Daniel 5-6: Writing and Lions
November 22, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Two famous stories—so well known that sayings from them and motifs about them have entered into common parlance and conversation even still today. First, “the writing on the wall” (Daniel 5). Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, is proud; what is more, he arrogantly calls for the vessels taken out of the temple in Jerusalem and uses them in giving praise to the pagan gods of gold (5:1-4). This incenses the holy God and is an offense against him; a hand appears and writes on the wall (5:5). The apparition terrifies the king and his guests, and so they send for the wise men of their age to interpret the meaning of the writing but none can (5:6-9)—until the queen remembers Daniel (5:10-12). Daniel comes along, refuses the monetary reward offered to him, and correctly interprets the writing (5:13-28). Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. Mene—days are numbered (5:26). Tekel— weighed in the balance and found wanting (5:27). Parsin—your kingdom will be divided and given to the Persians (5:28).
Sure enough, that evening Belshazzar is killed, and the kingdom is given to Darius (5:30-31).
Then the second story, the lions’ den (Daniel 6). Darius is a more honorable and wise man, and he sets up an administration with Daniel at the helm and allows him to flourish (6:1-3). This arouses jealousy from the other officials who seek to trap Daniel in some moral failure or scandal. Realizing there is none, they resort to creating a law of the land which they knew he would be forced to break because it went against the Law of God to which he was thoroughly committed (6:4-9). Daniel will not worship the king, and so he himself has to be thrown into the lions’ den (6:10-18). But God’s angel, a pre-incarnate Christ many would say, rescues Daniel (6:22), and Daniel’s detractors and enemies are instead killed by the lions (6:24).
What is the lesson? Again, that God is in control (God “gave” the kingdom), and that God will rescue. Therefore: put your trust in God, even if you are raised very high and highly esteemed (for pride comes before a fall), and even if you are, as it were, thrown into a dungeon, even a lions’ den. In either case, trust God and his Word, and he will deliver you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."