Daniel’s Prayer, a Critique

Daniel’s Prayer is an example for us to study and emulate, especially for forgiveness against the Law of Moses (Leviticus 26Deuteronomy 28); Daniel was not merely praying for his comfort and protection in the darkness. His concern was to pray for God’s people, the acknowledgement of their sins and asking for forgiveness and great mercies.

What Daniel admitted is unlike what Rabbi Tovia Singer and other rabbinic interpretation have in their teachings by shifting blames by assigning the “suffering servant” of Isaiah 53 to the nation of Israel “who silently endured unimaginable suffering at the hands of its gentile oppressors.” That is, to Rabbi Singer, Israel’s suffering is attributable to their wicked neighbours and not to themselves!

Making no excuses, Daniel confessed his people’s sin and acknowledged the justice of God’s judgement, severe though it had been. “We have sinned, we have done wickedly” Israel suffers because of her own sins; Period! In response from God, Daniel was greatly praised by the angel Gabriel, who was sent with further revelation or prophecy and said to Daniel, “I have come to show thee, for thou art greatly loved.”

Daniel is greatly loved, his example of a Prayer should be emulated and studied today. For example:

(1) Daniel does not say “they” but instead he says “we” incorporating the reality that all have sinned and all need forgiveness;

(2) instead of justifying like King Saul did, Daniel freely knowledges his and his nation’s iniquities, wickedness and rebellion against the Most High;

(3) nowhere in Daniel’s prayer did he put the blame on the wicked Chaldeans nor on Nebuchadnezzar, but squarely on themselves; and

(4) asks, “Open Thine ear and hear,” asks “O Lord, forgive! O Lord,” for forgiveness and for His great mercies on behalf of his people.

Daniel’s Prayer is found in Daniel 9

2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, came to understand by books the number of the years, according to the word of the Lord as it came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would spend seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

— seventy years of captivity in Babylon, for the house of Judah had forgotten God’s warning: “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate and your cities waste,” Leviticus 26:33.

3 And I (Daniel) set my face unto the Lord God, seeking by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.

4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession and said, “O Lord, the great and fearsome God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him and to them that keep His commandments,

5 we have sinned and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgements.

— instead of justifying like King Saul did, Daniel freely knowledges his nation’s iniquities, wickedness and rebellion against the Most High, departing from His precepts and from His judgements.

6 Neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day: to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel who are near and who are far off, through all the countries whither Thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee.

8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee.

9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him;

10 neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

11 “Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey Thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him.

— for not obeying God’s voice and transgressing upon His laws, Daniel freely admits “the curse is poured upon us” and Daniel offers no stupid excuses, unlike his latter-days pretenders and other stout-hearted;

— three times Nebuchadnezzar was described as “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant,” (Jeremiah 25:9, 27:6, 43:10); a savaging Nebuchadnezzar was just an instrument being used by God to horse-whipped Israel into shape;

— Ezra also freely admitted it was their sin or their fathers’ sin, “But after our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried the people away into Babylon,” Ezra 5:12

— by trying to divert sins is very much like what God’s anointed King Saul did. When asked why he disobeyed God by not destroying Amalek and all that they have, his defence was “but the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen,” and as a result he lost God’s favor: he lost a sound mind, consulted a witch and his kingdom was taken away from him.

12 And He hath confirmed His words which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil; for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.

13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us. Yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Thy truth.

14 Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all His works which He doeth, for we obeyed not His voice.

15 “And now, O Lord our God, who hast brought Thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast made Thee a name, as at this day — we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

— what Daniel admitted is unlike what Rabbi Tovia Singer and other rabbinic interpretation have in their teachings by assigning the “suffering servant” of Isaiah 53 to the nation of Israel “who silently endured unimaginable suffering at the hands of its gentile oppressors.” What nonsense, “we have sinned, we have done wickedly” Israel suffers because of her own sins; Period!

— but trying to divert sin is a great sin by itself. King Saul justified himself by saying “for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God.” King Saul blamed his disobedience on “the people.” It wasn’t a small matter and for this, Saul’s kingdom was removed;

— by contrast, when David sinned, he sinned with no pretence that he was keeping God’s laws. He clearly did not believe that he needed to pay the penalty for each. When the seer Nathan rebuked David concerning his sin involving Bathsheba and Uriah, he made no excuses, but instead immediately agreed with God about his sin (i.e. confessed it), repented and returned wholeheartedly to God. 

16 O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, I beseech Thee, let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; because for our sins and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all who are about us.

17 “Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant and his supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.

18 O my God, incline Thine ear and hear. Open Thine eyes and behold our desolations and the city which is called by Thy name; for we do not present our supplications before Thee because of our righteousnesses, but because of Thy great mercies.

19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and do! Defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God; for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.”

— nowhere in Daniel’s prayer did he put the blame on the wicked Chaldeans nor on Nebuchadnezzar, but squarely on themselves; the vicious and ravaging Chaldeans were just mere instruments used by God as three time Nebuchadnezzar was described as “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant,” (Jeremiah 25:9, 27:6, 43:10) to carry out His will;

— at no instance did Daniel called upon God to take revenge. Gentiles are not lilywhites, but God’s will for the Gentiles is His business alone, and He will carry out His judgement and revenge in His own space and time.

— Would the house of Judah need to go into captivity again, this time for forty years to be more like Daniel? See more in Ezekiel 4 – 390/40 Years.

~ by Joel Huan on May 13, 2022.

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