I recently spent 2 weeks reading the book of Daniel in my personal devotions.
Daniel seems to be an unblemished Bible hero, meaning that none of his specific sins or character weaknesses are ever mentioned. At first, I thought this made the character of Daniel seem rather unreal to me. I mean, I like how the Old Testament has so many guys who are portrayed as real, warts and all. Think of David with his adultery, Jacob with his trickery, Abraham with his lying, etc.
And since Daniel is regarded as the opposite of those flawed heroes, this leads to a heroic hymn like “Dare to Be A Daniel”:
Hold the Gospel banner high!
On to vict’ry grand!
Satan and his hosts defy,
And shout for Daniel’s band.
Reflecting on this lionhearted song, I want to first give a warning and then an encouragement. My warning is of this danger: thinking that Daniel is just a good moral example for us; we should be brave like Daniel; we should copy him. We can triumphantly be just like him; indeed, something is very wrong with us if we are not this kind of shining example.
That’s sure hard to live up to, isn’t it!
But let’s move on to the encouragement: Daniel did have sin. And he confessed it.
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— (Daniel 9:20)
Now, the rare and special strength of Daniel is that he confessed his sins quickly, before they got a chance to mess him up badly. In other words, what if David had quickly confessed the sin of lusting after Bathsheba, long before drifting into adultery with her and then murder to get rid of her husband?
So, Daniel shows us that if we do get entangled in a sin, there is repentance and forgiveness for it. And as Christians we understand the source of our forgiveness and power to live well is Jesus Christ. His forgiveness is there for us even if, like David, we have messed up big time.
Daring to be a Daniel includes knowing the ways we are weak and blow it, and having a repentant heart. With a humble, Spirit-filled perspective as a starting point, we avoid simply telling ourselves and others that we need to try harder to behave better.
Amazingly, by seeing how weak we are, we can begin to draw on the power and example, not just of Daniel, but of our Lord Jesus Christ.