What does Daniel 5:20 really mean?

Daniel 5:20 is about the consequences of arrogance and pride, as King Belshazzar’s disrespectful behavior towards God led to his downfall and kingdom’s demise.

20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.


Setting the Scene for Daniel 5:20

In Daniel chapter 5, we find King Belshazzar of Babylon hosting a grand feast for a thousand of his nobles. The scene is set in the royal palace, a lavish and opulent setting befitting a king of such power and wealth. The walls are adorned with gold and silver, and the tables are filled with the finest foods and wines.

Belshazzar, in his arrogance and defiance against the God of Israel, orders that the gold and silver vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem be brought out for his guests to drink from. As the nobles and concubines revel in the feast, a mysterious hand appears and writes on the wall of the palace, causing the king to tremble in fear.

In this tense and dramatic moment, Belshazzar calls for Daniel, the wise and faithful servant of God, to interpret the writing on the wall. The atmosphere in the room shifts from one of merriment to one of dread and anticipation as Daniel reveals the message of judgment against the king for his blasphemy. The scene is a powerful reminder of the sovereignty of God and the consequences of pride and disobedience.

What is Daniel 5:20 about?

This verse speaks to the consequences of arrogance and pride. When someone’s heart becomes filled with these negative qualities, they can lose what they hold dear. Arrogance can lead to a downfall, as illustrated by the deposition of the person mentioned in the verse from their royal throne.

Have you ever experienced a moment when pride or arrogance clouded your judgment or actions? Reflecting on this verse, we are reminded of the importance of humility and staying grounded, even in times of success or power. It serves as a warning against letting our egos overshadow our values and responsibilities. We can examine our own behaviors and attitudes by understanding the message of this verse. It prompts us to consider how we carry ourselves in positions of influence or authority, and the impact that pride can have on our relationships and outcomes. Let this verse be a guide to staying humble and mindful of our actions, so we can avoid the same fate as the individual in the verse.

Understanding what Daniel 5:20 really means

In the narrative of Daniel 5, we encounter the account of King Belshazzar’s feast, where he brazenly used sacred vessels from the Jerusalem temple, inviting divine judgment through the mysterious writing on the wall. Amidst this dramatic scene, the verse in question draws a parallel to the downfall of Belshazzar’s predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar, as a cautionary tale of pride and its consequences. The phrase “His heart was lifted up” vividly captures Nebuchadnezzar’s descent into arrogance, a state where he exalted himself above all, forgetting the source of his power and authority, which ultimately led to his downfall.

As the verse continues, highlighting how Nebuchadnezzar’s “mind hardened in pride,” we witness the progression of his pride from mere arrogance to a stubborn refusal to acknowledge God’s sovereignty. This hardening of his heart symbolizes a dangerous state of unrepentance and defiance, a stark warning against the dangers of allowing pride to blind us to our dependence on God. The consequence of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride is starkly depicted as he is “deposed from his kingly throne,” a humbling reminder that even the mightiest rulers are subject to God’s ultimate authority.

Drawing connections to other biblical passages, such as Proverbs 16:18 and James 4:6, we see a consistent theme warning against the perils of pride and emphasizing the importance of humility before God. These verses echo the timeless truth that pride precedes destruction, while God’s favor rests upon the humble. Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14:11 further reinforces this principle, illustrating that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, while the humble will be exalted—a profound lesson mirrored in Nebuchadnezzar’s journey.

The relevance of Nebuchadnezzar’s story resonates deeply in our contemporary context, where self-sufficiency and personal achievement often overshadow humility and gratitude. Consider the cautionary tale of a successful individual who attributes their accomplishments solely to their efforts, neglecting the role of providence and support in their success. When faced with adversity, such individuals are humbled, realizing the importance of humility and acknowledging the contributions of others—a poignant reminder of the dangers of unchecked pride.

In light of these reflections, it is crucial to introspect on areas in our lives where pride may have taken root, blinding us to God’s providence and grace. Cultivating humility involves recognizing our blessings, acknowledging the support of others, and embracing a servant-hearted attitude. Through prayer and reflection, we can guard against the hardening of our hearts through pride, seeking a softness and openness to God’s guidance in all aspects of our lives. By internalizing the lessons from Nebuchadnezzar’s narrative, we are reminded of the enduring importance of humility and the perils of pride, guiding us towards a posture of gratitude and dependence on God.

What legacy am I leaving for future generations?

Your legacy for future generations will be characterized by the impact of your actions and decisions. Just like King Belshazzar’s arrogance and disrespect towards God led to his downfall, the choices you make in life will shape the way you are remembered by those who come after you. Are you living a life of integrity, humility, and reverence for the divine? Will your actions leave a positive or negative imprint on the world around you? Consider the consequences of your behavior and uphold the values. Your legacy is not just about what you achieve in the material world, but also about the way you treat others, the kindness you show, and the principles you stand for. Strive to leave behind a heritage of righteousness and faith that will inspire and guide future generations on their own journeys.


Hey there, don’t let pride and arrogance lead you astray. Take a moment to consider the message in Daniel 5:20 – a powerful reminder that God does not tolerate disrespect. Reflect on your own behavior and make sure it’s filled with humility and respect for the divine. Will you choose to humble yourself before the Lord and invite His wisdom into your life?