Weighed in the Balance (A Daniel Heart part 3)

Rembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast (1635). (National Gallery, London)
Rembrandt’s Belshazzar’s Feast (1635). (National Gallery, London)

“Good women always have a desire to know if they are succeeding,” Julie B. Beck said. “In a world where the measures of success are often distorted, it is important to seek appreciation and affirmation from proper sources” (And Upon Thy Handmaids...)

King Belshazzar could tell us something about “proper sources”.  His story is told in Daniel chapter 5.

The evening had started well. King Belshazzar was having a party. One thousand people had poured into his feast—the princes of the kingdom and their concubines and wives. Should these drink out of common cups?  No!  So Belshazzar had the gold and silver vessels his father had taken from the Jerusalem temple years ago brought in for his guests use.

They had been having a great time…until that hand reached out of the darkness and wrote on the wall.

King Belshazzar shivered at the memory.  He glanced over at the graffiti that was illuminated by the candle’s light: מנא, מנא, תקל, ופרסין

What did it mean? His wise men didn’t know.  No one seemed to know.  But his mother had just told him of a man who his father used to call upon.  A man of “excellent understanding” a “dissolver of doubts”.

So this man, who had the “spirit of the holy gods” as his mother insisted, was called in.  Offered fame and fortune if he could interpret the handwriting on the wall.  But, declining all such honours, would taken a look at the strange words anyway.

“God hath numbered thy kingdom,” Daniel read, “and finished it.  Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. “

Weighed and found wanting? Found wanting? His father had weighed his wise men long ago and found them wanting, Belshazzar remembered.  They could not tell him his dreams much less interpret them.  And the result?  Death. Only stayed by this man before him who was not found wanting…not found wanting because he relied on his God.

Why did this “Lord of heaven” find him (Belshazzar) wanting?

“Thou…O Belshazzar…hast not humbled thou heart…“but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven…and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified…”

“Thy kingdom is divided,” Daniel continued his interpretation, “and given to the Medes and Persians.”

King Belshazzar had a distorted measure of success. That night the prophesy on the wall came to pass—the Medes invaded and Belshazzar was killed.  The next morning Darius the Mede was king of Babylon.

justice scaleThe Balances God Uses

“…in nothing doth man offend God,” the Lord told the prophet Joseph Smith in 1831, “[and] against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C59:21)

The next time you feel weighed in the balance and found wanting check the scales.  Who are you being weighed against?  Who is doing the weighing and are they using the Lord’s criteria or the world’s?


Each Sunday I post a short devotional.  This September (due to my participation in the Daniel Fast) I’m exploring what it means to have a ‘Daniel Heart’.