Then said he to me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that you did set your heart to understand, and to chasten yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I am come for your words.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)From the first day.—The meaning appears to be that this vision was vouchsafed to him in consequence of his prayer to understand what would befal his people in the future. The prayer was heard from the first day that he offered it, but it had been impossible for him to realise the answer before the present time, for reasons mentioned in the next verse.
For from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand - That is, by a season of extraordinary devotion. Daniel had devoted three full weeks to such a service Daniel 10:2-3, and it would seem from this that one object which he had in view was to make inquiry about the future condition of his people, or to learn what was his own duty in the present circumstances, or what methods he might use to secure the return of his countrymen to their own land. The circumstances of the case were such as to make either of these inquiries proper; and the angel now affirms that, from the first day when he entered on these investigations, he was despatched to come to him, and to assure him that his prayer was heard. The reason why he had not sooner arrived, and why Daniel was left to continue his prayers so long without any answer being returned, is stated in the following verses. Compare the notes at Daniel 9:23.
And to chasten thyself before thy God - That is, by fasting and humiliation. Literally, to afflict thyself.
Thy words were heard - In heaven. Another proof that prayer is at once heard, though the answer may be long delayed. The instance before us shows that the answer to prayer may seem, to be delayed, from causes unknown to us, though the prayer ascends at once to heaven, and God designs to answer it. In this case, it was deferred by the detention of the messenger on the way Daniel 10:13; in other cases it may be from a different cause; but it should never be set down as a proof that prayer is not heard, and that it will not be answered, because the answer is not granted at once. Weeks, or months, or years may elapse before the Divine purpose shall be made known, though, so to speak, the messenger may be on his way to us. Something may prevent the answer being borne to us; some "prince of the kingdom of Persia" may withstand the messenger; some cause which we may not know may hinder the immediate answer of our prayer, either in our own hearts, or in outward events which cannot at once be controlled without a miracle, or in the feelings and views of our friends whom we seek to have converted and saved; but the purpose to answer the prayer may have been simultaneous with its being offered, and a train of measures may have been commenced at once to bring about the result, though many weeks or months of delay, of anxiety, of tears, may elapse before we attain the object we desired.
Daniel would have been cheered in his days of fasting and service if he had known that an angel was on his way to him to comfort him, and to communicate to him an answer from God; often - if not always - in our days of deepest anxiety and trouble; when our prayers seem not to penetrate the skies; when we meet with no response; when the thing for which we pray seems to be withheld; when our friends remain unconverted; when irreligion abounds and prevails; when we seem to be doing no good, and when calamity presses upon us, if we saw the arrangement which God was already making to answer the prayer, and could see the messenger on the way, our hearts would exult, and our tears would cease to flow. And why, in our days of trouble and anxiety, should we not believe that it is so; and that God, even though the delay may seem to be long, will yet show himself to be a hearer and an answerer of prayer?
didst set thine heart to understand—what shall come to pass to thy people at the last times (compare Da 10:14).
chasten thyself—(Da 10:2, 3).
thy words were heard—(Ac 10:4). Prayer is heard at once in heaven, though the sensible answer may seem to be delayed. God's messenger was detained on the way (Da 10:13) by the opposition of the powers of darkness. If in our prayers amidst long protracted sorrows we believed God's angel is on his way to us, what consolation it would give us!
for thy words—because of thy prayers.1. The Lord is quick in hearing the fervent prayer of a humble soul, though he doth not presently let them know it. God heard the first day, though he sent not his angel to tell Daniel of it till three weeks after.
for from the first day thou didst set thine heart to understand; not so much the former visions which he had an understanding of, as the future state of his people; or rather, the reason of their present distressed condition, being hindered by their enemies in rebuilding their city and temple:
and to chasten thyself before thy God; to humble himself in prayer, and to afflict himself by fasting:
thy words were heard; his prayers were heard, and an answer ordered to be given, the very first day he began to pray, and fast, and mourn, though it was now full three weeks since; just as, at the beginning of his former supplications, Gabriel had a commandment to go and show him that they were heard, Daniel 9:23,Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. set thine heart] lit. give thine heart, i.e. apply thyself: a late idiom, found otherwise only in 1 Chronicles 22:19; 2 Chronicles 11:16; Ecclesiastes 1:13; Ecclesiastes 1:17; Ecclesiastes 7:21; Ecclesiastes 8:9; Ecclesiastes 8:16.
to understand] viz. the future destiny of Israel. Anxious questionings on the future of his people were the occasion of his prolonged mourning and abstinence (Daniel 10:2-3).
and to humble thyself before thy God] The verb, though it may be used more generally (Psalm 107:17), is applied here, as in Ezra 8:21 (‘then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek of him a straight way,’ &c.), to the self-denial and mortification accompanying a fast. The more common (and technical) expression in the same sense is to humble (or [R.V.] afflict) the soul: see Leviticus 16:29; Leviticus 16:31; Leviticus 23:27; Leviticus 23:29; Leviticus 23:32; Numbers 29:7 (all of the fast of the Day of Atonement); Isaiah 58:3; Isaiah 58:5; Psalm 35:13 (‘I humbled my soul in fasting’); in a more general sense, Numbers 30:13 (of a vow of self-denial). The corresponding subst. ta‘ănith has the same meaning in Ezra 9:5 (R.V. marg.); and regularly in post-Biblical Hebrew (the Mishnic treatise ‘Ta‘anith’ deals with fasting).
and I am come because of thy words] i.e. the prayer implied in Daniel 10:2-3. ‘I am come’ is resumed at the beginning of Daniel 10:14, the explanation of the angel’s delay in Daniel 10:13 being parenthetical.Verse 12 - Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. Both the LXX. and Theodotion insert Kepler before Θεοῦ. This is the more remarkable as Κύριος stands for "Jehovah" usually in the Greek versions - a title rarely occurring in Daniel in, and only in, the prayer of the preceding chapter. This addition does not occur in the Peshitta or Vulgate. He said unto me, Fear not, Daniel. Still the signs of terror were manifest in Daniel, and the angel spoke encouragingly to him. For from the first day, etc. When Daniel had begun his petition to God and his effort to understand God's purpose concerning his people, then God had commissioned Gabriel. The whole process of humiliation, fasting, and prayer was allowed to go on to its completion before Gabriel came, in order to deepen in Daniel the desire for the hoped-for revelation, and thus enhance the joy of it when it came, and, perchance, also to justify to higher intelligences the giving of this special communication (comp. Daniel 9:20) as to the answer being ready even while the petition was being put up. And I am come for thy words. Professor Fuller sees in this an additional tenderness. Zockler sees in it that in the Divine counsel Gabriel was commissioned, but was hindered for reasons assigned in the next verse. Daniel 5:23) charged the king. The carrying away of the temple vessels to Babylon and placing them in the temple of Bel was a sign of the defeat of the God to whom these vessels were consecrated (see under Daniel 1:2); the use of these vessels in the drinking of wine at a festival, amid the singing of songs in praise of the gods, was accordingly a celebrating of these gods as victorious over the God of Israel. And it was not a spirit of hostility aroused against the Jews which gave occasion, as Kranichfeld has well remarked, to this celebration of the victory of his god; but, as the narrative informs us, it was the reckless madness of the drunken king and of his drunken guests (cf. Daniel 5:2) during the festival which led them to think of the God of the Jews, whom they supposed they had subdued along with His people, although He had by repeated miracles forced the heathen world-rulers to recognise His omnipotence (cf. Daniel 2:47; Daniel 3:, Daniel 4:14 [Daniel 4:17], 31 , 34 ). In the disregard of these revelations consisted, as Daniel represents to Belshazzar (cf. Daniel 5:18), the dishonour done to the Lord of heaven, although these vessels of the sanctuary might have been profaned merely by using them as common drinking vessels, or they might have been used also in religious libations as vessels consecrated to the gods, of which the text makes no mention, although the singing of songs to the praise of the gods along with the drinking makes the offering of libations very probable. The six predicates of the gods are divided by the copula וinto two classes: gold and silver - brass, iron, wood and stone, in order to represent before the eyes in an advancing degree the vanity of these gods.
The warning signs, the astonishment of Belshazzar, the inability of the wise men to give counsel, and the advice of the queen.
Unexpectedly and suddenly the wanton mad revelry of the king and his guests was brought to a close amid terror by means of a warning sign. The king saw the finger of a man's hand writing on the plaster of the wall of the festival chamber, and he was so alarmed that his whole body shook. The בּהּ־שׁעתא places the sign in immediate connection with the drinking and the praising of the gods. The translation, in the self-same hour, is already shown to be inadmissible (see under Daniel 3:6). The Kethiv נפקוּ (came forth) is not to be rejected as the indefinite determination of the subject, because the subject follows after it; the Keri נפקה is to be rejected, because, though it suits the gender, it does not in respect of number accord with the subject following. The king does not see the whole hand, but only ידא פּס, the end of the hand, that is, the fingers which write. This immediately awakened the thought that the writing was by a supernatural being, and alarmed the king out of his intoxication. The fingers wrote on the plaster of the wall over against the candlestick which stood on the table at which the king sat, and which reflected its light perceptibly on the white wall opposite, so that the fingers writing could be distinctly seen. The feast had been prolonged into the darkness of the night, and the wall of the chamber was not wainscotted, but only plastered with lime, as such chambers are found in the palaces of Nimrud and Khorsabad covered over only with mortar (cf. Layard's Nineveh and Babylon).
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