the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Babylon; Belshazzar; Government; Heathen; Symbols and Similitudes; Tekel; Wicked (People); Thompson Chain Reference - Balances, Divine; Concealment-Exposure; Divine; Exposure; Sin; Sinners; The Topic Concordance - Glory; Government; Pride/arrogance; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Walls;
Belshazzar’s feast (5:1-31)
The events of this chapter took place in 539 BC. If Daniel was about fifteen years of age when taken captive to Babylon in 605 BC, he would now be over eighty. Nebuchadnezzar had long been dead. The present king, Nabonidus, was absent in distant territories for much of his reign, and the rule of the country was largely in the hands of his son Belshazzar. The queen who appears in the story (v. 10) was probably the queen mother, wife of Nabonidus. Nebuchadnezzar is referred to in the story as Belshazzar’s father (v. 2,11), not in the sense of being father by blood, but in the sense of being predecessor as king.
While the armies of Persia were preparing for their final attack on Babylon, Belshazzar and most of Babylon’s leaders were enjoying themselves at an extravagant banquet. Belshazzar knew of the expanding power of the Medo-Persians, but he was so self-confident that he thought nothing could shake his mighty kingdom. He also knew of the God of the Jews who had humbled Nebuchadnezzar, but he showed his contempt for this God by taking the Jews’ sacred vessels to use in his banquet of drunkenness and idolatry (5:1-4).
At the height of the feast, Belshazzar was overcome with a sickening terror when a hand suddenly appeared and wrote mysterious words on the wall (5-6). Panic-stricken, he asked his wise men to explain what it all meant. He promised that the one who explained the mystery would be given the next highest place in the kingdom after him. No one was successful (7-9).
When news of the confusion reached the queen mother, she came to the banquet hall to tell the king how Daniel had interpreted mysteries for Nebuchadnezzar many years previously (10-12. At this time Daniel no longer occupied a position of power in Babylon, either because of his age or because of the change in kings). Though able to interpret the writing, Daniel refused the king’s reward (13-17). Also, he reminded Belshazzar of how God had humbled the mighty Nebuchadnezzar (18-21), yet although Belshazzar knew all this he deliberately treated God with contempt (22-23). Therefore, God sent him this terrifying message (24).
Daniel recognized three well known Aramaic words in the mysterious writing: mene, meaning ‘numbered’; tekel, meaning ‘weighed’; and parsin (plural of peres), meaning ‘divided’. He then offered his interpretation of the words. God had numbered the days of Belshazzar’s kingdom and fixed the day when it would collapse; he had judged (weighed) Belshazzar and found him to be a failure; he would divide Belshazzar’s kingdom and give it to the Medes and Persians (25-28).
That night, before Belshazzar’s banquet was over, Babylon fell to the armies of Medo-Persia under the leadership of the Persian king Cyrus. The Darius mentioned in the story could have been Cyrus under an alternative name, or it could have been a Median general whom Cyrus appointed over Babylon. He is not the Darius mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament (29-31).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Daniel 5:27". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​daniel-5.html. 2005.
Tekel - This word (תקל teqēl) is also, according to Gesenius, a passive participle (from תקל teqal - “to poise, to weigh”), and means “weighed.” It would be used with reference to anything placed in a balance to ascertain its weight; and hence, like the word “measure,” would denote that the extent, dimensions, true worth, or character of anything was ascertained. As by the use of scales the weight of anything is known, so the word is applied to any estimate of character or of actions, and a balance becomes the emblem of justice. Thus God, in his judgments of men, is represented as “weighing” their actions. 1 Samuel 2:3, “the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” Compare Job 6:2 :
“O that my grief were thoroughly weighed,
And my calamity laid in the balances together.”
Job 31:6 :
“Let me be weighed in an even balance,
That God may know mine integrity.”
The balance thus used to denote judgment in this life became also the emblem of judgment in the future state, when the conduct of men will be accurately estimated, and justice dealt out to them according to the strict rules of equity. To illustrate this, I will insert a copy of an Egyptian “Death Judgment,” with the remarks of the editor of the “Pictorial Bible” in regard to it: “The Egyptians entertained the belief that the actions of the dead were solemnly weighed in balances before Osiris, and that the condition of the departed was determined according to the preponderance of good or evil. Such judgment scenes are very frequently represented in the paintings and papyri of ancient Egypt, and one of them we have copied as a suitable illustration of the present subject. One of these scenes, as represented on the walls of a small temple at Dayr-el-Medeeneh, has been so well explained by Mr. Wilkinson, that we shall avail ourselves of his description, for although that to which it refers is somewhat different from the one which we have engraved, his account affords an adequate elucidation of all that ours contains. ‘Osiris, seated on his throne, awaits the arrival of those souls that are ushered into Amenti. The four genii stand before him on a lotus-blossom (ours has the lotus without the genii), the female Cerberus sits behind them, and Harpocrates on the crook of Osiris. Thoth, the god of letters, arrives in the presence of Osiris, bearing in his hand a tablet, on which the actions of the deceased are noted down, while Horus and Arceris are employed in weighing the good deeds of the judged against the ostrich feather, the symbol of truth and justice. A cynocephalus, the emblem of truth, is seated on the top of the balance. At length arrives the deceased, who appears between two figures of the goddess, and bears in his hand the symbol of truth, indicating his meritorious actions, and his fitness for admission to the presence of Osiris.’
“If the Babylonians entertained a similar notion, the declaration of the prophet, ‘Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting!’ must have appeared exceedingly awful to them. But again, there are allusions in this declaration to some such custom of literally weighing the royal person, as is described in the following passage in the account of Sir Thomas Roe’s embassy to the great Mogul: ‘The first of September (which was the late Mogul’s birthday), he, retaining an ancient yearly custom, was, in the presence of his chief grandees, weighed in a balance: the ceremony was performed within his house, or tent, in a fair spacious room, whereinto none were admitted but by special leave. The scales in which he was thus weighed were plated with gold: and so was the beam, on which they hung by great chains, made likewise of that most precious metal. The king, sitting in one of them, was weighed first against silver coin, which immediately afterward was distributed among the poor; then was he weighed against gold; after that against jewels (as they say), but I observed (being there present with my ambassador) that he was weighed against three several things, laid in silken bags in the contrary scale. When I saw him in the balance, I thought on Belshazzar, who was found too light. By his weight (of which his physicians yearly keep an exact account), they presume to guess of the present state of his body, of which they speak flatteringly, however they think it to be. ‘“
Thou art weighed in the balances - That is, this, in the circumstances, is the proper interpretation of this word. It would apply to anything whose value was ascertained by weighing it; but as the reference here was to the king of Babylon, and as the whole representation was designed for him, Daniel distinctly applies it to him: “thou art weighed.” On the use and application of this language, see 1 Samuel 2:3 : “The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” Compare also Job 31:6; Proverbs 16:2, Proverbs 16:11.
And art found wanting - This is added, like the previous phrase, as an explanation. Even if the word could have been read by the Chaldeans, yet its meaning could not have been understood without a Divine communication, for though it were supposed to be applicable to the monarch, it would still be a question what the result of the weighing or trial would be. That could have been known to Daniel only by a communication from on high.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Daniel 5:27". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​daniel-5.html. 1870.
The exposition of the word Tekel, to weigh, now follows: — Since thou hast been weighed in the balance, or scale, and found wanting Here Daniel shews God so moderating his judgments, as if he was carrying a balance in his hand. The emblem is taken from the custom of mankind; for men know the use of the balance for accurate measurement. So also God is said to treat all things by weight and measure, since he does nothing with confusion, but uses moderation; and, according to ordinary language, nothing is more or less than it should be. (Wisdom of Solomon 11:21.) For this reason, Daniel says God weighed Belshazzar in a balance, since he did not make haste to inflict punishment, but exacted it with justice according to his own uniform rule of government. Since he was found deficient, that is, was found light and without weight. As if he had said, Thou thinkest thy dignity must be spared, since all men revere thee; thou thinkest thyself worthy of honor; thou art deceived says he, for God judges otherwise; God does not use a common scale, but holds his own, and there art found deficient; that is, thou art found a man of no consequence, in any way. From these words there is no doubt that the tyrant was greatly exasperated, but as his last end was approaching, he ought to hear the voice of the herald. And God, without doubt, restrained his fierceness, that he should not rise up against Daniel.
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Daniel 5:27". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​daniel-5.html. 1840-57.
Shall we turn now in our Bible to Daniel, chapter 5.
Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousands ( Daniel 5:1 ).
There are men who call themselves Bible scholars and they belong to a school known as "higher criticism." And for years these men declared that the book of Daniel was not valid. And one of their reasons for this declaration was that in secular history they had not discovered the name Belshazzar. But one of ancient historians, Neobonis, I think it was who, Neobonodis, who gave a genealogy of Nebuchadnezzar, and there was no mention of any Belshazzar in the genealogy that he gave. And naturally the historian could not be wrong; it's got to be the Bible. And so they put out their disclaimers on the book of Daniel and discredit the book, and they gave a later author and just were willing to use any little excuse to disbelieve the book of Daniel. However, Sir Rawlinson, one of the great archeologists was doing a lot of excavating in the area of Babylon, the Palace of Shushan when they discovered it. And he found some very interesting, many interesting tablets and all in which the name Belshazzar and all existed. And there were, of course, many confirmations of this particular account that we have in Daniel. And so the critics, you'd think they'd give up. No, they just went to something else. But nonetheless, once more the archeologist's spade has proved the truth of God's Word, it's authenticity, it's reliability, and it's a rather tragic thing that man keeps pounding away hoping that one day he'll discover a true flaw. You would think that after this length of time, surely as brilliant and all as these men are, they would have found one that they could have hung their hats on. Or you'd think that they'd be wise enough to quit trying, you know, at this length.
The account of Belshazzar is an interesting account. Belshazzar was not really the son of Nebuchadnezzar. In the language, there was really no real words for grandson. So, "the son of" means that he came from that lineage or from the line. He was actually the grandson of Belshazzar. And he was co-regent with his father. Now being a co-regent with his father, it would seem that his father was, according to other historians, his father was leading the Babylonian troops in their battles, whereas Belshazzar remained at the palace and in Babylon, ruling there in Babylon. His father, a king, also co-reigning with his son, Belshazzar, was out in the field with the troops in their conquering and plundering. And that is, of course, the reason why when this experience came where there was the handwriting on the wall and Daniel was brought in to interpret it, he offered Daniel the third part of the kingdom because there were already two parts; one for his father, one to him, and so Daniel would receive the third part of the kingdom.
"Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords. He drank wine before the thousands." So here's a tremendous party. It lasted for quite a period of time. Josephus records it. Gives us some interesting details about it, as does Herodotus the other ancient historian. And Xenophon also makes reference to this banquet. There are stories of ostriches pulling around trays of fruits and nuts and delicacies, and quite a party. In fact, they say that the incense was so thick within the chambers that when a person would just walk in they'd become intoxicated with the thickness of the incense.
Belshazzar, while he was tasted the wine [or actually, while he was under the influence of the wine], commanded to bring the gold and the silver vessels which his father [which would have been grandfather] Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink from them. And then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem and the king and his princes, his wives, his concubines began to drink from them. And they drank wine, and they praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, iron, wood, and of stone. And in the same hour came forth the fingers of a man's hand, and wrote against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. And the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another ( Daniel 5:2-6 ).
Quite a graphic description of the whole affair, to say the least. As his thoughts began to trouble him and, of course, well might his thoughts trouble him. As he had taken these vessels that have been sanctified for use in the temple unto the Lord only. And he had profaned, not only profaned them by drinking his wine out of them, but he began to praise the gods of gold and silver.
Now there is an interesting prophecy in Isaiah, chapter 21, in which in verse Daniel 5:2 , the prophet declares, "Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media, or the Medes. All the sign thereof have I made deceased. Therefore are my loins filled with pain. Pangs have taken hold upon me as the pangs of a woman that travails. I was bowed down at the hearing of it. I was dismayed at the seeing of it. My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me. The night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me." And he speaks then, of course, of the, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen; all the graven images of her gods are broken to the ground," in verse Daniel 5:9 . So it's a prophecy against Babylon speaking of the fall of Babylon and surely seems to describe a couple of hundred years before the event this very thing of which Daniel now describes took place there as "the heart was panting, fearfulness affrighted of me, the night of my pleasure he hath turned into fear unto me." And, of course, this is the night that Babylon fell. Cyrus the Persian king, Medo-Persian king came in to conquer and that, of course, brings up another interesting prophecy in Isaiah, as he was prophesying the destruction of Babylon in which he names Cyrus, in chapter 44 of Isaiah, verse Daniel 5:28 . "Then saith He of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd. He shall perform all My pleasure.' Even saying to Jerusalem, 'Thou shalt be built,' and to the temple, 'Thy foundation shall be laid.' Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held to subdue nations before him and I will loose the loins of kings."
So you read here that his loins were loosed and the joints of his knees began to smite one against another. And here is the prediction two hundred years in advance. "I will loose the loins of kings to open before him the two levied gates and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight," and so forth. And he said, "That you may know that I am the Lord which called thee by thy name. I am the God of Israel, for Jacob my servant's sake, Mine elect. I then call thee by thy name and surnamed thee." Now Isaiah wrote this about the year 712 B.C. We are writing of things that took place in the year of about 538 B.C. So a hundred and fifty years before the event, God speaks about it and He talks about loosing the loins of the kings and opening up the levied gates.
The city of Babylon was thought to be totally impregnable. It had a wall some three hundred feet high, eighty feet thick, with these massive towers upon it. And then it had also a secondary wall, not quite as large, the river Euphrates flowed through the middle of the city of Babylon. The wall was fifteen miles around the city and the city was lined off with blocks going east and west, or streets, wide streets going east and west and north and south. Now where these streets intersected the Euphrates River, they had bridges and they also had gates that they could shut so that the Euphrates River could be sealed off and the city actually would be divided in two by the sealing off of the Euphrates River.
According to the historians, the night that Babylon fell, this particular night that we're reading about in chapter 5, for some reason, and they say it was because the soldiers were too drunk to know what they were doing, they did not lock those gates to the levy or that came in from the river Euphrates. Now Cyrus, the king of the Medo-Persian army had diverted or had built diversion channels for the river Euphrates. And he diverted the flow of the river Euphrates and his soldiers came under the wall in the riverbed, having diverted the flow of the river, and then they came up into the city and found these gates unlocked and were able to come in and take the city. Of course the soldiers were really too drunk to defend it. And so prophesied by Daniel in great detail, even naming the king that God would use to destroy the city of Babylon. And now the fulfillment of it and God mentioning even such things as the loins being loosed in prophecy, the joints of the loins being loosed. The fear that came upon Belshazzar when he saw the hand of God.
You know, there are people whose activities are those of open blasphemy against God. There are people who seem to be so forward in their mockery, ridicule, and blaspheming of God. It seems that there is no fear of God within their hearts at all. And they are just brazen. Imagine this man calling for the gold and silver vessels that have been sanctified for use in the temple of God. And now drinking his wine out of these vessels as he praises gods of gold and silver. But suddenly, he saw the hand of God and this king who seemed to be so brazen and so blasphemous is suddenly shaking like a leaf. And there are people today who seem to be so brazen and blasphemous in their activities, but once they see the hand of God beginning to come in judgment. I've seen God break people just down to a withering leaf kind of a thing. People talk so tough. People who seem to be so blasphemous against God. But when God begins to work, I'll tell you, there's no man that can stand against it. This fellow began to shake. His thoughts troubled him and well might they trouble him.
And the king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, the soothsayers. And the king spoke, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom ( Daniel 5:7 ).
His father was first; he was second. He is offering now the position of third ruler.
Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. And then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance changed in him, and his lords were astonished. Now the queen [that is, the queen mother], by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in the kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made the master of the magicians, and the astrologers, and the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers; Whereasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, the interpreting of dreams, and the showing of hard sentences, and the dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show you the interpretation. Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto to Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing: And I have heard of thee, that you can make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if you can read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation, you will be clothed with scarlet, you'll have a chain of gold about your neck, you'll be the third ruler in the kingdom ( Daniel 5:8-16 ).
Interesting reputation that Daniel possesses. In him dwells the spirit of the holy gods. Man of excellent wisdom, understanding.
Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Keep your gifts, give your rewards to someone else; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known unto him the interpretation ( Daniel 5:17 ).
The gifts of God are not really to be bought. It is really wrong for a man to receive hire, or to be hired to do the work of God in that sense. Jesus spoke about the hirelings. And for a man to sell these God-given capacities would be a wrong thing. It would be the prostituting of the gifts and the works of God. That is why Daniel said, "Keep your gifts, give them to someone else. I don't need them. I'll tell you what it says. I'll interpret it for you." And but before he interprets it, he's going to give the king a little message.
Now, at this point, Daniel must be close to ninety years old. Because the seventy years of the captivity are almost over. He was probably a teenager, maybe late teens when he was taken captive. So the seventy plus the late teens puts him up close to the ninety mark. Probably eighty-five to ninety years old, somewhere in there. And he takes now this opportunity to preach a stern message to this young king.
O thou king, the most high God gave to Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor: And for the majesty that he gave him, all of the people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: and whom he would he slew ( Daniel 5:18-19 );
The absolute authority that Nebuchadnezzar possessed.
whom he would he kept alive; whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind was hardened by pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him ( Daniel 5:19-20 ):
They took it, these watchers from heaven.
And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and he was dwelling with the wild asses: and they fed him with grass like the oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, you have not humbled your heart, though you knew all of this ( Daniel 5:21-22 );
Now Belshazzar was well aware of the things that happened to his grandfather. The madness that he experienced until the seven seasons had passed over him and his restoration and the proclamation that his grandfather made upon restoration that there is no god in all the earth like the God of Daniel who is able to set up those whom He would and bring down those whom He would. And sets in authority those whom He will. Belshazzar knew all of this. And Daniel is reminding him that you are sinning against the knowledge that you have. You know better.
But you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and you, and your lords, your wives, your concubines, have drunk the wine in them; and you have praised the gods of silver, gold, brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and in whose all of thy ways, hast thou not glorified ( Daniel 5:23 ):
Now here was the man's sin. He was praising these gods of wood, stone, gold, brass, silver. The gods that they had made with their own hands. Gods that could not see, gods that could not hear. Insensate little idols. Gods that knew nothing. He was praising them. Yet blaspheming the God in whose hand his very breath was.
That, of course, is an interesting statement. The God in whose hand thy very breath is. The lungs are an involuntary muscle. That is, they're not attached to the skeleton and you do not have to think to breathe. It something this is done automatically. Now there are some people, a very, very few, that are afflicted with an extremely rare disease and that is they have to think to breathe. And it's a very tragic thing because they sleep very fitfully. Actually, they've monitored them during their sleep and they sleep for about thirty seconds and then they wake up and take a breath and then sleep for another thirty seconds, and it's a very frightening kind of a thing because they do not breathe except by the control of the mind. They have to think to breathe. But you don't. You can be thankful for that. God controls the breath. It's interesting, God controls the heart, the heartbeat. God controls... those things that are vital to your life, God controls. He let's you control other things, other muscles of your body. But those that involve life, God put on this what we call the involuntary system. That is, they don't take the mind to control them. You don't have to think to make your heart beat. It's something that is done automatically, for your lungs to work, for your kidneys to function, things of this nature, those things upon which your life depends God doesn't leave with something as feeble as your mind to control.
"The God in whose hand your very breath is." Your stinking breath. Wine. Have you ever smelled a wino's breath? Sour. Yet the God in whose hand your very breath is.
Paul the apostle, in talking about God to the philosophers on Mars Hill, said "I want to declare to you, I want to talk to you about the unknown the God. For in Him we live and we move and we have our being." God is much closer to people than they realize. But we need to become more conscious of the all-prevailing and pervading presence of God. As David said, "Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend in to heaven Thou art there. If I descend in hell Thou art there. If I take the wings and I flee to the uttermost parts of the earth, even there You surround me." He was conscious of the presence of God wherever he might be.
One of the fallacies of the people have always been that of localizing God. And so they had gods of the cities, and they thought that this god dwelt in this city, another god dwells in the next city. Or god is being put in an idol and the worshipping of an idol. It's the localizing of God. He's there, let's go, let's go and visit our god. It's always wrong to localize God. God cannot be localized. He isn't confined to one area. Now we, even in church, many times fall into this same kind of a fallacy of localizing God in church. And so often we'll hear prayers being offered, "Oh Lord, we're so thankful to have this opportunity to come into Your presence this morning and sit here before You," as though we weren't in the presence of God when we woke up. We weren't in the presence of God as we were driving here, but at last we've arrived and we've come into the presence. "Oh let's be quiet now. Let's, you know, let's look sober now or let's not joke now," or you know. And we have that tendency of localizing God. So that we're not aware and conscious of the fact that God is with us wherever we are, in whatever circumstances we are. He hears us, He sees us when we think that we are hiding. We so often are with those blasphemers of Psalms 71:0 who says, "Doth God know? Hath God seen?" And we think that we can hide ourselves from God because God is localized. And so if I do my evil down the street, God won't know it. I just don't do my evil when I get in church. But not so. God is not localized.
"The very God in whose hand thy breath is." Now gods who have no breath, gods who could not see, the little insensate god, they were glorifying and praising them. But the God who controlled their breath, they did not glorify. And for this reason,
That part of the hand was sent from him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. And this is the interpretation: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it [you've had it]. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and you've come up short. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and will be given to the Medes and the Persians ( Daniel 5:24-28 ).
What an awesome declaration from God: "Your kingdom is numbered; it's finished. You've been weighed in the balances; you've come up short. Your kingdom is going to be taken from you and divided, Medes and the Persians."
Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, they put a chain of gold about his neck, they made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom [for the next few hours]. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Mede took the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old ( Daniel 5:29-31 ).
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Daniel 5:27". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​daniel-5.html. 2014.
6. Daniel’s interpretation of the writing 5:25-28
Scholars have wearied themselves trying to figure out how Daniel got his interpretation from these three apparently Aramaic words. They have been as unsuccessful as Belshazzar’s original wise men were. It seems best to me simply to take Daniel’s interpretation at face value, even though we may not be able to understand completely how he arrived at it. It has been said that Daniel could interpret these words because he recognized his Father’s handwriting. [Note: Campbell, p. 64.]
This much seems clear. The words all referred to measures of weight. [Note: Goldingay, pp. 110-11; Baldwin, pp. 123-24.] Daniel interpreted the consonants by adding vowels, which are absent in Aramaic, as in Hebrew, and made each word a passive participle. The Aramaic word mene means "mena," or with different vowels, menah, "numbered." Daniel understood this word to signify that the number of years that God had prescribed for the Neo-Babylonian Empire had expired. Its repetition probably stressed the certainty of this point. Joseph had told Pharaoh: "Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about" (Genesis 41:32). Tekel (cognate with the Hebrew "shekel") when changed to tekal means "weighed." God had weighed Belshazzar and had found him deficient; he was not the ruler that he should have been because of his flagrant refusal to acknowledge the Most High God’s sovereignty (Daniel 5:22). Uparsin means "and half-shekels." Peras means "broken in two" or "divided" and relates to the division of Belshazzar’s kingdom into two parts, one part for the Medes and the other for the Persians. However, paras means "Persia." Persia was the dominant kingdom in the Medo-Persian alliance. Thus prs had a triple meaning. The meaning of these words describing various weights would have been unintelligible to the Chaldean wise men. Even if they had supplied the vowels that Daniel did, and came up with the words "numbered," "weighed," and "divided"-they would have been meaningless without a context.
"The important consequence of this identification of the combined Medo-Persian Empire as the second kingdom in Daniel’s series of four (embodied in Nebuchadnezzar’s four-part dream-image in ch. 2) is that the third kingdom must be the Greek one; therefore, the fourth empire must be the Roman Empire-which, of course, did not actually take over the Near East till 63 B.C., a century after the Maccabean uprisings. Therefore, this handwriting on the wall demolishes the Maccabean date hypothesis, which insists that nothing in Daniel prophesies any event later than the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in 164 B.C., a hundred years before Pompey annexed Palestine-Syria to the Roman Empire." [Note: Archer, "Daniel," p. 74.]
Ironically, as Daniel interpreted God’s verdict against Babylon, the Medes and Persians were already pouring into the city.
"As God had judged Nebuchadnezzar’s pride by removing him from the throne, so He would judge Belshazzar’s pride by taking the kingdom from him and giving it to another people." [Note: Pentecost, p. 1346.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Daniel 5:27". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​daniel-5.html. 2012.
TEKEL,.... As for the meaning of this word, and what it points at, it is this:
thou art weighed in the balances: of justice and truth, in the holy righteous law of God; as gold, and jewels, and precious stones, are weighed in the scales by the goldsmith and jeweller with great exactness, to know the worth of them:
and art found wanting; found to be adulterated gold, reprobate silver, bad coin, a false stone; found to be a worthless man, a wicked prince, wanting the necessary qualifications of wisdom, goodness, mercy, truth, and justice. The Scriptures of truth, the word of God, contained in the books of the Old and New Testament, are the balances of the sanctuary, in which persons, principles, and practices, are to be weighed; and sad it is where they are found light and wanting: men, both of high and low degree, when put here, are lighter than vanity. The Pharisee, or self-righteous person, when weighed in the balance of God's law, which is holy, just, and good, will be found wanting of that holiness and righteousness he pretends to, and appear to be an unholy and an unrighteous man; his righteousness, neither for the matter of it, nor manner of performing it, being agreeable to that law, and so no righteousness in the sense of it, Deuteronomy 6:25, it being imperfect, and so leaves him to the curse of it, Galatians 3:10, and not being performed in a pure and spiritual manner that it requires, is rejected by it; and miserable will be the case of such a man at the day of judgment, when his works will be found wanting, and not answerable to the demands of a righteous law, and he without the wedding garment of Christ's righteousness, and so naked and speechless. The hypocrite, and formal professor, when weighed in the balance of the Scripture, will be found wanting the true grace of God; his faith will appear to be feigned, and his hope groundless, and his love to be in word and in tongue only, and not at all to answer to the description of true grace given in the word of God; and bad will it be with such persons at last, when at the bridegroom's coming they will be destitute of the oil of true and real grace; only have that which is counterfeit, and the mere lamp of an outward profession, which will then stand them in no stead, or be of any avail unto them: in the same balances are the doctrines and principles of men to be weighed; and, such as are according to them are solid and weighty, and are comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; but such as are not are light, and like wood, hay, and stubble, which the fire of the word will reveal, try, and burn up, not being able to stand against it; and if these are weighed in the balances, they will be found wanting of real truth and goodness, and be but as chaff to wheat; and what is the one to the other? there is no comparison between them; and dreadful will be the case of false teachers, that make and teach an abomination and a lie; and of those that are given up to believe them, these will not be able to stand the trying hour of temptation, and much less the last and final judgment. Sad for preachers of the word to be found wanting in their ministry, and hearers to be wanting in their duty; not taking care neither what they hear, nor how they hear, or whether they put in practice the good they do hear.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Daniel 5:27". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​daniel-5.html. 1999.
|Daniel Brought before Belshazzar.||B. C. 538.|
10 Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: 11 There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; 12 Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation. 13 Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? 14 I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. 15 And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing: 16 And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and 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. 17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: 19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: 21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. 22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; 23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: 24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. 25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. 27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. 28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. 29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Here is, I. The information given to the king, by the queen-mother, concerning Daniel, how fit he was to be consulted in this difficult case. It is supposed that this queen was the widow of Evil-Merodach, and was that famous Nitocris whom Herodotus mentions as a woman of extraordinary prudence. She was not present at the feast, as the king's wives and concubines were (Daniel 6:2; Daniel 6:2); it was not agreeable to her age and gravity to keep a merry night. But, tidings of the fright which the king and his lords were put into being brought to her apartment, she came herself to the banqueting-house, to recommend to the king a physician for his melancholy. She entreated him not to be discouraged by the insufficiency of his wise men to solve this riddle, for that there was a man in his kingdom that had more than once helped his grandfather at such a dead lift, and, no doubt, could help him, Daniel 6:11; Daniel 6:12. She could not undertake to read the writing herself, but directed him to one that could; let Daniel be called now, who should have been called first. Now observe, 1. The high character she gives of Daniel: He is a man in whom is the spirit of the holy gods, who has something in him more than human, not only the spirit of a man, which, in all, is the candle of the Lord, but a divine spirit. According to the language of her country and religion, she could not give a higher encomium of any man; she speaks honourably of him as a man that had, (1.) An admirably good head: Light, and understanding, and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him. Such an insight had he into things secret, and such a foresight of things to come, that it was evident he was divinely inspired; he had knowledge and understanding beyond all the other wise men for interpreting dreams, explaining enigmas or hard sentences, untying knots, and resolving doubts. Solomon had a wonderful sagacity of this kind; but it should seem that in these things Daniel had more of an immediate divine direction. Behold, a greater than Solomon himself is here. Yet what was the wisdom of them both compared with the treasures of wisdom hidden in Christ? (2.) He had an admirably good heart: An excellent spirit was found in him, which was a great ornament to his wisdom and knowledge, and qualified him to receive that gift; for God gives to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy. He was of a humble, holy, heavenly spirit, had a devout and gracious spirit, a spirit of zeal for the glory of God and the good of men. This was indeed an excellent spirit. 2. The account she gives of the respect that Nebuchadnezzar had for him; he was much in his favour, and was preferred by him: "The king thy father" (that is, thy grandfather, but even to many generations Nebuchadnezzar might well be called the father of that royal family, for he it was that raised it to such a pitch of grandeur), "the king, I say, thy father, made him master of the magicians." Perhaps Belshazzar had sometimes, in his pride, spoken slightly of Nebuchadnezzar, and his politics, and the methods of his government, and the ministers he employed, and thought himself wiser than he; and therefore his mother harps upon that. "The king, I say, thy father, to whose good management all thou hast owing, he pronounced him chief of, and gave him dominion over, all the wise men of Babylon, and named him Belteshazzar, according to the name of his god, thinking thereby to put honour upon him;" but Daniel, by constantly making use of his Jewish name himself (which he resolved to keep, in token of his faithful adherence to his religion), had worn out that name; only the queen-dowager remembered it, otherwise he was generally called Daniel. Note, It is a very good office to revive the remembrance of the good services of worthy men, who are themselves modest, and willing that they should be forgotten. 3. The motion she makes concerning him: Let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation. By this it appears that Daniel was now forgotten at court. Belshazzar was a stranger to him, knew not that he had such a jewel in his kingdom. With the new king there came in a new ministry, and the old one was laid aside. Note, There are a great many valuable men, and such as might be made very useful, that lie long buried in obscurity, and some that have done eminent services that live to be overlooked and taken no notice of; but, whatever men are, God is not unrighteous to forget the services done to his kingdom. Daniel, being turned out of his place, lived privately, and sought not any opportunity to come into notice again; yet he lived near the court and within call, though Babylon was now besieged, that he might be ready, if there were occasion, to do any good office, by what interest he had among the great ones, for the children of his people. But Providence so ordered it that now, just at the fall of that monarchy, he should by the queen's means be brought to court again, that he might lie there ready for preferment in the ensuing government. Thus do the righteous shine forth out of obscurity, and before honour is humility.
II. The introducing of Daniel to the king, and his request to him to read and expound the writing. Daniel was brought in before the king,Daniel 6:13; Daniel 6:13. He was now nearly ninety years of age, so that his years, and honours, and former preferments, might have entitled him to a free admission into the king's presence; yet he was willing to be conducted in, as a stranger, by the master of the ceremonies. Note, 1. The king asks, with an air of haughtiness: Art thou that Daniel who art of the children of the captivity? Being a Jew, and a captive, he was loth to be beholden to him if he could help it. 2. He tells him what an encomium he had heard of him (Daniel 6:14; Daniel 6:14), that the spirit of the gods was in him; and he had sent for him to try whether he deserved so high a character or no. 3. He acknowledges that all the wise men of Babylon were baffled; they could not read this writing, nor show the interpretation,Daniel 6:16; Daniel 6:16. But, 4. He promises him the same rewards that he had promised them if he would do it, Daniel 6:16; Daniel 6:16. It was strange that the magicians, when now, and in Nebuchadnezzar's time, once and again, they were nonplussed, did not attempt something to save their credit; if they had with a good assurance said, "This is the meaning of such a dream, such a writing," who could disprove them? But God so ordered it that they had nothing at all to say, as, when Christ was born, the heathen oracles were struck dumb.
III. The interpretation which Daniel gave of these mystic characters, which was so far from easing the king of his fears that we may suppose it increased them rather. Daniel was now in years, and Belshazzar was young; and therefore he seems to take a greater liberty of dealing plainly and roundly with him than he had done upon the like occasions with Nebuchadnezzar. In reproving any man, especially great men, there is need of wisdom to consider all circumstances; for they are the reproofs of instruction that are the way of life. In Daniel's discourse here,
1. He undertakes to read the writing which gave them this alarm, and to show them the interpretation of it, Daniel 6:17; Daniel 6:17. He slights the offer he made him of rewards, is not pleased that it was mentioned, for he is not one of those that divine for money; what gratuities Nebuchadnezzar gave him afterwards he gladly accepted, but he scorned to bargain for them, or to read the writing to the king for and in consideration of such and such honours promised him. No: "Let thy gifts be to thyself, for they will not be long thine, and give thy fee to another, to any of the wise men whom thou wouldst have most wished to earn it; I value it not." Daniel sees his kingdom now at its last gasp, and therefore looks with contempt upon his gifts and rewards. And thus should we despise all the gifts and rewards that this world can give did we see, as we may by faith, its final period hastening on. Let it give its perishing gifts to another; there are better gifts which we have our eyes and hearts upon; but let us do our duty in the world, do it all the real service we can, read God's writing to it in a profession of religion, and by an agreeable conversation make known the interpretation of it, and then trust God for his gifts, his rewards, in comparison with which all the world can give is mere trash and trifles.
2. He largely recounts to the king God's dealings with his father Nebuchadnezzar, which were intended for instruction and warning to him, Daniel 6:18; Daniel 6:21. This is not intended for a flourish or an amusement, but is a necessary preliminary to the interpretation of the writing. Note, That we may understand aright what God is doing with us, it is of use to us to review what he has done with others.
(1.) He describes the great dignity and power to which the divine Providence had advanced Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 6:18; Daniel 6:19. He had a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour, for aught we know, above what any heathen prince ever had before him; he thought that he got his glory by his own extraordinary conduct and courage, and ascribed his successes to a projecting active genius of his own; but Daniel tells him who now enjoyed what he had laboured for that it was the most high God, the God of gods and Lord of kings (as Nebuchadnezzar himself had called him), that gave him that kingdom, that vast dominion, that majesty wherewith he presided in the affairs of it, and that glory and honour which by his prosperous management he acquired. Note, Whatever degree of outward prosperity any arrive at, they must own that it is of God's giving, not their own getting. Let it never be said, My might, and the power of my hand, have gotten me this wealth, this preferment; but let it always be remembered that it is God that gives men power to get wealth, and gives success to their endeavours. Now the power which God gave to Nebuchadnezzar is here described to be very great in respect both of ability and of authority. [1.] His ability was so strong that it was irresistible; such was the majesty that God gave him, so numerous were the forces he had at command, and such an admirable dexterity he had at commanding them, that, which way soever his sword turned, it prospered. He could captivate and subdue nations by threatening them, without striking a stroke, for all people trembled and feared before him, and would compound with him for their lives upon any terms. See what force is, and what the fear of it does. It is that by which the brutal part of the world, even of the world of mankind, both governs and is governed. [2.] His authority was so absolute that it was uncontrollable. The power which was allowed him, which descended upon him, or which, at least, he assumed, was without contradiction, was absolute and despotic, none shared with him either in the legislative or in the executive part of it. In dispensing punishments he condemned or acquitted at pleasure: Whom he would he slew, and whom he would he saved alive, though both were equally innocent or equally guilty. The jus vitæ et necis--the power of life and death was entirely in his hand. In dispensing rewards he granted or denied preferment at pleasure: Whom he would he set up, and whom he would he put down, merely for a humour, and without giving a reason so much as to himself; but it is all ex mero motu--of his own good pleasure, and stat pro ratione voluntas--his will stands for a reason. Such was the constitution of the eastern monarchies, such the manner of their kings.
(2.) He sets before him the sins which Nebuchadnezzar had been guilty of, whereby he had provoked God against him. [1.] He behaved insultingly towards those that were under him, and grew tyrannical and oppressive. The description given of his power intimates his abuse of his power, and that he was directed in what he did by humour and passion, not by reason and equity; so that he often condemned the innocent and acquitted the guilty, both which are an abomination to the Lord. He deposed men of merit and preferred unworthy men, to the great detriment of the public, and for this he was accountable to the most high God, that gave him his power. Note, It is a very hard and rare thing for men to have an absolute arbitrary power, and not to make an ill use of it. Camden has a distich of Giraldus, wherein he speaks of it as a rare instance, concerning our king Henry II of England, that never any man had so much power and did so little hurt with it.
| Glorior hoc uno, quod nunquam vidimus unum, Nec potuisse magis, nec nocuisse minus-- |
Of him I can say, exulting, that with the same power to do harm no one was ever more inoffensive.
But that was not all. [2.] He behaved insolently towards the God above him, and grew proud and haughty (Daniel 6:20; Daniel 6:20): His heart was lifted up, and there his sin and ruin began; his mind was hardened in pride, hardened against the commands of God and his judgments; he was willful and obstinate, and neither the word of God nor his rod made any lasting impression upon him. Note, Pride is a sin that hardens the heart in all other sin and renders the means of repentance and reformation ineffectual.
(3.) He reminds him of the judgments of God that were brought upon him for his pride and obstinacy, how he was deprived of his reason, and so deposed from his kingly throne (Daniel 6:20; Daniel 6:20), driven from among men, to dwell with the wild asses,Daniel 6:21; Daniel 6:21. He that would not govern his subjects by rules of reason had not reason sufficient for the government himself. Note, Justly does God deprive men of their reason when they become unreasonable and will not use it, and of their power when they become oppressive and use it ill. He continued like a brute till he knew and embraced that first principle of religion, That the most high God rules. And it is rather by religion than reason that man is distinguished from, and dignified above, the beasts; and it is more his honour to be a subject to the supreme Creator than to be lord of the inferior creatures. Note, Kings must know, or shall be made to know, that the most high God rules in their kingdoms (that is an imperium in imperio--an empire within an empire, not to be excepted against), and that he appoints over them whomsoever he will. As he makes heirs, so he makes princes.
3. In God's name, he exhibits articles of impeachment against Belshazzar. Before he reads him his doom, from the hand-writing on the wall, he shows him his crime, that God may be justified when he speaks, and clear when he judges. Now that which he lays to his charge is, (1.) That he had not taken warning by the judgments of God upon his father (Daniel 6:22; Daniel 6:22): Thou his son, O Belshazzar! hast not humbled thy heart, though thou knewest all this. Note, It is a great offence to God if our hearts be not humbled before him to comply both with his precepts and with his providences, humbled by repentance, obedience, and patience; nay, he expects from the greatest of men that their hearts should be humbled before him, by an acknowledgment that, great as they are, to him they are accountable. And it is a great aggravation of the unhumbledness of our hearts when we know enough to humble them but do not consider and improve it, particularly when we know how others have been broken that would not bend, how others have fallen that would not stoop, and yet we continue stiff and inflexible. It makes the sin of children the more heinous if they tread in the steps of their parents' wickedness, though they have seen how dearly it has cost them, and how pernicious the consequences of it have been. Do we know this, do we know all this, and yet are we not humbled? (2.) That he had affronted God more impudently than Nebuchadnezzar himself had done, witness the revels of this very night, in the midst of which he was seized with this horror (Daniel 6:23; Daniel 6:23): "Thou hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven, hast swelled with rage against him, and taken up arms against his crown and dignity, in this particular instance, that thou hast profaned the vessels of his house, and made the utensils of his sanctuary instruments of thy iniquity, and, in an actual designed contempt of him, hast praised the gods of silver and gold, which see not, nor hear, nor know anything, as if they were to be preferred before the God that sees, and hears, and knows every thing." Sinners that are resolved to go on in sin are well enough pleased with gods that neither see, nor hear, nor know, for then they may sin securely; but they will find, to their confusion, that though those are the gods they choose those are not the gods they must be judged by, but one to whom all things are naked and open. (3.) That he had not answered the end of his creation and maintenance: The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified. This is a general charge, which stands good against us all; let us consider how we shall answer it. Observe, [1.] Our dependence upon God as our creator, preserver, benefactor, owner, and ruler; not only from his hand our breath was at first, but in his hand our breath is still; it is he that holds our souls in life, and, if he take away our breath, we die. Our times being in his hand, so is our breath, by which our times are measured. In him we live, and move, and have our being; we live by him, live upon him, and cannot live without him. The way of man is not in himself, not at his own command, at his own disposal, but his are all our ways; for our hearts are in his hand, and so are the hearts of all men, even of kings, who seem to act most as free-agents. [2.] Our duty to God, in consideration of this dependence; we ought to glorify him, to devote ourselves to his honour and employ ourselves in his service, to make it our care to please him and our business to praise him. [3.] Our default in this duty, notwithstanding that dependence; we have not done it; for we have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God. This is the indictment against Belshazzar; there needs no proof, it is made good by the notorious evidence of the fact, and his own conscience cannot but plead guilty to it. And therefore,
4. He now proceeds to read the sentence, as he found it written upon the wall: "Then" (says Daniel) "when thou hast come to such a height of impiety as thus to trample upon the most sacred things, then when thou wast in the midst of thy sacrilegious idolatrous feast, then was the part of the hand, the writing fingers, sent from him, from that God whom thou didst so daringly affront, and who had borne so long with thee, but would bear no longer; he sent them, and this writing, thou now seest, was written,Daniel 6:24; Daniel 6:24. It is he that now writes bitter things against thee, and makes thee to possess thy iniquities," Job 13:26. Note, As the sin of sinners is written in the book of God's omniscience, so the doom of sinners is written in the book of God's law; and the day is coming when those books shall be opened, and they shall be judged by them. Now the writing was, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin,Daniel 6:25; Daniel 6:25. It is well that we have an authentic exposition of these words annexed, else we could make little of them, so concise are they; the signification of them is, He has numbered, he has weighed, and they divide. The Chaldean wise men, because they knew not that there is but one God only, could not understand who this He should be, and for that reason (some think) the writing puzzled them. (1.) Mene; that is repeated, for the thing is certain--Mene, mene; that signifies, both in Hebrew and Chaldee, He has numbered and finished, which Daniel explains thus (Daniel 6:26; Daniel 6:26): "God has numbered thy kingdom, the years and days of the continuance of it; these were numbered in the counsel of God, and now they are finished; the term has expired for and during which thou wast to hold it, and now it must be surrendered. Here is an end of thy kingdom." (2.) Tekel; that signifies, in Chaldee, Thou art weighed, and, in Hebrew, Thou art too light. So Dr. Lightfoot. For this king and his actions are weighed in the just and unerring balances of divine equity. God does as perfectly know his true character as the goldsmith knows the weight of that which he has weighed in the nicest scales. God does not give judgment against him till he has first pondered his actions, and considered the merits of his case. "But thou art found wanting, unworthy to have such a trust lodged in thee, a vain, light, empty man, a man of no weight or consideration." (3.) Upharsin, which should be rendered, and Pharsin, or Peres. Parsin, in Hebrew, signifies the Persians; Paresin, in Chaldee, signifies dividing; Daniel puts both together (Daniel 6:28; Daniel 6:28): "Thy kingdom is divided, is rent from thee, and given to the Medes and Persians, as a prey to be divided among them." Now this may, without any force, be applied to the doom of sinners. Mene, Tekel, Peres, may easily be made to signify death, judgment, and hell. At death, the sinner's days are numbered and finished; after death 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. Daniel does not here give Belshazzar such advice and encouragement to repent as he had given Nebuchadnezzar, because he saw the decree had gone forth and he would not be allowed any space to repent.
One would have thought that Belshazzar would be exasperated against Daniel, and, seeing his own case desperate, would be in a rage against him. But he was so far convicted by his own conscience of the reasonableness of all he said that he objected nothing against it; but, on the contrary, gave Daniel the reward he promised him, put on him the scarlet gown and the gold chain, and proclaimed him the third ruler in the kingdom (Daniel 6:29; Daniel 6:29), because he would be as good as his word, and because it was not Daniel's fault if the exposition of the hand-writing was not such as he desired. Note, Many show great respect to God's prophets who yet have no regard to his word. Daniel did not value these titles and ensigns of honour, yet would not refuse them, because they were tokens of his prince's good-will: but we have reason to think that he received them with a smile, foreseeing how soon they would all wither with him that bestowed them. They were like Jonah's gourd, which came up in a night and perished in a night, and therefore it was folly for him to be exceedingly glad of them.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Daniel 5:27". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​daniel-5.html. 1706.
The Scales of Judgment
June 12th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting." Daniel 5:27 .
There is a weighing time for kings and emperors, and all the monarchs of earth, albeit some of them have exalted themselves to a position in which they appear to be irresponsible to man. Though they escape the scales on earth, they must surely be tried at the bar of God. For nations there is a weighing time. National sins demand national punishments. The whole history of God's dealings with mankind proves that though a nation may go on in wickedness it may multiply its oppressions; it may abound in bloodshed, tyranny, and war, but an hour of retribution draweth nigh. When it shall have filled up its measure of iniquity, then shall the angel of vengeance execute its doom. There cannot be an eternal damnation for nations as nations; the destruction of men at last will be that of individuals, and at the bar of God each man must be tried for himself. The punishment, therefore, of nations, is national. The guilt they incur must receive its awful recompense in this present time state. It was so with the great nation of the Chadleans. They had been guilty of blood. The monuments which still remain, and which we have lately explored, prove them to have been a cruel and ferocious race. A people of a strange language they were, and stranger than their language were their deeds. God allowed that nation for a certain period to grow and thrive, till it became God's hammer, breaking in pieces many nations. It was the axe of the Almighty his battle axe, and his weapon of war. By it he smote the loins of kings, yea, and slew mighty kings. But its time came at last. She sat alone as a queen, and said, "I shall see no sorrow," nevertheless, the Lord brought her low, and made her grind in the dust of captivity, and gave her riches to the spoiler, and her pomp to the destroyer. Even so must it be with every nation of the earth that is guilty of oppression. Humbling itself before God, when his wrath is kindled but a little, it may for awhile arrest its fate; but if it still continue in its bold unrighteousness, it shall certainly reap the harvest of its own sowing. So likewise shall it be with the nations that now abide on the face of the earth. There is no God in heaven if the iniquity of slavery go unpunished. There is no God existing in heaven above if the cry of the negro do not bring down a red hail of blood upon the nation that still holds the black man in slavery. Nor is there a God anywhere if the nations of Europe that still oppress each other and are oppressed by tyrants do not find out to their dismay that he executes vengeance. The Lord God is the avenger of every one that is oppressed, and the executor of every one that oppresseth. I see, this very moment, glancing at the page of the world's present history, a marvellous proof that God will take vengeance. Piedmont, the land which is at this time sodden with blood, is only at this hour suffering the vengeance that has long been hanging over it. The snows of its mountains were once red with the blood of martyrs. It is not yet forgotten how there the children of God were hunted like partridges on the mountains; and so has God directed it, that the nations that performed that frightful act upon his children, shall there meet. rend, and devour each other in the slaughter, and both sides shall be almost equal, and nothing shall be seen but that God will punish those who lift their hands against his anointed. There has never been a deed of persecution there has never been a drop of martyr's blood shed yet, but shall be avenged, and every land guilty of it shall yet drink the cup of the wine of the wrath of God. And especially certain is there gathering an awful storm over the head of the empire of Rome that spiritual despotism of the firstborn of hell. All the clouds of God's vengeance are gathering into one the firmament is big with thunder, God's right arm is lifted up even now, and ere long the nations of the earth shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire. They that have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication, shall soon also have to drink with her of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath; and they shall reel to and fro, their loins shall be loose, their knees shall smite together, when God fulfils the old handwriting on the rock of Patmos. Our duty at this time is to take heed to ourselves as a nation that we purge ourselves of our great sins Although God has given so much light, and kindly favored us with the dew of his Spirit, yet England is a hoary sinner. Favourably with mercy does God regard her, so much the rather then let each Christian try to shake off the sins of his nation from his own skirt, and let each one to the utmost of his ability labor and strive to purify this land of blood and oppression, and of everything evil that still clingeth to her. So may God preserve this land; and may its monarchy endure till he shall come, before whom both kings and princes shall lose their power right cheerfully even as the stars fade when the king of light the sun lifteth up his golden head. With this brief preface, I will leave nations and kings all to themselves, and consider the text principally as it has relation to each one of us; and may God grant that when we go out of this hall most of us may be able to say, "I thank God I have a good hope that when weighed in the scales at last I shall not be found wanting." Or, if that is too much to expect, may I yet trust some will go away convinced of sin, crying in their own spirits, "I am wanting now, but if God in his mercy meet with me, I shall not be wanting long." I shall notice, first, that there are certain preliminary weighings which God would have us put ourselves to in this world, and which indeed he has set up as kind, of tests whereby we may be able to discover what shall be the result of the last decisive weighing. After I have mentioned these, I shall then come to speak of the last tremendous weighing of the judgment day. I. LET US JUDGE OURSELVES THAT WE THAT WE MAY NOT BE JUDGED. It is for us now to put ourselves through the various tests by which we may be able to discover, whether we are, at this present time, short weight or not. The first test I would suggest is that of human opinion. Now understand me. I do believe that the opinion of man is utterly valueless when that opinion is based upon false premises, and, therefore, draws wrong conclusions. I would not trust the world to judge God's servants, and it is a mercy to know that the world shall not have the judging of the church, but rather, the saints shall judge the world. There is a sense in which I would say with the apostle, "With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea. I judge not myself." Human opinion is not to be put in competition with divine revelation. But I speak now of judging ourselves, and I do not think it safe, when weighing our own character, to prefer our own and exclude our neighbour's judgment. The esteem or contempt of honest men, which is instinctively shown without reference to party or prejudice, is not by any means to be despised. When a man knows that he is right he may snap his fingers in the face of all men but when a man's conscience tells him that he is wrong if at the judgment bar of men he is found guilty, he must not despise it, he must rather look on the judgment of men as being the first intimation of what shall be the judgment of God. Are you, my hearer, at this time in the estimation of all your fellow-creatures condemned as one who should be avoided? Do you clearly perceive that the righteous shun you, because your example would contaminate them? Have you discovered that your character is not held to be estimable amongst honest and respectable men? Let me assure you, that you have good reason to be afraid for if you cannot stand the trial of an honest fellow-creature if the law of your country condemn you if the very laws of society exclude you if the imperfect judgments of earth pronounce you too vile for its association, how fearful must be your condemnation when you are put into the far more rigid scale of God's justice, and terrible must be your fate when the perfect community of the first-born in heaven shall rise as one man, and demand that you shall never behold their society? When a man is so bad that his fellow-creatures themselves, imperfect though they be, are able to see in him, not the mere seeds, but the very flower, the full bloom of iniquity, he should tremble. If you cannot pass that test, if human opinion condemn if your own conscience declare that opinion to be just, you have good need to tremble indeed, for you are put into the balances and are found wanting. I have thought it right to mention this balance. There may be some present to whom it may he pertinent, but at the same time, there are far better tests for men, tests which are not so easily to be misunderstood. And I would go through some of these. One of the scales into which I would have every man put himself, at least once in his life I say at least once, because, if not, heaven is to him a place, the gates of which are shut for ever I would have every man put himself into the scales of the divine law. There stands the law of God. This law is a balance which will turn, even were there but a grain of sand in it. It is true to a hair. It moves upon the diamond of God's eternal immutable truth. I put but one weight into the scale; it is this: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength," and I invite any man who thinks himself to be of the right stamp, and flatters himself that he has no need of mercy no need of washing in the blood of Jesus Christ, no need of any atonement I invite him to put himself into the scales, and see whether he be full weight, when there be but so much as this one commandment in the other scale. Oh, my friends, if we did but try ourselves by the very first commandment of the law, we must acknowledge that we are guilty. But when we drop in weight after weight, till the whole sacred ten are there, there is not a man under the cope of heaven who has one grain of wit left, but must confess that he is short of the mark, that he falls below the standard which the law of God requires. Mrs. Too-good has often declared that she herself has done all her duty, and perhaps a little more; that she has been even more kind to the poor than there was any occasion for; that she has gone to church more frequently than even her religion requireth; that she has been more attentive to the sacraments then the best of her neighbors, and if she does not enter heaven she does not know who will. "If I have not a portion amongst the saints, who can possibly hope to see God's face in light?" Nay, madam, but I am sorry for thee; thou art light as a feather when thou goest into the scales. In these wooden balances of thine own ceremonies thou mayest, perhaps, be found right enough, but in those eternal scales, with those tremendous weights the ten commandments of the law the declaration is suspended over thy poor foolish head. "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting," There may, perhaps, in congregations like this, be some extremely respectable body who has from his youth up, as he imagines, kept God's law; his country, family, or associates can bring no charge against him, and so he wraps himself up and considers that really he is the man, and that when he appears at the gate of heaven, he will be received as a rightful owner and proprietor of the reward of the righteous. Ah, my friend if thou wouldest take the trouble just to sit down and weigh thyself in the scales of the law if thou wouldst take but one command, the one in which thou thinkest thyself least guilty, the one that thou imagines thou hast kept best, and really look at its intent, and spirit, and view it in all its length and breadth in truth I know thou wouldst keep out of the scale and say, "Alas, when I hoped to have gone down with a sound of congratulation, I find myself hurled up, light as the dust of the balance, while the tremendous law of God comes sounding down and shakes the house." Let each man do this, and every one of us must retire from this place saying, "I am weighed in the balances and I am found wanting." And now the true believer comes forward and he claimed to be weighed in another balance, for saith he, according to this balance, if I be what I profess to be, I am not found wanting, for I can bring with me the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and that is full weight, even though the ten commandments of the law be weighed against it. I bring with me the full atonement, the perfect satisfaction of Jesus, blood, and the perfect righteousness of a divine being, the spotless righteousness of Jesus the Son of God. I can be weighed against the law, and yet sit securely, knowing that now and for ever, I am equal to the law. It hath nought against me since Christ is mine, Its terrors have no power to affright me, and as for its demands they can exact nothing of me for they are fulfilled to the utmost in Christ. Well, I propose now to take professors and put them into the scales and try them. Let each one of us put ourselves into the scale of conscience. Many make a profession of religion in this age. It is the time of shams There were never so many liars in the world since the days of Adam, as there are now. The Father of Lies has been more prolific of children at this than at any other period. There is such an abundance of newspapers, and of talkers, and of readers: and consequently flying reports, wrong news, and evil tales, are far more numerous than ever. So, too, there is a great deal of vain shew with religion. I sometimes fear we have not a grain more religion in England now than we had in the time of the Puritans. Then, though the stream in which it ran was narrow, it did run very deep indeed; now, the banks have been burst; a great extent of country is covered with religious profession; but I tremble lest we should find at last, that the flood was not deep enough to float our souls to heaven. Will each one now in this congregation, put himself into the scale of conscience, sit down and ask, "Is my profession true? Do I feel that before God I am an heir of the promises? When I sit at my Saviour's table, have I any right to be a guest? Can l truly say, that when I profess to be converted, I only profess what I have actually proved? When I talk experimentally about the things of the kingdom of God, is that experience a borrowed tale, or have I felt what I say in my own breast? When I stand up to preach, do I preach that which I have really tasted and handled, or do I only repeat that which I have learned to utter with the lip, though it has never been fused in the crucible of my own heart?" Conscience is not very readily cheated. There are some men whose consciences are not a safe balance; they have by degrees become so hardened in sin that conscience refuses to work; but still I will hope that most of us may abide by the test of our own conscience, if we let it freely work. Dear friends, I would that you would often retire to your chambers alone; shut the door and shut out all the world, and then sit and review your past life; scan carefully your present character and your present position; and do, I beseech you try to get an honest answer from your own conscience. Bring up everything that you can think of that might lead you to doubt. You need be under no difficulty here; for are there not enough sins committed by us every day, to warrant our suspicions that we are not God's children? Well, let all these black accusers for death, let them all have their say. Do not cloak your sins. Head your diary through, let all your iniquities come up before you; (this is the pith of confession) and then, ask conscience whether you can truly say, "I have repented of all these. God is my witness, I hate these things with a perfect hatred. God also heareth me witness, that my trust is fixed alone in him who is the Saviour of sinners, for salvation and justification. If I be not awfully deceived, I am a partaker of divine grace, having been regenerated and begotten again unto a lively hope." Oh that conscience may help each of us to say, "I am not a mere painted image of life, but I trust I have the life of Jesus made manifest in my body." My profession is not the pompous pageantry with which dead souls are carried respectably to perdition; but it is the joy, the hope, the confidence of one who is being borne along in the chariot of mercy, to his Father's home above. "Ah! how many people are really afraid to look their religion in the face! They know it to be so bad, they dare not examine it. They are like bankrupts that keep no books. They would be very glad for a fire to consume their books, if they ever kept any, for they know the balance is all on the wrong side. They are losing, breaking up, and they would not wish to keep an account of their losses or villainies. A man who is afraid to examine himself, may rest assured that his ship is rotten, and that it will not be long before it founders in the sea, to his eternal shipwreck. Call up conscience; put yourself in the scale, and God help you, that the verdict may not be against you that it may not be said of you, "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting." I would have every man also weigh himself in the scales of God's Word not merely in that part of it which we call legal, and which has respect to us in our fallen state; but let us weigh ourselves in the scale of the gospel. You will find it sometimes a holy exercise, to read some psalm of David, when his soul was most full of grace; and if you were to put questions as you read each verse, saying to yourself, "Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Have my bones ever been broken with sin as his were when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul ever been full of true confidence, in the hour of difficulty, as his was when he sang of God's mercies in the cave of Adullam, or the holds of Engedi? Can I take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord? Can I pay my vows now unto the Lord, in the courts of his house, in the presence of all his people?" I am afraid that the book of Psalms itself would be enough to convince some of you that your religion is but superficial, that it is but a vain show, and not a vital reality. God help you often to try yourselves in that scale. Then read over the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves whether you are conformed to him, such as he describes a true disciple. Endeavour to see whether you have any of the meekness, any of the humility, any of the lovely spirit which he constantly inculcated and displayed. Try yourselves by the sermon on the mount, you will find it a good scale in which to weigh your spirits. Take then the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out like him: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? "Have you ever felt like him, that this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners?" Have you ever known his self-abasement? Could you say that you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and always accounted yourself less than the least of all saints? And have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain?" Oh, brethren! the best of us if we put the Bible into the scales for the proof of our state, if we read God's Word as a test of our spiritual condition the very best of us has cause to tremble. Before Almighty God, on our bended knees, with our Bible before us, we have good reason to stop many a time and say, "Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, oh, bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of Give me real faith. oh, let me not have a counterfeit religion! give me that which is the current coin of the realm of heaven thine own sterling grace, which shall pass in the great day, when the gates of heaven shall be opened, and alas! the gates of hell wide open too." Try yourselves by God's Word, and I fear there are some who will love to rise from it, and say, "I am weighed in the balances and found wanting." Yet again, God has been pleased to set another means of trial before us. When God puts us into the scales I am about to mention, namely, the scales of providence, it behoves us very carefully to watch ourselves and see whether or not, we be found wanting. Some men are tried in the scales of adversity. Some of you, my dear friends, may have come here very sorrowful. Your business fails, your earthly prospects are growing dark; it is midnight with you in this world; you have sickness in the house; the wife of your bosom languishes before your weeping eyes; your children perhaps, by their ingratitude, have wounded your spirits. But you are a professor of religion, you know what God is doing with you now; he is testing and trying you. He knows you, and he would have you know that a summer-time religion is not sufficient; he would have you see whether your faith can stand the test of trial and trouble. Remember Job; what a scale was that in which he was put! What weights of affliction were those east in one after another, very mountains of sore trouble; and yet he could bear them all, and he came out of the scales proof against all the weight that even Satanic strength could hurl into the scale. And is it so with you? Can you now say "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord?" Can you submit to his will without murmuring? Or if you cannot master such a phase of religion as this, are you able still to feel that you cannot complain against God? Do you still say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him?" Oh, my friends, remember that if your religion will not stand the day of adversity, if it afford you no comfort in the time of storms, you would he better in that ease without it than with it; for with it you are deceived, but without it you might discover your true condition, and seek the Lord as a penitent sinner. If thou art now broken in pieces by a little adversity, what will become of thee in the day when all the tempests of God shall be let loose on your soul? If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, what wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan? If thou canst not endure the open grave, how canst thou endure the trump of the archangel, and the terrific thunders of the last great day? If thy burning house is too much for thee, what wilt thou do in a burning world? If thunder and lightning alarm thee, what wilt thou do when the world is in a blaze, and when all the thunders of God leave their hiding-place, and rush pealing through the world? If mere trial distress thee and grieve thee, oh, what wilt thou do when all the hurricanes of divine vengeance shall sweep across the earth and shake its very pillars, till they reel and reel again? Yes, friends, I would have you, as often as you are tried and troubled, see how you bear it whether your faith then stance and whether you could see God's right hand, even when it is wrapped in clouds, whether you can discover the silver lining to the black clouds of tribulation. God help you to come out of the scales, for many are weighed in them and have been found wanting. Another set of scales there is, too, of an opposite color. Those I have described are painted black; these are of golden hue. They are the scales of prosperity. Many a man has endured the chills of poverty who could not endure sunny weather. Some meets religion is very much like the palace of the queen of Russia, which had been built out of solid slabs of ice. It could stand the frost. the roughest breeze could not destroy it; the sharp touch of winter could not devour it; they but strengthened and made it more lasting. But summer melted it all away, and where once were the halls of revelry, nothing remained but the black rolling river. How many have been destroyed by prosperity? The fumes of popularity have turned the brains of many a man. The adulation of multitudes has laid thousands low. Popular applause hath its foot in the sand, even when it hath its head among the stars. Many have I known who in a cottage seemed to fear God but in a mansion have forgotten him. When their daily bread was earned with the sweat of their brow, then it was they served the Lord, and went; up to his house with gladness. But their seeming religion all departed when their flocks and herds increased, and their gold and silver was multiplied. It is no easy thing to stand the trial of prosperity. You know the old fable, I will just put it in a Christian light. When the winds of affliction blow on a Christian's head, he just pulls around him the cloak of heavenly consolation, and girds his religion about him all the tighter for the fury of the storm. But when the sun of prosperity shines on him, the traveler grows warm, and full of delight and pleasure, he ungirds his cloak, and lays it aside; so that what the storms of affliction never could accomplish, the soft hand and the witchery of prosperity has been able to perform. It has loosed the loins of many a mighty man. It has been the Delilah that has shorn the locks and taken away the strength of many a Samson. This rock has witnessed the most fatal wrecks.
"More the treacherous calm I dread, Than tempests rolling over head."
But shall we be able to say after passing through prosperity, "this is not my rest, this is not my God. Let him give me what he may, I will thank him for it, yet will I rejoice in the giver rather than the gift; I will say unto the Lord thou only art my rest." It is well if you can come out of these scales enabled honestly to hope that you are not found wanting. There are again the scales of temptation. Many and many a man seemeth for a time to run well; but it is temptation that tries the Christian. In your business you are now honest and upright, but suppose a speculation cross your path, which involve but a very slight departure from the high standard of Christianity, and indeed would not involve any departure from the low standard which your fellow tradesmen follow. Do you think you would be able to say "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God." Could you say, "Should such a man as I do this? Shall I haste to be rich, for if I do I shall not be innocent?" How has it been with you? You have had your trial-time. There has been an opportunity of making a little: have you taken it? Has God enabled you to endure when tempted, whether to unlawful gain, or to lustful pleasure, or to pride and vanity? Have you been enabled to stand proof against all these, and to say, "Get thee behind me Satan for thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those which be of man and of sin?" How have you stood the test of temptation? If you have never been tempted you know nothing about this. How can we tell the worthiness of the ship till she has been at sea in the storm? You cannot know what you are till you have been through the practical test of every day life. How then has it been with you? Have you been weighed in the balance, and have you been enabled to say, "I know through grace I have been kept in the hour of temptation, and with the temptation the Lord has always sent a way of escape. And here I am glorying in his grace; I cannot rest in myself, but still I can say, 'I am truly his.' The work within me is not of man, neither by man: it is the work of the Spirit. I have found succor and support when my heart and my flesh have failed me." It is probable, my hearers, that most of you are professors of religion; let me ask you again very earnestly to test and try yourselves, whether your religion be real or not. If there be many false prophets in the world, and those prophets have followers, must there not be many false men who are fatally deceived? Do not suppose, I beseech you, because you are a deacon, or have been baptized, or are a member of the church, or are professors, you are therefore safe. The bleaching bones of the skeletons of self-deceived ones should warn you. On the rock of presumption thousands have been split that once sailed merrily enough. Take care, O mariner! though thy bark may be gaily trimmed and may be brightly painted, yet it is none the surer after all. Take heed, lest the rocks be seen beneath the keel, lest they pierce thee through, and lest the waters of destruction overwhelm thee. Oh! do not, I entreat you, say, "Why make this stirs? I dare say I shall be all right at last." Do not let your eternal state be a matter of suspicion or doubt. Decide now, I beseech you, decide now in your conscience whether you are Christ's or not. Of all the most miserable men in the world, and the most hopeless, I think those are most to be pitied who are indifferent and careless about religion. There are some men whose feelings never run deeper than their skin; they either have no heart, or else it is so set round with fatness that you can never touch them. I like to see a man either desponding or rejoicing; either anxious about his eternal state or else confident about it. But you who never will question yourselves you are just like the bullock going to the slaughter, or like the sheep that will enter the very slaughter-house and lick the knife that is about to take its blood. I wish I could speak this morning somewhat more earnestly. Oh that some sparks from the Divine fire could now light up my soul, I think I could speak to you like some of the prophets of old, when they stood in the midst of a professing generation, to warn them. Oh that the very voice of God would speak to each heart this morning! While God is thundering on high may he thunder below in your souls! Be warned, my hearers, against self deception. Be true to yourselves. If God be God, serve him, and do it truly; if the devil be God, serve him, and serve him honestly, and serve him faithfully. But do not pretend to be serving God, while you are really indifferent and careless about it. II. I must now close by endeavoring to speak of THE LAST GREAT BALANCE; and here would I speak very solemnly, and may the Spirit of God be with us. Time shall soon be over; eternity must soon begin, death is hurrying onward; the pale horse at his utmost speed is coming to every inhabitant of this earth. The arrow of death is fitted to the string, and soon shall it be sent home. Man's heart is the target. Then, after death, cometh the judgment; the dread assize shall soon commence. The trump of the archangel shall awake the sleeping myriads, and, standing on their feet, they shall confront the God against whom they have sinned. Methinks I see the scales hanging in heaven, so massive that none but the hand of Deity can uphold them. Let me cast my eye upward, and bethink me of that hour when I must myself enter those scales and be weighed once for all. Come, let me speak for each man present. Those scales yonder are exact; I may deceive my fellows here, but deceive God I cannot then. I may be weighed in the balances of earth, which shall give but a partial verdict, and so commit myself to a false idea that I am what I am not, that I am hopeful when I am hopeless. But those scales are true. There is no means whatever of flattering them into a false declaration; they will cry aloud and spare not. When I get there, the voice of flattery shall be changed into the voice of honesty. Here I may go daily on crying, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace;" but there the naked truth shall startle me, and not a single word of consolation shall be given me that is not true. Let me therefore ponder the fact, that those scales are exactly true and cannot be deceived. Let me remember also, that whether I will or not, into those scales I must go. God will not take me on my profession. I may bring my witnesses with me; I may bring my minister and the deacons of the church to give me a character, which might be thought all-sufficient among men, but God will tolerate no subterfuge. Into the scales he will put me do what I may; whatever the opinion of others may be of me, and whatever my own profession. And let me remember, too, that I must be altogether weighed in the scales. I cannot hope that God will weigh my head and past over my heart that because I have correct notions of doctrine, therefore he will forget that my heart is impure, or my hands guilty of iniquity. My all must be cast into the scales. Come, let me stretch my imagination, and picture myself about to be put into those scales. Shall I be able to walk boldly up and enter them, knowing whom I have believed, and being persuaded that the blood of Christ and his perfect righteousness shall bear me harmless through it all; or shall I be dragged with terror and dismay? Shall the angel come and say, "Thou must enter?" Shall I bend my knee and cry, "Oh, it is all right," or shall I seek to escape? Now, thrust into the scale, do I see myself waiting for one solemn moment. My feet have touched the bottom of the scales, and there stand those everlasting weights and now which way are they turned? Which way shall it be? Do I descend in the scale with joy and delight, being found through Jesus' righteousness to be full weight, and so accepted; or must I rise, light, frivolous, unsound in all my fancied hopes, and kick the beam? Oh, shall it be, that I must go where the rough hand of vengeance shall seize, and drag me downward, into fell despair? Can you picture the moments of suspense? I can see a poor man standing on the drop with the rope round his neck, and oh, what an instant of apprehension must that be; what thoughts of horror must float through his soul! How must a world of misery be compressed into a second? But O. my hearers, there is a far more terrible moment still for you that are Godless, Christless, careless: that have made a profession of religion, and yet have it not in your hearts. I see you in the scales. but what shall we say? The wailings of hell seem not sufficient to express your misery, In the scales without Christ! Not long ere you shall be in the jaws of hell, without pity and without compassion. O, my dear hearers! if you could hope to get to heaven without being weighed if God would believe what you say without testing you, I would not care admit asking you this morning to ascertain the state of your own hearts. But if God will try you, try yourselves; if he will judge you, judge your own hearts. Don't say that because you profess to be religious therefore you are right that because others imagine you to be safe that therefore you are so. Weigh yourselves put your hearts into the balance. Do not be deceived. Pull the bandage from your eyes, that your blindness may be removed, and that you may pass a just opinion upon yourselves as to what you are. I would have you not only see yourselves as others see you, but I would have you see yourselves as God sees you; for that after all, is your real state; his eye is not to be mistaken; he is the God of but;, and just and right is he. How fearful a thing will it be, if any of us who are members of Christ's church shall be cast into hell at last. The higher we ascend, the greater will be our fall, like Icarus in the old parable, who flew aloft with waxen wings, till the sun did melt them and he fell. And some of you are flying like that: you are flying up with waxen wings. what if the terrible heat of the judgement day should melt them! I sometimes try to picture, how terrible the reverse to me if found to be rejected at last. Let what I shall say for myself suit for all. Nay, and must it be, if I live in this world and think I am a Christian and am not must it be that I must go from the songs of the sanctuary to the cursings of the synagogue of Satan? Must I go from the cup of the Eucharist to the cup of devils? Must I go from the table of the Lord to the feast of fiends? Shall these lips that now proclaim the word of Jesus, one day utter the wailings of perdition? Shall this tongue that has sung the praises of the Redeemer be moved with blasphemy? Shall it be that this body which has been the receptacle of so many a mercy shall it become the very house and home of every misery that vengeance can invent? Shall these eyes that now look on God's people one day behold the frightful sights of spirits destroyed in that all-consuming fire? And must it be that the ears that have heard the hallelujahs of this morning, shall one day hear the shrieks, and groans, and howls, of the lost and damned spirits? It must be so if we be not Christ's. Oh how frightful will it be! Methinks I see some grave professor at last condemned to hell. There are multitudes of sinners, lying in their irons, and tossing on their beds of flame; lifting themselves upon their elbows for a moment, then seem to forget their tortures as they see the professor come in, and they cry "Art thou become like one of us? Is the preacher himself damned? What! is the deacon of the church below, come to sit with drunkards, and with swearers? "Ah," they cry, "aha, aha, art thou bound up in the same bundle with us after all?" Surely the mockery of hell must be itself a most fearful torture; professing sinners mocked by those who never professed religion. But mortal life can ne'er describe the miseries of a disappointed blasted hope, when that hope is lost it involves the loss of mercy, the loss of Christ, the loss of life and it involves moreover, the terrible destruction and the awful vengeance of Almighty God. Let us one and all go home this day, when yet God's sky is heavy, and let us bend ourselves at his altar, and cry for mercy. Every man apart husband apart from wife. Apart, let us seek our chambers of praying again and again, "Lord renew me: Lord forgive me: Lord accept me." And whilst, mayhap, the tempest which is now lowering over the sky, and ere another tempest direr still shall fall on us with its fearful terrors, may you find peace. May we not then find ourselves lost, lost for ever, where hope can never comet It shall be my duty to search myself. I hope I shall be enabled to put myself into the scale; promise me my hearers, that each of you will do the same. I was told one day this week by some one, that having preached for several Sabbaths lately upon the comforting doctrines of God's Word, he was afraid that some of you would begin to console yourselves with the idea that you were God's elect when perhaps you were not. Well, at least, such a thing shall not happen, if I have done what I hoped to do this morning. God bless you, for Jesus sake.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Daniel 5:27". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​spe/​daniel-5.html. 2011.