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.

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32 thoughts on "The Handwriting on the Wall"

  1. Rhonda Wood says:

    I agree our flesh wants glory our spirit knows that we need to glory in what Christ has done for us. Paul said that he was going to boast in the Lord and that all his teachings and wisdom from being a rabbi were nothing compared to what Christ has done and who Christ is. Let us boast in the Lord who is our strength . I need to turn my eyes to him for wisdom and strength for today

  2. Patty Allen says:

    To God be the glory.

  3. Rhonda J says:

    I love that Churchmouse, the handwriting is on the wall in front of us every day when we open our bibles! What a thought to take away after this reading! Thank you! Always love your wisdom!

  4. Laura Caroline says:

    With every day we read this study, I marvel that Daniel is such an appropriate reading for these days. I’m so grateful to the SRT team for trusting the Lord to ordain the timing of studies. I shouldn’t be surprised – God’s word will not return empty.

    1 Peter 5:5-7 has been on my heart as a prayer for the Church and especially for myself in this tumultuous season. May God grant us the humility and trust that we read about in Daniel.

  5. Angela Sutherland says:

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things “in the name of Jesus”, but on our own strength and for our own glory. And most times it’s not intentional at all, but that’s why it’s so important to daily be seeking God and asking Him to reveal any areas of sin, repent and refocus. When we remember who deserves the glory and serve out of that understanding, the pressure lifts. This is something God is actively working out in me…I want my focus to be on honouring Him, glorifying Him, not exalting myself, even unintentionally.

  6. Taylor says:

    I feel like this study was made for me. It hurts in all the right ways – it brings me to the feet of God in repentance and humility. Lord forgive me for the ways I knowingly put myself above You and choose my own way over Yours. Let me turn from my selfish worldly ways and seek Your honor and glory above my own. May I not take Christ’s sacrifice for me lightly. Amen <3

    1. Christina Fowlkes says:

      At church yesterday the pastor leading our gospel circle was describing his love for his son and how even as an infant when his son would use his diaper and roll around in his own mess he found his son to be adorable. It is the same for our Heavenly Father when He looks at us. When we accept Jesus Christ we are made as righteous as Jesus Himself, and when God sees us He sees a beloved child the he adores even when we’re covered in mess. I just share this to reinforce in you how much God loves you right now as you are. The Holy Spirit will lead you down paths of righteousness and guide you in all truth so that you can live a life that is pleasing to God. Just trust in His finished work, rest and abide in Him.

    2. Maeven Miller says:

      Me too, Taylor!

    3. Casey S says:

      Me too!

    4. Debi Marrs says:

      Interesting to note: Belshazzar was only the second in command, while his dad, Nabonidus was off in Arabia…some say enjoying an extended time of worship of the sun god. So he is squandering his dad’s resources when he invites 1000 folks to the palace, I am certain! It seems like those temple treasures that Belshazzar brought out were known to him; but it appears as if none of the wisdom of Nebuchadnezzar and his education about the True God had been passed on? Plunder over character for sure??

  7. Angie says:

    King Belshazzar was a man of insecurities covered over by pride, he was trying too hard. (His reign followed King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign of power, control, and extremes.) He holds a great feast for 1,000 of the elite in his kingdom. Food and wine are flowing when he decides it is not enough, and calls for the gold vessels stolen from the house of God, to be used to drink from while praising false gods. Drinking from vessels made to honor the eternal, he praises the temporary and powerless.

    Enters God’s hand, with a message. King Belshazzar is terrified to the point that he soils himself and his knees knock together (I love the details of our God). He doesn’t know what the message says, but he knows he has crossed a line.

    He calls for his mediums, Chaldeans, and diviners but no one can interpret the inscription. The chaos grows to the point that the queen hears and enters. She knows of Daniel, a man with the spirit of the holy gods in him. A man of insight, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. A man of extraordinary spirit knowledge, intelligence, and ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems.

    The king offers Daniel wealth and power for an interpretation. Daniel tells him to “keep it,” and interprets for the glory of God. Your Majesty…the message is from the Most High God, who gave Nebuchadnezzar the power he had, which was immense. He also humbled him as needed. You knew this and still exalted yourself over the Lord of the heavens who holds your life breath and controls the course of your life. Basically, big mistake. You are done.

    My take-aways today…
    Insecurity and weakness foster the temporary and extremes; while humility and strength exalt the eternal.
    We know when we’ve crossed a line, to which humble repentance is the only real response. (Thank you God for tearing the veil. Thank you Jesus for CROSSing the line that separates us from our Father. Thank you for the option of forgiveness.)
    The character of a man or woman is known and creates ripples upon the water extending out far past the initial splash. May our character be the Spirit of the One True and Holy God upon our life.
    Circling back to the beginning…when offered the temporary (even if it glitters like gold, especially so), grasp the eternal, with humility and the strength of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
    Blessings Ladies, Thank you God, better ready for the day now-thanks to You and in You alone.

  8. Churchmouse says:

    We have “the handwriting on the wall” before us every day when we open our Bibles. We have 66 love letters written by the hand of God, revealing Himself to us. He graciously tells us how to best navigate this life in relationship to Him, our Creator. His Word and His ways humble us. Humility is perhaps the heart attitude He cherishes most for with it we yield to Him and acknowledge His sovereignty. Pride brought the Fall but humility opens us to salvation.