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You have lifted yourself up against the Lord the heavens and you [have brought] before you the vessels of His house which they brought, and you, and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have drunk from them, and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone which do not see or hear or know or communicate [anything],

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and you have not honored the God who holds your breath in his hand and to whom all your ways belong.


You have exalted yourself in opposition to the real Lord who is over all the heavens and everything under them; you brought before you the vessels from His temple which your ancestors brought from their rightful place (Jerusalem), so that you, your noblemen, your wives and even your concubines could defile them; you have proclaimed the supposed virtues and accomplishments of the gods  made of special materials, strong materials or common materials, who see nothing, hear nothing, know nothing and communicate nothing, but you have not acted  honorably toward the God who is responsible for your very existence, and without whom you could do nothing.



The English phrase “know or communicate” comes from one Aramaic word which is usually translated simply as “know or comprehend,” but it also carries with it the idea of communicating or teaching others what is known. The point is that those statues of false gods do neither of those things while the true God of heaven knows all things and chooses to reveal to mankind what we need to know in order to live in fellowship with Him.

Daniel's Rebuke

Daniel did not hold anything back. He pointed his finger right at the king and said, “You have acted unwisely, arrogantly and in defiance of the true God.” He mentions specifically the use of the vessels brought from the temple in Jerusalem. Did he mention the lampstand? Well, He did not mention it specifically, but the use of the term “breath” may have been a hint in that direction. The Jews saw the ideas of life, breath and spirit as being inextricably connected. Any mention of one of those three things brought to mind the other two because life, breathe and spirit always went together. The lampstand was a symbol of the Spirit of God because it held oil and oil represented God’s Spirit. Thus, this statement could have double meaning expressing two ideas like this – you have not honored the God who holds your breath in his hand, and you have disrespected His spirit who grants life. As you can see, the double meaning is actually saying the same thing twice.

Not only had the king chosen to defile the articles from the temple of the true God, but he had chosen throughout his life to misuse the life and breath this same God had granted him. That was another way in which he dishonored God.

God gives all of us life and everything that makes life possible. He expects us to live it for His glory, but He gives us a choice; we can live for Him or for ourselves. None of us are very far removed from this seemingly wicked king, Belshazzar. We may not be defiling things taken from the temple in Jerusalem, but many of us are taking the gift of life that God gave us and using it for our own pleasure instead of for His glory. Yet, just like Belshazzar, we have a chance to repent. Don’t ignore this opportunity.