Belshazzar’s Feast: Escape to Optimism


Everyone needs an escape, whether it be sports, music, or family.  It is what keeps us sane.  My escape has always been music.  Music allows people to live out their fantasies, to momentarily become a part of a story.  While it is true that the last decade has not been one to write home about, there is reason to be optimistic.  All someone has to do is look at Sir William Walton’s famous oratorio, Belshazzar’s Feast, for answers.

Belshazzar’s Feast is a story about the fall of the greedy & immoral King Belshazzar.  During a grand feast, the king finds the words ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN’ written.  Belshazzar can not interpret the writing and promises that whoever correctly interprets it will become the third ruler of the kingdom of Babylon.  Daniel was brought before the king and proceeds to do exactly that.

  • MENE – God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it;
  • TEKEL – Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting; 
  • PERES – Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.)

Daniel is immediately made the kingdom’s ruler, and Belshazzar is slain.

King Belshazzar is similar to today’s athletes & celebrities.  Celebrities want larger contracts with more money, and they want more fans.  King Belshazzar and today’s celebrities represent what is wrong with society – greed, ego-centricism, and the unwillingness to accept responsibility.

Daniel represents optimism.  Even though King Belshazzar was immoral, Daniel remained steadfast.  He was hopeful that an honest, God-fearing person would become ruler.  I believe it was Daniel’s optimism that made him king. 

Instead of believing everything the media puts out, which is  mostly negative, we need to believe that things will work out.   If there isn’t optimism, then there is no hope.  If there is no hope, then there is no point to living.