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Bible: What Does Daniel 5-6 Teach Us About the Hand Writing on the Wall and the Lion's Den?
The Hand Writing on the Wall
The Terror-Causing Sight
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With Nebuchadnezzar having passed from the world scene, Belshazzar assumes the rule over Babylonia.
Immediately, he makes a fool of himself by throwing a riotous, drunken party for his court, using the stolen temple vessels.
What is worse, he suggests that they praise their pagan gods while imbibing (vv. 1-4).
Yahweh chooses to strike in a terrifyingly effective way, so that Belshazzar sees a hand writing on the wall of the king's palace (v. 5).
Observing this phenomenon has a sobering, yet comical, effect upon him (v. 6).
As his predecessor had done, so Belshazzar follows, calling upon the wise men to offer an interpretation of this mystery.
Great power and honor constitute the royal rewards that would accrue to him who supplies the answer to the riddle.
Predictably, no one can meet these demands (vv. 7-9).
Anxious about the troubling changes she witnesses in her husband, the queen seeks to encourage him by presenting a glowing report of the spiritual and moral attributes of a certain wise man, Daniel, who had often helped Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar's grandfather, when he was disturbed (vv. 10-12).
Seeking certainty that the Daniel who now stands before him is the same Daniel of Nebuchadnezzar's day, Belshazzar inquires of the prophet (v. 13).
[Daniel is undoubtedly quite old at this time].
Evidence of the Existence of Nabonidus
The Unwanted Reward
After the king establishes the prophet's identity to his satisfaction, he informs him of the facts:
(1) that he has heard of Daniel's good character (v. 14),
(2) that all of the otherwise men could not help him (v. 15), and
(3) that Daniel would receive triumvirate honors if he could solve the puzzle of the hand writing on the wall (v. 16).
[As third ruler, Daniel would share the throne with Belshazzar and the latter's father, Nabonidus].
Wishing to convince Belshazzar that he desired no earthly glory, the old man of God politely refuses the reward, yet states his willingness to employ God's gift to put the king's mind at rest (v. 17).
Result of Nebuchadnezzar's Pride
The prophet, temporarily-turned-historian, reminds Belshazzar of proud Nebuchadnezzar's fall from absolute power to a status of eating grass in the field (vv. 18-21).
Then, not backing down, Daniel courageously accuses the king of ignoring this well-known account.
"Instead," Daniel says, in essence, "you have exalted yourself against God and have even used the temple vessels from Jerusalem to drink toasts to pagan idols."
For this reason, the hand has appeared (vv. 22-24).
Verse 25 contains the Aramaic inscription itself, and verses 26-28 its interpretation: in short, Belshazzar's reign has ended because of his evil ways.
Although against his express wishes and despite the bad news he brought, Daniel receives the promised reward from the king (v. 29).
Belshazzar's demise comes quickly and Darius takes command (vv. 30-31).
[The latter king's age may have some historical importance].
Daniel in the Lions' Den
As God assayed the loyalty of Daniel's three friends (chap. 3), so He now tests that of the prophet.
By performing his governmental duties extraordinarily well, Daniel earns both the praise of Darius and the envy of the other governors and satraps whom the king had appointed over his realm (vv. 1-3).
[The writer stresses the excellence of Daniel's character as well as his work as governor (vv. 3, 4)].
The others’ envy finds expression in a scheme to destroy the godly administrator (vv. 4-5).
The Unalterable Law
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No Religious Liberty
Appealing to Darius' ego, these officials suggest the drawing up of a decree that would require every kingdom citizen to petition no other god or man, but only the king.
Whoever disobeys this law during the time this test of loyalty is in force would lose his life in a den of lions (vv. 6-7).
They even provide Darius with the pen to enact the new legislation (vv. 8-9)!
[Obviously, Daniel was not invited to the planning session when they drew up and developed this royal statute]!
Undaunted by his enemies' hatred and despite his knowledge of the consequences, Daniel continues his daily worship of Yahweh (v. 10).
When they find the "traitor" on his knees, the prophet's adversaries run to the king and coerce Darius to follow through with the full execution of the new, unalterable "law of the Medes and the Persians" (vv. 11-15).
Aware of the conspiracy against Daniel, but frustrated by his powerlessness to circumvent this plot, the king expresses a wish that the LORD might save the prophet before he reluctantly "sealed" his doom (vv. 16-17).
Darius endures a hungry, sleepless night; in the morning he visits the den of lions to see if his wish had come true (vv. 18-20).
He discovers that God had indeed saved the trusting prophet by shutting the lions' mouths.
Somehow, the king knew that the flesh of Daniel's persecutors would more than break the beasts' fast (vv. 21-24).
Darius then makes a universal decree, requiring that everyone fear Daniel's God, whose kingdom (the king has learned) is eternal and who has shown Himself faithful to deliver His servants (vv. 25-27).
The writer closes his chapter by recording that both Daniel and his ministry prosper well into the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus (v. 28).
© 2013 glynch1