And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.


Let a man become enamored of Eternal Wisdom and set his heart to win her and he takes on himself a full-time, all-engaging pursuit! Thereafter his whole life will be filled with seekings and findings, self-repudiations, tough disciplines and daily dyings as he is being crucified unto the world and the world unto him.

The regenerated man has been inwardly separated from society as Israel was separated from Egypt at the crossing of the Red Sea. The Christian is a man of heaven temporarily living on earth. Though in spirit divided from the race of fallen men he must yet in the flesh live among them. In many things he is like them but in others he differs so radically from them that they cannot but see and resent it.

From the days of Cain and Abel the man of earth has punished the man of heaven for being different. The long history of persecution and martyrdom confirms this.

But, we must not get the impression that the Christian life is one of continuous conflict, one unbroken irritating struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil.

A thousand times no!

The heart that learns to die with Christ soon knows the blessed experience of rising with Him, and all the world’s persecutions cannot still the high note of holy joy that springs up in the soul that has become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit![1]

3 The righteous are described as “wise” (Heb. maśkilîm; v. 3a). The parallel expression, “those who lead many to righteousness” (v. 3b), further describes “those who are wise” (cf. Baldwin, 205). The “wise” were introduced previously as those who “will instruct many” (11:33). These wise or righteous Jews are similar to the “righteous servant” of Isaiah who will “justify many” by his knowledge (Isa 53:11). Collins (Daniel, 393) outlines the two different views on how the “wise” make “many” righteous: either by their propitiatory death as martyrs (cf. Lacocque, 230) or by their teaching, meaning “instruction rather than martyrdom is the means of justification.” Clearly the latter understanding is more likely given the context of chs. 10–12, but more important is Baldwin’s observation, 205, that “there is only one source of righteousness—God himself” (cf. Da 9:7, 14). No doubt Daniel and those belonging to his group (or the teachers among them) are included among “those who are wise” (cf. Longman, 284).

As in the case with “the wise” (v. 3a) and “those who lead many to righteousness” (v. 3b), the phrases “like the brightness of the heavens” (v. 3a) and “like the stars” (v. 3b) should be understood as parallel synonymous expressions (cf. Miller, 319). Collins (Daniel, 393) connects the exaltation of the wise with the exaltation of the servant who acts wisely; “he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted” (Isa 52:13). Lucas, 295, finds an allusion to the motif of the wise shining like celestial bodies in “dew of light” mentioned in connection with those who will rise from the dead in Isaiah’s “little apocalypse” (Isa 26:19).

Both Lacocque, 244–45, and Collins (Daniel, 393–94) take the promise to mean that the wise will become angels in the next life, based on the influence of Hellenistic beliefs and later intertestamental apocalyptic literature (e.g., 1 En 104:2–6). Goldingay, 308, and Longman, 284, however, caution against pressing the language of an obvious metaphor too literally. Seow, 188–89, aptly calls attention to the reversal of destiny between the humiliation of those who attempt to ascend to the stars (cf. 8:10; 11:36–37) and the vindication of those who act wisely (v. 3).[2]

12:3 have insight. Those having true knowledge, by faith in God’s Word, not only leaders (as 11:33), but others (11:35; 12:10). To “shine” in glory is a privilege of all the saved (cf. the principle in 1Th 2:12; 1Pe 5:10). Any who influence others for righteousness shine like stars in varying capacities of light as their reward (as in 1Co 3:8). The faithfulness of the believer’s witness will determine one’s eternal capacity to reflect God’s glory.[3]

12:3 The brightness looks forward to the brightness in the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22–27; 22:5).[4]

12:3 Amid the dark, agonizing days of tribulation predicted in Daniel, here is a promise of refreshing relief. Out of that great period of depression and in every period of history, those possessing the wisdom of God shine as the brightness of the firmament, especially those whose lives are given to the task of turning men to righteousness. These will glow like the stars for eternity.[5]

12:3 the ones having insight See Dan 11:33 and note. The Hebrew phrase referring to wise men”) sounds similar to the language in Isa 52:13. This makes the connection between the resurrected servant here and the resurrected Servant in Isa 53:10 more explicit.

the ones providing justice for the many In Dan 11:33, wise men are said to give understanding. Here, they turn many to righteousness. The two concepts are related and demonstrate how indispensable these teachers were—particularly in times of crisis. In addition to instructing, they modeled peace and hope for deliverance (see 11:33–35). The description of those who lead people to righteousness in this verse echoes language about the righteous servant from Isa 53:11—solidifying the relationship between these passages[6]

12:3 The wise not only understand salvation themselves (2 Tim. 3:15), they also turn many others to the way of righteousness.[7]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Hill, A. E. (2008). Daniel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, pp. 206–207). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Da 12:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1617). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Da 12:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Da 12:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1023). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.


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