7.30 Daniel -- Daniel's Prayer
In chapter 9, we finally get a more personal look at Daniel’s own beliefs. Till now, most of what has occurred to him, whether interpreting dreams or having visions, has not taught us much about the man himself. But here we see him reading the prophecies of Jeremiah, then pouring out his heart to God, and finally being visited by the angel Gabriel.
We learn, first, that Daniel had devoted himself to the study of much more than Babylonian language and literature (Dan 1:4, Dan 1:17). He knew the Law of Moses, the holy history of his people (Dan 9:11-16), and at least one of the prophets. This in itself is a significant circumstance, as we have one prophet taking the words of another as Scripture. Moreover, Jeremiah’s words were written in 605 (Jer 25:1), and Daniel was reading them just 66 years later in 539, yet he already regarded them as authoritative Scripture (Dan 9:1-2). He sought God with fasting, prayer, and humiliation, apparently for fear that He might delay in restoring His people after 70 years (Dan 9:19), as He promised through Jeremiah. Or it may be, as J. I. Packer suggests, that he saw the day of redemption drawing near but also recognized that his people were far from ready (Packer, J. I., Knowing God, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973. p, 24). This was, in fact, the very year in which Cyrus was moved by God to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chron 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-4).
In this moving prayer, he positioned himself as representing all Israel, even those northern tribes scattered throughout Assyria almost 200 years earlier. He did not distance himself, but stood in shame (Dan 9:7-8), confessing unfaithfulness, sin, and rebellion (and calling it his as well as his people’s), all of which brought down God’s curse upon them (Dan 9:11). Israel had not repented nor sought God, even to this day. Acknowledging that the Lord is altogether righteous, Daniel prayed for forgiveness and mercy, if only so that the reproach against the Lord’s Name might be silenced.