Daniel 2:19-23

Do you sing sometimes? To whom do you sing? Read the praise and prayer of Daniel:

Daniel 2:19-23

"During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

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This rendering of NIV is perfect. But it is necessary to know the total meaning of the original words to get the whole message as the prophet received it. "Praise be the name of God..." is the rendering of the Aramaic "mebarékh", from the verb "berák" corresponding to the Hebrew "barák". This means "to bless". We "bless" the name of God, and we "bless" people, too. When we "bless God", it can be rendered as "to praise" or "to exalt". When we bless persons, then it is about proclaiming God's protection, care or providence over our sons, our family, our people, etc. You can read the blessing of Isaac and Israel over their sons, the priestly blessing in Numbers 6 and other examples. Just remember that "blessing" is also "kneeling", "worshiping" or "praising".

When Daniel expresses that God "changes times and seasons" he is referring to historical facts and their span. The "seasons" (Aramaic "zemán", NT Greek "kairós") are epochs or special times when something is happening (as Antiquity, Medieval Age, etc and even shorter) and the "times" (Aramaic "iddán", NT Greek "khrónos") refer to the measure of the period of time (days, months, years, etc) The whole expression means that it is God who permits the kings to rule, and who sets the duration of their governments. You can imagine the joy of Daniel and his friends with the interpretation of the dream of the king, because they got the revelation of the final liberation of their people Israel from every oppressing empire.

Let's pay attention, finally, to the "light" which "dwells with Him". This is a poetical way to define knowledge, as "deep, hidden things" or "darkness" define ignorance, the unknown.

In one of his travels, from Judea to Galilee, our Lord Jesus Christ had to pass through Samaria, especially through a city called Sychar. He grew tired and sat down by a well there. While he was sitting, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well, and he asked her for water to drink. She was amazed at this, because by that time, the Jews saw Samaritans as a different nation because of their mix with "gentiles", which had been promoted by the Assyrians who conquered the Northern Kingdom  (Israel) That mix included especially the religions of the nations involved, so "Samaritans" could hardly be called "Jews". The Lord ignored those social and religious barriers, and preached the good news to her, making of her one of the first evangelists (she went back to the town and communicated to others the things she had heard, then they came to Jesus)

While He was talking to the Samaritan woman, our Lord pronounced a spiritual law which is the beginning of God's worship: "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth" (John 4:24) The Greek word used in that verse for "worship" is "proskunéo", which corresponds with Hebrew "shakhá" (both mean to "worship" or to "prostrate", same as "berák" and "barák" in Aramaic and Hebrew)

The books of the prophets called frequently to the "true worship". "I have more than enough of burnt offerings..." declares the Lord through Isaiah the prophet (1:11) The book of Jeremiah contains also a question from God (11:15), "Can consecrated meat avert your punishment?" and the prophet Hosea (6:6) says by the Spirit, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings". How could be possible that those prophets, anointed by the Spirit of God, pronounce words against the sacrifices, ordered by the Law of Moses, the means of reconciliation with God, to make atonement for the sins? The evil they are confronting is not the sacrifice itself, which is holy and ordered by God. They are confronting the attitude of the heart of those who present it, who aren't doing it "in the Spirit and in truth".

There's been many writings and dogmatizing about worship. So much, that it would be impossible to say, "this is the true worship!" (because no other issue has caused more division in the church) Through centuries have we Christians debated how to pray, how to sing to God - even if it is proper to sing to God - how to play musical instruments - even if it is proper to use musical instruments in worship - how to interpret the Bible so that it guides us in our lives - even if the Bible alone is our guide in this life... But these issues would take a whole book about God's knowledge and about that kind of worship which He demands, and that's not the purpose of this page. In my opinion, because that book is written, and it is called "the Bible".

Back with Daniel, he doesn't get himself into a stew with the "worship problem", but he just "blesses" (praises, exalts) the name of God. In this passage we can see how it oozes worship and praise out of the prophet's heart, to that God who answered his and his friends prayers, with a revelation which should spare their lives. Is in this attitude, in this disposition of his heart, that the prophet says, "Praise be to the name of God...", "I thank and praise you..." Daniel's worship flows naturally from someone who knows God, who has left in His hands all hope of escaping that evil which threatened him, and who has been saved by his Creator, that loves him. Let's observe Daniel's idea about "praise and worship".

In the beginning we saw that "praised be the name of God" is to bless Him, which means also worshiping (to kneel, bow down, prostrate before God) "I thank you" is the rendering of Aramaic "yedá", corresponding with Hebrew "yadá". This verb means to thank, and the substantive which corresponds is "todá" ("thanksgiving") This "todá" is "áinesis" in NT Greek, and both words mean also "worship", "confession" or "sacrifice of praise". Using "yedá", the prophet is also saying, "I praise you", "I worship you", "I sacrifice praise to you", "I confess you as my God". Daniel said also, "I praise you". Now the word is "shebákh" in Aramaic, corresponding to "shabákh" in Hebrew. This verb means "to praise" and is a synonym of Hebrew "halál" and Greek "ainéo" (observe the relationship between "ainéo" and "áinesis") "Halál" is the root of two Hebrew words which are very important in praise: "Hallelujah" ("Praised be the Lord") and "Tehilím" (the title of the Book of Psalms, which could be rendered "Book of Praises") To praise, as we all use it, means to celebrate, exalt, show admiration, etc.

There's a main reason to worship God: that He is worthy it. In these days, when Christmas are near, which should be just the celebration of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, many of them who party don't even know the celebrated individual. Imagine what it should be to go to a birthday party, eat, drink and enjoy, and to not even come forward to the celebrated one in order to say "happy birthday"! We are in a world full of blessings, and we are blessed every day with more than we need, because the Lord is good. We've been called to a great feast, but we should never forget that the "celebrated one" is God, not us. The "party" is in His honor.

Daniel understood this perfectly. Observe the reasons he had to praise and worship The Lord in his words:

1) Because God, the Creator of everything, is the one who sustains all things by his powerful word: "...wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others".

2) Because he blesses us: it is He who enable "the wise and the discerning", who "reveals deep and hidden things", who gave Daniel "wisdom and power" and who "made known the dream of the king" for him. The prophet received "wisdom and power" in order to not try a violent way - which would cost him to be executed - neither become depressed because of the death threat from the Babylonian king, but to ask for time and for praying. It is necessary an "anointing" of the Spirit of God, which shows us when the human resources are futile and when we need to ask God to intervene. Their prayer was answered, and Daniel received from God the revelation which should save him, his friends and all the wise men in Babylonia. In his praise and worship Daniel acknowledges that it is God who gave him wisdom to pray, and revelation to know what to say to the king. In other words, he says, "to God be the glory".

We live in a world which is not especially disposed to give glory to God. "Praise and worship" has not the main place in many lives (and no place at all in others) I've seen persons who come near to the church, but who abandon it when it's time to give God the glory because of the blessings they've got. Do not err in that way. God is worthy to receive glory, honor and praise, and He is worthy to be worshiped because of Who He is and because of everything He has done for us. This is the message of Psalm 148 (you can read it now) The faith of Daniel the prophet, and his love for God, can be seen in his attitude toward Him, even under death threat. In our words and our singing could we find the same things if there's love for God in our hearts, because "the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:45) If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, but there aren't words of gratitude to God in your heart, this is a reason to repent. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins. If here on earth it is hard for you to praise and bless God, probably you don't have the correct idea of the eternity, because there is praise and worship every day and every hour.

This revelation didn't come to me the day when I received Christ. I continued making worldly music and working with musical ensembles which sing it. But the Lord is merciful, and He is patient with all of us. It is He who has given me the "wisdom and power" to live only for Him. It is He who separated me in order to serve Him, and it is He the One I glorify with my singing. Do not commit the same error I did. You will spare much time - maybe years - of dead works which are of no use before God.

If you have not received Christ as your Lord and Savior, let me send you to Psalm 73. There are some Psalms which were not written by king David. Psalm 73 is one of them, a "Psalm of Asaph". This Asaph was choir director in the times of king David, and the word of God calls him a prophet (he wrote several Psalms, as long as we know) In this Psalm 73 he narrates how his heart was inclined to sin because of the "injustice" he saw: he, who served God and lived in holiness, was under tribulation, but the ungodly ones who didn't consider God at all, prospered in life and were more and more haughty and arrogant. The true "justice" was known by the prophet when he entered "the sanctuary of God" (verse 17) Maybe you have never entered there because nobody invited you, of because someone did but you refused. In the sanctuary of God we understand that, without Jesus Christ, it doesn't matter who we are; only the eternal fire of hell is waiting for us. Receive Christ and be free from condemnation! Receive eternal life! The life style of the ungodly and haughty could seem desirable to us, but it leads to perdition. Receive Jesus, follow Him, and you'll have eternal life in Him!

May the Lord bless you. In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS Jesus is coming soon!

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