III. DANIEL’S INTERPRETATION
OF THE WRITING ON THE WALL
In verses 10 through 29 we have Daniel’s interpretation of the writing on the wall.
A. Daniel Being Recommended,
Called, and Brought before the King
Daniel was recommended, called, and brought before the king (vv. 10-16). The queen mother recommended Daniel, saying that an excellent spirit, knowledge, insight, the interpretation of dreams, the declaring of riddles, and the solving of problems were found in him. She went on to say, "Let Daniel now be called, and he will declare the interpretation" (v. 12b).
B. Daniel’s Answer to the King
The king told Daniel that if he could interpret the writing and make its interpretation known, he would be clothed in purple, would be given a chain of gold around his neck, and would rule as the third ruler in the kingdom. In his answer to the king, Daniel said, "Let your gifts remain with you, or give your rewards to another; nevertheless I will read the writing for the king and make the interpretation known to him" (v. 17).
Before reading the writing and interpreting it, Daniel reminded Belshazzar of the experience of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in chapter four. Daniel regarded what happened to Nebuchadnezzar as a lesson not only for Nebuchadnezzar but also for all his descendants. For this reason, Daniel referred Belshazzar to his forefather’s lesson in a rebuking tone. Nebuchadnezzar had been severely disciplined by God and, after he had learned the lesson, offered praise to God. Belshazzar should have learned something from this lesson, but he did not care about it at all. Thus, Daniel said to him, "You his descendant, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this; but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of the heavens....The God in whose hand is your breath and to whom all your ways belong, you have not honored. Then that part of the hand was sent from before Him, and this writing was inscribed" (vv. 22-24). Belshazzar was not expecting such a rebuke.
C. The Interpretation
In verses 25 through 28 we see Daniel’s interpretation of the writing. This is the writing that was inscribed: "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN" (v. 25). This is Daniel’s interpretation of the matter: MENE—God has numbered Belshazzar’s kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL—he has been weighed in the scales and found to be lacking; and PERES—his kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians (vv. 26-28).
D. Belshazzar’s Response
Verse 29 tells us of Belshazzar’s response to Daniel’s interpretation. Belshazzar commanded that Daniel be clothed in purple, that a chain of gold be put around his neck, and that the proclamation be made concerning him that he should rule as the third ruler in the kingdom.
(Life-Study of Daniel, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)