Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Daniel
Book: Daniel
Chapter: 5

Belshazzar's impious Feast; the Hand-Writing On the Wall.
(1-9) Daniel is sent for to interpret it. (10-17) Daniel warns
the King of his Destruction. (18-31)

1-9 Belshazzar bade defiance to the Judgments of God. Most
historians consider that Cyrus then besieged Babylon. Security
and sensuality are sad proofs of approaching ruin. That mirth is
sinful indeed, which profanes sacred things; and what are many
of the Songs used at modern feasts better than the praises sung
By the heathens to their gods! See how God struck terror upon
Belshazzar and his lords. God's written Word is enough to Put
the proudest, boldest sinner in a fright. What we see of God,
the part of the Hand that writes in the Book of the creatures,
and in the Book of the Scriptures, should fill us with awful
thoughts concerning that part which we do not see. If this be
the finger of God, what is his Arm when made bare? And what is
He? The King's guilty Conscience told him that he had No reason
to expect any good news from Heaven. God can, in a moment, make
the Heart of the stoutest sinner to tremble; and there needs No
more than to let loose his own thoughts upon him; they will give
him trouble enough. No bodily pain can equal the inward Agony
which sometimes seizes the sinner in the midst of mirth, Carnal
pleasures, and worldly pomp. Sometimes terrors cause a Man to
flee to Christ for Pardon and peace; but many cry out for fear
of wrath, who are not humbled for their sins, and who seek
relief By lying vanities. The ignorance and uncertainty
concerning the Holy Scriptures, shown By many who Call
themselves Wise, only tend to drive sinners to despair, as the
ignorance of these Wise men did.

10-17 Daniel was forgotten at Court; he lived privately, and
was then ninety years of Age. Many consult servants of God On
curious questions, or to explain difficult subjects, but without
asking the way of Salvation, or the path of duty. Daniel
slighted the offer of reward. He spoke to Belshazzar as to a
condemned criminal. We should despise all the Gifts and rewards
this world can give, did we see, as we may By Faith, its End
hastening On; but let us do our duty in the world, and do it all
the real service we can.

18-31 Daniel reads Belshazzar's doom. He had not taken warning
By the judgments upon Nebuchadnezzar. And he had insulted God.
Sinners are pleased with gods that neither see, nor hear, nor
know; but they will be judged By One to whom all things are
open. Daniel reads the sentence written On the Wall. All this
may Well be applied to the doom of every sinner. At Death, the
sinner's days are numbered and finished; after Death is the
Judgment, when he will be weighed in the Balance, and found
wanting; and after Judgment the sinner will be cut asunder, and
given as a prey to the Devil and his angels. While these things
were passing in the Palace, it is considered that the Army of
Cyrus entered the City; and when Belshazzar was slain, a general
submission followed. Soon will every impenitent sinner find the
Writing of God's Word brought to pass upon him, whether he is
weighed in the Balance of the Law as a self-righteous Pharisee,
or in that of the Gospel as a painted Hypocrite.