The Handwriting on the Wall
Open Your Bible
Daniel 5:1-31, 1 Peter 5:4-7, 1 John 2:15-17
The writing was on the wall: No matter how many clothes I purchased or how many beauty treatments I tried, I wasn’t going to get the fulfillment I longed for by my outward appearance.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I often want women to see me and covet my style, my hair, my home decor. As a woman who loves Jesus, I often put my self-identity in my image and how “put together” people perceive me to be. It’s not just the clothes though; it’s the ability to juggle everything, balancing kid schedules and my own free time. It’s the way I can host a big party and make it look effortless. I even want the God-given opportunities of ministry to look like I do it all on my own. Never mind the privilege and good gifts God provides. I am quick to forget whose glory I am actually seeking: God’s.
King Belshazzar, like myself, also struggled with humility. After he was given the privilege and honor of his new role as king, he chose to exalt himself “against the Lord of the heavens” (Daniel 5:23).
Before Belshazzar, King Nebuchadnezzar lost his throne when he became arrogant and forgot God’s favor upon him. One would think Belshazzar would have learned from his predecessor’s mistake, but it is not until Daniel interprets the message God had sent that Belshazzar realizes his misplaced glory. Daniel tells Belshazzar, “You have not glorified the God who holds your life-breath in his hand and who controls the whole course of your life” (v.23). Unfortunately, it is too late for him; Belshazzar is killed and his kingdom is handed over to the Medes and Persians (v.28).
I can’t judge King Belshazzar for wanting the glory for himself, for forgetting who gave him the position of authority in the first place. It’s so easy to forget who controls the whole course of our lives when we are so focused on what we want, when we want it. It can be hard to see the big picture when the things of this world seem so attractive and promise us instant glory. But it is not the things of this world that deserve our attention and worship because they are all “passing away” (1John 2:17).
It is God’s glory—whose dominion and power are greater than the greatest kingdom and whose influence reaches far beyond the reign of any king—that deserves our greatest attention. We will all fail like King Belshazzar by exalting ourselves over God and forgetting to acknowledge His power and rule over our lives. But we are also covered by the grace of Christ, which moves us toward a posture of humility. Each day we get to repent and choose to acknowledge God and give Him the worship He deserves.
Forget the latest fashion; I can clothe myself in humility and trust God to “exalt [me] at the proper time… because he cares about [me]” (1Peter 5:6–7). This is a glory that outweighs the attention of others, one that never fades. It is everlasting life in the kingdom of God with a perfect, loving, and kind King.