23. I thank time, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee; for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.
23. Tibi confiteor, Deus patrum meorum et laudo ego, 1 qui dedisti mihi sapientiam et robur, et nunc notificasti mihi quae postulavimus abs te; qui negotium 2 regis patefecisti nobis.
Daniel turns his discourse to God. I confess to thee, says he, O God of my fathers, and praise thee. Here he more openly distinguishes the God of the Israelites from all the fictions of the nations. Nor does he use this epithet in vain, when he praises the God of his fathers; for he wishes to reduce to nothing all the fabrications of the Gentiles concerning a multitude of deities. Daniel rejects this as a vain and foolish thing, and shews how the God of Israel alone is worthy of praise. But he does not found the glory of God on the authority of their fathers, as the Papists, when they wish to ascribe the supreme power to either George, or Catharine, or any others, count up the number of ages during which the error has prevailed. Thus they wish whatever the consent of mankind has approved to be received as oracular. But if religion depended on the common consent of mankind, where would be its stability? We know nothing vainer than the minds of men. If man is weighed, says the Prophet, with vanity in a balance, vanity itself will preponderate. (Psalm 62:9.) Nothing, therefore, is more foolish than this principle of this king, -- what has prevailed by the consent of many ages must be religiously true. But here Daniel partially commends the God of their fathers, as their fathers were the sorts of God. For that sacred adoption prevailed among the Jews, by which God chose Abraham and his whole family for himself. Daniel, therefore, here does not extol the persons of men, as if they either could or ought to add anything they pleased to God; but this is the reason why he says, the God of Israel is the God of their fathers, since he was of that race which the Almighty had adopted. On the whole, he so opposes the God of Israel to all the idols of the Gentiles, that the mark of separation is in the covenant itself, and in the celestial doctrine by which he revealed himself to the sacred fathers. For while the Gentiles have no certain vision, and follow only their own dreams, Daniel here deservedly sets forth the God of their fathers.
He afterwards adds, because thou hast given me wisdom and strength. As far as relates to wisdom, the reason is. clear enough why Daniel thanks God, since he had obtained, as he soon afterwards says, the revelation of the dream. He had also formerly been endued with the prophetic spirit and with visions. as he related in the first chapter, (Daniel 1:17.) We may here, inquire what he means by strength? He was not remarkable for his honor among men, nor was he ever a commander in military affairs, and he had no superior gift of magnificent power to cause him to return thanks to God. But Daniel regards this as the principal point, that the God. of Israel was then acknowledged as the true and only God; because, whatever wisdom and virtue exists in the world, it flows from him as its only source. For this reason he speaks of himself as well as of all others, as if he had said -- If I have any strength or understanding, I ascribe it all to thee; it is thine entirely. And, truly, though Daniel was neither a king nor a prefect, yet that unconquered greatness of mind which we have seen was not to be esteemed as without value. Hence he very properly acknowledges something of this kind to have been conferred upon him by heaven. Lastly, his intention is to debase himself and to attribute to God his own; but he speaks concisely, as we have said, since under the phrases "power" and "wisdom" he had previously embraced the proof of his divinity. He afterwards adds, Thou hast revealed to me what we demanded of thee; thou hast made known to us the king's inquiry. There seems here a slight discrepancy, as he praises God for granting him a revelation of the dream, and then unites others to himself. Yet the revelation was not common to them, but peculiar to himself. The solution is easy; for he first expresses that this was given to himself specially, that he might know the king's dream and understand its interpretation. When he has confessed this, he extends the benefit to his companions, and deservedly so; because though they did not yet understand what God had conferred upon Daniel, yet he had obtained this in their favor,-they were all snatched from death, and all their prayers attended to. And this availed very much for the confirmation of their faith as it assured them they had not prayed in vain. For we said that. there was no ambition in their prayers, as if any one desired any peculiar gift by which he might acquire honor and estimation for himself in the world. Nothing of the kind. It was enough for them to shew forth God's name among unbelievers; because by his kindness, they had been delivered from death. Hence Daniel very properly says, the king's dream was made known to him with its interpretation; and this he will afterwards transfer to his companions.
Grant, Almighty God, since we have so many testimonies to thy glory daily before our eyes, though we seem so blind as to shut out all the light by our ingratitude; grant, I pray, that we may at length learn to open our eyes; yea, do thou open them by thy Spirit. May we reflect on the number, magnitude, and importance of thy benefits towards us; and while thou dost set before us the proof of thy eternal divinity, grant that we may become proficient in this school of piety. May we learn to ascribe to thee the praise of all. virtues, till nothing remains but to extol thee alone. And the more thou deignest to declare thyself liberal towards us, may we the more ardently desire to worship thee. May we devote ourselves to thee without reserving the slightest self praise, but caring for this only, that thy glory may remain and shine forth throughout all the world, through Christ our Lord. -- Amen.