Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem…
It is peculiarly pleasing and useful, to be able to contemplate an instance of genuine, decisive, impartial, persevering, unrebukable religion before God and the Father. Such an one we have in Daniel. He had doubtless his infirmities; for there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not; but nothing is alleged against him. I do not remember that any other individual recorded in the Scriptures has entirely escaped censure.
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.
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.