Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem…
Daniel was at this time advanced in years. His principles, good at the first, had grown in strength and mutual support. At his age ha was not to be surprised by alarm nor driven into rashness. His character had been moulded into heavenly shape under the rough handling of oppression and persecution, and now every fibre of his moral nature had toughness and tenacity. He was manly because he was eminently devout.
I. TRUE PIETY FINDS ITS CHIEF EXPRESSION IN PRAYER. Piety shows itself in many acts, some of which, though useful, are accidental; one, however, is essential, viz. prayer. If there be no outgoing of desire from the soul Godwards, there is no real piety; if there be prayer, vocal or silent, there is piety. Pious men, when placed in perilous circumstances on account of their faith, may suspend (sometimes must suspend) overt acts of public worship; they may never relinquish prayer A beggar asking alms, a child thanking its parent, a subject honouring his monarch, - these are earthly acts parallel to prayer. When first the gospel found its way into the hearts of the Malagasy, they did not style themselves Christians - they simply styled themselves the praying people. Prayer is the distinctive mark and badge of piety. What colour is to the rainbow, what saltness is to the sea, what roundness is to the circle, - such prayer is to piety. It is its essential element. It is the breath of spiritual life.
II. TRUE PIETY HAS RESPECT TO MINUTE PRECEPTS. For Daniel to pray was the first principle of his religion. To pray three times a day, to pray with his window open, to pray with his face toward Jerusalem, - these things were non-essentials. Nevertheless, there was a fitness and a propriety in these minuter acts. If not positive commands from God, they were indications of God's pleasure. Daniel had found them helpful to his spirit's health. Such habits of piety had been sanctioned by the most eminent saints who had gone before him. David had ascribed his elevation and his prosperity to the favour of God, and David had been accustomed to pray three times a day. The temple in Jerusalem had contained the only visible symbol of the Divine Presence on earth. Thither the longing heart of every pious Jew turned. On what ground should these pious habits be abandoned? It would not conciliate the unreasonable hostility of Daniel's detractors. The king's decree was not directed against these minor forms, but against prayer itself. Amidst so many unfriendly influences, it is wise to secure every vantage-ground for piety.
III. TRUE PIETY IS SELF-CONSISTENT. When the ridiculous decree of the king was promulgated, Daniel wisely resolved not to alter his course by a single point. He will steer his bark straight for the port of heaven, come what may. To a self-willed man, the temptation would be strong to resist the imperious interference of the king, and to pray more frequently and more prominently than before. To a timid man the inducement would be to close his chamber-window, and clandestinely do that which the new law disallowed. But Daniel leant neither to temerity nor to timidity. He maintained an upright and straightforward demeanour. Every habit of his life had been formed under the guidance of wisdom and discretion, and terror shall not rob him of advantages which experience has given. His loyalty to God is an obligation earlier, stronger, deeper, than loyalty to an earthly king. As God bad been a true and trusty Friend for seventy years and more, it would be base ingratitude to neglect him now.
IV. TRUE PIETY ACTS WITHOUT REGARD TO MAN'S JUDGMENT. In every circumstance of life, God's honour being first secured, the pious man will find a delight in serving his fellow-men. But to attempt to appease malice by abandoning honest principle, would be, in very deed, to "cast pearls before swine," Full well Daniel knew that his enemies were watching his every step, yet would he not submit to the slightest compromise or concealment. These princes and presidents degraded themselves into spies and informers. They watched, as with wolves' eyes, the open lattice of this man of God. Their organs of bearing were made sensitively alive by keen suspicion. As the fowler watches for his prey in the net which he has spread, so these inhuman spies watched for the successful issue of their plot. In breathless haste they press into the council-chamber of the king, and divulge what they have heard and seen. They employ every stratagem that can arouse his anger and enflame his wrath. They meanly point to Daniel's foreign origin. They knavely describe his deed as treason against the king. "This fellow," urged they, "doth not regard thee, O king. He tramples on thy authority, and treats as a dead letter thy royal edict." Not a stone was left unturned by which they might injure the innocent man. Nevertheless, Daniel maintained a dignified and peaceful demeanour. To be right was with him a higher honour than to be respected. He was no stoic. He had all the better feelings of a man. He entertained the good opinion of his fellows at its true value. He would be delighted to enjoy that good opinion if he could have, at the same time, the approbation of his God. But the latter was paramount, transcendent, priceless. And if, as the result of his loyalty to God, men maligned and hated him, much as he lamented the fact, he was content to face the consequence. It is, after all, comparatively a little thing to be approved or reprobated by man's judgment. "He that judgeth us is the Lord." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
WEB: When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house (now his windows were open in his room toward Jerusalem) and he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did before.