Daniel 5

* Belshazzar's impious feast; the hand-writing on the wall.

(1-9) Daniel is sent for to interpret it. (10-17) Daniel warns

the king of his destruction. (18-31)

1-9 Belshazzar bade defiance to the judgments of God. Most

historians consider that Cyrus then besieged Babylon. Security

and sensuality are sad proofs of approaching ruin. That mirth is

sinful indeed, which profanes sacred things; and what are many

of the songs used at modern feasts better than the praises sung

by the heathens to their gods! See how God struck terror upon

Belshazzar and his lords. God's written word is enough to put

the proudest, boldest sinner in a fright. What we see of God,

the part of the hand that writes in the book of the creatures,

and in the book of the Scriptures, should fill us with awful

thoughts concerning that part which we do not see. If this be

the finger of God, what is his arm when made bare? And what is

He? The king's guilty conscience told him that he had no reason

to expect any good news from heaven. God can, in a moment, make

the heart of the stoutest sinner to tremble; and there needs no

more than to let loose his own thoughts upon him; they will give

him trouble enough. No bodily pain can equal the inward agony

which sometimes seizes the sinner in the midst of mirth, carnal

pleasures, and worldly pomp. Sometimes terrors cause a man to

flee to Christ for pardon and peace; but many cry out for fear

of wrath, who are not humbled for their sins, and who seek

relief by lying vanities. The ignorance and uncertainty

concerning the Holy Scriptures, shown by many who call

themselves wise, only tend to drive sinners to despair, as the

ignorance of these wise men did.
10-17 Daniel was forgotten at court; he lived privately, and

was then ninety years of age. Many consult servants of God on

curious questions, or to explain difficult subjects, but without

asking the way of salvation, or the path of duty. Daniel

slighted the offer of reward. He spoke to Belshazzar as to a

condemned criminal. We should despise all the gifts and rewards

this world can give, did we see, as we may by faith, its end

hastening on; but let us do our duty in the world, and do it all

the real service we can.
18-31 Daniel reads Belshazzar's doom. He had not taken warning

by the judgments upon Nebuchadnezzar. And he had insulted God.

Sinners are pleased with gods that neither see, nor hear, nor

know; but they will be judged by One to whom all things are

open. Daniel reads the sentence written on the wall. All this

may well be applied to the doom of every sinner. At death, the

sinner's days are numbered and finished; after death is the

judgment, when he will be weighed in the balance, and found

wanting; and after judgment the sinner will be cut asunder, and

given as a prey to the devil and his angels. While these things

were passing in the palace, it is considered that the army of

Cyrus entered the city; and when Belshazzar was slain, a general

submission followed. Soon will every impenitent sinner find the

writing of God's word brought to pass upon him, whether he is

weighed in the balance of the law as a self-righteous Pharisee,

or in that of the gospel as a painted hypocrite.
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