You get the sense that he should have known better. He knew of the humbling of the great Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon . . . it had become legendary. The arrogant king who had deemed himself a god had been humbled under the mighty hand of the Most High God. He had been reduced to grazing with the beasts of the field that he might come to senses and acknowledge that it is the King of Heaven who rules the kingdoms of men. And, because of that . . . because it had been known in the palace and through the royal courts for years . . . Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, Belshazzar, should have known better. Instead, he had been weighed on the scales and had come up short (Daniel 5:27).
It had started out as just a “small” gathering of the king and a thousand of his closest friends. Soon the wine was flowing freely, the talk was getting pretty big, and the bravado turned reckless. “Given the greatness of who I am,” thinks the king, “I deserve better vessels than these from which to drink. Bring me the vessels of gold and silver made for a god . . . bring me the treasures of the Jerusalem temple that I might pickle my brain in a manner fitting one of my stature! Let us praise the gods of gold and silver!”
At the moment, if Belshazzar had cared to think about it, he could have looked behind himself and seen “the line” . . . and realized that he had stepped way over it.
Disembodied fingers of a human hand appear . . . divine graffiti is written on the wall . . . the kings face goes white . . . the joints of his limbs give way . . . his knees knock (Daniel 5:5-6). Oh, oh . . . this isn’t good. He had known better . . . he had been weighed in the balance . . . and he had come up short.
. . . And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, . . . but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. . . . . you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. (Daniel 5:22, 23b ESV)
Now, I’m no king. Don’t have a thousand friends to invite to a party . . . or access to expensive treasures from which to stuff my face and feed my ego. But I do have an old nature that can overtake me . . . like too much wine. The intoxicating drink of self can go to my head . . . allowing pride to take root by thinking that I’m something . . . forgetting that all that I am is due to the One who gives me breath. I can lose sight of the reality that anything that might be considered an accomplishment is by His grace alone . . . start to think that I have earned what is mine rather that been given it in order to be a faithful steward. I can step over the line, too . . . I can be weighed . . . only to be reminded that I don’t weigh much.
Honestly, I don’t want to come up short. I don’t want to be found wanting when it comes to acknowledging the favor of the Lord of heaven . . . I don’t want to be a lightweight when it comes to honoring the Most High God.
O’, that by the grace of God, I might humble my heart continually . . . and lift up His Name constantly.