“So Daniel was brought in before the king. The king asked him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles brought from Judah by my predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar? I have heard that you have the spirit of the gods within you and that you are filled with insight, understanding, and wisdom. My wise men and enchanters have tried to read the words on the wall and tell me their meaning, but they cannot do it. I am told that you can give interpretations and solve difficult problems. If you can read these words and tell me their meaning, you will be clothed in purple robes of royal honor, and you will have a gold chain placed around your neck. You will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel 5:13-16
The king referred to Daniel in a way that makes it obvious he no longer held a position among the wise men of Babylon. But he seemed to have arrived at the palace promptly, which indicates that even though he wasn’t involved in Belshazzar’s government, he still lived in the vicinity. I find it interesting that Daniel, now in his eighties, wasn’t invited to Belshazzar’s banquet, but when a crisis hit, he was the one summoned to save the day. Imagine the scene: Daniel arrives, and Belshazzar wants to be sure this is the same Daniel who was brought by Nebuchadnezzar as a captive from Jerusalem. Even as he spoke, the holy vessels from the Temple of Daniel’s God were scattered all around them, some sloshing with wine, others lying on the floor or overturned on the king’s banquet table. Seeing these vessels—which had been sanctified for the worship of God—desecrated by an inebriated, pagan king must have broken Daniel’s heart. It’s possible that Belshazzar felt a bit sheepish for asking a favor of a man Babylon had wronged deeply in making him a captive. Perhaps it was to make amends that Belshazzar offered Daniel gold, a purple robe, and a position of prominence if he could interpret the handwriting on the wall. Had Daniel glanced at the wall? Did he already know the interpretation of the words? If so, he knew that this was Babylon’s last night. He could have laughed and said, “A position in what kingdom?” But he held his tongue. The king did not know who Daniel was and who he represented, and neither do most of the modern leaders.