No. 621



There is a wonderful story in the Bible, in the book of Daniel, which contains a principle that, if completely understood and properly applied, can help any of us live a happier, fuller and more successful life. This story, found in chapter 5, has come to be known as “The Hand Writing on the Wall.” This is an account of a Babylonian king who forgot a lesson from history, and it would cost him his kingdom and his life. You may be familiar with this story, but as a reminder let me set it up for you so the principle involved will become crystal clear.
The Babylonian armies of King Nebuchadnezzar had invaded Jerusalem in the 6th century B.C. and carried many of her people into captivity, along with a lot of the valuable articles that were found in the temple. Long story short: The king, who was so proud and vain, had a dream one night that none of his astrologers, enchanters or diviners could interpret. God had given Daniel extraordinary powers to interpret dreams, so they called him. Daniel told the king that his dream meant he would be banished from his kingdom to live with the wild animals, eat grass and be drenched by the dew of Heaven. The dream came to pass and lasted for seven years until proud King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God as the Supreme ruler of the Universe.
Now, fast forward to his grandson Belshazzar, who had a weakened kingdom, and he was not only proud, but did not learn a lesson from history. He was having a drunken party for 1,000 of his nobles and remembered that he had all the golden cups taken from the temple. He ordered these golden cups to be brought to serve his guests and suddenly near a lamp a hand began to write on the wall where everyone could see. The words were these: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. When the king saw this handwriting, he was so shaken that he trembled and shook violently, until he fell to his knees.
Once again, a search was made for someone to interpret the dream, and Daniel was called. Then he read the words off the wall before turning to face the king and solemnly announce, “This is what these words mean: MENE: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought to an end. TEKEL: You have been weighed in the scales and found wanting. PERES: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” King Belshazzar was unaware that for days the Soldiers of the Medes and Persians had been diverting the Euphrates River that flowed under the walls of Babylon. That very night they crept under the walls, the king was slain and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom.
Well, that’s quite a story, and it contains some important principles we all could learn. The first is to look back at events in history that may help us avoid the mistakes of others. I’m sure you have heard the saying that history has a way of repeating itself. In many ways, this is because we human beings do not learn from events or tragedies of the past. This is not to say we should not take risks and move forward, especially as it relates to technology. This is the upward pattern of civilization, but to thumb our collective noses as Belshazzar and his nobles did at an all-powerful, all-knowing God is just plain suicide.
The next thing we can learn is the true essence of what the saying “The Handwriting on The Wall” really means. At one time or another, we have all heard someone make the comment that they saw the handwriting on the wall. If you did not already know the background of this saying, hopefully I have shed a little light on this subject for you. This age-old saying literally means that events and circumstances have come to pass and reached the point where the outcome is obvious to everyone, whether good or bad. There are countless examples to illustrate this. Let’s say in sports that one team is behind 20 points or 10 runs with only two minutes or two outs to go, before the end of the game.
At this point it could be said that everyone in attendance sees the handwriting is on the wall, because they know which team is going to win. To be sure, sports are just games, even for those who gamble, but life is a very different matter. When it comes to winning or losing in the game of life, the one who is better prepared, works a little harder, gets up a little earlier, stays up a little later is usually the one who becomes a true winner. The time to change the handwriting on the wall is months or even years before it becomes obvious to everyone that you are a winner or a loser. We may be able to change or avoid the laws of man for a while, but there are greater laws that can never be broken.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)