Can You Read the Writing on the Wall?

Bible Reading: Daniel 5; 9
Listen to Daniel 5
Listen to Daniel 9

During a royal banquet, King Belshazzar and his nobles and wives arrogantly defied the Lord of heaven by boldly toasting their man-made gods with the sacred goblets from God's own temple. God very uniquely delivered a sobering message to the drunken king. "Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall.... The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way" (5:5-6). Though the Aramaic language was understood by the Babylonians (2:4), none of the king's wise men could read or interpret the writing on the wall.

At the queen's recommendation, Daniel was brought in to interpret God's message to the king. After pointing out the king's arrogance against God and his failure to learn the lesson of humility that God had taught to his father, Daniel translated the writing: "God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting..." (5:26-27). Still refusing to give honor to the Lord of heaven, the king elevated Daniel, instead, to a position of high honor. That very night, the king was murdered.

It seems odd that God would deliver a message specifically for the king that would be unintelligible to him. Sometimes, when confusing events happen in our own lives, someone else has to spell it out for us. It often takes a concerned parent or friend to "read the writing on the wall." That which seems totally obvious to others may be very unclear to us. God may be trying to get our attention, even warning us in ways that turn our faces pale and make us faint; yet we fail to understand the spiritual significance or the relation to historical events. Our problem may be as apparent as the fingers writing on the wall, but another person's perspective can prove helpful in identifying the underlying issues and implications that remain obscure in our minds. With their help, we may be able to trace God's hand through the events of our lives and begin to understand his plan and purpose.

Lord, when you reveal "the writing on the wall" in the lives of those I love, give me the wisdom and prudence to gently point out your loving attempts to draw them to repentance and restoration. Mold me into a woman of "insight and intelligence and wisdom," that my advice might be sought and valued (5:11). Give me the strength to patiently demonstrate your love and grace each day, that I might be given an audience when I must boldly speak the truth.

When I am the one who needs to see "the writing on the wall," open my eyes to see my folly, my ears to heed your warning, my arms to receive your messenger, and my heart to humbly respond to you. Give me an understanding of the Scriptures that causes me, like Daniel, to turn to you and plead with you in prayer and petition, confessing my sin, and entreating your mercy, favor and renewal (9:2-19).