King Belshazzar appeared to have it all, wealth, political power, and great parties, but it all changed in a day in our story in Daniel 5. Until his fall, he was one to be envied. Have you ever walked through a nice neighborhood and been envious of those who lived there? They appear to have beautiful houses, with landscaped yards and fancy cars. They must have a great job, and all this should make them happy, right? Maybe. The life on the inside isn’t always as it appears on the outside.
This isn’t the only time that Scripture addresses this problem. Psalm 73 talks about the same thing and The Passion Translation gives us an understandable version.
Psalm 73: Asaph’s psalm
1 No one can deny it—God is really good to Israel and to all those with pure hearts.
But I nearly missed seeing it for myself.
2 Here’s my story: I narrowly missed losing it all.
3 I was stumbling over what I saw with the wicked. For when I saw the boasters with such wealth and prosperity, I became jealous over their smug security.
4–5 Indulging in whatever they wanted, going where they wanted, doing what they wanted, and with no care in the world. No pain, no problems, they seemed to have it made. They lived as though life would never end.
6 They didn’t even try to hide their pride and opulence. Cruelty and violence is part of their lifestyle.
7 Pampered and pompous, vice oozes from their souls; they overflow with vanity.
8 They’re such snobs—looking down their noses. They even scoff at God! They are nothing but bullies threatening God’s people.
9 Loudmouths with no fear of God, pretending to know it all. Windbags full of hot air, impressing only themselves.
10 Yet the people keep coming back to listen to more of their nonsense.
11 They tell their cohorts, “God will never know. See, he has no clue of what we’re doing.”
12 These are the wicked ones I’m talking about! They never have to lift a finger, living a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Have I been foolish to play by the rules and keep my life pure?
14 Here I am suffering under your discipline day after day. I feel like I’m being punished all day long.
15 If I had given in to my pain and spoken of what I was really feeling, it would have sounded like unfaithfulness to the next generation.
16 When I tried to understand it all, I just couldn’t. It was too puzzling—too much of a riddle to me.
17 But then one day I was brought into the sanctuaries of God, and in the light of glory, my distorted perspective vanished. Then I understood that the destiny of the wicked was near!
18 They’re the ones who are on the slippery path, and God will suddenly let them slide off into destruction to be consumed with terrors forever!
19 It will be an instant end to all their life of ease; a blink of the eye and they’re swept away by sudden calamity! They’re all nothing more than momentary monarchs—
20 soon to disappear like a dream when one awakes. When the rooster crows, Lord God, you’ll despise their life of fantasies.
21 When I saw all of this, what turmoil filled my heart, piercing my opinions with your truth.
22 I was so stupid. I was senseless and ignorant, acting like a brute beast before you, Lord.
23 Yet, in spite of all this, you comfort me by your counsel; you draw me closer to you.
24 You lead me with your secret wisdom. And following you brings me into your brightness and glory!
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? You’re all I want! No one on earth means as much to me as you.
26 Lord, so many times I fail; I fall into disgrace. But when I trust in you, I have a strong and glorious presence protecting and anointing me. Forever you’re all I need!
27 Those who abandon the worship of God will perish. The false and unfaithful will be silenced, never heard from again.
28 But I’ll keep coming closer and closer to you, Lord Yahweh, for your name is good to me. I’ll keep telling the world of your awesome works, my faithful and glorious God!