There are a number of prayers in the Old Testament where supplicants come to God and asked to be treated in accordance with their righteousness. In the minds of Christians, taught from an early age they have nothing in their lives to commend them before God, a rather bold request. You can see a few of these in Psalm 7:8; 18:20,24; 119:121; Job 29:14.
Daniel, however, makes no such claim before the Lord. Though he may have been righteous, he identifies himself with the people of God. They are not righteous, and his solidarity with them brings him under the same condemnation. How unlike us Daniel is! Daniel can never see himself separated from Israel. They are the people of God. If he separates from them, he cannot be one of God’s people. When we are tempted to separate ourselves from the Church – for whatever reason – we should remember Daniel. The Church is the body of Christ, and our relationship with God is determined by our relationship within that body. We cannot legitimately claim to be a Christian if in point of fact, we have no relationship with the community of faith.
Daniel’s prayer to God, and the legitimacy of his requests do not depend on his – or Israel’s – faithfulness. His prayer depends on God’s faithfulness. Perhaps that is why in chapter nine, and only in that chapter, the proper name of God (the “LORD”) is used, and used seven times. The LORD is the name of the God who keeps his covenants.
Daniel knows the message of Jeremiah, that the captivity is only to last seventy years. It should be coming to an end shortly. Daniel prays for it.
Daniel receives an answer to his prayer and with the answer comes a repeat of something we have heard before. In chapter seven, the Lord looks at future events occurring over a period of a time, times, and half a time (or 3 ½ times). In chapter eight, the period is 2300 evenings and mornings (or 3 ½ years). Here in chapter nine, the period is 1 week (a time), 62 weeks (times), and half a week (half a time). The Bible student will exhaust himself trying to figure out what all this refers to. There are no good answers. Suffice it to say that though the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and the sacrificial system restored, the trials for God’s people are not over, and will not be over, until the Lord brings to pass a blessing yet to come. Thus, for Daniel – and his readers – there is hope for the present, warning for the future, and comfort in the end. God knows what the future holds, and he holds his people for the future.