What does Daniel 9:17-19 really mean?

Daniel 9:17-19 is about a plea for God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sins of the people, acknowledging their wrongdoing and seeking restoration of their relationship with God.

17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.
18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”


Setting the Scene for Daniel 9:17-19

In Daniel chapter 9, we find the prophet Daniel in a scene of deep prayer and supplication before the Lord. The setting is the city of Babylon, where Daniel has been living in exile. As a devout servant of God, Daniel is troubled by the sins of his people and the desolation of Jerusalem. He is seeking forgiveness and restoration for his nation, Israel.

Surrounded by the ruins of Babylon, Daniel kneels in humble reverence, pouring out his heart in prayer. His companions, fellow exiles who share his faith, stand nearby, their heads bowed in solidarity. The atmosphere is one of solemnity and urgency as Daniel intercedes on behalf of his people, acknowledging their transgressions and pleading for God’s mercy and favor.

As the sun sets over the ancient city, Daniel’s words echo through the empty streets, his voice filled with emotion and conviction. His prayer is a poignant reminder of the power of repentance and the faithfulness of God, as he implores the Lord to hear and act swiftly for the sake of His great name.

What is Daniel 9:17-19 about?

His people witness a heartfelt plea for God’s mercy and forgiveness in this verse. It showcases a humility and recognition of the imperfection and sinfulness of humanity. The act of praying for mercy highlights a deep spiritual awareness and a desire to seek reconciliation with God despite our flaws. God’s mercy and forgiveness are seen as essential elements in the relationship between God and His people, emphasizing the importance of repentance and grace in the journey of faith. Let us reflect on this verse and ponder the significance of seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness in our own lives. Do we acknowledge our own sins and shortcomings? Are we willing to humble ourselves before God and seek His forgiveness with sincerity and contrition? This verse serves as a reminder that we are all in need of God’s mercy and grace, and through genuine repentance, we can experience the transformative power of His forgiveness. Let us reflect on our own need for mercy and forgiveness, open our hearts to receive God’s abundant love and grace.

Understanding what Daniel 9:17-19 really means

During the Babylonian exile, when the Book of Daniel was written, the prophet’s prayer resonated with a profound longing for God’s mercy and intervention. In Daniel 9:17-19, we witness Daniel’s heartfelt plea for God’s attention, forgiveness, and action on behalf of His people and His city. The verses capture the essence of a humble servant seeking divine favor and restoration in the midst of desolation and despair.

In the opening phrase, “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant,” Daniel underscores the significance of prayer and the intimate relationship between God and His people. This plea reflects a posture of humility and a deep reliance on God’s sovereignty and compassion. Furthermore, when Daniel implores, “For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary,” he not only acknowledges the physical ruin of Jerusalem but also appeals to God’s honor and glory, emphasizing a higher purpose beyond mere human needs.

The urgency in Daniel’s words, “Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name,” conveys a heartfelt cry for God’s attentiveness to the suffering and plight of His chosen ones. The reference to the city bearing God’s name signifies a profound connection and a shared responsibility between the Creator and His people. Moreover, Daniel’s acknowledgment, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy,” underscores the fundamental truth of human unworthiness and the paramount importance of God’s mercy and grace in our lives.

In the fervent plea, “Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act!” we witness Daniel’s unwavering faith in God’s transformative power and His ability to change circumstances. This passionate appeal serves as a poignant reminder of the profound impact of sincere and earnest prayer in invoking God’s intervention and mercy. Daniel’s prayer exemplifies a deep trust in God’s character and a firm belief in His willingness to respond to the cries of His people.

Drawing parallels with other biblical passages such as 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 51:1-2, and Nehemiah 1:5-11, we see a consistent theme of repentance, mercy, and restoration throughout Scripture. These verses reinforce the timeless truth that God is ready to forgive, heal, and restore those who humbly seek His face and turn from their wicked ways. The relevance of Daniel’s prayer extends to believers today, reminding us of the importance of humility, fervent prayer, and a deep reliance on God’s mercy in times of personal and communal need.

In a modern context, envision a community facing a dire crisis coming together in prayer, not out of entitlement, but out of a shared belief in the compassionate and merciful nature of a higher power. This collective act of faith and humility mirrors Daniel’s plea for his people, fostering hope, unity, and a renewed sense of dependence on God’s unfailing love and grace.

In conclusion, Daniel 9:17-19 stands as a poignant reminder of the power of prayer, humility, and trust in God’s mercy. It calls believers to earnestly seek God’s intervention in times of distress, knowing that His compassion knows no bounds. May we heed Daniel’s example, recognizing our limitations, and embracing the boundless grace of God, living with unwavering faith and hope in His redemptive power.

How can we seek God’s favor and mercy?

The book of Daniel teaches us to humble ourselves, confess our sins, and acknowledge God’s righteousness in seeking God’s favor and mercy. We are encouraged to turn to God with a contrite heart, recognizing our own shortcomings and repenting for our transgressions. We demonstrate our reliance on His mercy and grace by approaching God with a spirit of humility and repentance.

Furthermore, the verse underscores the importance of seeking God’s favor not based on our own righteousness or merits, but on His great compassion. It reminds us that it is through God’s loving-kindness and forgiveness that we are able to find restoration and renewal. Approaching Him in faith and humility opens us to receive His mercy and favor, knowing that He is compassionate and ready to extend His grace to all who seek Him sincerely.


Let’s dig deep into our souls and come clean before God. Let’s humble ourselves, just like Daniel did for his people, and seek forgiveness for our wrongdoings. It’s time to raise our voices to the heavens, seeking mercy and grace for our land. Will you stand with me in prayer, asking for divine intervention in our lives and in our nation?