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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Dan. 6 and 14]

THE people of Babylon worshipped also a great dragon. One day the king said to Daniel: “Behold, thou canst not say now that this is not a living god; adore him, therefore.” Daniel replied: “Give me leave, O king, and I will kill this dragon without sword or club.” The king replied: “I give thee leave.” Then Daniel took pitch, fat and hair, and boiling them together, he made lumps and put them into the dragon’s mouth.

The monster, swallowing the lumps, very soon burst asunder, and Daniel said to the king: “Behold him whom you worshipped!” The Babylonians hearing this, assembled in crowds, and said that the king had become a Jew, had destroyed Bel, killed the dragon, and put the priests to death. They came, therefore, to the king, threatening and saying: “Deliver Daniel to us, or else we will destroy thee and thy house.”

Although the king loved Daniel, he was forced through the violence of the people to give him up to their fury. Immediately they cast him into a den of lions. There were seven lions in the den, to whom they gave two carcasses every day, and two sheep; but now nothing was given them, that they might devour Daniel. Yet Daniel remained unhurt.

Daniel having been for some time in the lions’ den, needed food. Now there was at that time in Judæa a prophet named Habacuc, who carried food to the field for the reapers. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “Carry thy dinner to Daniel who is in the lions’ den at Babylon.”

Habacuc replied: “Lord, I never saw Babylon, nor do I know the den.” Then the angel took him by the hair of his head, carried him in an instant to Babylon, and placed him over the den of lions. And Habacuc called to Daniel: “Thou servant of God, take the dinner that God has sent thee!” Daniel exclaimed: “Thou hast remembered me, O God, and Thou hast not forsaken them that love Thee.” Then he arose and ate.

But the angel of the Lord carried Habacuc back to his own place. On the seventh day the king came to bewail Daniel. And standing near the den he looked in and saw Daniel sitting amongst the lions, and he cried with a loud voice: “Great art Thou, O Lord, the God of Daniel!”

Immediately he drew Daniel out of the den, but those who had desired the prophet’s death he threw in, and they were devoured by the lions in a moment. Then the king said: “Let all the inhabitants of the whole earth fear the God of Daniel, for He is the Saviour, working signs and wonders.”

The Goodness of God. Not only did the Lord God protect His faithful servant from the fury of the hungry lions, but he fed him during his captivity in the den in the most wonderful way, sending him food by Habacuc. Full of thankfulness, Daniel exclaimed: “Thou hast remembered me, O God, and Thou hast not forsaken them that love Thee.”

The Omnipotence of God worked two miracles on behalf of Daniel. It was miraculous that the wild beasts should remain ravenously hungry rather than devour Daniel. It was also miraculous that Habacuc should in one moment be translated from Judæa to Babylon, and back again.

The object of miracles. God worked these miracles, firstly, in order to protect His faithful servant, Daniel; secondly, to manifest Himself to the pagans, and especially to king Cyrus, as the one true and Almighty God and Lord, and the Saviour working signs and wonders on the earth; and thirdly, so as to move the king to send the people of God back to their own country, and let them rebuild the Temple.

Grace at meals. Before Daniel partook of the food miraculously sent to him, he gratefully remembered the goodness of God, who had provided him with it. We ought always to thank God for the food which we receive. We say before meals: “Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are going to receive of Thy bounty”, and after our meals we thank Him for having fed us, unworthy creatures, and made us participate in His gifts.

The power of pagan superstition and the wonderful victory of Christianity. This story shows us how deep a root the follies of idolatry had taken among pagan nations. Although Daniel had proved the utter powerlessness of their idols, and although God had manifested His own Omnipotence by the most wonderful miracles, they would not abandon idolatry; and even the king could not save Daniel from their fury. If we consider all this it makes us realise how wonderful was the complete triumph of Christianity over paganism. It is a noble work both for God and our neighbour to support Catholic missionaries, who preach the religion of the cross to the heathen at the peril of their own lives.

APPLICATION. Have you always said your grace devoutly? Even the beasts without reason are grateful to those who feed them; so how can reasonable men not be grateful to their Lord and Creator, who gives them life and health, food and drink?

We were all created for the glory of God. What have you done hitherto for His glory? Could you not prevent many sins among your comrades? Could you not offer your daily labours and burdens to God? Do not forget to frame your intention thus every day: “O my God, I will do everything for Thy glory.”

VI. EPOCH

JUDÆA AFTER THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY

(From 536 B. C. until the Birth of Christ.)








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