Psalmody: Psalm 48:9–14
Inside your temple, O God, we meditate on your mercy.
10 Your praise, O God, reaches to the ends of the earth,
just as your fame does.
Righteousness fills your right hand.
11 Mount Zion rejoices.
The daughters of Judah celebrate because of your judgments.
12 Go around Zion. Yes, go all the way around her.
Count her towers. 13 Consider her rampart.
View her citadels, so that you may tell the next generation about them.
14 For this God is our God forever and ever.
He will guide us beyond death.
- Psalm 48:11 That is, the towns around Jerusalem and their inhabitants
- Psalm 48:13 Or moat
- Psalm 48:14 Some Hebrew manuscripts read guide us forever.
Luther’s notes on the Psalm:
The 48th psalm is a psalm of thanks, much like the 46th psalm. It also praises God for protecting and defending the city of Jerusalem against the kings and princes. They had to retreat in shame and let the temple stand, along with the worship of God and His Word (or rule). With this God has kept His promise, namely, that in accordance with the First Commandment, He would be their God. For, the psalm says, what we have heard and believed, we also see and experience in God’s actions for the city.
We also sing this psalm for Christendom and the Gospel, that they will stand against the raging of the kings and princes, who finally withdraw in shame—and the Word they still must let remain.
Old Testament Reading: Daniel 5:1–30
The Handwriting on the Wall at Belshazzar’s Banquet
5 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and in front of the thousand he drank wine. 2When he had tasted the wine, Belshazzar said to bring the gold and silver vessels that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines could drink from them. 3Then they brought the gold vessels that they had taken from the temple, that is, the House of God in Jerusalem. So the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
5At that moment the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand, and the king saw the back of the hand that was writing. 6Then the king’s cheerful appearance changed, his face grew pale, and his thoughts troubled him. His legs went limp, and his knees knocked together.
7The king called out loudly to bring the spell casters, the astrologers, and the diviners. The king said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever is able to read this writing and explain its meaning will be clothed in purple, with a gold chain around his neck, and he will rule as third highest in the kingdom.”
8Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they were not able to read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9Then King Belshazzar was really terrified. He grew even paler, and his nobles were perplexed.
10The queen came to the drinking party because of the words of the king and his nobles. The queen said, “Your Majesty, may you live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, and do not look so frightened. 11There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, enlightenment, insight, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. So King Nebuchadnezzar your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, spell casters, astrologers, and diviners, 12because an outstanding spirit and knowledge and insight in interpreting dreams and explaining riddles and solving knotty problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be summoned, and he will explain the meaning of the writing.”
Daniel Interprets the Writing
13Then Daniel was brought before the king. The king said to Daniel, “Are you Daniel, one of the Judean exiles whom my father the king brought from Judah? 14I have heard about you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and enlightenment and insight and outstanding wisdom are found in you. 15Now, those wise men who are the spell casters were brought before me to read this writing and to make its meaning known to me, but they were not able to explain the meaning of the message. 16Yet I have heard about you that you are able to explain meanings clearly and to solve knotty problems. Therefore, if you are able to read the writing and make its meaning known to me, you will be clothed in purple, with a gold chain around your neck, and you will rule as the third in the kingdom.”
17Then Daniel answered the king:
Keep your gifts for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else! Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king, and I will make its meaning known to him. 18As for you, Your Majesty—the Most High God gave the kingdom, greatness, splendor, and glory to Nebuchadnezzar, your father. 19So because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and were afraid in his presence. He killed whomever he wanted, and he let live whomever he wanted. Also, he promoted anyone he wanted, and he demoted anyone he wanted. 20But when he thought too much of himself, and his spirit became hardened in pride so that he acted arrogantly, he was deposed from the throne of his kingdom, and his splendor was taken away from him. 21He was driven away from humans, and his mind was changed to that of an animal. So his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass as bulls are fed, and his body was wet with dew from the sky, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdoms of men, and he raises up over them anyone he desires.
22But you, his son, Belshazzar, did not humble your heart although you knew all this. 23Instead, you lifted yourself against the Lord of Heaven. The vessels from his house were brought before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. Then you praised the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone, who do not see and do not hear and do not know. But you did not honor the God who holds your breath in his hand and who controls all your ways. 24So the back of the hand was sent by him, and this writing was inscribed.
25Now this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE MENE TEKEL and PARSIN 26This is the meaning of the message: Mene means that God has counted up your kingdom and paid it out or spent it. 27Tekel means that you have been weighed in the scales, and you are too light. 28Parsin means that your kingdom has been broken in two and given to the Medes and the Persians.
29Then Belshazzar spoke, and they dressed Daniel in purple, with a gold chain around his neck, and they made him the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
Darius Receives the Kingdom
30That very night, King Belshazzar the Chaldean was killed.
New Testament Reading: Revelation 21:9–27
The New Jerusalem
9One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls that were filled with the seven last plagues came and spoke with me. He said, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
10He carried me away in spirit to a great and high mountain, and he showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It has the glory of God. Its radiance is similar to a very precious stone, like crystal-clear jasper.
12It has a large, high wall. It has twelve gates. Twelve angels are at the gates, and twelve names are engraved on the gates, the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13Three gates are on the east, three on the north, three on the south, and three on the west. 14The city’s wall also has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the Lamb’s twelve apostles.
15The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod so that he could measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16The city is laid out as a square. Its length and width are equal. He measured the city with the measuring rod: 12,000 stadia. Its length, width, and height are equal. 17He also measured its wall by human measurement, which was what the angel used: 144 cubits.
18The wall is made of jasper, and the city is pure gold, like pure glass. 19The foundations of the city’s wall had been adorned with every kind of precious stone.
The first foundation is jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh diamond, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
21The twelve gates are twelve pearls. Each of the gates is made out of one pearl. And the street of the city is pure gold, like transparent glass.
22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God has given it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25There is no day when its gates will be shut, for there will be no night in that place. 26They will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27Nothing that is unclean and no one who does what is detestable or who tells lies will ever enter it, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Prayer of the Day:
Merciful God, You have promised to those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life that they will dwell in the New Jerusalem, where the temple is the Lamb whose lamp lights the world. Prepare us to enter this heavenly city at the Supper You prepared for us here of the very body and blood of the Lamb, even as we participate now in the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.