Daniel 5:10-11

10. Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet-house; and the queen spake, and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:

10. Regina propier verba regis et procerum in domum symposii, 1 ingressa est, loquuta est et dixit, Rex, in aeternum vive: ne terreant to cogitationes tuae, et vultus tuus ne mutetur.

11. There is a man in thy kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father, light and understanding, and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers.

11. Est vir in regno tuo, in quo spiritus est deorum sanctorum: et in diebus parris tui intelligentia 2 et scientia, et sapientia quasi sapientia deorum reperta est in eo: et Rex Nebuchadnezer pater tuus magistrum magorum, 3 astrologorum, Chaldaeorum, aruspicum constituit ipsum, pater tuus rex, inquam.


Here Daniel relates the occasion of his being brought before the king, as the reader and interpreter of the writing. The queen, he says, did this. It is doubtful whether it was the wife of King Belshazzar, or his grandmother. She was probably an old woman, as she refers to events in the time of King Nebuchadnezzar This conjecture has no sufficient foundation, and hence it is better to suspend our judgment than to assert anything rashly; unless, as we before saw, his wife was at table with him. As far as we can gather the words of the Prophet with certainty, we must diligently notice them, and thus convict the king of ingratitude, because he did not admit Daniel among the magi, Chaldeans, and astrologers. The holy man had no wish to be reckoned in that company; he would have deserved to lose God's prophetic spirit had he thus mingled with impostors; and he is clearly to be distinguished from them. King Nebuchadnezzar had set him over all the magi; he had no wish to exercise this honor, unless, as I have just said, he would deprive himself of the singular gift of prophecy; for we must always take care how far we can go. We know how very prone we are to be enticed by the blandishments of the world, especially when ambition blinds us and disturbs all our senses. No plague is worse than this, because when any one sees a prospect of the acquisition of either profit or honor, he does not regard either what he ought to do or what God permits, but is hurried on by a blind fury. This would have happened to Daniel, unless he had been restrained by a sense of true piety, and hence he repudiated the honor offered him by King Nebuchadnezzar. He never wished to be reckoned among soothsayers, and astrologers, and impostors of this kind, who deluded that nation with prodigies. Here the queen enters and mentions Daniel; but this does not render the king without excuse; for, as we have already said, Daniel had acquired a name of renown among men of all ages, and God wished to signalize him by a distinct mark, to fix the minds of all upon him, as if he were an angel from heaven. As King Belshazzar was ignorant of the existence of such a Prophet in his kingdom, this was the result of his gross and brutish indifference. God, therefore, wished King Belshazzar to be reproved by a woman, who said, Let not thy thoughts disturb thee! She calms him quietly, because she saw how frightened he was; but, meanwhile, she shews him the grossness of his error in wandering about in uncertainty, when the way was plain before him. God had put his torch in the Prophet's hand for the very purpose of lighting the king, unless he willfully desired to wander in darkness, as all the wicked do. Hence, we may learn from the example of this king, the common fault of our nature; for no one runs out of the right way, unless he indulges in his own ignorance, and desires all light to be extinct within him. As to the language of the queen, The spirit of the holy gods is in Daniel! we have elsewhere explained its meaning. It is not surprising that the profane use this language, since they cannot discern between the one God and angels. Hence they promiscuously call anything divine and celestial, a god. Thus also the queen calls angels, holy gods, and places the true God among them. But it is our privilege to acknowledge the true God as shining forth alone, and the angels as all taking their own ranks without any excellence in heaven or earth to obscure the glory of the only God. The writing has this tendency -- the exaltation of God in the highest degree, and the magnifying of his excellency and his majestic supremacy. We here see how needful it is for us to be instructed in the essential unity of God, since from the very beginning of the world men have always been persuaded of the existence of some Supreme Deity; but after they became vain in their imaginations, this idea entirely escaped them, and they mingled God and angels in complete confusion. Whenever we perceive this, let us feel our need of Scripture as a guide and instructor which shines on our path, urging us to think of God as inviting us to himself and willingly revealing himself to us.


Grant, Almighty God, since thou dost constantly address us by thy Prophets, and permittest us not to wander in the darkness of error, -- Grant us, I say, to be attentive to thy voice, and make us docile and tractable towards thee; especially when thou settest before us a Master in whom are included all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Grant us further, I pray thee, to be subject to thine only-begotten Son, to hold on in the right course of our holy calling, and to be always pressing onwards to that goal to which thou callest us, until we are successful in all our contests with this world, and at length arrive at that blessed rest which thou hast obtained for us through the blood of the same thy Son. -- Amen.

Lecture Twenty-Fifth.

WE began yesterday to explain the passage where Daniel relates how the queen advised King Belshazzar to send for the Prophet. We shewed how the king was here convicted of ingratitude, in suffering such a Prophet of God to be in obscurity so long, because that memorable prophecy, already treated, ought to have been well known and in everybody's mouth, as conferring a permanent authority on the holy man. Now, when Daniel says, the queen entered the banqueting-room; very probably she was not the king's wife, but his grandmother. I have expressed my intention of not contending the point, since in doubtful cases every one ought to enjoy his own unbiased judgment. But it is incongruous to say, The king was feasting with his wife and concubines, and then to add, "the queen entered the banqueting-room." Hence we suppose her to be called Queen, through the honor, rank, and respect which she still enjoyed, without any power. The testimony of Herodotus confirms this view, for he praises the queen of King Nebuchadnezzar for her singular prudence, calling him Labynetus and her Nitocris. 4 It is far more probable that this matron was absent from a banquet unsuitable to her age and gravity, since she would scarcely be feasting with those who were thus devoting themselves to luxury. When she enters the room, she reminds the king of Daniel, and she now gives the reason why he surpasses all the magi and soothsayers, the diviners and the Chaldees.

1 It must be translated in this way, because the noun is derived from hts shetheh, to drink. -- Calvin.

2 Verbally, "light," used metaphorically. -- Calvin.

3 I do not stop to explain these words. -- Calvin.

4 Herod., lib. i.e. 185 and 188.