Online Bible Commentary
Daniel 9:8 O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have done wickedly! (NKJV)
Daniel had been brought into captivity by Babylon in 605 B.C., as a teenager. Assuming he was fifteen at the time, Daniel would now be 81 years old. In this passage, he prays for his people, the Israelites. The time is during that first year after Babylon was overthrown by the Medo-Persian Empire, 539-538 B.C., but prior to the decree from King Cyrus to release the Jews in 538 B.C.
In the first part of his prayer Daniel has praised the Lord and confessed the sins of himself and his people, the Israelites. He continues that confession in this passage.
Daniel confesses the shame of himself, his people, “our kings, our princes, and our fathers” for sinning against God (v. 8). He acknowledges the “mercy and forgiveness” of God (v.9). He confesses the sin of disobedience of God (v. 10).
Daniel agrees with God that all of Israel has been punished because of their disobedience (v. 11). God has fulfilled Scripture by bringing upon them “a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem” (v. 12). He is speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the seventy year exile in Babylon of the people of Judah.
Even though God has fulfilled Scripture by this “disaster”, the people have still not confessed and repented, turned from their sin (v. 13). God has continued the disaster because of His righteousness, and they still “have not obeyed His voice” (v. 14). Daniel concludes this passage by praising the faithfulness of God and concluding that “we have sinned, we have done wickedly!” (v. 15).
This part of Daniel’s prayer is all about confession of sin. Part of confession is repentance. Repentance means agreeing with God about your sin and committing to turn from that sin and turn to God.
We see throughout this passage that Daniel is agreeing with God about his sin, and that of his people. We also see the turning from sin, “that we might turn from our iniquities”, and the turning to God, “and understand Your truth” (v. 13).
Confession without repentance is disingenuous. God sees through that. He knows that we are asking for forgiveness for a sin that we intend to turn around and commit again. Instead, real confession includes turning from sin and turning to God. That is what we are called to do.