My last post provided my notes from an adult Sunday school lesson I taught on the prayer of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 6. Once, again, I share my notes, but this time it is the prayer of Daniel in Daniel 9. These are literally my notes, therefore this will not read like a typical blog post. Rather, you will see a blend of info I taught, questions for the class, and asking people to read Scripture.
A number of OT books fall under the general category of prophetic. Most were pre-exilic, which makes sense because the prophetic office arose to call the people to repentance so they would not be exiled. Only 2 of the books were written in exile:
They were no longer in the land flowing with milk and honey, they had to eat dirt!
(A way to remember these 2 books!)
Only 3 were written post-exilic, the last 3 books of the OT: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
Today we will look at a prayer in Daniel chapter 9.
Have Daniel 9:1-3 read. This gives us the background or situation for the prayer.
Remember that the Southern Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians (aka Chaldeans). And there were 3 deportations: 588, 597, and 605 BC. Daniel was deported in the 605 group, when he was in his youth. Jeremiah predicted the exile would last 70 yrs (as Daniel references), and the time was about up. This also means Daniel was an old man, likely between 85-90 yrs old. The conquering of the Babylonians by the Medo-Persians prepared the way for the liberation of the Jews. The Persians handled things differently. Here in verses 1-3, nothing had happened yet regarding the end of exile, and 70 yrs is a long time to wait!
In verse 3, how did Daniel respond to this situation? And how might have he responded differently? Or how can you imagine yourself responding?
–He turned to the Lord and pleaded and prayed.
He could have been angry or impatient or even rejected faith after all these years of waiting.
Have verse 4 read.
How does Daniel begin the prayer? What is his focus?
-He elevates God, and refers to his attributes. God is great, awesome, and faithful.
Now I want someone to read vs 5 but only the first 3 words.
“We have sinned…”
Now keep reading verses 5-6.
A variety of words/phrases are used to describe their sin. Name some for me.
– Iniquity or done wrong, wicked, rebelled, departed or turned away from God’s commands, did not heed or listen to the prophets
Note the pronoun “we.” This is Daniel praying and it is a private or personal prayer, not a public one like we looked at last week with Solomon. Plural pronouns like “we” are used throughout the entire prayer. I think a couple different points can be noted from the plural pronoun usage.
Can you think of some implications of Daniel praying “we”??
Daniel includes himself in the sin. Remember that Daniel was an example of righteous living in a pagan nation. Nothing bad is said about Daniel, unlike many other biblical characters. Such as King David, a man after God’s own heart, but he was also an adulterer and murderer. I’d understand David praying “we” – but Daniel?
In the “we” there is confession by proxy. Daniel is speaking for his people.
*Read note from Ronovare Bible*
“In this prayer Daniel confesses his own sin and also the sin of the people of God, one of many biblical examples of confession by proxy. Although it can never take the place of confession of our individual and specific sins, we should not overlook corporate confession in our own practice. During your next prayer time, contemplate the sin of your family, your church, your nation; confess these too and ask God’s forgiveness even for those sins in which you have been unwittingly complicit.” (Page 1266)
When you pray, how often do you consider the sin of your family, church, and nation? Or do you typically only pray for forgiveness about your own personal sin?
Let’s keep going in Daniel 9, and someone read verses 7-9 in just a moment. – In the NKJ in each of these verses the word “belongs” is used, about either God or the people. And I liked how the “belong” made it stand out. The other versions word it a bit differently, but there are contrasts made between God and the people. As you listen, note what God is like and what the people are like.
-God is righteous, merciful, and forgiving.
People are covered with shame, unfaithful, rebellious
We won’t read verse 10-15, but they reiterate the people’s sin. They were given the law but did not obey it, and warned of the consequences but did not heed the warnings.
But in verses 7- 9 we noted the contrast between God and the people.
Daniel was preoccupied with God’s character.
Have someone read the phrases from vs 7, 14, and 16.
Maybe all the emphasis on sin in this prayer seems exaggerated, but compared to God we are not righteous.
Now could someone read Daniel 9:18.
On what basis does Daniel plead with God?
-Not the people’s merits or righteousness, but God’s great mercy or compassion.
This ties in well with the sermon series on Romans.
Have read: Romans 3:10 and 23.
This is a lot of bad news, but the good news is coming.
Have read: 1 John 2:1 and 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.
Through faith in Christ we can become righteous in God’s sight. Romans 3:22 says that “righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” – Remember this is the great doctrine of justification we looked at in a lesson a couple months ago.
The last 3 verses of Daniel’s prayer are 17-19. We already read vs 18, so let’s read verses 17 and 19 and see the prayer come to a close.
Daniel was bold here at the end, wasn’t he? What bold statements do you notice?
–Listen! Forgive! take action! do not delay!
And exclamation points are used. There was no punctuation in the ancient Hebrew, so evidently the translators saw something that indicated exclamation points were needed.
We will end here, but in the next verses the angel Gabriel comes to Daniel and offers him some answers.
In closing, I wanted to do two group participatory things. (Give handout.)
In this prayer, we saw Daniel use the word “we”, including himself in the sin, and praying for the sins of his people. And I thought we could read together this prayer from the back of the United Methodist hymnal. #890
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we we might delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your name. Amen.
In Daniel’s prayer, particularly in verse 18, Daniel’s plea was based on God’s righteousness – not the people’s righteousness. And I thought we could sing this old hymn together entitled: “No other plea” – Lets sing all 4 verses.