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 may be said,
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.
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.