who envied him, might not be permitted to fall into the usual oppressions and dishonesties of Eastern rulers. He prayed for his people. He saw many of the house of Judah who were not in such prosperous circumstances as himself. He remembered those who were in bonds, as being bound with them. He pleaded, for the return from the captivity, which he knew was ordained of his God. He prayed for the glory of his God, that the days might come when the idols should be utterly abolished, and when the whole earth should know that Jehovah ruleth in heaven, and among the sons of men. We read next, that with all his prayers he mingled thanksgiving. Do observe it, for so many forget this, "He prayed and gave thanks to God." Surely, it is poor devotion which is always asking and never returning its gratitude! Am I to live upon the bounty of God, and never to thank him for what I receive? Good Daniel had learned to praise as well as to pray, and to offer to God that sweet incense which was made of divers spices, of earnest desires and longings mingled with thanksgivings and adorations. It is worthy of notice that the text says, Daniel prayed and gave thanks "before his God." This enters into the very soul of prayer — this getting before God. I shall not care if you do not use a single word, if you feel the majesty of God to be so overwhelming that words are out of place; and silence becomes far more expressive when you bow with sobs and tears, and groanings that cannot be uttered. That little word "his" I must not let slip, however. He prayed and gave thanks before his God. He spake not to God merely as God who might belong to any man and every man, but unto his God, whom he had espoused by a solemn determination. "His God." Why, it seems to me to bring up that word "covenant" — his "covenant God," as though he had entered into covenant with God according to the language of the Most High, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Yes, here lies power in prayer, when a man can talk with God as his covenant God. Some other particulars in the text are not quite so important, nevertheless, observe that he prayed three times a day. That does not tell you how often he prayed, but how often he was in the posture of prayer. Doubtless he prayed three hundred times a day if necessary — his heart was always having commerce with the skies; but thrice a day he prayed formally. It has been well said that we usually take three meals in the day, and that it is well to give the soul as many meals as the body. We want the morning's guidance, we need the eventide's forgiveness, do we not also require the noontide's refreshment? If you find from morn till eve too long an interval between prayer, put in another golden link at mid-day. Notice, also, the posture. That, also, is of little consequence, since we read in Scripture of men who prayed on the bed, with their face to the wall. We read of David sitting before the Lord. How very common and acceptable a posture was that of standing before God in prayer! Yet there is a peculiar appropriateness, especially in private prayer, in the posture of kneeling. It seems to say, "I cannot stand upright before Thy majesty; I am a beggar, and I put myself in the position of a beggar; I sue of Thee, great God, on bended knee, in the posture of one who owns that he deserves nothing, but humbles himself before Thy gracious majesty." One more observation. We are told that Daniel kneeled upon his knees with his windows open towards Jerusalem. This was not done with any view to publicity. It may be that nobody could see him, even when his window was open, except the servants in the court. I suppose the house to have been erected as most Eastern houses were, with an open square in the centre! and though he would be looking towards Jerusalem, the windows would be looking into the court, where he could only be observed by those who were residents in the house or visitors on business. Probably his fellow counsellors knew the hour which he usually set apart for devotion, and therefore called in so as to find him in the act. The window being open towards Jerusalem may have been suggested by the prayer of Solomon, when he asked that if the Lord's people were banished at any time, when they sought the Lord with their faces towards that holy place, God would hear them. It may have helped him also to recollect that dear city towards which every Jew's heart turns with affection, even as the needle trembles towards its pole. The thought of its ruin assisted his earnestness, the recollection of its sin humbled him, and the promises concerning it comforted him. He turned towards Jerusalem. And what does this say to us? It tells us that we ought to take care when we pray, to have our window open towards Calvary.
II. We must now turn to a second consideration, DANIEL'S ACTION UNDER TRIAL. There is nothing that kings and queens are much fonder of than meddling with religion. Though the Prussian king tried to make a number of watches all tick together, and could not do it, yet notwithstanding the experiment and its failure, there are always evil counsellors who would force mens' consciences to keep stroke. Folly is in the throne when monarchs patronise or oppress religion. Caesar always muddles when he meddles with the things of God. When this act of uniformity was passed, several course, were open to Daniel. He might, for instance, have said, "This does not answer my purpose. I have a high position in society. I am chief president over all these dominions, and though I am willing to suffer something for my religion, yet gold may be bought too dear, and therefore I shall cease to pray." He might have found many precedents and many companions. What crowds, when it has come to a question between life and truth, between honour and Christ, have made the evil choice and perished infamously? Daniel does not seem to have raised that question. Yet he might have said, "Well, well, we must be prudent; God must be worshipped certainly, but there is no particular reason for my worshipping Him in my usual room, nor even in the city where I live; I can retire in the evening, or find some more secret spot in my own house, and especially there is no occasion to open the window. I can pray with the window shut, and I shall be just as acceptable before God. I think, therefore, I shall keep my conscience clear, but not obtrude my religion in these evil days." Daniel did not so reason; he was a lion-like man, and scorned to lower his standard in the presence of the foe. He would not seek the secrecy which prudence might have suggested. Still, it might have suggested to him that he could pray inwardly. Prayers without words are just as acceptable to God; could not he do this? He felt he could not, inasmuch as the decree was not inward, and the king's opposition to religion was not inward. He did not believe in opposing outward falsehood by an inward truth. Observe with care what Daniel did. He made up his mind to act as he had done aforetime. Note how quietly he acted. He did not say to any of his enemies, "I mean to carry out my convictions." Not at all; he knew that talk was lost upon them, so he resorted to actions instead of words. Note again, how he acted unhesitatingly — immediately! He did not pause; he did not ask for time to consider what he should do. In matters of perilous duty, our first thoughts are best. When there is anything to be lost by religion, follow out the first thought of conscience, namely, "Do the right." Who needs to question where duty points the way? Where God commands, there is no room for reason to raise cavils. It is never right to do a little wrong to obtain the greatest possible good. You will observe also, that Daniel did not act under excitement, but with a full knowledge of the result. The record expressly hath it — "When Daniel knew that the writing was signed." Many people will do right in a hurry, and under strong excitement will go further than they would have done in cold blood; but Daniel, probably shut out from the council by some crafty device of the counsellors, no sooner heard that the statute stood good than, without parley, his resolution was formed, and his mind made up. I like that word, and most go back to it again "as he had done aforetime." Here he makes no alteration; he takes not the slightest possible notice of the king's decree. If you have worshipped God under the smile of your Christian friends, worship him under the frown of the ungodly. If you have, as a tradesman, pursued a course of honest action in more prosperous times, do not for God's sake, for Christ's sake, tamper with that honest course because the times have changed.
III. Let us turn to the third point, with which we conclude, THE SECRET SUPPORT OF DANIEL. There was something in the man which gave him this backbone; there was a secret something which made him so magnanimous. What was it? It resulted from several things. It sprang from the fact that Daniel's religion was not the offspring of passion, but of deep-seated principle. You will notice that, after this long drought which we have had the flowers in our gardens are drooping much, but the forest trees are as verdant as if showers had been failing every day in the week. Is not this because they strike their roots deeper in the soil, and suck nourishment from provision which is not exhausted by the heat of the sun? So there are some men whose religion is like the flower which lives upon the surface — they soon dry up when the sun of persecution burns; but there are others who, like the forest trees, send down their roots into the deep soil of principle, who know what they know, have learned thoroughly what they have learned, and hold fast what they have received, and these, in the time of trial, are sustained by springs of secret grace, and their leaf is not withered. Because the Holy Ghost has inwrought into Daniel's spirit the principles of faith, he was sustained in the time of trial; but I doubt not that Daniel was also supported by what he had read of the works of God in the olden times. Besides, the prophet's spirit was sustained by what he had himself seen. He had been brought in close contact with the three holy children who were brought before Nebuchadnezzar. His own experience helped to strengthen him. He had this conviction, that God could deliver him, and that if God did not deliver him, yet still such was his love to the God of Israel that he would be content to give himself to die. It is blessed to have such a confidence as this. You good people who are tried, and who may expect to be tried yet more, you will never stand unless you come to this: "God can deliver me; but if he does not deliver me, still I am well content to be a sacrifice for Jesus' sake." Daniel failed not, because his love to his God rested deep in his inmost heart: it had become part and parcel of himself, and, sustained by the two hands of love and faith, he was graciously upborne over the rough and thorny places. Remember that Daniel is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus had enemies who sought to destroy him; they could find nothing against him except, "touching his God." They accused him of blasphemy, and then afterwards, as they did Daniel, they brought a charge of sedition. He was cast into the den, into the grave: his soul was among the lions. Now, if Daniel is a type of Christ, and the Lord Jesus is the great representative Man for all who are in him, you, believer, must expect, that there will be those who will attack you, who will assail you especially in your religion.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
I. Our first point will be that DANIEL'S PRAYERFULNESS WAS THE SECRET OF HIS POWER. Daniel was always a man of prayer. If you saw him great before the people, the reason was because he was great before his God. He knew how to lay hold of divine strength, and he became strong. He knew how to study divine wisdom, and he became wise. We are told that he went to his house to pray. This showed that he made a business of prayer, and finding it neither convenient to his circumstances nor congenial to his mind to pray in the midst of idolaters, he had chosen to set apart a chamber in his own house for prayer. It is well to have, if we can have, a little room, no matter how humble, where we can shut to the door, and pray to our Father who is in heaven, who will hear and answer. He was in the habit of praying thus three times a day. Perhaps he thought that this was prudent economy, for, if he had so much to do, he must pray the more; as Martin Luther said, "I have got so much to do to-day that I cannot possibly get through it with less than three hours of prayer." So, perhaps, Daniel felt that the extraordinary pressure of his engagements demanded a proportionate measure of prayer to enable him to accomplish the weighty matter he had on hand. A singularity in his manner is noticeable here. He had been in the habit of praying with his windows open towards Jerusalem. Thus openly did he ignore the decree! With such a royal courage did he lift his heart above the fear of man, and raise the conscience above the suspicion of compromise. He loved Jerusalem, and his prayers were for it. Hence he looked that way in his prayer. And I think also he had an eye on the altar. We worship with our eye to Christ. Oh, for Daniel's prayerful spirit!
II. We pass on to DANIEL'S DIFFICULTIES, OR THE PRIVILEGES OF PRAYER. Daniel had always been a man of prayer; but now there is a law passed that he must not pray for thirty days, for a whole calendar month. I think I see Daniel as he reads the writing. Not proud and haughty in his demeanour, for, as a man used to govern, it was not likely that he would needlessly rebel; but as he read it, he must have felt a blush upon his cheek for the foolish king who had become the blind dupe of the wily courtiers who had framed a decree so monstrous. Only one course was open to him. He knew what he meant to do; he should do what he always had done. Still let us face the difficulty with a touch of sympathy. He must not pray. Suppose we were under a like restriction. Why, some people will say, "I will give it up." Ah, and there are some who would boastfully say, "I will not give it up," whose bold resolve would soon falter, for a lions' den is not a comfortable place. Many thought they could burn in Queen Mary's days that did not dare to confront the fire. Now it is a great privilege that we enjoy civil and religious liberty in our favoured land; that we are not under such cruel laws, as in other times or in other countries laid restrictions upon conscience; and that we may pray, according to the conviction of our judgment and the desire of our heart.
III. Having thus dwelt upon Daniel's difficulty, I now want to draw your attention to DANIEL'S DECISION. The king says he must not pray. Daniel did not deliberate for a single minute. When we know our duty, first thoughts are the best. I greatly admire one feature in Daniel's decision. He did not alter his accustomed habit in any single particular. Without disguise and without parade he pursued the even tenor of his way. He does not appear to have taken council of his friends, or to have summoned his servants, and charged them not to let any intruder come in. Neither did he adopt any measure to escape his enemies. Not one jot of anxiety did he betray. His faith was steadfast, his composure unruffled, his conduct simple and artless. Doubtless Daniel felt that he was the greatest man in Persia, if he, a worshipper of Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, failed in any degree, he would set a bad example to others, and greatly discourage any poor Jew who might have grace enough to stand out, provided his example led the way. Persons who occupy high positions should know that God expects more of them than of other people. It might be asked, perhaps, "Should not Daniel obey the king?" Certainly kings' laws are to be respected; but any law of man that infringes the law of God is, ipso facto, null and void at once. It is the duty of every citizen to disregard every law of earth which is contrary to the law of heaven. So Daniel felt that the risk of being put into a den with lions was nothing to the risk of being put into hell, and he chose the smaller risk, and in the name of God he went straight on. Look at John Bunyan when they bring him up before the magistrates and tell him he must not preach! "But I will preach," said he, "I will preach to-morrow by the help of God." "But you will be put in prison again." Never mind, I will preach as soon as I get out." "But you will be hanged, or kept m prison all your life." "If I lie in prison," said he, "till the moss grows upon my eyelids, I can say nothing more than this, that with God's help, I will preach whenever I get a chance." Do not tell me that these are non-essentials. To men who will follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, even the opening or the shutting of a window, if need be, is essential. Be jealous over what are called "trifles." They may be mere straws, but they show which way the wind blows.
IV. Our last point is DANIEL'S DELIVERANCE. With that we will conclude. The evil that threatened Daniel did come. He was to be put into a lions' den, and into a lions' den he was put. So, young man, you say, "I will not do wrong." You hope to escape unscathed. Yet it may be that you will be discarded by your friends, and discountenanced by your associates. Expect it, go through it. If you are a tradesman, and by saying you will not submit to an evil custom of the trade you will become a loser, be willing to be a loser; expect that the lions' den will be there, and that you will be put into it. Daniel came there, but there was not a scratch upon him when he came out of it. What a splendid night, he must have spent with those lions! I do not wonder that in after days he saw visions of lions and wild beasts; it seems most natural that it should; and he must have been fitted by that night passed among these grim monsters to see grand sights. Daniel had a smooth time of it afterwards. The counsellors never troubled him again; the lions had taken care of them. There would be no more plotting against him. Now, believe me, to be decided for the right is not only the right thing but the easiest thing. It is wise policy as well as true probity. If you will not yield an inch, then somebody else must move out of the way. If you cannot comply with their proposals, then other people will have to rescind their resolutions. So you will find that, if you suffer, and perhaps suffer severely at first, for decision of character, you will get speedy recompense for all you endure, and a grand immunity in the future. There will be an end to the indignities that are offered you. Give the world an inch, and it will take many an ell. Be resolved, therefore, that no inch you will give, that to the lions' den you would sooner go than there should be equivocation, prevarication, or anything approaching to falsehood.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(1) (2) (3) (4) I. THE ROOTINGS OF CHARACTER. Stability and vigour depend on rooting. The character of Daniel threw down two chief rootings of principle. It held fast by and fed itself on this: — 1. A noble life must be ruled by something better than world-maxims; but to live by them is like trying to make a boat lie still on the heaving sea. 2. No shame, only strength and honour, can ever come by cleaving to God. It is sad and strange that ever young folk should think that shame can attach to a life of faith and prayer. Illustrate by contrasting the tree roots twining only about themselves, or clasping firmly the rich and fertile soil. II. THE BRANCHINGS OF CHARACTER. The manifestations of it in the duties and responsibilities of life. Character well rooted, shows, above the soil, moral strictness, trustworthiness, judgment, truth. Illustrate Daniel's power of decision, and also Joseph's. Show the relation of decision, as an element of character, to the act of decision in religion. III. THE FLOWERING OF CHARACTER, or the lighter manifestations of it in the intercourse and relationships of life. Hanging on the branches are such things as peace, joy, purity, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, all the graces of the spirit. Daniel's character then was rightly founded. His decision for God involved a God-fearing, prayer-loving life. Look in at that opened window of Daniel's house, and see how Godly character was nourished. There we find the secret of strength for the overcoming of all temptation. Daniel believed in God, and sought him. (Robert Tuck, B.A.)
(2) (3) (4) I. THE ROOTINGS OF CHARACTER. Stability and vigour depend on rooting. The character of Daniel threw down two chief rootings of principle. It held fast by and fed itself on this: — 1. A noble life must be ruled by something better than world-maxims; but to live by them is like trying to make a boat lie still on the heaving sea. 2. No shame, only strength and honour, can ever come by cleaving to God. It is sad and strange that ever young folk should think that shame can attach to a life of faith and prayer. Illustrate by contrasting the tree roots twining only about themselves, or clasping firmly the rich and fertile soil. II. THE BRANCHINGS OF CHARACTER. The manifestations of it in the duties and responsibilities of life. Character well rooted, shows, above the soil, moral strictness, trustworthiness, judgment, truth. Illustrate Daniel's power of decision, and also Joseph's. Show the relation of decision, as an element of character, to the act of decision in religion. III. THE FLOWERING OF CHARACTER, or the lighter manifestations of it in the intercourse and relationships of life. Hanging on the branches are such things as peace, joy, purity, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, all the graces of the spirit. Daniel's character then was rightly founded. His decision for God involved a God-fearing, prayer-loving life. Look in at that opened window of Daniel's house, and see how Godly character was nourished. There we find the secret of strength for the overcoming of all temptation. Daniel believed in God, and sought him. (Robert Tuck, B.A.)
(3) (4) I. THE ROOTINGS OF CHARACTER. Stability and vigour depend on rooting. The character of Daniel threw down two chief rootings of principle. It held fast by and fed itself on this: — 1. A noble life must be ruled by something better than world-maxims; but to live by them is like trying to make a boat lie still on the heaving sea. 2. No shame, only strength and honour, can ever come by cleaving to God. It is sad and strange that ever young folk should think that shame can attach to a life of faith and prayer. Illustrate by contrasting the tree roots twining only about themselves, or clasping firmly the rich and fertile soil. II. THE BRANCHINGS OF CHARACTER. The manifestations of it in the duties and responsibilities of life. Character well rooted, shows, above the soil, moral strictness, trustworthiness, judgment, truth. Illustrate Daniel's power of decision, and also Joseph's. Show the relation of decision, as an element of character, to the act of decision in religion. III. THE FLOWERING OF CHARACTER, or the lighter manifestations of it in the intercourse and relationships of life. Hanging on the branches are such things as peace, joy, purity, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, all the graces of the spirit. Daniel's character then was rightly founded. His decision for God involved a God-fearing, prayer-loving life. Look in at that opened window of Daniel's house, and see how Godly character was nourished. There we find the secret of strength for the overcoming of all temptation. Daniel believed in God, and sought him. (Robert Tuck, B.A.)
(Robert Tuck, B.A.)
(Robert Tuck, B.A.)
(A. H. Thomas, M.A.)
I. MAKE GOOD PRAYER-HABITS. It is of the first importance that these should be formed early in life; and you may well be reminded of the duty that lies on all parents, school teachers, and often nurses, in regard to the shaping of early prayer-habits. When life has become fixed, relations are settled, and habits are formed, it is hard indeed to get new shapings and fittings when the duty of daily prayer is brought home to us. Those parents do an unspeakable good for their children, who, from the dawn of intelligence, make prayer as essential as daily bread. Prayer habits should be formed carefully, with due estimate of our circumstances, and relations, and opportunities. And our prayer-habits should, include all the kinds of prayer which make up this Christian duty. There are proper habits of confession, of thanksgiving, of petition, and above all, of intercession; and they will never come to any man as an accident; they are the blessed fruitage of thought, and strife, and care.
II. WHEN YOU HAVE MADE GOOD PRAYER-HABITS, YOU MUST KEEP THEM. It is only necessary to state this very important addition, and to say: Beware of slight negligences and failures. There is nothing in our life which we need to maintain so resolutely. Let Daniel show you that quietly, simply, unostentatiously, you should persist in praying just when, and where, and how, you have arranged to pray.
(Robert Tuck, B.A.)
1. That Daniel was chargeable with rebellion, because knowingly, and avowedly he violated a law which had been passed by the highest legislative power in the country. We reply that God is the supreme lawgiver, that all the authority which man possesses over man, is derived from God, and limited by the divine law, and therefore the laws of man only bind when they are not inconsistent with the law of God. The moment they command what God has forbidden, or forbid what God has commanded, they cease to be obligatory upon conscience, and in such cases, so far from being sinful to disobey them, to do so is a solemn duty. The edict of Darius, being palpably opposed to the plainest commands of God, Daniel, in refusing to serve such a law, only acted the part which was incumbent on every loyal subject of the Most High.
2. It may be said, that Daniel might have prayed unto God in the heart, in despite of his enemies, and God would have heard him. Or, if he wished to pray unto him with the lips, he ought to have retired into some secret place; or at least, if he prayed in his own chamber, he should have allowed the windows to remain closed during these thirty days. Was it not, therefore, sinful in him to pray so ostentatiously as he did? Was not this unnecessarily to expose his life to danger? Was it not to forget that God is a spirit, and to place too much dependence upon that bodily service which profiteth little? We remark that, while the Scriptures assert that bodily service profiteth little, they nowhere assert that it profiteth nothing. There are occasions, when bodily exercise profiteth much, in which it is even a better test of a person's devotedness to God, than the inward frame of his mind. When God calls upon us to believe with the heart unto righteousness, no outward action, such as fasting, or praying with an audible voice, or the giving of our goods to feed the poor, or even the giving of our bodies to be burned, will be accepted by him as a substitute for faith. On the contrary, when God in his providence calls upon us to make confession of him before men, no inward frame of spirit, neither faith, nor love, nor self denial, nor heavenliness of mind, will be accepted by him as a substitute for our open and visible adherence to the cause of his truth, and of his glory. In a time of trial, a testing-time, it is not the reward feeling of loyalty to God, it is the outward manifestation of this; it is not the image of God in the heart, it is his "name on the forehead," which proves an individual to belong to the "called, and chosen, and faithful." Apply these remarks to the case in hand. Praying to God in the spirit was not prohibited, but only such prayer as came under the observation of men. Persons were not interdicted from believing in God, but only from rendering to him .the outward acts of homage that were due unto his name. The point, therefore, on which the authority of God and man came into collision, was about the external acts of Divine worship. God had said "In all thy ways acknowledge thou me, and I will direct thy steps." Darius and his nobles, on the other hand, said, thou shalt not ask a petition of God for thirty days. In the present instance, therefore, loyalty to God could not be evidenced by what was inward, but only by what was outward, not by believing with the heart, but by confessing with the lips. The attitude of Daniel's body while praying, nay, the position of the windows of his chamber, was as important in the sight of God as the inward devotion of his soul. If he had shut his windows, if he had ceased to kneel, if he had ceased to speak to God with his lips, and rested content with the utterances of the heart, this would have been to homologate (approve, give assent to) the impious decree, and to deny God before men. That edict invaded the rights of Jehovah, not by prohibiting them from worshipping him in their hearts, but by forbidding them to worship him with their bodies. Bodily-service was therefore the only evidence of heart-loyalty to God, and worship that was purely spiritual would have been looked upon as the homage of a coward and a traitor — of a man who wished to serve two masters. Considering the weight of Daniel's character, and the importance of his situation, it will appear that a peculiar responsibility attached to his conduct in this emergency. Any indecision, any appearance of compliance with the decree, would have been productive of most baneful consequences. We may learn, from the passage before us, that God sometimes places his people in such situations that they must either sin or suffer. Learn also, that when God, in his providence, couples our performance of any duty, with circumstances of trial, the discharge of the duty thus circumstanced, is the test of our fidelity. And we may learn, that even when the performance of duty exposes to danger our adherence unto God should be open and avowed.
I. DANIEL AS A MAN OF PRAYER. It was his characteristic feature. How regular and stedfast he was in private prayer. He was willing to suffer, but he would not give up his prayer. What a strength for toil and duty he found it ever to be! Note his example of praying in the very midst of daily business.
II. DANIEL AS AN INTERCESSOR. So a type of Christ. He took up his nation's burden on himself; made himself a representative, and pleaded with God on the nation's behalf. In the same way good people now take upon their own hearts the troubles and sins of their times, and speak to God just what the people around them ought to be feeling and saying. Illustrate by the work of the High Priest, and of Jesus, our Great High Priest. Without being appointed to the office, each one of us may become an intercessor.
III. DANIEL AS A CONFESSOR. Or as one who gives an example of making confession. This is the sign of penitence and humility. Only when men have learned thus the lessons of God's judgments can his restorations come. How full, sincere, and hearty are Daniel's confessions! Observe that in our Lord's prayers, or conversations, there is no sign of confession. Explain why, and why confession is such a necessary part of our prayer.
IV. DANIEL AS A PLEADER. Especially dwell upon his example of importunity, as illustrating our Lord's parable of the unjust judge. The pleading is to be found in verses 18, 19 shows how graciously God hears and answers such prayers as Daniel's.
(Robert Tuck, B.A.)
1. He sought to place himself in the presence of God. To look away towards Jerusalem was to be delivered from servitude to the splendours of Babylon by the apprehension of a greater splendour. We need to remember the disadvantages with which we commonly start in our prayer; how disinclined our spirits are, and how ill the common circumstances of life prepare us for it. Our tempers have have been fretted, our interests scattered, our judgments debarred; we have been meeting men on a low level of mutual mistrust, or in the interchange of social frivolities. And all of this has to be got rid of before prayer can have its perfect work. The larger soul in us must be called out, that we may even see what the objects of prayer may be. There are prayers offered which, without intention, exhibit every possible fault. They are irrelevant to the situation, asking what is not needed, and omitting what is needed; they are fretful instead of jubilant; their tone is distrustful, as if God were trying to outwit us. And nothing can sweep such prayers away except the noble use of memory. How can you thank God if you have not sought to remember all His benefits? What could Daniel look to? One object filled the hearts of all the Jewish patriots, a lamentable object. Their glorious city, of ancient story, and solemn observance, was desolate. The city was a heap of ruins; desecrated by sin first, and now by heathen conquest, and the land kept Sabbath in an awful loneliness. And Daniel strained his eyes across the endless plains, that sight filled his mind, and drew from him the importunate cry: — "How long, O Lord? " If his daily life furnished no other matter for prayer, there was matter enough in this.
2. After exercise in the thought of the presence of God, there is no discipline so necessary as this of letting visions of need rise before the mind. There should be pity given to the man who says he does not know what to pray for, and ampler pity for his neighbour who asks for what he does not want. The world is full of need, and its cry rises continually before God, sounding in the ears of all who can hear. There is no need of seeking or of refining in petitions; one day of life brings us into contact with need of all sorts — the helplessness of little children, the sigh of men overtasked, the care which has furrowed the brow and bent the shoulders, the satisfaction with a selfish life, the servitude to evil passion; there is no crushing the images of need which flit past our eyes even in the street. And a little thought deepens the awe; in ourselves we know so dark a world of discontent and defeat, of reproach and fruitless effort, of fear and sin, and all the men and women about us repeat the same story. And outside is a whole world of gloom, of life without colour or joy, of men without God or hope. And rising a little, we see to the farther horizons embracing the great world which does not know the very name of Christ, and which is full of horrid cruelties. We may not shut our eyes to it in prayer; the world needs joy. And as we watch like Daniel, the thoughts of that overwhelming need thronging in upon us will wring from us prayers rising to passion. To have all that sorrow pressing on our heart would bring madness with it; our comfort is in being permitted to share the burden with Him whose heart is pierced as ours, and who by His strength has marked for it all a blessed end.
(W.M. Macgregor, M.A.)
Philippians 4:6). Notice his posture. "Kneeled." A posture surely best befitting creatures like ourselves when we go as beggars to our Great Creator. Daniel prayed with his face toward Jerusalem. That circumstance in his devotions we are not called to imitate. The rule for us to follow is to have an eye to Christ in all our prayers. The rest of Daniel's history is a grand exhibition of what the Lord can do both in his saints and for them. Questions.
1. What do you think of Daniel?
2. What do you think of Daniel's God?
(A. Roberts, M.A.)
(S. W. Skeffington, M.A.)
I. THE REGULARITY OF HIS DEVOTION. In a man of leisure this praying three times a day would have been less remarkable. Daniel was not in private life. But, without being neglected, business was made to yield to piety. Prayer, so far from increasing his difficulties, was his consolation under them. It is the mental inquietude of a life of business which much more than bodily exertion tends to oppress the faculties.
II. THE PLACE OF HIS DEVOTION. It would have been less wonderful had Daniel been thus regular in religious observances at Jerusalem. There were all the incitements which place and example supply. But the unpropitious character of Daniel's situation did not influence him in the discharge of his duty.
III. THE POSTURE OF HIS DEVOTION. No particular attitude is essential to the acceptance of the petition of a sincere suppliant. If the inward, spiritual qualities essential to devotion are wanting, it matters not what are the outward positions. But everything should be avoided that savours of irreverence, or which is incompatible with fixedness of mind in devotional exercises. Kneeling is well suited to the nature of the exercise — prostration of body will correspond with humility of mind!
IV. THE HEROISM OF HIS DEVOTION. It was the heroism of the confessor and martyr rather than of the soldier. Apparently reasonable excuses for yielding a little in this matter of prayer might have been found. Daniel allowed no weak accommodation to circumstances. We are not to do evil that good may come. Disobedience to what God enjoins, can never be required in order to the fulfilment of his purposes.
V. THE GRATITUDE OF HIS DEVOTION. He "prayed and gave thanks." Prayer has been well defined as the "offering up of our desires to God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies." The situation of Daniel might appear, at first sight, ill adapted to the exercise of thanksgiving, however proper on fitting occasions, that duty might be. But a devout heart will discover reasons for gratitude when others can perceive nothing but occasions of lamentation. No condition of life is really so disastrous as to be incapable of suggesting motives of thankfulness to a spiritual mind. For the stream of life has always its interminglings of alleviation and comparative good. He could think of past mercies; and that he had been kept by divine grace. And he could be thankful for an opportunity of bearing witness to the religion of the God of Israel. Improvement.(1) Let Christians in general, and persons in active pursuits in particular, learn regularity in the exercises of devotion.(2) Let us cultivate a regard for the authority of God, as a motive to devotion.(3) Let us cultivate faith in prayer.(4) Be grateful that you are exempted from the evils which Daniel experienced.
(R. Brodie, A.M.)
I. THE DEVOTIONS OF DANIEL.
1. The character of his devotion. In token of his humility, and of his veneration for the divine majesty whom he approached, he kneeled on his knees. See also his confession of sin; recognition of the divine mercies; and pleading importunity. Daniel's prayers were pious and patriotic. They were accompanied with thanksgiving. Praise is comely.
2. The scene of Daniel's devotions. His chamber. He chose seclusion: yet his windows were open towards Jerusalem. Not that he courted attention, but that he conformed to the established mode of Jewish devotion.
3. The seasons of his devotion. Three times a day. Prayer is a preparation for our every-day duties in life. Daniel is an example to men of business.
II. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH DANIEL MAINTAINED HIS DEVOTIONS. He was faithful to his God and his religion. The Prime Minister was not compelled to profess the State idolatry. Daniel acted most advisedly. His spirit was one.
1. Of enlightened piety. Martyrdom he held preferable to the suspension of his hallowed communion with God.
2. Of courage. He feared God, and none but God. He braved all dangers, uninfluenced by the favours of his royal benefactor. Allowing no temporising considerations. His was the courage, of piety.
3. Of prudence. He did not invite persecution. Nothing insolent, nothing ostentatious, nothing disloyal, was in Daniel. He obeyed the monitions of conscience. He prayed, as before.
III. THE RESULTS.
1. To Daniel.
2. The spread of Jehovah's honour. The name of the living God is made known in all the empire.
3. The restoration of Judah followed the prayers of the faithful; e.g., of Daniel.
(W. L. Thornton, M.A.)
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.1. DANIEL'S DEVOTIONS. He prayed. Prayer is said to be a calling, crying, knocking, seeking, asking, making supplication, pouring out of the heart, lifting up of the soul, lifting up holy hands, making intercession, etc. Daniel
1. Humbled himself when he prayed. The being whom we address, the circumstances in which we stand, the punishment we deserve all serve to inspire us with humility.
2. He confessed his sins, and the sins of his people, when he prayed; So did David and Jeremiah. This is the most effectual way to obtain pardon.
3. He deprecated punishment, and implored mercy, when he prayed. Sin deserves punishment, — God might justly pour out his indignation upon us. We have no appeal but to his mercy, through the blood of the covenant.
4. He pleaded with God when he prayed. We may plead with God also; plead his mercy, his promises, the sacrifice of his Son, and his glorious intercession in heaven.
5. And Daniel gave thanks. We can always find reasons and subjects for thanks to God. Daniel thanked him for what he was in himself — for what he did in the kingdom of providence, and for what he had done for him.
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH HE PERFORMED THEM.
1. He went into his house, and into his chamber. The Jews were accustomed to set apart rooms as oratories, or places of devotion. Each house had generally one of these rooms, a chamber, most removed from noise and disturbance. Retirement is necessary to prayer.
2. He prayed and gave thanks three times a day. He evidently had stated times for private devotions.
3. He kneeled upon his knees and praised. The position of the body is not of so much importance in devotion as the disposition of the mind. The Scriptures sanction different attitudes of prayer.
4. He looked towards Jerusalem when he prayed. The meaning of this will be understood by referring to the consecration of the temple. (Kings 1 Kings 8:44-48) Hence all those who were in Jerusalem turned towards the temple when they prayed, and all those who were in foreign lands opened their windows toward Jerusalem in performing their devotions.
5. Daniel's prayers were regularly performed. "As he did aforetime." Inconstancy is the fault of multitudes. There was a decision of character, and a uniformity of conduct, in Daniel, which all should be anxious to emulate.
III. THE PECULIAR CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH HE WAS PLACED.
1. Be was in a foreign land, far from his native country.
2. He was surrounded by the most; inveterate and designing men, who meditated his ruin. Men who envied his popularity sought to find occasion against him, and did their utmost to persecute him, even unto death. Yet he maintained his integrity, stuck close to his devotions, and served his God with a constancy that nothing could destroy.
3. He was in high life, surrounded with temptations to pride, infidelity, idolatry, and a whole train of evils that swarm amidst the splendours and dissipations of a court. But he was innocent from the great transgression of apostatizing from God.
4. He was involved in most important business. He had the affairs of a kingdom to transact. How often is the urgency and press of business made an excuse for the neglect of religion.
5. He was prohibited from praying by a cruel, senseless and atheistical decree. But nothing could shake the steadfast purpose of Daniel's soul.
IV. THE INFERENCES TO BE DRAWN FROM THE WHOLE.
1. Whoever you are, and wherever you live, learn (if you serve God) to prepare your heart for temptation. Enemies you have. Temptations you must endure.
2. Whatever snares may be laid for your feet, never swerve from the line of duty.
3. The way of duty is the way of safety.
4. Persecutors often defeat their own object.
5. The wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.
(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
(T.Townson, M. A .)
I. THE EMPLOYMENT OF DANIEL. It was pious. He prayed and gave thanks before his God. He was not one of those who are satisfied with morality without godliness. He well knew, that our greatest connections are with God; and that with him we have principally to do. He was a good neighbour, a good citizen, a good master and a good magistrate; but this did not excuse him from the worship of God.
1. He prayed. Prayer is the breathing of the desire towards God. Words are not essential to the performance of it. The expediency, the necessity, of prayer, results from our indigent, and dependent state. We need mercy and grace. God has determined, and revealed, the method in which he will communicate the blessings he has promised. In this appointment, his wisdom appears as conspicuous as his sovereignty; and his goodness as clearly as his wisdom. Nothing can be so beneficial to us as prayer is, not only by the relief it obtains, but by the influence it exerts; not only by its answers, but by its energy. Beyond everything else that is instrumental in religion, it improves our characters, it strengthens our graces, it softens and refines our tempers, it contributes to our spirituality, and promotes our holiness.
2. He gave thanks. This should always attend prayer. Whenever we go to God for new favours, we should be careful to acknowledge old ones. While we implore deliverance, we should be grateful for alleviations and supports. I am sorry to say, that this is so commonly neglected. There is no state that does not require gratitude. There is always much more to be grateful for, than to complain of — however afflicting our circumstances may be.
3. Daniel did all this "before his God." By which we are to understand, that he placed himself in his religious exercises under the eye of Jehovah, and realised his presence. When we engage in devotional exercise, whether public or private, we are considered as withdrawing from the world, and appearing more immediately before God. And to impress our minds with this truth is the way to secure our profit. It will banish hypocrisy, and formality and carelessness; and unite our hearts to fear God's name.
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ACTION.
1. As regards the place. "He went into his house." Every house not only may be, but should be, a house of prayer. In every family there ought to be an altar. And Daniel worshipped God alone, in privacy.
2. The posture. "He kneeled." Though "bodily exercise profiteth little," God is to be glorified in our bodies, as well as in our spirits. Kneeling seems to be the most proper and advantageous posture of devotion. It preserves us more from distraction, it is more expressive of reverence, humility and submission.
3. The direction in which he performed his devotion. His windows were open towards Jerusalem. Here we see the love a pious Jew bore to his native land, and the city of his solemnities. He hoped for the release and restoration of the Jews. Hence in his prayers he always remembered Zion, and would give God no rest till he established, and till he made Jerusalem a praise in the earth. A public spirit is a great excellency.
4. The Frequency of the exercise. He did it "three times a day." This is little enough, considering the demand, "Pray without ceasing." Habitual devotion is what we should seek to maintain; but, with many people at least, that which may always be done, is never done.
5. The constancy and invariableness of the practice. "As aforetime." There was nothing new in it. It was not an extraordinary fervour, produced by the spur of the occasion. It was not occasional impulse; but the regular effects of principle and disposition. Daniel was a man of vast business but he could find time for prayer — three times a day.
III. THE KNOWLEDGE THAT ENHANCED THE VALUE OF THE PERFORMANCE. We all know that an action we admire, would not discover the same degree of principle in all circumstances. When a man is surrounded with honour and applause — then — to think of himself soberly — this evinces his humility. When a man is insulted and injured — then — to rule his own spirit, and render blessing for cursing — this marks his patience and meekness. When a man sees his danger, but says "none of these things move me," this is the trial and the triumph of his conviction and resolution. Daniel knew that the writing was signed, yet he determined to stand his ground. Whence we learn, that no danger should hinder a man from doing his work. Some, no doubt, would press Daniel to yield. Some would plead loyalty. Some would plead usefulness. Some would have recommended a plan of accomodation. When Sir Thomas Abney was Mayor of London, he made no scruple at the Lord Mayor's feast, to rise in the evening and inform the company that he was going to withdraw, to perform the worship of God in his family, after which he would return again. Daniel by his example, rendered himself peculiarly useful. He obtained by this example the most distinguished honour. Whatever the world may think, there is a reality in religion; and it more than indemnifies its followers.
1. THE COURAGE AND STEDFASTNESS OF DANIEL. Christians in any state, should, to a certain extent, submit, for the sake of quiet, even to overstrained demands, and to regulations which their judgment may disapprove. Yet there are bounds to this forbearance; and a faithful servant of God will be content to endure any extremities, though with due reverence to the powers that be, sooner than comply with orders that violate conscience, or that clash with the discharge of paramount and higher duties.
II. THE RETIREMENT OF DANIEL, AND HIS SPIRIT OF DEVOTION. What was his moral regimen? Retirement. Three times a day he withdrew into solitude, to compose his thoughts, to plume his ruffled spirits, to adjust his principles, and to commune with his God.
III. THE TOPICS OF HOLY DANIEL'S MEDITATION AND DEVOTION. There would be direct reflection towards his active services; for he would judge contemplation to be preparatory to usefulness, as the leaves precede the fruit. This eminent example is pregnant with various instruction. Note the courage and stedfastness, the importance of devout retirement, which is the nursery of genius, the school of meditation, the forge of profound thought, of lofty enterprise, and of solemn purpose. Note also the religious turn of Daniel's meditations. Indicated by his looking towards Jerusalem as he prayed.
(J Grant, M.A.)
I. THE NATURE OF DANIEL'S DEVOTIONS. "He prayed, and gave thanks before his God."
1. He prayed of all religious duties there is not one that is more important than prayer. It is, in fact, essentially connected with the origin and progress of personal goodness, with all spiritual blessings and enjoyments; and with the right discharge of our several obligations. Prayer is the grand means of receiving acceptance with God, and a participation of his holiness. The promises of Scripture are addressed to our faith, and their fulfilment is granted to persevering and believing prayer, and to that only. Numerous are the duties enjoined on us by the law and gospel of God. We cannot render to him acceptable obedience but under his gracious aid; nor will that aid be vouchsafed but in answer to prayer. Various are the evil influences which are perpetually erected upon the minds of good men, to draw them aside from the path of obedience. By the power of God only can they be preserved. The seasonable interposition of that power is to be sought in earnest prayer. Many are the sorrows connected with our present state of probation. Only by prayer can these afflictions be sanctified. It is by prayer especially that the people of God express their sympathy with the general misery of the world. Man was created for intercourse and communion with God. Whatever may be the dictates of what is called "natural religion," the revelation which God has made of himself in his word directly tends to impress the minds of men with the necessity of prayer, and to encourage them in this holy duty.
2. He "gave thanks before his God." Thanksgiving to God is a very delightful part of religious duty, and one which always accompanies the excuse of true prayer. The men who pray aright receive many blessings from God; and these kindle their hearts feelings of lively gratitude to the Giver of all good. The spirit and habit of thanksgiving to God are peculiar to those who, being born from above, are made new creatures. Thanksgiving to God refers to the benefits which we have received from him. These benefits are numerous beyond calculation; they are inconceivably great; and they are all absolutely unmerited and free. Daniel's thanksgivings were not interrupted by any of the calamities that he met with.
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THEY WERE PERFORMED.
1. They were performed in his chamber. He courted not the public attention. There are sins, imperfections, wants, and temptations, of which we are individually conscious, and which it is our duty fully and freely to confess to God; yet many of them it would be highly improper distinctly to specify, either in the domestic assembly, or the public congregation.
2. His devotions were performed on his knees. No wise man will despise the outward decencies and proprieties of divine worship. With reverence end humility all our attitudes, the very tones of our voice, should strictly correspond.
3. Daniel performed his devotions with his face towards Jerusalem. Partly because of his affectionate regard for his native land. It seems, however, to have been a common Jewish custom.
4. His devotions were performed with frequency and regularity. This is a proof of sound wisdom, as well as of an eminently devout spirit.
5. His devotions were performed with unswerving fidelity and perseverance. The history of Daniel presents(1) a proof of the power and sufficiency of divine grace.(2) Observe the manner m which he obtained the grace.(3) Be careful to show the benefits of prayer in the uprightness of your lives.(4) Note how the "Lord trieth the righteous."
(J. Foot, D.D.)
(A. O. Wickstead, M.A.)
1. Their peculiar adaptedness to promote religious thoughtfulness.
2. Their peculiar tendency to secure the supremacy of conscience.
3. Their peculiar adaptedness to preserve in the soul a sense of the Divine Omnipresence.
4. Their influence is attested by all that is known of the inner life of the best examples of religious experience among men. It is no new theological doctrine that God changes the soul according to the laws of the soul.
The Thinker.1. In the eagerness of rationalism to discredit the Book of Daniel, exception has been taken to the practice of praying at the three points of the day. Such a devotional plan is said to have filtered from India "into the neighbouring countries of the West," and that not until Maccabean times. But the objector had forgotten Psalm 4:17, or has to move it also to a later date. To ascribe this praying thrice to a Parsee origin is to forget that Parsee worship is a worship not merely at the turning-points of the day, but a worship of those portions of time.
2. This chapter contains a vivid picture of human nature, corrupt nature. The fact than Daniel was placed "above the presidents and princes" excited their envy. But what a witness we have in Daniel's integrity, that his enemies could find nothing to lay hold of except "concerning the law of his God." Then the shadow creeps again across the scene; and the intoxication of power, and the fascination of flattery and vain glory, is a sickening spectacle of human folly and deceit. See how Daniel behaved under the circumstances.
I. HIS CALMNESS.
1. There was enough to call up resentment. He was marked out as a victim by a secret cabal.
2. He did not angrily complain or demand any explanation. He retired to his chamber and prayed to God.
3. Calmness is the result of confidence in God.
4. Prayer was nothing new; it was the prophet's habit. The affairs of state, and the vast concerns which demanded his attention, did not thrust aside the claims of God. He found time for prayer, and turned to the fountain of light for guidance in the discharge of his daily duties.
II. HIS DEVOTION.
1. Its regularity. "All nations and all faiths of cultivated men have chosen the twilight hour, morning and evening, for their devotion." Though the midday prayer was not so general, yet pious souls at noontide refreshed themselves with an act of divine communion.
2. The posture. Kneeling. The higher spirituality which affects to disregard the posture of the body in acts of worship, finds no countenance in the Scriptures.
III. HIS COURAGE.
1. The open windows are evidence that Daniel did not wish to hide his actions.
2. His faithfulness to God is more meritorious when his history is taken into account. Lessons.(1) The warning against the subtle sin of envy must not be over-looked.(2) The calmness of the prophet, and his immediate turning to God at this dire crisis, have the link of connection which has cause to effect. Calmness in difficulties is the product of confidence in and communion with God.(3) Daniel's devotion is exemplary in its regularity, reverence and direction. The windows open "towards Jerusalem" should remind us of the heavenward gaze of the soul in time of prayer.(4) Those who plead circumstances as an excuse for their moral and spiritual failure should contemplate the courage and faith- fulness of Daniel amid an environment full of difficulty and danger.
1. We see a statesman at prayer. Prayer is the best evidence of religion. Religion begins in the prayer of penitence, and it culminates in the prayer of "fellowship with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ." Therefore we have a right to conclude that Daniel was a religious man. He had ever been loyal to God, and had ever enjoyed the restraints and encouragements of religion. He held firmly to the religion of his ancestors. He was not ashamed to be known as a godly man! His career was certainly a remarkable one. The religion of the Bible, as we see it in Daniel, is adapted to a busy life. Indeed, the concerns or occupations of a busy life demand the restraints and encouragements which this religion imposes. Besides religion places the present life in true relations to another the future life. Religion consoles us when we are disappointed, and cheers us when we are sad, and makes us conscious of God's help and blessing, and teaches us the great lesson that to be is better than to yet; to possess a noble character is the purpose of our existence. The offering of a noble character is the best tribute that a mortal can render to God, who creates, preserves, redeems, and sanctifies.
2. As we observe that the windows of Daniel's chamber are open toward Jerusalem. There the glory of God rested upon the mercy seat, which could be reached only through the appointed mediation of the High Priest. The redemptive idea was thus emphasized. Jerusalem was the city of redemption, because it had the temple. The pious emotions of devout men turned instinctively to Jerusalem, where the sacrifices were constantly offered. And through Christ we have access to the Father. His redemption is a constant appeal. The redemptive element in the divine character is always attractive. Men do not get very near to God, nor do they ever keep very near to him, unless they feel the constraint of redemptive love.
3. As we learn that Daniel is accustomed to kneel in his chamber three times each day, we are impressed with the necessity of frequent and stated seasons of prayer. Note the frequency and the regularity of this busy man's prayers. Have your stated seasons of prayer, and then believe that, at any hour, and in any place, you may cry unto God, and that he will hear you.
4. As we watch the enemies of Daniel, who rejoice that they have succeeded in their designs against him, we realise that the calm fulfilment of duty will ever meet with opposition, which God is able to over-rule. When Daniel knew that the work of his enemies was accomplished, what did he do? Moved calmly forward with the momentum of his devoted life, entering his chamber each day as usual, and praying there as he had been accustomed to pray. The pressure of an emergency was not to be the occasion of his fall. He was in God s hands. And the duty of prayer was evident. The conclusion of the whole matter is, to bring God consciously into life; to live with reference to his approval; to exercise a wise discrimination; to advance calmly but steadily; to be religious in the market place, and in the parlour, as well as in the sanctuary — such are a few of the lessons which we may carry away with us as we turn from the Chamber of Daniel, and go again to meet the toil and the conflict of a busy world.
(Henry M. Booth, D.D.)
I. PRINCIPLE IS THE CENTRAL POWER OF LIFE. The principle which distinguishes morally between men is a conviction of the difference between right and wrong, ascertained on good grounds, and carried out in the details of life. The orderly, irreproachable character of Daniel's behaviour in ordinary matters is remarkable. We sometimes meet people with great principles who do not seem to have discovered the application of them to their usual habits. It is by doing small and common things with uncommon care that we form the habits by which the highest end is attained. Daniel's conduct was guided by principle. This will become plain if we notice where he lived. His neighbours were pagans, and their scoffing jests, and unrestrained licentiousness were at variance both with the profession and the practice of a godly life. Mark also how Daniel was occupied. The common excuse for the neglect of religious duties, that men have no time for them; strikingly refuted by the instance before us. Then look at what Daniel was threatened with. Principle must have had a strong hold of his heart to enable him to resist his fears. There were so many loopholes by which a less resolute heart might have escaped the danger. Seldom is a situation outwardly so sublime as Daniel's; but we greatly err if we forget that there are parallels to it on every side of us. If there are no lions' dens, there are the snares of business, and the power of fashion, and the fear of the world's laugh.
II. PRINCIPLE IS NOURISHED BY HABITS OF DEVOTION. Daniel's case not only enforces the duty of prayer, but explains its nature, and in every aspect in which we look at him as he prays, we are instructed by the sight. See what we learn about the manner of prayer. The need of privacy and retirement. The attitude — kneeling. The frequency of the praying. Observe what we can gather concerning the matter of prayer. In so far as it consisted of supplication, we easily imagine what he would pray for. He addressed God as "his God." How instructive it is to learn that Daniel gave thanks. Three thoughts in conclusion.
(1) (2) (3) (A. MacEwen, D.D.)
(2) (3) (A. MacEwen, D.D.)
(3) (A. MacEwen, D.D.)
(A. MacEwen, D.D.)
1. No changes of life, or of abode, or of companions, could interrupt or shake the constancy of his adoration to God, and his hourly sense of dependence upon the Almighty.
2. Notice the example which Daniel has set us in his habit of prayer. How frequently he prayed. The posture he assumed in prayer. His indifference to the observations of wicked men. In conclusion, I would explain what are the blessings which you may look for, if you do imitate him
(A. Gatty, M. A.)
1. When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his chamber and set open its windows toward Jerusalem. That opening of the window was a mark that Daniel kept true to the worship of his fathers, and was not to be induced by any threat or promise, to go after other gods and serve them. In this, he is a pattern to us.
2. The text says, he "kneeled upon his knees." His custom was to worship God with his body, soul and spirit; to omit nothing in his act of worship, which might serve to express the earnestness of his supplication, and the depth of his humility.
3. Notice the frequency of his prayer. "Three times a day." At nine, at noon, and at three in the afternoon. No doubt, Daniel lived a life of constant communing with God; but, with this, he had fixed hours for distinct acts of devotion. How is it then that we are found neglecting prayer? We might all of us find a few minutes in every day, for lifting up our heart to God.
4. Daniel had long been in the habit of praying. He did now only what he had been accustomed to do aforetime. Prayer was not a new thing to him — not something taken up in haste, and on an emergency, but the regular daily practice of his life. This teaches us a lesson. If we are to know the privilege and blessing of communion with God — if we are to have God always at hand for our support and succour, we must accustom ourselves betimes to call upon him.
(R. D. B. Rawnsley, M.A.)
I. LOOK AT HIS WORSHIP.
1. It was his established custom. Not commencing with the danger. Not ceasing before the danger.
2. It was in his chamber. Where he retired into his individuality. Where he returned to his nationality. Where he reverted to his inferiority.
3. It was on his knees. (18). So Stephen (Acts 7:60); Peter (Acts 9:40); Paul (Acts 20:36); Christians at Tyre (Acts 21:5); Solomon (1 Kings 8:54); Jesus (Luke 22:41). The attitude of humility. The posture of reverence. The position of creaturehood.
4. It was towards Jerusalem. His Father's God. His native temple. His heart's home.
5. It was three times a day. So David (Psalm 55:17). Punctuality. Continuity. (21). Frequency.
II. LOOK AT HIS TEMPTATION. The king asks no homage. The cessation only for a season. The conditions very severe.
III. LOOK AT HIS SUPPORT. God may interpose. If not, death sets him free for heaven. Whether he lives or dies, God glorified.
IV. LOOK AT HIS DELIVERANCE. His own heart cheered. Israel's spirits raised. The monarch's testimony given. Jehovah's name made known. The servant of God stands out in glorious contrast. Flatterers, plotters, are round him. He in his integrity, sincerity, simplicity, faith, has shamed them all.
(John Richardson, M.A.)
(H. T. Robjohns, B.A.)
(E. Martin Venn, B.A.)
1. A Christian, to be such in anything like its New Testament sense, has left him no choice to stop short of anything less than spiritual-mindedness. Devoutness, prayerfulness, entrance into God's intimacy, or call it by whatever name you will, is not a thing that Gospel Christianity can don and doff at its option. Christianity is not believing that there is a God; it is believing God; and so, fresh from the start, it is a matter surely personal between him and us. We begin to be Christians by drawing near to God. If we are trying to be Christians without being spiritually-minded Christians, we are attempting to compose the music of our religious life in a key nowhere set in the Holy Word. Such piety is no matter of unpractical extravagance. And our existence is not met by listening on occasion, to the devout supplications and spoken communings of any who may happen to be standing in fellowship with God. His spiritual-mindedness is valid for him, not for ethers. Devoutness is not transferable.
2. Whatever our secular occupation may be, provided always it is a proper one, that we are to thrust ourselves into with just the came intensity of energy and heartiness of resolve! We shall never make a success of life, and compose its contradictions, by entering into its business pursuits with half- heartedness. It is in us, whatever vocation we have chosen, to enlist in it all our powers. We run against ineradicable instincts when we do otherwise. Of course, there is an extreme to which this might be pushed that would work mischief. Much confusion has come from assuming that secular life and religious life, necessarily work at cross purposes, so that what is taken from one is added to the other. On the contrary, a man's chances for holiness are bettered by his laborious intercourse with things, as certainly a man's chances in business are enhanced by his intimacy with God. Piety regularly retrogrades when it draws away from the business and contracts of secular life. Hermit religion is spindling and stalky, like wheat grown in the shade.
(Charles H. Parkhurst, D.D.)
(Beaver H. Blacker, M.A.)
1. The history of Daniel. One of the children of the captivity, who showed early signs of genius. A circumstance soon occurred which at once proved the strength of his faith, and the supernatural character of his gifts, while it brought him into notice, and paved the way for his future advancement. Interpreting the forgotten dream of the king. His exalted station only rendered his piety more conspicuous, and its practical exertions useful on a larger scald. When Darius became King, he honored Daniel with high trust. Then came the envious scheme to destroy him, which seemed to succeed. It was a scheme characterised at once by impiety and absurdity. Daniel remained calm and unmoved amid the dangers which now surrounded him. The paramount rights of conscience and God, he fails not to respect. God defends his faithful servant. The time of man's extremity is often the time when God signally interposes in behalf of his people, and at this particular time and place, a supernatural testimony to the true religion, in the person of its distinguished representative, was essentially necessary. The effect on the mind of Darius was deep and powerful.
2. Lessons of practical piety, which the conduct of Daniel, in the instance before us, is designed and fitted to furnish to our minds.(1) An edifying example of well-principled and well-regulated devotion. Daniel, though a great man, was not ashamed to acknowledge a higher and greater than himself; to cherish towards him the sentiments and feelings of ardent piety, and to bow the knee in his presence, in the attitude of prayer. Prayer he recognised as a duty, and cherished as a source of consolation. Along with his petitions he "gave thanks." This was his ordinary practice.(2) A noble example of stedfastness in the faith. Daniel knew that the decree was signed, and even a man of sincerity in the main might have thought himself warranted, in a case so trying, to have used a little management to secure his life, and yet not violate his principles. Plans and schemes, plausible as they might appear, would not do for Daniel. They all proceeded on the principle of concealment, or omission of duty, or a change in the usual manner of doing it, and all from the fear of man, which bringeth a snare. Daniel was a public man, and the representation of the more religious part of his countrymen, and the most prominent witness to the honours of the true God, in the midst of surrounding idols. The eyes of many were, therefore, on him; and had he failed, or appeared to fail now, when his principles were brought so decidedly to the test, "it would have been as when a standard bearer fainteth." Individuals of less decided character, and moving in a lower and more obscure sphere, might act with caution and reserve, but Daniel, who was a veteran in the army of the saints, and who had so many eyes upon him, must act with more courage, and for this very reason too, that he knew the law to be made expressly for him. He resolves not even to come short of his ordinary and accustomed duty. Our temptations to hide our religion from others are trifling in the extreme when compared with Daniel, and the good men of other days. So that our guilt is exceedingly magnified if it be so that we conceal our religious views for fear of displeasing those whom we wish to serve. Even now the disciples of the Redeemer may be called to suffer persecution. The sneer of ridicule may be pointed at their superior sanctity. In the ordinary commerce of life, there will be trials of faith, and Christians may be called to hold fast their integrity, at some considerable expense. The world loves consistency, and Daniel, through a long life of tried integrity, commanded the respect of his most determined enemies.(3) We have in Daniel a practical illustration of the grand principles whence all true devotion, and all genuine piety must flow. Daniel prayed with his window open towards Jerusalem. Here is in this the pious recognition of Jehovah, as, in the most affecting and important sense, the God of Israel. The mercy seat is recognised as the symbol of divine mercy to mankind, and as typical of that "throne of grace," sprinkled with the blood of the Redeemer, to which "we have access with boldness, through the faith of him."
(Robert Burns, D.D.)
I. THE CHARACTER REQUIRED OF RELIGION IN THE WORLD IS A COMBINATION OF FIDELITY TO GOD AND FIDELITY TO MAN — OR GODLINESS WITH UPRIGHTNESS. There maybe fidelity to man where there is not fidelity to God; but we cannot reverse this statement, and yet accord the truth. For a man to be faithful to his Lord, and unfaithful or deceiving towards his fellow-men, is simply impossible. The impenetrable gulf is, however, attempted. The man who fulfils what is due to his fellow-men, and also that which is due to God — who wears the worthiness belonging to morality, and the dignity belonging to spirituality — he alone represents the true character of religion in the world. Like a stately, tree, he strikes his roots downwards to draw all that is adapted to his life from the soft; and spreads his boughs, and opens his leaves, to catch the rain and the light of heaven. Such an one was Daniel. His enemies regarded him as a servant of God so firmly attached to him, that he would endure any loss in preference to being unfaithful. Surely such should be the views taken of every religious man.
II. HIS RELIGIOUS CHARACTER IS OFTEN DISLIKED. Daniel was no favourite with the other officers of the Median despot. I do not doubt that the dislike was rather to his uprightness than to his godliness. The secret homage which is paid to righteous proceedings prevented those high officials from directly attacking Daniel's administration. They scheme to overturn it by means of his fear of God. Uprightness is certainly worth something in our market, though it is not found at every stall. It may be as well to add that there is often a qualification of this dislike, in that worldly men are not always unwilling to use the consciousness and ability of a godly man. In trying circumstances they are known to pass by their most intimate friends and confide their cases to him who, by his fidelity to God and man, has been a butt for their frivolity, yet compelled their respect.
III. THERE IS A WAY OF SECURING THIS RELIGIOUS CHARACTER. Supposing a man to be the possessor of the right character, how is he to maintain it notwithstanding all oppositions? Undoubtedly by his help who has impressed the character upon him. One of the methods he has chosen is prayer. Daniel was not wrongly judged by his enemies, and his course sets prayer in its human aspect before us. How prayer keeps step with the unswerving march of God's established laws, neither Scripture nor speculation determines. God enjoins, teaches, and hears prayer, and our concern is more with the right employment of this mighty instrument than with the way in which it operates on the government of God, if it is to be a support to godliness and uprightness.
1. Prayer demands a decisive step. Daniel went to pray at once. He went to pray undisguisedly.
2. Prayer must express various convictions. Daniel made it the medium of showing dependence upon, and the gratitude towards God. He affords an instance of the morally sublime. The conviction that God can help forms our addresses to him into requests; the conviction that he has helped, and will help, constitutes the framework of thanks.
3. Prayer should have suitable aids. Daniel kneeled, with his face toward Zion.
4. Prayer should be frequent. Daniel set apart three times a day for this exercise. And he did so, not under the pressure of threatening calamity, but from a settled desire of his soul.
(D. G. Watt, M.A.)
(Henry S. Richmond, M.A.)
Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself.
(Dean Payne Smith.)
I. HIS VANITY. He was proud of his position and power. He was attacked on his weak side. He would not make himself a god, but merely assumes God's prerogative for thirty days. But the one bad step brought its calamity; for sins are social — one of them is never alone. One of his presidents would worship his God all the time. The king sees the evil, but too late. He had done wrong, and he is now the slave of wrong. So with every man. Selfishness is his weakness. If he gives way, the first stone of his dungeon is laid. Then comes the unexpected evil; that one sin brings another. In any crisis, small or great, when the question is between Christ and ourselves, if we do not crucify self, we open the long avenues of guilt, of which often there is no shutting afterwards.
II. HIS PERPLEXITY. The king's conscience is aroused. Daniel! he cannot do such a thing with him, he must not do it. But he cannot help it. Surely Daniel can be saved. No — not even that. Then comes the actual evil. He cannot go back, he must go forward. He sinks lower, to sins of deed — weakness, cowardice, and even blasphemy.
III. HIS REMORSE AND GOOD INTENTIONS. The king was sorry. Surely he was penitent. Now the tide was turned. Darius makes a new decree: the God of Daniel must be served, and no other. But we are not told that he turned to the Lord, that he learned His law, or kept it. So with us when the cloud breaks and the passion has spent its force, then the reaction comes, and repentance and remorse. If we repent partially, not because we have sinned against God, but have disturbed our own conscience or brought disgrace upon ourselves, if we are ready to go back to temptation afresh, then a new cloud hangs, threatening night. Come, not to boast, but to be forgiven; not to offer, but to receive.
(W. Murdoch Johnston, M.A.)
And set his
(E. Pond, D.D.)
That no decree nor statute that the king establisheth may be changed.
(Joseph Parker, D.D.)
Then the King commanded and they brought Daniel.
1. The text records the sentiments of an inspired prophet respecting the interference of human authority in the concerns of religion. Daniel honoured the King, but would not render to him the homage which interfered with the claims of God and the rights of conscience. Does it become Christians to evince less of fortitude and firm decision of soul?
2. In the temper and conduct of Daniel we may learn how all good men should act under the rod of oppression. To lawful authority obedience is due; but to yield submission to the will of a capricious tyrant, arrayed in the trappings of assumed and self-constituted authority, to a task dreadfully irksome to a reflecting mind. Absolute power cannot govern the region of the soul. If the Christian had power, he has no disposition to render evil for evil. His temper is that of meekness, and peace, and goodwill towards men. He, therefore, is not fitted to subvert establishments and to dethrone tyrants. His spirit gives him patience to endure, but inspires no feeling of resistance; and he prefers being made the victim rather than the agent of vengeance.
3. The case of the afflicted prophet reminds us how religious persecution defeats its object, by extending the cause which it is intended to repress. It was Daniel's fortitude in subduing misfortunes, and his faith which conquered death, that made his religion popular.
4. The holy fortitude and triumph of the persecuted prophet, show that God affords support to his servants under the pressure of their heaviest trials. (Chap. Daniel 6:16, 28)
I. — DANIEL DELIVERED TO THE LIONS. In the delivery of Daniel, to be cast into the den of lions, we are reminded at once of the similar fate which befell the three young princes, his early friends. Darius had been more boastful in the decree which made him god for thirty days, than had Nebuchadnezzar, who only ordered that his god should be worshipped by everybody; yet he had less power than his more modest predecessor. We cannot but reflect on the latent sarcasm involved in the boasted despotic power of earthly monarchs. Their power is always absolute to do evil, but limited to do good. Zedekiah could consent to the imprisonment of Jeremiah, but said he had not power to deliver him out of the hands of the nobles, his enemies. Herod had power to deliver John the Baptist to the executioner, but no power to save him from the result of his rash vow. Pilate seemed to have no power to save Jesus from his malicious enemies, but had power to deliver Him to the cross. And so we might further illustrate this power for evil, this impotence for good, when it is vested in the hands of the kings of the earth; but these cases will suffice. It was thus that Darius exercised his power and exhibited his powerlessness, when he ordered Daniel to be cast to the lions.
1. The king's speech. — "Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee." Thus he shifted responsibility from his own hands upon the God of Daniel, whom he had denied. So perhaps Herod hoped that somehow John the Baptist might be delivered out of Herodias' hands. So perhaps Pilate may have thought. Darius seemed not only to desire that God would deliver Daniel, but had a strong hope that he would. Perhaps Daniel had told him how, forty or fifty years before, God had delivered his three friends out of the fiery furnace; for Darius seemed to know a good deal of Daniel and his God. But this good-will, and even this gleam of faith in the power of God to deliver his servant, did not excuse his own evil act in delivering the innocent to death. If God does not interpose to frustrate our evil doings or overrule them for good, that does not make our sin the less, though it brings equal glory to God.
2. The double sealing of the den. — "And a stone was brought and laid upon the month of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel." This reminds us very much of what the rulers of the Jews did when Jesus was buried. Did these lords fear that somehow Daniel would come out of that den of lions? It would almost seem so. There is always a fear in the heart of those who fight against God that he will defeat them.
II. THE DISTRESS OF THE KING.
1. A troubled conscience. — "The king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and his sleep went from him." It was well that he did so; though it had been better had he boldly delivered Daniel. How often, when we weakly yield to sin, and suffer the torture of an offended conscience, we try to compensate for our sin by some acts of self-denial. If the fasting was a sign of repentance, it was well; but if it was simply to ease the pain of conscience, and seek in that way to atone for the evil, it was a mere mockery. We are so often quick to sin and slow to repent; prompt in doing wrong, but dilatory in making reparation. We are not sorry that the king had a bad night of it. We have had bad nights ourselves, and know how he felt. On the other hand, we cannot but think how differently the night was spent, by Daniel. Peter slept quietly in his gaol while the angel was coming to deliver him; and Paul and Silas waked the prison's echoes with nightly song. Happy children and servants of God, who can be at peace, can sleep soundly or sing gleefully in lion's den or prison's dungeon, while the monarch persecutors spend nights with tortured consciences in their splendid palaces!
2. A morning drive. — "The king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste to the den of lions." He could not spend the whole night in his bed. With the first suggestion of dawn he was up and his chariot was ordered, and he drove in haste to the place where Daniel was quietly reposing with the lions and God's angel. This indeed is a strange spectacle, for the monarch of the world thus to be attending upon a condemned servant of God. The spirit of God working in the conscience of Darius, compelled him to do the same thing; as once before the fear of Zedekiah brought him to the dungeon of Jeremiah, the imprisoned prophet. God knows how to bring down the head of the proud as well as how to lift up the humble. Happy we if we also may always repent in time.
3. The king's lamentable cry. — "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" The king was deeply distressed and in an agony of anxiety. He had admired Daniel, and had listened to the old prophet's teaching concerning Jehovah. It all came back to him now; and he was both ready to publicly confess the excellency of the believer's character, and the dignity and sovereignty of the believer's God. In this "lamentable cry" there was both penitence and acknowledgment. What a splendid character he gave to Daniel: "Servant of the living God, whom thou servest continually." He also confessed God in a wonderful way: "The Living God." Thus he brushed aside all the pretensions of the idol gods, and gave honour to Jehovah. Daniel's teachings had not been in vain.
III. DANIELS'S TRIUMPH. That must have been a welcome sound to the king's ear, when the voice of Daniel answered back in clear, calm, and humbly triumphant tone, "O king, live for ever." Human nature would have been inclined to have added. "But no thanks to you."
1. Praise to God. — "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions mouths, that they have not hurt me." In this he takes pains to ascribe his deliverance to his God. Here is a strong emphasis upon the fact that the Living God is not to be confounded with the false gods of the heathen. He is a God of providence, who watches over his servants and keeps his promise with them.
2. A defence of his innocency. — "Forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, I have done no hurt." Daniel does not boast of his goodness, but would set before the king that the favour of God to his servants in such a case is not regardless of the law of righteousness. Daniel had honoured God at a time when the world-power was denying and deriding him.
3. Daniel delivered out of the den. — Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel out of the den." Thus was Daniel delivered out of the den, and out of the hands of his enemies. His character was vindicated, and better still, his God was magnified and honoured.
IV. THE EDICT OF THE KING. God has never left the world without a witness for him; and now the last witness is being given to the nations by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When this testimony is complete he will take to himself his great power, and finish the work in righteousness; he will set up his King upon the double throne of heaven and earth, and reign therein world without end.
(G. F. Pentecost, D.D.)
1. The one does wrong and hopes; the other does right and trusts. The deification of rulers was their general, as still the Russians regard the Tsar, and till lately, the Japanese the Mikado. The jewelled crown and sceptre were the signs of omnipotence. Darius had the ideas of his own time. In a way, he believed in his own divine nature. The flattery of courtiers was pleasing, and the imposing displays, in capital and campaign, helped to foster the self-delusion. It would never do for the Median lord to confess a mistake. We turn to look at that sincere, calm soul, whose love for his home wavered not through a life-time. A life of devotion was not to be abandoned because of any proclamation from men. Spiritual communion was as essential, after the famous behest, as before it was issued.
2. The one regards death as a sure agent, the other as under divine control. The love of life is an instinct. No one in his senses courts death. The taking of life is the last dread resort of the civil law. The unscrupulous ruler can rely on it to work his will. Daniel felt that if God had more for him to do in witnessing to the truth here, all the brute creation could not harm him. Death is not a certain victor when it suddenly confronts us.
3. The one decreed a universal religion; the other preached and practiced it daily. The safety of Daniel was proof enough to the king that the God of Daniel was no myth, but the living God. So he published an edict, demanding of all homage to Jehovah. But piety can never be the fruit of proclamation. In striking contrast with such, pretensions and wholesale religionism, there went forth, from the testing place, the plain lover of God, and preacher of righteousness, to take up his responsible duties as before, and to kneel in grateful acknowledgment of Jehovah's protection and furtherance.
(De Witt S. Clark.)
O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
I. First, I want to set before you DANIEL'S EARLY AND ENTIRE CONSECRATION TO THE SERVICE OF GOD. The king said, "Thy God whom thou servest continually." This was no empty compliment. His scrupulous uprightness had become so habitual that it was like an instinct of his nature. Daniel began to serve God in his youth. They, who give their morning to God, shall find that, in beginning early, they can keep pace with their work all the day. Happy Daniel, thus continually to serve his God from his youth up! For a while, Daniel retires into the shade. You hear nothing of him till Belshazzar ascends the throne, but he is still serving his God; I doubt not, sometimes ministering to his poorer brethren, and visiting the sick; but often in his chamber, by prayer and by study of the Scriptures, seeking and finding communion with the Most High. On a sudden, Belshazzar summons him to his presence. There is a mysterious writing on the wall, which can be read by no eye, and interpreted by no lip, but his. How confidently he speaks, "This is the writing"! And again, "This is the interpretation." His word commends itself to the conscience; no man dares to gainsay it. He is promoted to the highest honour in the realm; now what will he do? There has been a change of monarchs, but there is no change in Daniel. No time-server, he stand to his principles at all times. "Servant of the living God" is still his title. He had taken for his motto, when he began life, "I serve God" and he retains the motto to his life's close. The glory of his God was his one object throughout all his days; he never swerved. He is prime minister of the greatest monarch of the age; yet he abhors the idolatry of the heathen, and maintains his allegiance to him who ruleth in the heavens. They can find no flaw in him, though the eyes of envy watch him from early morning to dewy eve. O, it is a hard thing to serve God in high places! Many a man did seem to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour when humbly earning his livelihood by the toil of his hands, and eating his bread in the sweat of his face; but, afterwards, when advanced to ease aria opulence, he turned his back upon his friends, and forsook the Lord. Be very jealous of yourselves If you are rising in the world. Now note the effect of what Daniel did. It is comparatively easy to follow the Lord in bright days; but the sun of prosperity suddenly darkens, and the man of God is encompassed with perils. If he continues in his holy course, he will forfeit the king's favour, and lose his life in the most dreadful manner. What will Daniel's determination be? Oh, the true grit is in him! He is a blade of the true Jerusalem manufacture, and is not to be broken. He will do just as he did before. Ah! some of us little know what these pinches mean. There are a few of you who do; you have endured torture without accepting deliverance. Witness the man who has a shop, which brings him in more profit on a Sunday than it does all the rest of the days of the week; and who says, "It must be one thing or the other; .I cannot go to the Tabernacle, and keep my shop open too; which shall it be?" His faith proves stronger than his fear. The shutters are closed on the first day of the week. I daresay, had Daniel gone to consult Mr. Prudent Thrifty, and asked his advice, he would have said, "Well, you see, it is a very important thing for us to have you at the head of affairs; I do not think you ought to throw away such an opportunity as you have of doing good. It is not absolutely necessary for you to pray for thirty days! Would it not be better for you to trim a little, and yield a point or two? You do distinguished service to our cause; and, by keeping your position, you will be putting yourself to the non-plus. By compromise you will obtain concessions. Worldly wisdom is worth your study." At the call of duty, never parley with danger. Here I would remark that the only service to God which is real, genuine, remunerative, is this continual service that sticks at nothing. Any hungry dog will follow you in the streets if you but entice him with a piece of meat, or a bit of biscuit. How closely he keeps to your heels! But, after a while, the bait is gone, and the dog retreats. That is like many a professor. There is some little pleasure in religion, or some advantage, and so he follows Christ but, after a while, there is an attraction elsewhere; and, impelled by greed rather than gratitude, he pursues it. Oh, those time-servers, who look one. way and pull the other, like the wherry-men upon the stream! As for Lord Fair-Speech, Lord Time-Server, Mr. Smooth-Man, Mr. Anything, Mr. Facing-both-Ways, Mr. Two-Tongues and all the members of their club, Mr. By-Ends included, the entire company of them will be swept away when the Judge comes with the besom of destruction. I know you feel the force of this truth. How you loathe a friend who will not stick to you in dark times! This is but a picture of yourselves if you try to follow Jesus Christ only when you are in the society of his people, and as easily lend yourselves to sing a frivolous or lewd song when you are with the ungodly. That faith which lives on Jesus only, rests on Jesus solely, builds on Jesus wholly, and shows itself in earnest prayer, will give you a consistency and decision of character that will make you like Daniel in your days.
II. Now, secondly, WHO WAS THIS GOD WHOM DANIEL SERVED CONTINUALLY? Let me ask, — Is Daniel's God worthy of our worship? I ask the question in all earnestness, because I feel positive that multitudes of men have a religion that, in their own judgment, is hardly worth debating about, far less worth dying for. Is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ worthy of our love and our life? Words are wanting to tell the gratitude and joy that we cherish towards God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us even when we were dead in sins. By faith, I understand that the blessed Son of God redeemed my soul with his own heart's blood; and, by sweet experience, I know that he raised me up from the pit of dark despair, and set my feet on the rock. He died for me; this is the root of every satisfaction I have. You must be the best judges of your own religion, whether or not it is worth suffering for. If it is not full of immortality, I would not advise you to risk your reputation on retaining it. If it is only a fair profession, you may well blush for it as a foul delusion. Then there comes another question, — Is Daniel's God able to deliver us from the lions? You who are suffering just now for the cross of Christ, you who know what it is to be losers for Jesus, to stand out and to endure pains and penalties as Daniel did, — you are well aware that the lions are fierce and furious creatures. They are not stuffed animals, having the name without the nature of those beasts of prey. So, the sufferings of a Christian are not sentimental, they are real. The lions have sharp teeth, and they would have devoured you, only divine grace has found a means of delivering you out of their mouths. I ask the man, who has given up a profitable appointment because he would not be false to his convictions, whether, on shorter commons, he has not found the sweeter luxury of contentment? I asked him whether he has not enjoyed, on a harder pillow, more refreshing sleep! But should we even dwell among lions till we die, what joy it shall be to leave the lions, and be linked with saints and holy angels in the beatific hereafter! "Is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" And with a cheerful shout, loud as the voice of thunder, they cry, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." I look down upon another lions' den. There, sons and daughters of sorrow are tossed on beds of sickness. Thus they have lain for months, perhaps for years, all hope of health extinguished, all prospect of pleasure passed; their limbs paralyzed, their sight failing, their hearing dull; calamities of every kind have befallen them. God has permitted the great lions of affliction to come howling round. Tell me, ye Daniels, has your God been able to deliver you out of the mouths of the lions? And I hear each one say, "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" and all in chorus sing, saying "Not one good thing hath failed of all that the Lord our God hath promised; our shoes have have been iron and brass, and as our days so has our strength been." Shall I strain my parable too far if I turn my eye upon another lions' den? It lies in a deep valley. We call this place "the valley of the shadow of death." Methinks I am gazing now on the forms of shivering men and women as they are dragged down by the lions. One after another my familiar friends descend into the grave; and I ask them, in the hour of their departure, "Is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" Calm is their countenance, and clear their voice, as each one chants his solo, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" So, at length, this lions' den loses all its terror. Then I look into another den; it is almost empty. There is a lion in it, — a grim old lion, but I do not see so much as a bone to tell the tale of its victims. Of a sudden, I look upwards, and, lo! I see myriads of immortal souls, and they all tell me, "Our God delivered us from the grave, and rifled the tomb of its prey. By a glorious resurrection, he has brought all his ransomed people forth to meet their Lord at the great day of his appearing. There shall they stand before the throne of God, for he hath broken the teeth of the lion, and rescued all his children from the power of the adversary."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THE KING'S DENOMINATION OF DANIEL is worthy of remark. He does not address him as first of the presidents; but says, "O Daniel, servant of the living God." This was an honour above any official station — angels and archangels can occupy no higher position. It was better for Daniel to have been a servant of the living God than to have been the first president of Persia. His piety was not a sickly, fitful, feverish, fashionable thing; his devotion was deeply rooted; he served God continually, not occasionally. His religion was so natural to him that he could not hide it; everything he did proved him to be a man that feared and loved God. O, what a living power there would be in religion if it were acted out in our social walks and public conduct, and not shut up to mould all week within the walls of our churches! Why should your labour and talents, influence and time, be principally devoted to the world which is passing away? The surest way to peace, and honour, and usefulness, is in the service of God.
II. THE REASON FOR GOD'S INTERFERENCE IN DANIEL'S BEHALF WAS NOT THAT HIS CONDUCT REALLY MERITED SUCH AN INTERPOSITION. The meaning is, that God, being a witness of his innocence, indicated it by this interposition. You may learn, therefore, from this case, that God is the vindicator of his people.
III. THE PERSONAL PROPERTY IN GOD, referred to both in the king's words and in Daniel's reply, is remarkable. The king said to Daniel, "Is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" And Daniel replies, "My God hath sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me." Mark the difference. Darius had heard of God by the hearing of the ear, Daniel was acquainted with him as a friend and father.
(W. A. Scott.)
My Lord hath sent His Angel.
1. Here is a reverend compellation. "O king." Darius was a heathen prince; an enemy to God's people; and he here makes a wicked law, forbidding religion, and inforcing to idolatry. Yet the prophet acknowledges and honours him, as his king and sovereign.
2. A loyal and pious salutation. "Live for ever." He prays for him, wishes him both length and prosperity of life here, and eternity of life and felicity hereafter. He upbraids not the king with tyranny and impiety; charges him not with the cruelty of his usage; threatens him not with vengeance, and judgments from God. He will not pray to the king, but he ceases not to pray for him.
3. Thankful declaration of his marvellous deliverance.(1) The author; "My God." Two things: his helper — God. His hold that he lays upon this helper. "My God," by special service and religion, the God of my faith, and piety, and devotion; by special trust and affiance; by present evidence and experience; by resolution, and engagements of holy thankfulness.(2) The Instrument. "Sent His angel." Not my angel, but God's angel. It is not "the angel came," but God sent him. This ministry of an angel, in the delivering of Daniel, adds unto it three excellencies. It makes a comfortable deliverance. As a forlorn and forsaken man, he is visited by an angel. It makes a glorious deliverance. Such a saint shall have not only safety, but honour. It makes an irresistible deliverance. There is no disappointing of this salvation.(3) The manner of this deliverance: how it was wrought. "He shut the mouths of the lions." God delivers not from the den, but when in it. How did he shut the mouths? By a secret power, weakening or restraining them; or by taming and allaying their fierceness; or restraining or slaking their hunger; or by making the prophet appear awful and dreadful to them.(4) The measure of the deliverance. Complete.(5) The motive which God graciously respected. A double innocence of the prophet. General, and particulars to this incident.
Outlines by a London Minister.I. THE ANTECEDENTS OF DANIEL'S MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE.
1. They remind us that the penalty of greatness is the envy of inferiors. Daniel was as the sun in the Persian kingdom, showing to all who come under his influence what a good ruler really was. But the intense light of his character was too strong for men whose conduct he then condemned, and who were thus made painfully conscious of their own shortcomings.
2. Envy will seek an opportunity of false accusation. It was the envy of the Jewish rulers which was the foundation of their false accusations against Christ.
3. They remind us that it may be the penalty of moral greatness to be condemned by legal greatness. The law of a nation may be a very strong law because of its great antiquity, but it may be a very wicked law notwithstanding, and whoever obeys it may bring himself under the penalty of a much more powerful and a much older law, the law of moral rectitude — a law older than the creation of man.
II. THE MIRACLE ITSELF. The lions did not act according to the instincts of their nature. This holding back of the appetite of the lions is the more remarkable, because the instinct returned as soon as Daniel's persecutors took his place in the den. Lessons:
1. The most pressing demands of business are not incompatible with daily waiting upon God in prayer.
2. Escape from trial of our constancy at one time is no guarantee that we shall not be called upon to prove it at another.
3. Sometimes disobedience to man is the highest virtue in the sight of God. When man's laws are in opposition to God's, the breaking of them is righteousness.
4. We are in the path of obedience to God, even though the obedience leads to death.
(Outlines by a London Minister.)
I. THE CONDUCT FOR WHICH DANIEL WAS THROWN INTO THE DEN OF LIONS. Daniel's enemies contrived to obtain the king's consent to a wicked decree, binding all men to abstain from worshipping any god, or asking a petition of any god or man, except the king himself, for thirty days. But the prophet, knowing that when human laws are found to clash with the divine commands, it is right to "obey God rather than man," continued, regardless of consequences, to pray to his God three times a day, as he had heretofore done. In the discharge of his duty to God, he had no real cause for dismay. God, he knew, was with him. Having, therefore, faithfully performed his duty, he submits to the will of his enemies, commits himself to Him that judges righteously, and calmly and steadily leaves the event in His hands.
II. THE EXTRAORDINARY FACT RECORDED, THAT DANIEL WAS TAKEN UP OUT OF THE DEN UNHURT. By this signal preservation of the life of Daniel among the lions, God displayed at once His power over the creatures of the forest which He had made, and His care over His servants when He calls them out to suffer for His cause. Under the protection of the Almighty, Daniel was as safe in the den of lions as he would have been in the palace, and under the protection of Darius. This God is our God for ever and ever. He will still honour and preserve them that honour Him, still bear up and support His faithful people.
III. The reason assigned for the miraculous interposition of God on Daniel's behalf. "Because he believed in his God." Mark what honour God puts upon faith. Faith was the spring of Daniel's holy obedience to God. Faith gave him peace and comfort, and brought down the angel of God into the lions' den. This holy principle has never failed to attract the divine regard, and to insure the approbation of God. This subject may teach us:
1. The importance, under all circumstances, of stedfast adherence to the path of duty. "Duties are ours, events are God's." One common duty of Christians is that of calmly resting under affliction, in patient submission to the will of God.
2. The importance of steady trust in God, especially in the great event of death, that last trial of the Christian.
3. This subject affords a ground of consolation to all faithful Christians in tribulation, and to the surviving friends of the departed saints.
Those men which had accused Daniel.Hebrews 11; Hebrews 6). Daniel recognised the presence of this divine power when he said that "God had sent His angel, and shut the lions' mouths." The sole difference between miracle and providence is, that in the former ease the ordinary laws of nature are suspended and interfered with by a higher power; in the latter nature is made to do the will of God in conformity with its usual way of working. And these two ways of acting have had each a suitableness for the times when God used them. The reason of this deliverance Daniel finds in the just government of God. For Daniel's enemies there was a fearful retribution. They had digged a pit, and fallen into the midst of it themselves. In Daniel's wonderful preservation both the king and all who had not shared in the crime saw emphatic proof of the guilt of the conspirators. Their own execution was most just, but our feelings revolt at the inclusion in the sentence of their wives and children. But that seems to have been the Persian custom. It is explained by the solidarity of interest between the members of the same family or of the same nation. The sins of one member of a family often involve all in ruin. A whole nation has to pay the penalty of the fault of its statesmen; a whole army is destroyed by the incapacity of its general. But equally all share in the results of the virtues, the wisdom, the ability of their leaders, and it would be a poor world if it were not so.
(Dean Payne Smith.)
Men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
1. The God of Daniel permits His children to be tempted and tried. Generally, trials are regarded as punishments and corrections. What divine end should we regard as attained by undeserved trial and suffering? Many evils befall good people because your bearing under the yoke conveys impressions of himself, and the work of grace in your hearts, which no other ministration can impress on the adamant heart of the ungodly.
2. Trials are also permissible as occasions of the revelation of God's special presence with His people. Not only was there something extraordinary in Daniel, but there was something more extraordinary around him. The animals were quiet. Daniel was protected by a divine hand.
3. There is here also the principle that faith is the link between the feeble and their God. "Because he believed in his God." It was faith that saluted the throne on high three times a day. It was faith that brought the assurance all would end well. It was faith that breathed calmness and patience in the breast. It was faith that made the heart rest securely on the Rock of Ages. O for a touch of that ancient faith. The angel of the covenant recognises faith, and helps her in her struggles with sin.
4. Here we see the God-revealing man. The king might have said, "The Daniel of God." What he said is more revealing, "the God of Daniel." What an association — the God of Daniel.
(T. Davies, M. A.)
He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth.
So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
I. SUPERIOR POWERS OF MIND. The Father of spirits has been pleased to display the same sovereignty in the bestowment of intellectual faculties, as in the bestowment of inferior favours. The minds of different men are differently constituted. In Daniel the various natural powers were equally strong and well-proportioned. His quick apprehension and retentive memory were happily united with a strong and penetrating judgment. He acquired knowledge with the greatest ease and rapidity. He was able to excel in every branch of science to which he turned his attention.
II. A LARGE SHARE OF GENERAL INFORMATION, WHICH CONTRIBUTED TO FORM HIM A GREAT AND SUCCESSFUL POLITICIAN. Civil government is extremely complicated and extensive, both in theory and practice. No species of human knowledge is foreign to the business of a statesman, who needs to be universally acquainted with men and things. And he had the best sources of information in his own hands, the sacred books of divine inspiration.
III. EXTRAORDINARY WISDOM. Before he was thirty, his eminent wisdom was universally known and celebrated, not only through the empire, but through all the neighbouring nations. Wisdom is a term of various and extensive meaning; it includes not only invention, but foresight and sagacity.
IV. DANIEL WAS A. MAN OF INVINCIBLE FIRMNESS. This was but the natural effect of his wisdom. He was able to think for himself, to form his own opinions, and to comprehend the nature and tendency of his own designs. This confidence inspired him with irresistible vigour and fortitude, in the prosecution of all his public measures.
V. DANIEL WAS A PATTERN OF INVIOLABLE INTEGRITY. He always aimed to do justice, and to treat every man according to the eternal rule of right. As a ruler, he acted upon principle, in guarding the lives, properties, and characters of his subjects. He derived his moral sentiments from the pure source of divine inspiration. The promotion of justice is the ultimate object of every branch of civil government. The exercise of justice is the indispensable duty of all civil rulers. Fidelity in civil rulers is, of all other virtues, the most acceptable to the people, who universally feel its happy influence in every condition of life. Aristides among the Greeks, Cato among the Romans, and Daniel among the Jews, will be for ever celebrated for their incorruptible integrity.
VI. NOTE DANIEL'S EMINENT PIETY AND DEVOTION. His religion was neither a glowing enthusiasm, nor a gloomy superstition; but a pure and steady principle of universal benevolence. He gave God the supreme affection of his heart; and was neither afraid nor ashamed to profess the true religion, in the midst of a country and a court that were involved in the grossest idolatry. He walked within his house with a perfect heart, and every day called upon God at the head of his family. The first thing suggested by this excellent character is, that great and good rulers are worthy of the highest respect. Who can contemplate the pious, virtuous, and useful life of Daniel, without paying him the sincere homage of the heart? All civil rulers of the same character are equally objects of the highest veneration and regard. The life of Daniel also admonishes civil rulers how much they are capable of doing, to promote the religious as well as civil interests of the people. We may learn, also, that those who sit in the highest seats of government, have no excuse to neglect the profession and practice of vital piety. Real religion is necessary on their own account, as well as on account of those who live under the influence of their powerful example. The faith and piety of Daniel reprove the ignorance and presumption of those politicians who profess and propagate the principles of infidelity. Also learn, that civil rulers had no occasion for the use of art or intrigue in any of their public measures. Those who conduct the intricate affairs of government ought to be wise and prudent, but they should never be artful or designing. And it may further be remarked that civil rulers have sufficient encouragement to be faithful in the discharge of all their public duties. Daniel found, by happy experience, that honesty was the best policy.
(N. Emmons, D.D.)
I. THE WISDOM OF DANIEL IS THE FIRST FEATURE IN HIS CHARACTER. That subordination and mutual subserviency which is the best cement of society, arises from the variety in the kinds and measures of wisdom which individuals possess; and the extraordinary degrees of it which raise some men above the rest of their species, are ordained of God to be the blessing or the scourge of the times in which they live. To Daniel was given to understand the secret things which belong to the Lord, and which are wisely and graciously hidden from all except those in whom it pleaseth the Father to reveal them.
1. This wisdom of Daniel was of use to the Jews.
2. To the Babylonians the wisdom of Daniel demonstrated the sovereignty of the true God.
3. To the world, the wisdom of Daniel opens a series of prophecies of general importance.
II. THE PIETY OF DANIEL IS THE OTHER FEATURE OF HIS CHARACTER. By applying this word to express the moral character of Daniel, I mean to intimate that the principles which animated his conduct, are discriminated from a peculiar temperature of constitution, from a sense of honour, from a regard to the opinion of the world, from all the other circumstances which produce the morality of those men who have not the fear of God before their eyes. The word piety marks the sentiment of religion as the support of his integrity, the spring of his exertions, the source of his comfort and hope, the companion and the quickener of every good affection in the breast. Wisdom and piety are not always joined. Daniel confessed upon every occasion, that the superiority of his knowledge was derived from that God who revealeth secrets. The innocence of his life is mentioned with honour by the Jewish writers. Scripture classes him with Noah and Job.
1. The manner in which the piety of Daniel was displayed.
(1) (2) 2. The manner in which the piety of Daniel was rewarded. Were piety in every instance overwhelmed by suffering, our faith in that which is future and unseen might be shaken, and many would be tempted to say that it is vain to serve God. Daniel's reward was not less eminent than his piety. (1) (2) (H. Hill, D.D.)
(2) 2. The manner in which the piety of Daniel was rewarded. Were piety in every instance overwhelmed by suffering, our faith in that which is future and unseen might be shaken, and many would be tempted to say that it is vain to serve God. Daniel's reward was not less eminent than his piety. (1) (2) (H. Hill, D.D.)
2. The manner in which the piety of Daniel was rewarded. Were piety in every instance overwhelmed by suffering, our faith in that which is future and unseen might be shaken, and many would be tempted to say that it is vain to serve God. Daniel's reward was not less eminent than his piety.
(1) (2) (H. Hill, D.D.)
(H. Hill, D.D.)
(H. Hill, D.D.)