“Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. O Lord, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” Daniel 9:7-9
The sins of Israel were the reason for all of these problems. Israel was to be the premier people of the world instead they were salves. Their nation was to be the greatest nation on earth, leading men to Righteousness, God’s Righteousness. Instead they were now in captivity. Jerusalem was to be the premier city of the world, but now it lay in ruins. This is what happens with sin. At times we do the same, what blessings we have missed by our sins.
Daniel contrasted God’s righteousness with the confusion that belonged to Israel. God had been righteous in His judgments upon Israel, and in no way did Israel’s distress reflect upon the attributes of God adversely. By contrast, Israel’s shame of face that had made them the object of scorn of the nations was their just desert for rebellion against God. Daniel itemized those who were especially concerned: first, the kingdom of Judah that was carried into captivity by the Babylonians, and second, “all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away,” that is, the ten tribes of the kingdom of Israel that were carried off by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. The scattering of the children of Israel to “all the lands to which you have driven them” was not occasioned by one sin, but by generation after generation of failure to obey the Law or to give heed to the prophets.
Daniel contrasted the mercy and forgiveness of God with Israel’s sin. The righteous God is also a God of mercy. It is on this ground that Daniel was basing his petition. In doing so, he turned from addressing God directly in the second person to speaking of God in the third person, as if to state a truth for all who would hear, a theological fact now being introduced as the basis for the remainder of the prayer.