Verse 11The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
is one of the clearest proofs in Scripture of God’s sovereignty. We see that in the life of the mightiest rulers that we meet in the Scripture, like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:1-371Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and [men of every] language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound!2It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
3“How great are His signs
And how mighty are His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And His dominion is from generation to generation.4“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace.5I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and [these] fantasies [as I lay] on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.6So I gave orders to bring into my presence all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.7Then the magicians, the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners came in and I related the dream to them, but they could not make its interpretation known to me.8But finally Daniel came in before me, whose name is Belteshazzar according to the name of my god, and in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and I related the dream to him, [saying],9‘O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, since I know that a spirit of the holy gods is in you and no mystery baffles you, tell [me] the visions of my dream which I have seen, along with its interpretation.10‘Now [these were] the visions in my mind [as I lay] on my bed: I was looking, and behold, [there was] a tree in the midst of the earth and its height [was] great.
11‘The tree grew large and became strong
And its height reached to the sky,
And it [was] visible to the end of the whole earth.
12‘Its foliage [was] beautiful and its fruit abundant,
And in it [was] food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches,
And all living creatures fed themselves from it.
13‘I was looking in the visions in my mind [as I lay] on my bed, and behold, an [angelic] watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven.
14‘He shouted out and spoke as follows:
Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit;
Let the beasts flee from under it
And the birds from its branches.
15“Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground,
But with a band of iron and bronze [around it]
In the new grass of the field;
And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth.
16“Let his mind be changed from [that of] a man
And let a beast’s mind be given to him,
And let seven periods of time pass over him.
17“This sentence is by the decree of the [angelic] watchers
And the decision is a command of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind,
And bestows it on whom He wishes
And sets over it the lowliest of men.”
18This is the dream [which] I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, tell [me] its interpretation, inasmuch as none of the wise men of my kingdom is able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.’19“Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, [if only] the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries!20The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth21and whose foliage [was] beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which [was] food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged—22it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth.23In that the king saw an [angelic] watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze [around it] in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,”24this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:25that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.26And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that [it is] Heaven [that] rules.27Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by [doing] righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to [the] poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’28“All [this] happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king.29Twelve months later he was walking on the [roof of] the royal palace of Babylon.30The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’31While the word [was] in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, [saying], ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you,32and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place [will be] with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’33Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ [feathers] and his nails like birds’ [claws].34“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom [endures] from generation to generation.
35“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And [among] the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
36At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me.37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”), Belshazzar (Dan 5:1-301Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.2When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which [was] in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.3Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which [was] in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.4They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.5Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing.6Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together.7The king called aloud to bring in the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners. The king spoke and said to the wise men of Babylon, “Any man who can read this inscription and explain its interpretation to me shall be clothed with purple and [have] a necklace of gold around his neck, and have authority as third [ruler] in the kingdom.”8Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the inscription or make known its interpretation to the king.9Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, his face grew [even] paler, and his nobles were perplexed.10The queen entered the banquet hall because of the words of the king and his nobles; the queen spoke and said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts alarm you or your face be pale.11There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans [and] diviners.12[This was] because an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Let Daniel now be summoned and he will declare the interpretation.”13Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the exiles from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?14Now I have heard about you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that illumination, insight and extraordinary wisdom have been found in you.15Just now the wise men [and] the conjurers were brought in before me that they might read this inscription and make its interpretation known to me, but they could not declare the interpretation of the message.16But I personally have heard about you, that you are able to give interpretations and solve difficult problems. Now if you are able to read the inscription and make its interpretation known to me, you will be clothed with purple and [wear] a necklace of gold around your neck, and you will have authority as the third [ruler] in the kingdom.”17Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him.18O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father.19Because of the grandeur which He bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated and whomever he wished he humbled.20But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and [his] glory was taken away from him.21He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like [that of] beasts, and his dwelling place [was] with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and [that] He sets over it whomever He wishes.22Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this,23but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.24Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out.25“Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’26This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.27‘TEKEL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.28‘PERES’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”29Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and [put] a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he [now] had authority as the third [ruler] in the kingdom.30That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.), Ahasuerus (Est 6:1-141During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king.2It was found written what Mordecai had reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.3The king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”4So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace in order to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows which he had prepared for him.5The king’s servants said to him, “Behold, Haman is standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.”6So Haman came in and the king said to him, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?”7Then Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king desires to honor,8let them bring a royal robe which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown has been placed;9and let the robe and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble princes and let them array the man whom the king desires to honor and lead him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.’”10Then the king said to Haman, “Take quickly the robes and the horse as you have said, and do so for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the king’s gate; do not fall short in anything of all that you have said.”11So Haman took the robe and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and led him [on horseback] through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.”12Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried home, mourning, with [his] head covered.13Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.”14While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hastily brought Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.) and Koresh (Ezra 6:2222And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the LORD had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.; Isa 45:1-71Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
2“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth;
I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.
3“I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden wealth of secret places,
So that you may know that it is I,
The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
4“For the sake of Jacob My servant,
And Israel My chosen [one],
I have also called you by your name;
I have given you a title of honor
Though you have not known Me.
5“I am the LORD, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
6That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
7The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the LORD who does all these.). God has the full control over them. The same goes for the world leaders of today and also for the two great dictators in the end time; the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth (Rev 13:1-181And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns [were] ten diadems, and on his heads [were] blasphemous names.2And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like [those] of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.3[I saw] one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed [and followed] after the beast;4they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”5There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.6And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, [that is,] those who dwell in heaven.7It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.8All who dwell on the earth will worship him, [everyone] whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.9If anyone has an ear, let him hear.10If anyone [is destined] for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.11Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.12He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.13He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.14And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life.15And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.16And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,17and [he provides] that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, [either] the name of the beast or the number of his name.18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.). Therefore, no human ruler is the highest ruler of the universe, but the LORD. He is the real King of kings (Ezra 7:21,2721“I, even I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers who are [in the provinces] beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, may require of you, it shall be done diligently,27Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who has put [such a thing] as this in the king’s heart, to adorn the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem,; Isa 10:6-76I send it against a godless nation
And commission it against the people of My fury
To capture booty and to seize plunder,
And to trample them down like mud in the streets.
7Yet it does not so intend,
Nor does it plan so in its heart,
But rather it is its purpose to destroy
And to cut off many nations.
; 41:2-42“Who has aroused one from the east
Whom He calls in righteousness to His feet?
He delivers up nations before him
And subdues kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
As the wind-driven chaff with his bow.
3“He pursues them, passing on in safety,
By a way he had not been traversing with his feet.
4“Who has performed and accomplished [it],
Calling forth the generations from the beginning?
‘I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’”
; Dan 2:2121“It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
; Jn 19:1111Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has [the] greater sin.”; Rev 17:1717For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.).
The decisions that a king makes in his heart are directed and controlled by God. He guides the king in “wherever”, which means nothing excluded, “He wishes”. The heart of the king is in His hand, which indicates that He has total control over it. It is like “channels of water” which with He does like a farmer does who digs channels in order to direct the watercourse up to and over his field in such a way that it comes exactly where he wants it to. In that way God deals with the heart of a king.
Verse 22Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts.
seamlessly connects to verse 11The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
. Like God knows the heart of a king, He knows the heart of every man. A man may think that “all his ways are right”, but indeed in “his [own] eyes” (cf. Pro 16:22All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.
). We are very well at making our ways “right”, while we go a wrong way. The real Judge of what is in the heart, is God. He not only sees the way that one goes, but He also “weighs the hearts”. He searches the motives.
The Pharisee, who has a very good opinion about himself, appears to have a heart full of pride in himself, while it is full of disgust towards others. This is the judgment of Him Who knows what is in man (Lk 18:9-149And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’13But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’14I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”; Jn 2:2424But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,). He fully “searches the heart” of man (Jer 17:1010“I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.
) and knows that it is “more deceitful than all else” (Jer 17:99“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
Our view on our way is limited, both in time and direction. God is eternal and controls everything and knows the purpose. Therefore it is good that we pray with David: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psa 139:23-2423Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.).
One of the things that may seem right in our own eyes (verse 22Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts.
), is offering a sacrifice, thinking that it is all right with our lives (verse 33To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.). We see a sacrifice as a compensation for the unrighteousness that we have done and the injustice that we commit, and then can continue to do so. We give some things to God and assume therefore that He will not punish us for our sins ‘in reward’.
Here it is not said that sacrifices are to be avoided, but that religious acts are worthless without a righteous life. God gives preference to doing “righteousness and justice” above religiosity (1Sam 15:2222Samuel said,
“Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
[And] to heed than the fat of rams.
; Pro 15:88The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
; 21:2727The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,
How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
; Psa 40:6-86Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
7Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”
; Isa 1:11-1711“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12“When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
13“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14“I hate your new moon [festivals] and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing [them].
15“So when you spread out your hands [in prayer],
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
16“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
17Learn to do good;
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.; Mk 12:3333AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”). Whoever does righteousness and justice, holds on to what God says in His Word, in His laws.
God rejected the sacrifice of Cain, because he did not do righteousness and justice, but on the contrary unrighteousness and injustice, which appeared when he murdered his brother (1Jn 3:1212not as Cain, [who] was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.). Outward acts like baptism and the Lord’s Supper are important, because God speaks about it in His Word. But if baptism and the Lord’s supper are not more than outward acts and our heart is not involved in it, they are an abomination to God.