At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. Daniel 10:2-3 (NIV).
Daniel was given a new vision by God, and the first thing he does is go into mourning. Why?
Quite honestly, we don’t know. It could be that he was saddened by the previous visions (https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/daniel-10-2.html) though this new one was given to him months or years later. It could be that he was sad for being the one who would have to bear this new bad news to Israel. It could be that he was in mourning because so few of the Jews had chosen to return home, to Jerusalem with Ezra, to rebuild the Temple (https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/daniel-10/). It could be for another reason of which we don’t know.
All we know is that Daniel mourned for three weeks (likely actual weeks instead of the “sevens” mentioned in chapter 9). By the time Daniel is given this vision, he’s an old man, probably in his mid-80s. He has lived most of that life as an exile, and perhaps he’s feeling his years. That’s understandable. In fact, given what else is about to be revealed in the chapter, I think that Daniel being a weary many of old age makes him more relatable and believable.
I think of my Mom. She died seven years ago this week, and she was 85. She would have been around Daniel’s age. She was tired, a little weary. Mom still had a lot of life to live and wasn’t afraid or unexcited to live it. But she was also an old woman. When she realized she was dying, she accepted it, not feigning bravery or acting uncharacteristically. She simply faced it with dignity.
And I think of my uncle, her brother, who also died just two years ago (incidentally, also at age 85). He died of cancer after being widowed several years before. The last time I talked with Buzz, he said that he was tired, and that he missed Nancy (his wife, my aunt), and that he’d been blessed with such a good life but that he would simply turn over the rest of his time to God and go when called. That’s exactly what he did.
Thinking about Mom and Uncle Buzz and their predicaments at about the same age Daniel would have been makes me think that it wouldn’t be unusual for an old man to mourn. It’s not a bad thing. Even Jesus grieved and mourned when his friend, Lazarus, died. And Jesus wept over Jerusalem (the same city Ezra and Nehemiah helped in Daniel’s later years), grieving and mourning for what His chosen people would do.
For further reading: Ezra 9:4, Daniel 10:4
Lord, thank You for grieving, for mourning when our hearts are heavy.
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