Question & Answer Forum

Is there a discrepancy between the writing Belshazzar saw and the words Daniel interpreted?

The writing Belshazzar saw was “mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.” Daniel interpreted the three words, “mene,” “tekel,” and “peres” (Dan 5:25, 28). The difference is that “upharsin” is a composite word made up of a conjunction (“and”) and the plural of “peres.” Literally, the writing was “He (God) numbered; He numbered; He weighed; and they (the Medes and Persians) divided.” Some have suggested it refers to coins: “a mina, a mina, a shekel, and half-minas” (TWOT). If so, Daniel used the root words for those coins. He may have used the singular word, “peres” (original: “peras”) to play on the word Persia (original: “paras”), indicating that the Medo-Persian army then besieging the city would divide the kingdom between the Medes and the Persians.

D. Oliver

Why did the newly-anointed Solomon ride on a mule, not a donkey or a mare?

First, a definite answer. Solomon rode on a mule (1Ki 1:38) because his father David told Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah to “cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule” (v 33). This is the word for a “she-mule” (BDB, TWOT). Its three Old Testament uses are all in this passage (see v 44), referring to one mule, David’s. Solomon’s riding on David’s mule in company with David’s advisors gave a clear message: he was the successor David had chosen. Years later in secular history, female mules became preferable for riding and males for bearing burdens. That may have been a factor in David’s having this special mule.

Second, an observation. David’s sons all rode on (male) mules (2Sa 13:29) and Absalom rode a mule at the end of his life (2Sa 18:9). Since a mule is crossbred between a mare and a male donkey, and since crossbreeding was prohibited in Israel (Lev 19:19), mules were likely imported (TWOT), and were thus more valued. They (along with horses, silver, and gold, etc.) symbolized the wealth that other kings brought to Solomon annually (1Ki 10:25).

Third, a suggestion. The greatest reason for David’s choice of a mule rather than a horse may have been God’s prohibition for kings (Deu 17:16): they were not to multiply horses to themselves. David was careful in this. Solomon, to his own destruction, was not (1Ki 10:26, 28).

D. Oliver

What is the difference between giving “mini-sermons” to the Lord and worshiping at the Breaking of Bread?

Far too often, our worship consists of recounting some events in the Lord’s life, more details about His trials, mocking and abuse, and facts about His sufferings on the cross. It almost becomes ritualistic. He is worthy of so much more worship that we will ever be able to bring to Him and certainly of much more than ritual. We have an entire Bible that speaks of His worth. If worship is truly our highest occupation (Phi 3:3), then we should devote to it our fullest endeavors and our greatest capacities (Mark 12:33).

This question points to a possible failure when a brother has diligently prepared his worship. Would a priest spend more time arranging wood than dividing and placing the sacrifice on the altar? The material gathered from Scripture is worship only to the extent that it has drawn our hearts to more deeply appreciate Christ. The appreciation of Christ is what delights the Father’s heart (John 4:23). Telling the Father the resultant worship is more important than telling Him all the background. The believers may not follow all the thought process that produced the worship, but they can heartily say “Amen” to the result. More important, the Father fully knows the depths from which the worshiper has drawn his worship.

D. Oliver

How do we properly display reverence for the Lord’s presence in the assembly?

How wonderful to be at home in the Lord’s presence! Knowing He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), we can enjoy His presence when shampooing our hair or sipping our coffee. Yet, the more we know Him, the more we will fear – or revere – Him (Pro 9:10).

Our gathering together as an assembly publicly expresses His presence (1Co 14:25). We have come together as a “House of God” (1Ti 3:15). The principles of the Old Testament do not change: “Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord, forever” (Psa 93:5). Again, “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him” (89:7). We cannot view the House of God as merely another house like our own. As reverence for God becomes more foreign to our culture, it ought to be more highly prized by us.

Paul instructed the Corinthians to so consider one another and to so act in their gatherings that God’s presence was unmistakable. Our actions on entering (the assembly does not become “house of God” when the meeting begins), during, and after the gathering should express this reverence.

Our clothing likewise expresses this reverence. When Joseph went from the prison to the palace (Gen 41:14), he changed his garments – to look more casual? In the setting of teaching us principles regarding His visible presence among His people, the Lord specified garments unique to men who functioned in His presence (Exo 28:1-3). We worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23), not in form and ritual; therefore, we do not have “priestly garments,” but we learn the principle that clothing expresses reverence. Paul taught that, in contrast to the immoral and immodest worship of Diana, believing sisters adorn themselves modestly (1Ti 2:9). Our adornment reflects the character of the God we worship. Culture, relative poverty, necessity, or circumstances must be considered. Some must come from their work in work clothes. At least they are present. We cannot legislate what clothes others must wear, but, for the Lord’s honor, we ought to choose clothing that will express our reverence for Him and our recognition that being in His presence is a transcendent privilege. We buy our clothing in the same stores as “sons of this age” (Luk 20:34, ESV), but the casual spirit of this age doesn’t dictate how we display reverence.

D. Oliver