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Daniel 9:4

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And I prayed unto the Lord my God - Evidently a set and formal prayer. It would seem probable that; he offered this prayer, and then re corded the substance of it afterward. We have no reason to suppose that we have the whole of it, but we have doubtless its principal topics.

And made my confession - Not as an individual, or not of his own sins only, but a confession in behalf of the people, and in their name. There is no reason to suppose that what he here says did “not” express their feelings. They had been long in captivity - far away from their desolate city and temple. They could not but be sensible that these calamities had come upon them on account of their sins; and they could not but feel that the calamities could not be expected to be removed but by confession of their sins, and by acknowledging the justice of the Divine dealings toward them. When we have been afflicted - when we are called to pass through severe trials - and when, borne down by trial, we go to God, and pray that the evil may be removed, the first thing that is demanded is, that we should confess our sins, and acknowledge the justice of God in the judgments that have come upon us. If we attempt to vindicate and justify ourselves, we can have no hope that the judgment will be averted. Daniel, therefore, in the name of the people, began his prayer with the humble and penitent acknowledgment that all that they had suffered was deserved.

O Lord, the great and dreadful God - A God great, and to be feared or venerated - הנורא hanôrâ' This does not mean “dreadful” in the sense that there is anything stern or unamiable in his character, but mainly that he is to be regarded with veneration.

Keeping the covenant and mercy - Keeping his covenant and showing mercy. This is often ascribed to God, that he is faithful to his covenant; that is, that he is faithful to his promises to his people, or to those who sustain a certain relation to him, and who are faithful to “their” covenant vows. If there is alienation and estrangement, and want of faithfulness on either side, it does not begin with him. He is faithful to all his promises, and his fidelity may always be assumed as a basis of calculation in all our intercourse with him. See the word “covenant,” in Cruden‘s “Concordance.” The word mercy seems to be added here to denote that mercy enters into his dealings with us even in keeping the covenant. We are so sinful and so unfaithful ourselves, that if “he” is faithful to his covenant, it must be by showing mercy to us.

To them that love him … - The conditions of the covenant extend no farther than this, since, in a compact of any kind, one is bound to be faithful only while the terms are maintained by the other party. So God binds himself to show favor only while we are obedient, and we can plead his covenant only when we are obedient, when we confess our sins and plead his promises in this sense - that he has assured us that he will restore and receive us if we are penitent. It was this which Daniel pleaded on this occasion. He could not plead that his people had been obedient, and had thus any claims to the Divine favor; but he could cast himself and them on the mercy of a covenant-keeping God, who would remember his covenant with them if they were penitent, and who would graciously pardon.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 184

Verse 4

We here have the opening of Daniel’s wonderful prayer, — a prayer expressing such humiliation and contrition of heart that one must be without feeling who can read it unmoved. He commences by acknowledging the faithfulness of God. God never fails in any of his engagements with his followers. It was not from any lack on God’s part in defending and upholding them, that the Jews were then in the furnace of captivity, but only on account of their sins.DAR 184.4

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
In every prayer we must make confession, not only of the sins we have been guilty of, but of our faith in God, and dependence upon him, our sorrow for sin, and our resolutions against it. It must be our confession, the language of our convictions. Here is Daniel's humble, serious, devout address to God; in which he gives glory to him as a God to be feared, and as a God to be trusted. We should, in prayer, look both at God's greatness and his goodness, his majesty and mercy. Here is a penitent confession of sin, the cause of the troubles the people for so many years groaned under. All who would find mercy must thus confess their sins. Here is a self-abasing acknowledgment of the righteousness of God; and it is evermore the way of true penitents thus to justify God. Afflictions are sent to bring men to turn from their sins, and to understand God's truth. Here is a believing appeal to the mercy of God. It is a comfort that God has been always ready to pardon sin. It is encouraging to recollect that mercies belong to God, as it is convincing and humbling to recollect that righteousness belongs to him. There are abundant mercies in God, not only forgiveness, but forgivenesses. Here are pleaded the reproach God's people was under, and the ruins God's sanctuary was in. Sin is a reproach to any people, especially to God's people. The desolations of the sanctuary are grief to all the saints. Here is an earnest request to God to restore the poor captive Jews to their former enjoyments. O Lord, hearken and do. Not hearken and speak only, but hearken and do; do that for us which none else can do; and defer not. Here are several pleas and arguments to enforce the petitions. Do it for the Lord Christ's sake; Christ is the Lord of all. And for his sake God causes his face to shine upon sinners when they repent, and turn to him. In all our prayers this must be our plea, we must make mention of his righteousness, even of his only. The humble, fervent, believing earnestness of this prayer should ever be followed by us.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Keeping the covenant - Fidelity and truth are characteristics of God. He had never yet broken his engagements to his followers, and was ever showing mercy to men.

Ellen G. White
Conflict and Courage, 256.1

And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession. Daniel 9:3, 4. CC 256.1

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Ellen G. White
Conflict and Courage, 256.4

What a prayer was that which came forth from the lips of Daniel! What humbling of soul it reveals! The warmth of heavenly fire was recognized in the words that were going upward to God. Heaven responded to that prayer by sending its messenger to Daniel. In this our day, prayers offered in like manner will prevail with God. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” As in ancient times, when prayer was offered, fire descended from heaven, and consumed the sacrifice upon the altar, so in answer to our prayers, the heavenly fire will come into our souls. The light and power of the Holy Spirit will be ours.... CC 256.4

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 258.5

Seek righteousness, and stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. This is your only safety. God calls upon you to seek Him with humility of heart. Read Daniel's prayer, and see if your experience will stand the test of fire. God will richly bless those who humble themselves before Him.... TDG 258.5

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