Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He (she) who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no foe can withstand. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean, and in Him I confidently trust…He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and faithfulness are a shield.’”
Psalm 91:1, 2, 4
“There are four calls by which the hen calls in her brood. The first is the call of night, when they need a shelter from the dampness and from the darkness. The second is the call for food, when the hen would attract her little ones to pick up some dainty morsel that she has found for them. The third is the call of danger, when the hawk descends, or the brood is in peril. And the fourth is the call of love, when, with motherly desire and yearning, she would gather her brood where they may feel the softness of her breast-feathers and the warmth of her own body.
When the night shadows are falling, when the night hawk is descending, when food is needed by you in your hunger, or when my love yearns for a closer embrace, you shall find a safe and delightful shelter under the shadow of My wings.”
A. T. Pierson
Today’s Study Text:
“Now the queen (mother), overhearing the exciting words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house. The queen (mother) said, ‘O king, live forever! Do not be alarmed at your thoughts or let your cheerful expression and the color of your face be changed. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the holy God and in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father-the king, I say, your father – appointed him master of the magicians, enchanters or soothsayers, Chaldeans, and astrologers. Because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, clarify riddles, and solve knotty problems were found in this same Daniel, whom the king named Belshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.’”
“Earthly Power Versus Heavenly Purpose – Part 9
“Under the Master’s Hand”
“All the way my Saviour leads me:
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know what e’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.”
Frances Jane Van Alstyne
What events in my life can I now look back upon and see God’s hand at work?
Have I ever felt as if “my time” for working for God is over?
What do I believe is God’s purpose in my life?
How is God guiding me at this particular time in my life?
“Who brought me hither will bring me hence; no other guide I seek.”
“A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution to all earthly problems.”
A night that started out with the promise of “fun and frolic” for the royal family in Babylon had turned into a chaotic scene when a finger began to leave unknown words on the wall of the banquet room.
Evidently, the horror of the “writing finger” caused such a palace-wide commotion that the elderly queen mother, who wasn’t initially at the feast, having been roused by the uproar, now made an entrance to try and calm down the befuddled King Belshazzar.
Someone had to have told the queen mother that a serious problem had developed because of an unknown message which had been traced on the banquet hall wall. And guess what? None of the ‘brains” of Babylon could decipher the message left by the handwriting.
Historians tell us that this queen mother was most likely the famous Nitocris, whom “Herodotus mentions as a woman of extraordinary prudence.” As Biblical commentator Matthew Henry explains, “The (queen mother) entreated Belshazzar not to be discouraged by the insufficiency of his wise men to solve the riddle, for there was a man in his kingdom that had more than once helped his grandfather at such a dead lift, and, no doubt, could help him.”
While it appears that at this time in the history of Babylon, Daniel, who historians note would have been about 90 years of age, still lived close to the Babylonian palace, even though not in the forefront of all the political fury. Obviously, the queen mother’s impression of Daniel had been extremely favorable. In fact, I like the way Matthew Henry writes about the high regard which this woman had for Daniel: “She spoke honorably of Daniel as a man that had an admirably good head, ‘light, and understanding, and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him.’ Such an insight had Daniel into things secret, and such a foresight of things to come, that it was evident he was divinely inspired.”
Now at a time in the history of Babylon, besieged as it was by a foreign army, the “private” Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar’s chosen man for prophetic intervention and government consulting, didn’t even come up on the young Belshazzar’s radar screen in a time of terror. However, someone did remember! Daniel’s heavenly character had left a deep impression on the queen mother, so deep in fact that Daniel was the first name which entered her mind at a time of chaos. And while it may have been seemingly apparent that Daniel’s official duties at this time were over in Babylon, this towering pillar for God, stood on alert – ready in a moment’s notice when called by Jehovah into frontline service again.
In words penned by Matthew Henry, “Providence so ordered it now, just at the fall of Belshazzar’s monarchy, that Daniel should by the queen’s means be brought to court again, and that Daniel might be there ready for a promotion in the ensuing government.” Then Pastor Henry makes this astute observation: “Thus do ‘the righteous shine forth out of obscurity, and before honour is humility? (Indeed, Daniel, though not on the forefront of the battle at that time, was still under the ruling hand of God. In fact, we read in Daniel 7 and 8 that God was sending heavenly dreams to Daniel that would later become messages that would be read by future generations.
The particular passages of Scripture which we are studying today only serve to reinforce the amazement I feel whenever I open God’s Word to study. I’ll admit, I need little motivation to get up each day and make my way to my downstairs closet where my writing chair sits surrounded by stacks of books and shelves filled with Bibles, Commentaries and Resource Materials. I get excited everyday as I know we will unearth some treasured truth from the goldmine of God’s wisdom – the Bible. And today has been no different than several thousand other days during the past ten years.
Deep in the dwelling place of the book of Daniel, we find that a godless king, unaware of the overarching plan the God of heaven and earth has in place for His children on earth, is confronted by the queen mother in his own palace. She is the one who remembers that God’s children still are “in place” in this foreign kingdom. And at the perfect time in history, from the hidden relics of the past, she has witnessed God’s select elevated to a heavenly purpose laid out by a Ruler much greater than any earthly monarch.
As I read Daniel 5, I can just hear the voice of a prudent queen mother calling out to the wayward King Belshazzar, “What’s wrong with you? Snap out of it! Why are you sitting here shaking like a leaf when you have the wisdom of heaven living here in Babylon? He’s right under your nose. Go get him – problem solved!” And this time, when God intervened, He chose to use the terrific memory of an elderly queen whose life carried the imprint of God’s faithful servant Daniel. It cannot be denied, then or now, God’s hand is over all His children - no matter what “Babylon” we find ourselves in.
What’s more, when late at night Daniel got a knock on his door and officers from the king told him the palace was calling for his talents again, I quite expect that Daniel wiped his 90 year old eyes as he pondered the fact that he had thought his retirement would be spent in rest and relaxation only to find out that in one night’s time, God’s purpose for him would swing into such action as to get him from the privacy of his Babylonian dwelling over to the palace and now he was the third person in line in the government. But God’s purpose still wasn’t complete. He had more on His list for Daniel’s life. As W. Phillip Keller, so eloquently pens: “The purpose for making a difference for God gives an edge of excitement to even the most ordinary experiences.” Just like you and me. Daniel probably got up that particular morning and ate his breakfast, as usual. But by nighttime, he was living in the palace. Even if you and I are doing our daily routine, thinking that the mundane activities of our lives don’t matter much, just watch and see. If like Daniel we are committed to giving every minute of each day to God, who knows what God’s got planned for us. It may just be a seemingly normal day but who knows what will happen by sunset. If you think what I’m saying doesn’t apply to you, just go to a prison in Egypt and ask Joseph how life is going locked up for something he didn’t do. Oops! I forgot! That was yesterday. Today, you’ll have to go to Pharaoh’s palace if you want to find Joseph, the governor of all of Egypt! So my advice is – don’t get too comfy. God’s got surprises for us as well. And that means you, Nina Ruth!
“Simple decisions, such as how you spend your time and money, will become opportunities of great promise. And you will begin to live with an unshakable certainty that everything you do today matters forever.”
A Life God Rewards
Under The Master’s Hand
“A strange instrument hung on an old castle wall – so the legend runs. No one knew its use. Its strings were broken and covered with dust. Those who saw it wondered what it was and how it had been used. Then one day a stranger came to the castle gate and entered the hall. His eye saw the dark object on the wall, and, taking it down, he reverently brushed the dust from its sides and tenderly reset its broken strings; then chords long silent woke beneath his touch, and all hearts were strangely thrilled as he played. It was the master, long absent, who had come back again to his castle.
It is but a legend, yet the meaning is plain. In every human soul there hangs a marvelous harp, dust-covered, with strings broken. Is your soul-harp hanging silent on the wall? Have you learned the secret of glad, happy days?
‘Oh! could the tender Christ but brush away,
And o’er the slumbering tones His fingers sweep,
A world would pause to catch the echoing chord
Of music wakened ‘neath the touch of God.’
Open your heart every morning to Christ. Let Him enter and repair the broken strings and sweep them with His skillful fingers, and you will go out to sing through all the day. Only when the song of God’s love is singing in our hearts are we ready for the day.”
J. R. Miller
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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