Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 14

Chapter 14: King Belshazzar Sees the Writing on the Wall ~ Daniel 5:1-12

Q1 – How did God use this evil king for His purposes?

A1 – Sometimes God takes His time doing things, but not this time! On the very day King Belshazzar threw his great feast, blaspheming God with toasts to false gods while drinking from the temple vessels, God ended his reign. Just when this king thought he had bested the Jewish people and their God, he saw the hand writing up on the wall and knew that he was doomed. Definitely, God used this king to display His great power and might and to show, without a doubt, that He is in control.

As mentioned in previous lessons, God can use evil people as well as good people to accomplish His will and display His might. Most notably, He told Pharaoh, when he once again refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt, that He could have already wiped him off the earth, “‘But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’” (Exodus 9:16, NIV) Once again, this time with Belshazzar, God displayed His power to an earthly ruler and showed him just who was really in control.

Q2 – Why do you suppose God used a human hand (or at least fingers) to write on the wall? Why not just have words appear, or perhaps speak in a loud voice from heaven? What was God’s purpose in writing words that had to be interpreted?

A2 – The human form is something humans are very familiar with, and obviously a human hand requires a human body in order to function. With no visible body attached, the hand acting alone was undeniably a miracle in progress. If only words had appeared or a loud voice spoke or something without visibly seeing the human element, it could have been passed off as trickery. After all, magicians, sorcerers and the like were evidently considered pretty skilled back then. Remember how Nebuchadnezzar had called upon these “wise” men to interpret his dreams.

So after this obviously miraculous event occurred, no one knew what the words meant! Think how this increased the tension in the air. Wise men had to be called in, and when they couldn’t interpret the words, the anxiety level escalated even more. The outcries from those in the banquet hall became so loud that the queen (likely the queen mother) heard the commotion from wherever she was and came to see what was wrong. She tried to calm things down, but upon her suggestion, they had to go find Daniel. As they waited on him to arrive, the stress level probably ratcheted back up by the moment. It’s likely that all of these happenings took several hours, or longer, to transpire. The dread, the prolonged anticipation of impending doom, gave everyone there plenty of time to contemplate their situation. If God had acted quickly, they wouldn’t have been able to simmer in their anxiety and realize the full extent of the severity of mocking God.

Q3 – If you had been this king, what emotions and thoughts would have gone through your mind all on this one day, this day that turned out to be the last day of your life?

A3 – What a roller coaster ride this day was for King Belshazzar! He was so convinced he’d won, that the Jewish prophecy of Babylonian rule coming to an end was merely an old wives’ tale, that he threw an extravagant banquet to celebrate. At the height of his revelry, the sight of that hand writing on the wall threw ice water on everything. Things went down from there. The queen coming in to calm things down slowed the descent somewhat, but when Daniel calmly pronounced God’s judgment on him, he knew for certain he was doomed. Indeed, Belshazzar was killed that very night.