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 had been exalted to very great worldly prosperity, but his soul had prospered too. Oftentimes outward advancement means inward decline. Tens of thousands have been intoxicated by success. Though they bade fair in starting in the race of life to win the prize, they were tempted to turn aside to gather the golden apples, and so they missed the crown. It was not so with Daniel — he was as perfect-before God in his high estate as in his lowlier days; and this is to be accounted for by the fact that he sustained the energy of his outward profession by constant secret communion with God. He was, we are told, a man of excellent spirit, and a man abundant in prayer; hence his head was not turned by his elevation, but the Lord fulfilled in him his promise to "make his servants' feet like hinds' feet, that they may stand upon their high places." Yet, although Daniel preserved his integrity, he did not find a position of greatness to be one of rest. As the birds peck at the ripest fruit, so his envious enemies assailed him; and as the most conspicuous warriors must attract the arrows of the foe, so the honours of Daniel brought upon him the enmities of many. Better to pine with Lazarus than feast with Dives, for the love of God more than compensates for temporary disadvantages. Better an ounce of divine grace than a ton of worldly goods. Though the good things come not as the left-handed blessings of outward prosperity, be thou more than content if thou win the right-handed benediction of spiritual joy.
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.)
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.