If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 1, 2 Thessalonians 1, Daniel 5, Psalms 110–111. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Daniel 5.
I think I’ve written before (and it certainly isn’t my idea originally) that there are two ways to become wise. One is to make mistakes and learn from them; the other is to learn from the mistakes of others. In this context “mistakes” refer to any kind of misdeeds. I’m referring to misdeeds that come from ignorance, distraction, thoughtlessness, immaturity, stupidity or foolishness and those that come from sin—either sins of deception or of intention. A wise person, in other words, learns to avoid bad decisions either s/he made personally or other people made.
Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, learned wisdom the hardest way possible and when it was much too late. Here in Daniel 5 he threw a great party and sought to demonstrate the dominance of his false gods over the Lord and his people by drinking from their sacred temple vessels (vv. 1-4). While he was in the act of desecrating these things that belonged to the Lord, God caused a human hand to appear and write some words on the wall which terrified Belshazzar (v. 6, 9) and mystified his spiritual advisors (vv. 7-8). His wife knew about Daniel and his service to Nebuchadnezzar and recommended calling him for an answer to this riddle (vv. 10-12) which Belshazzar did (vv. 13-16).
Daniel came to give the interpretation and refused the honors Belshazzar promised (vv. 17-21). The words that were inscribed on the wall were words of judgment, telling Belshazzar that his kingdom was coming to an end that very night (vv. 24-31). As he delivered this message of judgment, Daniel indicted Belshazzar’s foolishness. Daniel reminded the king of how God had humbled his father Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 18-21) until Nebuchadnezzar gave God the glory he deserved as Lord (v. 21b). We read Daniel’s zinger in verse 22: “But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.” Belshazzar had a front row seat to the foolishness of pride, but he refused to be wise and humble himself in worship before the true Lord, Israel’s God. That, plus his idolatry, brought God’s judgment into his life.
The question for us is: Will we be wise enough to learn from the painful consequences we see in the lives of other people or will we choose to do our own will, even committing the same sins we see the Lord judge in others? Where have you seen the sins of others damage their life, health, career, ministry, marriage, or relationship with children? Are you flirting (or worse) with those same sins or did you learn to run from them because of the wisdom you gained from seeing the consequences of sin in others? Be wise; learn to avoid the sins that hurt others around you.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.