Running From Evil

can be awkward.

Daniel 5:13–16

Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”

Yes, he is that Daniel. So, Belshazzar does know something about him after all. Specifically, he has heard that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.

[Note: some translations say, “the spirit of the gods,” instead of, “the Spirit of God.” The Aramaic is ambiguous. Given Belshazzar’s irreverence, he seems unlikely to be thinking of the Hebrew God.]

So, even if he had only heard a little bit about Daniel, he should have known not to mess with the Hebrew temple artifacts. That helps explain why his knees knocked together when the writing appeared. He knew darn well that he was testing a boundary. He was hoping nothing would come of it.

But something did come of it. He doesn’t know exactly what yet, but he has seen a supernatural hand delivering a message. Since it can’t possibly mean something like, “Gee thanks,” he’s shaking.

So, Belshazzar offers Daniel the same ridiculous reward he offered, without success, to his wise men. In doing so, he thinks he is displaying his kingly power. He has the power to just offer all these treasures and even a high office without any checks and balances.

It all feels a little desperate though.

Just imagine what his lords, his wives, and his concubines are thinking. They were involved in the desecration of the temple treasures, even though it wasn’t their idea. They were also involved in praising the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

They have got to be nervous. They can see how shaken Belshazzar is and the fear is spreading. If they have ticked off some kind of deity, they could be in for it.

There is a lesson in this—don’t be party to something you aren’t comfortable with. All his lords, his wives, and his concubines were free to head off to the bathroom at any time. In a crowd of over a thousand, anyone could have chosen to step away and miss all this action.

That said, it isn’t always easy to exit an unethical situation. You may have to be politely confrontational.

Like it or not, that makes it an opportunity.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.