The Sovereignty of the God who Hears - Notes on Daniel 9:1-23
The book of Daniel is one that points to God's Sovereignty-- sovereignty not just over each individual but over every nation. Indeed, he is sovereign over all!
Daniel was just a young man when he was carried away as a prisoner by the Babylonians, the nation used by God to punish unrepentant Israel. His family background and characteristics are described in the first chapter: an Israelite "from the royal family and the nobility," a young man who was "handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace."
Chapter nine of Daniel hones in on a specific time period-- the first year of Darius' reign. Go back to chapter 5 and there we are told about how Darius received the kingdom after Belshazzar the Chaldean saw "the handwriting on the wall." In keeping with God's Word, God's judgement had come-- not just over Belshazzar but over the entire Baylonian empire.
The time period given to us in chapter nine is very important. Why? The answer can be found in verse two, which we will come back to in a moment.
First, let us observe Daniel's spiritual preparation.
- He studied and understood what was written in God's Word concerning God's promise through Jeremiah that after 70 years of exile, they will be brought back home (Daniel 9:1-2, Jeremiah 29:10-14).
- Daniel turned his "face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes" (Daniel 9:3).
Second, let's look at the content of what is known as the intercessory prayer of Daniel, "the greatly beloved of God." His prayer actually echoes the intercessory prayer of Abraham, "the friend of God," and of Moses, described as a "man of God" who spoke with God "face to face." We will do well to study and learn from these prayers in Genesis 18:22-33 and Exodus 32:11-13. AND, do not forget the intercessory prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 17!
- Daniel acknowledged who God is: "great and awesome," "keeps covenant and steadfast love," "to him belongs righteousness, mercy, and forgiveness," "angry with sin," (as was demonstrated on Calvary when the wrath of God came upon His own Son who bore our sins!)
- Daniel acknowledged who he was and who his people were before God: "we have sinned, and done wrong and acted wickedly," "we have not listened," "to us belongs open shame," "we have rebelled...and transgressed your law".
Daniel's prayer reveals to us that he studied and understood theology, for he had an accurate view of God and man. He knew God's Word and personally experienced God's dealings with him, his people, and with other nations. Ponder on the test of his faith in Daniel 6, when he obeyed God rather than man. Note Daniel's words concerning his understanding: God "has confirmed his words...by bringing upon a great calamity...yet we have not turned "from our iniquities."
As Daniel makes his plea before God, he uses the imperative: "O, Lord, hear...forgive...for your own sake...because your city and your people are called by your name." His use of the imperative shows not a demanding attitude but an earnest, intense petition before a holy and merciful God. The context makes clear that Daniel pleaded for mercy "in sackcloth and ashes."
Significantly, God sent the angel, Gabriel: "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" (Dan 9:23).
Now, we end here with two principles and some questions:
Principle 1: God is pleased when we approach him with humility and an accurate assessment of ourselves (See Daniel 4 for further study);
Principle 2: God is honored and glorified when we exalt Him (who He is) in our prayers.
Some questions" How is your walk with God? How deep is your knowledge of God? Daniel went through the valleys of life where he learned that the Lord is His Shepherd. So, consider the valleys as an opportunity for growth.