The king who defied God (Daniel 5 v 1-4)
That’s the end of Nebuchadnezzar in this book—but not the end of the lessons he learned. This chapter is about his grandson, Belshazzar, who (unfortunately for him) hasn’t learned anything from Nebuchadnezzar’s experience.
The act of defiance
Read Daniel 5:1
Picture the scene of the royal banquet.
• What phrases are repeated for emphasis here?
• What does Belshazzar have someone bring over to his party (v 2-3)?
• What does everyone do as they drink (v 4)?
It’s a huge party—and the wine is flowing freely. And in the middle of the party King Belshazzar gives orders to bring in the goblets that had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel 1:2). It’s such a significant thing to
do that the writer repeats it in verse 3.
• What is so significant about the way the goblets are used, and what their users say?
These goblets were of great symbolic importance. It’s a bit like stealing Queen Elizabeth’s crown jewels and then wearing them to flaunt your superiority. The goblets were meant to be used to worship the true God: now they’re being used in
Daniel gives a comment later on what Belshazzar does here; we’ll glance ahead to see his interpretation of it.
Read Daniel 5:23
This is Daniel's comment on what Belshazzar does.
• What does Daniel say Belshazzar hasn’t done?
• What does Daniel say Belshazzar has done?
It's rebellion against God and replacement of God. And this is the God who “holds in his hand your life and all your ways”.
The essence of sin
This attitude of Belshazzar is the essence of sin. See the similarity in Paul’s words here: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him … [they] exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images” (Romans 1 v 21, 23).
We may not worship gold and silver instead of God: but we all struggle not to worship some aspect of the creation instead of the Creator Himself.
Reflect on Daniel's words to Belshazzar, and Paul's words in Romans.
• Is your heart worshipping something other than God? What is it?
• What steps do you need to take to worship God instead? Begin today!
This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from the good book company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.
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