Daniel 5 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of Daniel 5)
Belshazzar's feast

In chapter 5 the iniquity of the head of the Gentiles with respect to the God of Israel reaches the highest point, and assumes that character of insolence and contempt which is but the effort of weakness to conceal itself. In the midst of the orgies of a great feast to his lords and courtiers Belshazzar causes the vessels of the temple of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from Jerusalem, to be brought, that he and his guests might drink therein; and he praises the gods of gold and of silver and of stone. The madness of the king puts the question between the false gods and Jehovah the God of Israel. Jehovah decides the question that very night by the destruction of the king and of all his glory. The warning which God gives him is interpreted by Daniel. But, although subject to the king, Daniel does not treat him with the same respect that he had for Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar had taken the place of an insolent enemy to Jehovah, and Daniel answers him according to God's revelations of his doom, and to the ostentatious manifestation which the king made of his iniquity, magnifying his own gods and insulting Jehovah. Accordingly the warning was no longer remedial and left no room for repentance. It announced judgment; and the very annunciation sufficed to destroy all the insolence of the impious king. For he had neglected the warning given him by the history of Nebuchadnezzar. This narrative gives us the last character of the iniquity of the sovereign power of the Gentiles, in opposition to the God of Israel, and the judgment which falls in consequence upon the monarchy of which Babylon was the head, and to which Babylon had given its own character. For, whatever may have been the longsuffering of God, and His dealings in other respects towards the monarchy of the Gentiles, as the power to which He committed authority in the world, all was already lost for these empires, even in the days of Babylon.