Sixty-six years have now passed since chapter 1 of the book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar has apparently not heeded the advice Daniel gave him in the previous chapter and is now wandering out in the wilderness like a wild animal, eating grass (as prophesied in the kings dream that Daniel was asked to provide the interpretation).
Now Belshazzar, the new king, has a similar dilemma. As he was feasting and partying, showing off with the nobles and concubines, a mysterious hand appeared from nowhere and wrote on the king’s wall:
5 At that very moment they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, 6 and his face turned pale with fear. Such terror gripped him that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way beneath him.
Great rewards were offered to anyone who could read and interpret these words. As you can guess, Daniel was called upon once again for his talent of interpretation and here’s what he said to the king:
24 So God has sent this hand to write a message. 25 “This is the message that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. 26 This is what these words mean: Mene means ‘numbered’ God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end. 27 Tekel means ‘weighed’ you have been weighed on the balances and have failed the test. 28 Parsin means ‘divided’ your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Perhaps it would have been better for ol’ Shaz to not have known what the mysterious hand wrote, because that night he was killed.
Daniel gives us a clue as to why this king, like his predecessor, was removed from power:
20 But when his heart and mind were hardened with pride, he was brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven from human society. He was given the mind of an animal, and he lived among the wild donkeys. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God rules the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them. 22 “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. 23 For you have defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!
Do you think these Babylonian king would get the message? Do you think they’ll ever see “the handwriting on the wall?”
How can we apply this story to our own lives? Isn’t it God who gives us honor and takes away honor? It is God who gives us the breath of life and controls our destiny – yet, it’s so easy to think we can do this on our own.
Honor God with your life!