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Recommendation and Rebuke


Recommendation and Rebuke.

Text: Daniel 5:10-22

The writing is on the wall. Belshazzar’s wicked, evil orgy of drunkenness, blasphemy and idolatry has suddenly come to a grinding halt. Now two more people appear in the drama.  Let’s see what we can learn from their wise words…

1. A Personal Recommendation. V10-12 

  • The queen. Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: Commentators seem to think that this woman is more likely to be the Queen mother – we don’t need to go into why they think that, – but I’m sure the party had been a raucous affair up to this point, but suddenly the noise stops. But that wasn’t all. We’re told that she heard what the king and his important guests were saying. The panic, the fear in their voices. 
  • The solution. and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: The queen knew that there was a solution to this dilemma. She remembered back to the days of Nebuchadnezzar – and she remembered that there was a man called Daniel, who had been able to interpret dreams. She reminded the king of how the royal advisors of that day were so useless in helping Nebuchadnezzar in his distress, but this man was able to help. Let’s see her description of Daniel:
    • He was a clever man. V11 Daniel had great depth of insight, and so much so that he could only have been divinely inspired. That wisdom was obviously greater than any other scholar of his day. 
    • He was a caring man. V12  An excellent spirit. She’s talking about his character, his reputation among all.  And he was known for ‘dissolving doubts’ He could come alongside people and speak to them in such a way that he would give them reassurance, and deal with their doubts and fears. What a wonderful reference! 

Now, the main point that I want to draw out of this, is that this queen, who was so greatly recommending this man of God, was a complete and utter pagan.  She knew that Daniel’s wisdom was divinely inspired, but she attributed that to the spirit of the holy gods. Daniel had a high reputation in the views of non-believers. 

As Christians, we should strive to have a high reputation among those who are unbelievers. They won’t like our beliefs, they won’t agree with our efforts to win them for Christ, but they should never be able to criticise our integrity and honesty – or at least, we should never give them opportunity to do so. 1 Timothy 3:7 tells us that an elder must be respected by unbelievers. I believe that that instruction is not just for church leaders but for all of us. Every Christian should be a person of integrity and honesty. 1 Peter 2:15 Romans 12:18. So the Queen recommended that Belshazzar should call Daniel.  

2. A Prophetic Rebuke V13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king.

So Daniel is in the palace, and he’s standing in the presence of the king. He’s now almost 90 years of age so one would think that he would have easy access to the king, yet he permits himself to be brought, to be escorted into the presence of the king. I wonder did the king do this to make him feel small, because the king’s opening words seem almost haughty and dismissive. Art thou that Daniel who art of the children of the captivity? Still, Belshazzar needs Daniel at this point, so the king recalls what he has seen, and shows Daniel the inscription. He makes the same offer that he had made to the secular advisors. make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. Now I’ve already noted that in Daniel’s reference, given by the Queen, Daniel is known for his empathy, his good-heartedness. But sometimes plain speaking is what is required. There is a time to be blunt an dDaniel is blunt here, and as we are told in Ephesians 4:15, we must ‘speak the truth in love.’ So look at his response to the king:-

  • He again demonstrates his integrity! V17  Have you noticed that when the Queen spoke to the king she used the Babylonian greeting, “May the king live forever.” A mark of deference common in the Babylonian court. But Daniel doesn’t! Daniel spoke plainly, fearlessly and without the grovelling introduction, “I’ll tell you what is written, – and you can keep your money.” Truth cannot be bought. Daniel won’t be beholden to this man. And Daniel knows that whatever rewards this king offers, attractive though they may sound, will be swept away, as Belshazzar himself will, very shortly after this.
  • He reminds the king of some family history. Daniel advised the king to read up a little on the experiences of his late father Nebuchadnezzar. He should learn that it is God who establishes rulers on their thrones and who strengthens their hands against their enemies. Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful man, but when pride filled his heart God humbled him, and everything he had was taken away from him, even his human dignity, until he was living as a wild beast, out in the fields, eating grass with the cattle, – so deranged that he didn’t even know to come in out of the rain.  Why would he do this? Sometimes learning how the Lord has dealt with other people can give us valuable lessons. 
  • He points to the only God who can save. till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. There was only one answer for Nebuchadnezzar and that was to surrender to God. To acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all things and to make that God the king of his life. 

Now, here’s the crux of the matter. Belshazzar knew all of this. But he had still rejected God, even though he knew about his sovereignty and power. V22  

So what have we learned in this lesson? Firstly that we are to live lives of honesty and integrity, so that those who are outside the kingdom of God will have no excuse to point the finger at us, or find fault in our lives, and so ruin our testimony of saving grace. Secondly, that while we strive to be respected by others, truth should be spoken with love. Thirdly, that while we should have respect for those who govern us, we do not grovel to them or treat them as demi-gods, – they are sinful human beings just as we are, and we bow to no man but Christ.

From → Daniel

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