I’ll now prove my critics right by going off-topic yet again, this time for a song lyric.
The discussion earlier today put me in mind of a song by Robert Hunter. Althought Hunter is most widely remembered as the lyricist for the Grateful Dead, the music for this song was written by David Freiberg, formerly of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Hunter recorded it in 1980 for his solo acoustic album Jack O’Roses.
It’s an effective retelling of the biblical story of Daniel. The excursion into full scriptural exegesis is very unusual for Robert Hunter.
The last line — about the nature of grace — is something I always endeavor to keep in mind.
Book of Daniel
by Robert Hunter
Calling down the gods of gold, silver, stone and wood
The mighty king of Babylon, the proud Belshazzar, stood
Drinking glory to himself as though he were a god
When an armless hand appeared among that party crowd
Came drifting through the window to write upon the wall
Four words that didn’t make much sense at all
The king turned to his friends in fright, in frenzied desparation
But not one soul among them could make interpretation
The queen said: long ago there was a wise man in this land
Why don’t you send for Daniel? He could read them
Daniel walked in bent but tall, spat upon the floor
Let me see these words… well, hmm — yes… I’ve seen them before
They simply mean your days are numbered; fact, they’re even run
You’ve been judged in the balance and found wanting
Your royalty is just a gift — your father learned that lesson
By losing both his kingdom and his reason
So great in pride he was cut down, driven to the field —
Lived there like a wild beast until his pride did yield
And when the king, your father, achieved humility
He was restored his kingdom and his sanity
– – – – – – – – –
And though you knew all this to start, you humbled not your heart
The writing on the wall commands your fall!
Old King Darius that night slew Belshazzar
Appointed Daniel prince and first adviser
The lesser princes being jealous, drew up a decree
Allowing prayers to no one but the king
They caught old Daniel dead to rights, down upon his knees
Threw him in the lion’s den for breaking that decree
Daniel walked among them safely, by his faith protected
The king said: This is just what I expected
Now you who brought me Daniel may kindly go yourselves
Into the lion’s den — see how you fare there
What shall be the end of this? How shall it pass away?
Get up, old Daniel, never mind, get up and go thy way
Further words are closed and sealed until the end of time
Many shall be called, each in his season
In wickedness of pride is lost the light to understand
How little grace is earned and how much given