Daniel 9 & Psalm 117-118

Daniel

Chapter 9

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.

“Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

(Daniel 9 ESV)


Psalm

Chapter 117

    Praise the LORD, all nations!
        Extol him, all peoples!
    For great is his steadfast love toward us,
        and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
    Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 117 ESV)


Psalm

Chapter 118

    Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
        for his steadfast love endures forever!
    
    
    Let Israel say,
        “His steadfast love endures forever.”
    Let the house of Aaron say,
        “His steadfast love endures forever.”
    Let those who fear the LORD say,
        “His steadfast love endures forever.”
    
    
    Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
        the LORD answered me and set me free.
    The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
        What can man do to me?
    The LORD is on my side as my helper;
        I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
    
    
    It is better to take refuge in the LORD
        than to trust in man.
    It is better to take refuge in the LORD
        than to trust in princes.
    
    
    All nations surrounded me;
        in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
    They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
        in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
    They surrounded me like bees;
        they went out like a fire among thorns;
        in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
    I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
        but the LORD helped me.
    
    
    The LORD is my strength and my song;
        he has become my salvation.
    Glad songs of salvation
        are in the tents of the righteous:
    “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
        the right hand of the LORD exalts,
        the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”
    
    
    I shall not die, but I shall live,
        and recount the deeds of the LORD.
    The LORD has disciplined me severely,
        but he has not given me over to death.
    
    
    Open to me the gates of righteousness,
        that I may enter through them
        and give thanks to the LORD.
    This is the gate of the LORD;
        the righteous shall enter through it.
    I thank you that you have answered me
        and have become my salvation.
    The stone that the builders rejected
        has become the cornerstone.
    This is the LORD's doing;
        it is marvelous in our eyes.
    This is the day that the LORD has made;
        let us rejoice and be glad in it.
    
    
    Save us, we pray, O LORD!
        O LORD, we pray, give us success!
    
    
    Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
        We bless you from the house of the LORD.
    The LORD is God,
        and he has made his light to shine upon us.
    Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
        up to the horns of the altar!
    
    
    You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
        you are my God; I will extol you.
    Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
        for his steadfast love endures forever!

(Psalm 118 ESV)

For the Love of God

D.A. Carson

 

DANIEL’S GREAT INTERCESSORY PRAYER (Dan. 9:1-19) cries out for prolonged meditation. The date is 539 B.C. Daniel “understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet” (9:2; cf. Jer. 25:11; 29:10), that the seventy years were up — which on the face of it shows that Jeremiah’s writing quickly circulated as Scripture. Some reflections:

(1) The “seventy years” have occasioned some dispute. There were different ways of calculating the period of exile (see, for example, the figures in Ezek. 4). Some argue that seventy years is merely an idealized fixed term for God’s wrath (cf. Zech. 1:12; 2 Chron. 36:21). If (as is more likely) this refers to seventy literal years, the best judgment is that the beginning of the seventy is 609, when the Babylonians beat the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish, with the result that Judah for the first time became a vassal state in service to Babylon.

(2) When Daniel becomes aware from Scripture just when the close of the exile would take place, far from resting and waiting for the promises to come true, he prays for such fulfillment. The peculiar dynamic between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in the Bible never retreats to fatalism. The promises of God are incentives to intercession.

(3) Daniel’s confession is general, not personal: “we have sinned and done wrong. . . . We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away . . .” — and so forth. Here Daniel reminds us of Isaiah, who joins together personal and general confession (Isa. 6:6). It is doubtful that we can fruitfully pray for our church and our culture without confessing our own sin.

(4) The heart of the confession is that Daniel and his people have turned away from God’s commands and laws (9:5), have not listened to God’s servants the prophets (9:6), have not obeyed the laws God gave through his servants the prophets (9:10), have transgressed the Law (9:11), and have not sought the favor of the Lord their God by turning from their sins and giving attention to his truth (9:13). Note carefully: the heart of the matter, as Daniel sees it, is neglect of what God said or disobedience to what he said. That is always the heart of the issue. Conversely, genuine sanctification comes through adherence to God’s words (Ps. 1:2; John 17:17). That is why the rising biblical illiteracy within confessional churches, let alone the culture at large, is the most distressing and threatening symptom among us.

(5) Daniel recognizes that the judgments that have befallen God’s people are both just and perfectly in line with Scripture (9:7, 11b-14). What bearing does this have on us today?

(6) What are the grounds of Daniel’s appeal for relief?