Reproof by the Saintly
Daniel 4:19, 26, 27
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spoke, and said…

Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him (ver. 19). "Astonied for one hour." This is not quite accurate. The meaning is that Daniel was so troubled, so overcome, that he remained for some time without uttering a word. Perhaps he stood gazing at the king in mute amazement and sorrow. At length the king himself broke the distressing silence, encouraging the prophet to cast away all fear of consequences, and to tell the meaning, whatever it might be. With much trembling, doubtless, in a tone of deep respect, with fidelity softened by tenderness, Daniel proceeded to point out the meaning - the king's sin and the king's doom. This passage in the history suggests much as to the giving and receiving of reproof. We are our brothers' keepers, but it is to be feared that this duty of spiritual guardianship is one very much neglected. Let us first look at things from the point of view of -

I. THE BEPROVED. There are many difficulties in approaching a man with even the most necessary reproof, most of which were present in this case of the king. A sinner is like a fort surrounded by many lines of entrenchment. The reprover is quite conscious of the strength of the moral fortification, and is oft deterred from his duty. The reproved is ready to repel reproof by virtue of:

1. Self-love. "Most quick, delicate, and constant of all feelings."

2. Pride. The reprover seems to assume the office of both lawgiver and judge. But what right this superiority?

3. Difference in social rank. It matters not whether, as in this case, the reproved be of superior rank or of inferior. If the former, the reproved resents the audacity; if the latter, what he is pleased to call the patronage.

4. Absence of moral aspiration. The reproved does not really desire to be better than he is.

5. Contrariety of judgment. The reproved doubts the principle upon which you are proceeding; e.g. you expostulate with a man on the sin of gambling; but he disputes your premiss, viz. that there is wrong in gambling. There is no sin or vice which some men will not be found to defend. Nebuchadnezzar may have considered all his oppressions of the poor, etc., as quite within his kingly right.

6. Suspicion of the reprover's motive.

II. THE REPROVER - his tone and spirit. He should be characterized by:

1. Sincere and simple sympathy for the man. In this respect Daniel was perfect.

2. Grief over the moral position.

3. Sorrow for the consequences.

4. Fidelity.

5. Courtesy. Note the tone of vers. 19, 27. Daniel was mindful of his relation to his king.

6. Hopefulness. Daniel gave counsel simple, comprehensive, direct. And then expresses a large hope, "If it may be," etc. (vers. 26, 27). Some elements in -


1. It was solicited. An immense advantage.

2. Based on adequate knowledge. Nothing can be more paralyzing to a would-be reprover than to find that he is proceeding either on false or unproved assumptions.

3. Strong by authority of truth. "In presenting admonitory or accusatory truth, it should be the instructor's aim that the authority may be conveyed in the truth itself, and not seem to be assumed by him as the speaker of it." "One man, a discreet and modest one (and not the less strong for that), shall keep himself as much as he can out of the pleading, and press the essential virtue and argument of the subject. Another makes himself prominent in it, so that yielding to the argument shall seem to be yielding to him. His style, expressly or in effect, is this: 'I think my opinion should have some weight in this case;' 'These arguments are what have satisfied me;' 'If you have any respect for my judgment,' etc. So that the great point with him is not so much that you should be convinced, as that he should bare the credit of convincing you."

4. Well-timed. "The teller of unpleasing truths should watch to select favourable times and occasions (mollia tempora fandi) when an inquisitive or docile disposition is most apparent; when some circumstance or topic naturally leads without formality or abruptness; when there appears to be in the way the least to put him (the person reproved) in the attitude of pride and hostile self-defence" For aught we know, Daniel may have had it on his mind for a long time to speak to the king; at length the day of opportunity dawned.


1. The reproof was not at once successful. For a year more (ver. 29) the king seems to have gone on, in the same spirit, to do the same deeds.

2. But was so finally. (Ver. 34.) When reproof had been emphasized by judgment. The memory, then, of Daniel's counsel. - R.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.

WEB: Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was stricken mute for a while, and his thoughts troubled him. The king answered, Belteshazzar, don't let the dream, or the interpretation, trouble you. Belteshazzar answered, My lord, the dream be to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries.

Prophetic Counsel
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