Our adult Bible-study class has been studying Daniel 5 (Belshazzar and the handwriting on the wall incident) the last couple of weeks. It’s a good study that leads to several topics: the authority of God, the relationship between religion and politics, holiness, pride, humility, and judgment to name several.
While studying the first half of the chapter a new thought occurred to me. Perhaps you have had the same thought…perhaps not. The thought concerned the actual handwriting incident.
Through the years I have seen several illustrations… depicting a large hand writing Belshazzar’s message of impending doom before all to see. But as I read the text during class last week, I began to wonder exactly who saw the writing. The reason I wondered such is because there seems to be no reaction from the party-goers. The reaction seems to solely belong to Belshazzar himself:
“In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.” (Daniel 5:5-6 NKJV)
After reading those verses (and a couple more after them) I don’t question where the message was written, I only wonder about the number of eyes which saw the message? When it comes to the message being relayed to others, Belshazzar could have simply wrote it down after seeing it and then given to whomever believed they could be the interpreter.
All in all, I’m not saying it was impossible for anyone in attendance at Belshazzar’s party to also see the message; I’m only saying this: 1) the message seems to be specifically targeted at Belshazzar, and 2) no matter what, this situation serves as an example of how the visuals arts (whether drawings, paintings, still-pictures or motion-pictures) can “un-inspirationally” influence the way we understand inspirationally given words.