God’s Judgement

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries2 Minutes

William Walton found the challenge difficult. It was 1929, and he had accepted a commission from the BBC to write a choral work, deciding to focus on the feast hosted by Belshazzar, king of Babylon (described in Daniel).

Born on this day in 1902, Walton had begun writing music when still in his teens. In spite of receiving quality training, his technique remained somewhat unorthodox. As happened often, Walton found the writing process for this project slow and arduous as he struggled to capture the drama of the Biblical account. Dealing with this complex story, the form expanded to include a huge orchestra, massive choir, organ, and baritone soloist.

When finally completed, Walton’s composition, “Belshazzar’s Feast,” caused a sensation when first performed in 1931.

With words taken almost directly from the Bible, the work opens with Elijah’s prophecy concerning the enslavement of the Jews. In musical terms, we hear about the splendors of Babylon, and feel the lavish details of this feast.

Listeners feel the shock when a mysterious finger appears, writing words on the wall. We are horrified as Belshazzar ponders the meaning. We experience how Daniel was called to interpret, and informed Belshazzar that he was being judged because he had been filled with pride, and had not glorified God. That the words on the wall meant that he had been “weighed on the scales and found deficient.”

The final section is a song of praise celebrating the fall of Babylon, culminating in a triumphant final “Alleluia.”

Walton’s work quickly became established as a musical masterpiece. But, in spiritual terms, it reminds us of many truths. That God never forgets. That we are held accountable for our actions. Kings and kingdoms may rule for a season, but He knows everything we do. And His judgments are true and just.