9. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
9. Dederat autem Deus Danielem in clement am et mistrationes coram prefecto eunuchorum.
Daniel, yesterday, related what he had asked from the master to whose care he had been committed, he now inserts his sentence, to show this demand to be quite unobjectionable, since the prefect of the eunuchs treated him kindly. The crime would have been fatal had Daniel been brought into the king's presence. Although very probably he did not use the word |pollution,| and openly and directly call the royal diet a |defilement,| yet it, may be easily conjectured from these words which he now records, that he asked the prefect to be permitted to eat pulse, because he did not think himself permitted to partake of the royal diet. We yesterday gave the reason; but the king of Babylon would immediately have been angry, had he known this. What! he would say, I honor those captives, when I might abuse them as slaves; nay, I nourish them delicately like my own children. and yet they reject my food, as if I were polluted. This, therefore, is the reason why Daniel here relates his being in favor with that prefect. For, as we shall see in the next verse, the prefect simply denied his request. Where was then any favor shown? But though he was not willing to acquiesce in the prayers of Daniel, he showed a singular kindness in not taking him before the king, since courtiers are ready for any accusation for the sake of obtaining favor. Then, very probably, the prefect would know that this had been granted to Daniel by his servant. If then there was any connivance on the part of the prefect, this is the favor and pity of which Daniel now speaks. His intention, then, is by no means doubtful, since he did not hesitate to adopt a different course of life, in order to remain pure and spotless, and uncontaminated with the delicacies of the palace of Babylon. He expresses how he escaped the danger, because the perfect treated him kindly, when he might have instantly caused his death. But we must notice the form of speech here used; -- God placed him in favor and pity before that prefect He might have used the usual phrase, merely saying he was favorably treated; but, as he found a barbarian so humane and merciful, he ascribes this benefit to God. This phrase, as we have expounded it, is customary with the Hebrews; as when it is said, (Psalm 106:46,) God gave the Jews favor in the sight of the heathen who had led them captive; meaning, he took care that their conquerors should not rage so cruelly against them as they had done at first. For we know how the Jews were often treated harshly, roughly, and contemptuously. Since this inhumanity was here mitigated, the Prophet attributes it to God, who prepared mercies for his people. The result is this, -- Daniel obtained favor with the prefect, since God bent the heart of a man, otherwise unsoftened, to clemency and humanity. His object in this narrative is to urge us to greater earnestness in duty, if we have to undergo any difficulties when God calls us.
It often happens that we cannot discharge everything which God requires and exacts without imminent danger to our lives. Sloth and softness naturally creep over us, and induce us to reject the cross. Daniel, therefore, gives us courage to obey God and his commands, and here states his favor with the prefect, since God granted his servant favor while faithfully performing his duty. Hence let us learn to cast our care upon God when worldly terror oppresses us, or when men forbid us with threats to obey God's commands. Here let us acknowledge the power of God's hand to turn the hearts of those who rage against us, and to flee us from all danger. This, then, is the reason why Daniel says the prefect was kind to him. Meanwhile, we gather the general doctrine from this passage, that men's hearts are divinely governed, while it shows us how God softens their iron hardness, and turns the wolf into the lamb. For when he brought his people out of Egypt, he gave them favor with the Egyptians, so that they carried with them their most precious vessels. It is clear enough that the Egyptians were hostile towards the Israelites. Why then did they so freely offer them the most valuable of their household goods? Only beck, use the Lord inspired their hearts with new affections. So, again, the Lord can exasperate our friends, and cause them afterwards to rise up in hostility against us. Let us perceive, then, that on both sides the will is in God's power, either to bend the hearts of men to humanity, or to harden those which were naturally tender. It is true, indeed, that every one has a peculiar disposition from his birth some are ferocious, warlike, and sanguinary; others are mild, humane, and tractable. This variety springs from God's secret ordination; but God not only forms every one's disposition at his birth, but every day and every moment, if it seems good to him, changes every one's affections. He also blinds men's minds, and rouses them again from their stupor. For we sometimes see the rudest men endued with much acuteness, and show a singular contrivance in action, and others who excel in foresight, are at fault when they have need of judgment and discretion. We must consider the minds and hearts of men to be so governed by God's secret instinct, that he changes their affections just as he pleases. Hence there is no reason why we should so greatly fear our enemies, although they vomit forth their rage with open mouth, and are overflowing with cruelty; for they can be turned aside by the Lord. And thus let us learn from the example of Daniel to go on fearlessly in our course, and not to turn aside, even if the whole world should oppose us; since God can easily and readily remove all impediments and we shall find those who were formerly most cruel, become humane when the Lord wishes to spare us. We now understand the sense of the words of this verse, as well as the Prophet's intention. It follows --