Daniel 5:22, The Folly of Pride and Arrogance

Daniel 5:22, “But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this.” (NIV)

Pride and arrogance are two of the most destructive disciplines Christians can actively practice. They lead us to believe that we can thrive in a structure completely outside of God’s authority, or involvement. We owe much to God, but rarely give Him the credit, the praise, that is due Him. And such was the case with King Belshazzar, the son of King Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon. 

Just before King Belshazzar’s death God revealed a penetrating truth to the wayward leader: life’s purpose, its fullness, is only fully realized when it humbly dedicated, and committed, to God. Belshazzar is a prime example of one who completely rejected God, and surrendered to self-serving, and self-pleasing, pursuits. Everything about Daniel 5 conveys that Belshazzar was consumed with carnality, idolatry, and debauchery. He specifically had articles from the temple in Jerusalem brought to a party that welcomed in some thousand nobles, and used the holy relics, relics intended for the glorification of God, so that the guests could casually consume wine and praise false gods of the material world (gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone). 

The craven lust for self-worship led to Belshazzar’s demise. One might assume that Nebuchadnezzar’s life story might have been enough to make a lasting impression on his son, but Belshazzar was unashamedly about worldly living. And he not only rejected God, he disrespected God, and publicly mocked the Lord. And the fall that King Belshazzar experienced was swift and sudden.  

It can be tempting to read this account and assume that we will not have the same struggles as Belshazzar, who was gifted with such extreme power and position. But pride and arrogance affect everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. Some questions naturally flow out of this passage. When will recognize our unending need for God in our everyday affairs? When will we humbly cry out to God for wisdom and direction? When will we take the gaze off of ourselves long enough to see the great, loving Lord before us? God has plenty to show us, and teach us. But we must seek the Lord with humble, contrite hearts. And as is evident in Daniel 5 time is running out. 

Kevin Orr (9/7/2018) 

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