May 17, 2020 – Daniel 4 – 6
Lesson Date: May 17, 2020
Focal Scripture Passage: Daniel 4:4-6, 24-27, 30-37; 5:1-6, 18-23, 25-31; 6:7-9, 14-17, 20-28
AIM: To lead students to discover the results of pride in the lives of three kings, and to examine themselves for signs of pride so they can confess their sin to God.
Before class: Read the notes on Daniel 4 – 6 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the following as a header across the top of the marker board or chalkboard: “Pride – The Root of All Sin.” Below that write the names and dates of the three kings we will study in today’s lesson, as follows:
Nebuchadnezzar – 605-562 BC
Belshazzar – 553-539 BC
Darius – 539 BC
Write the following five questions on a sheet of poster board or large sheet of paper, but do not display it yet.
- What did pride cause the king to do?
- What happened as a result of his pride?
- Who did his pride hurt?
- What did God do about his pride?
- How did God get glory from the situation?
Ask some volunteers who are comfortable reading aloud to look up Proverbs 16:18 and James 4:6, and to be prepared to read them to the class when called upon.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the header on the board that says, “Pride – The Root of All Sin.” Ask the students if they think that statement is accurate, and why they feel that way. Remind the class that pride motivated Lucifer’s rebellion and pride led Adam and Eve to sin. Ask them to name other Bible characters that sinned and whether pride was behind their sin. Ask: “Do you think pride is the root of our sin, today?”
Tell the students one of the popular carols we sing at Christmas is “We Three Kings.” Tell them in today’s lesson we will learn about three kings and what happened as a result of their pride. We will also examine ourselves for evidences of pride.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the class that we are studying the Old Testament book of Daniel.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to compromise).
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verses (Dan. 3:17-18).
- Remind the class that Daniel was an Israelite who was taken captive to Babylon as a teenager, in 604 BC. That was 18 years before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians.
- The events in today’s lesson took place many years later. Daniel served as an advisor to kings.
- Direct the students’ attention to the names of the three kings written on the board. Tell them the following facts about those kings.
- Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon for more than forty years (605-562 BC). He was the king who destroyed Jerusalem, and the king whom Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego served in last week’s lesson.
- Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, who reigned from 553-539 BC. He was the last Babylonian king.
- Darius became ruler in Babylon when the Medes and Persians under King Cyrus of Persian conquered it in 539 BC.
- The Pride of Nebuchadnezzar.
- Ask a volunteer to read Daniel 4:4-6.
- Ask: “Why was Nebuchadnezzar troubled?” (he had a frightening dream that he didn’t understand).
- Tell the class Nebuchadnezzar wanted to know the meaning of his dream, so he summoned all his wise men, astrologers, and magicians.
- They couldn’t interpret the dream, so Daniel was brought to interpret it.
- Read Daniel 4:24-27.
- Ask: “What did the dream mean?” (because of Nebuchadnezzar’s enormous pride, God was going to humble him by causing him to live like an animal in the field).
- Tell the students Daniel urged Nebuchadnezzar to repent of his pride. God gave the king a full year to repent, but he never did.
- Ask a volunteer to read Daniel 4:30-37.
- Display the poster with the five questions written on it. Ask them to answer the questions. Their answers should be something like the following:
- What did pride cause the king to do? (claim credit for building great Babylon as a testament to his great power and majesty).
- What happened as a result of his pride? (he lost his reason and became like an animal living out in the fields).
- Who did his pride hurt? (himself and those who had to carry out his duties in his absence).
- What did God do about his pride? (humbled him to live like a dumb animal).
- How did God get glory from the situation? (God restored his reason such that Nebuchadnezzar praised God as the King of heaven).
- Summarize: Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was so great that God took away his reason and caused him to live like a wild animal. When God finally restored his reason Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself and praised God.
- The Pride of Belshazzar.
- Read Daniel 5:1-6.
- Ask the students to answer the first question on the poster:
- What did pride cause the king to do? (use the sacred vessels that had been taken from God’s Temple in Jerusalem as goblets for a drunken party, and praise nonexistent gods rather than the one true God).
- Ask: “What frightening thing happened?” (a supernatural hand appeared and wrote a mysterious message on the wall).
- Ask the students to answer the second question on the poster:
- What happened as a result of his pride? (God stopped the party with a supernatural event that got the undivided attention of the king and his guests).
- Tell the class that Daniel, who was probably about 80 years old at the time, was summoned to interpret the handwriting.
- Ask a volunteer to read Daniel 5:18-23.
- Tell the students that Daniel reminded Belshazzar what happened to Nebuchadnezzar as a result of his pride. Daniel rebuked Belshazzar for his pride.
- Read Daniel 5:25-31.
- Ask the students to answer the rest of the questions on the poster:
- Who did his pride hurt? (himself, his nobles, and the rest of his kingdom).
- What did God do about his pride? (killed him and overthrew his kingdom).
- How did God get glory from the situation? (God’s prophecy through the handwriting was fulfilled and proud Belshazzar was brought down).
- Tell the students the Euphrates River ran through the city of Babylon. The Medes and Persians dug a canal to divert the river, such that their army was able to march right into the midst of Babylon by way of the dry riverbed. Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians that night, and they killed Belshazzar and the rest of the royal family.
- Ask: “Who became the next king?” (Darius the Mede).
- Summarize: Belshazzar’s pride and arrogance was so great that God took away his kingdom and his life. God’s Word and his messenger were proven to be true.
- The Pride of Darius.
- Tell the class that King Darius elevated Daniel to a very high position in his kingdom, but the other leaders were jealous of Daniel.
- Ask a volunteer to read Daniel 6:7-9.
- Ask the students to answer the first question on the poster:
- What did pride cause the king to do? (sign a decree prohibiting his subjects from praying to anyone but him for thirty days).
- Tell the students that Daniel continued his regular practice of praying to God. The other leaders reported this to the king.
- Read Daniel 6:14-17.
- Explain that the king wanted to deliver Daniel, but he was powerless to do so because he could not change the decree he had signed into law.
- Ask: “What did the king tell Daniel in verse 16?” (he hoped Daniel’s God would deliver him from the lions).
- Tell the class Darius had a very troubling, sleepless night. He went to the lion’s den early the next morning to learn Daniel’s fate.
- Ask a volunteer to read Daniel 6:20-28.
- Ask the class to answer the last four questions on the poster:
- What happened as a result of his pride? (he foolishly signed a decree forbidding his subjects from praying to anyone but him – effectively claiming to be a god).
- Who did his pride hurt? (Daniel, whose life was placed in jeopardy in the lion’s den).
- What did God do about his pride? (caused Darius to recognize the foolishness of his decree and ask God to spare Daniel).
- How did God get glory from the situation? (Darius ordered all the people in his kingdom to worship Daniel’s God, and Daniel continued to prosper).
- Summarize: Darius’ pride and arrogance put the life of his trusted advisor in danger, such that he realized Daniel’s God is the true God. Darius praised the God of Daniel.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention to the names of the three kings written on the board. Remind them that Nebuchadnezzar was puffed up with pride, claiming to have built Babylon to show off his greatness. God broke his pride by taking away his reasoning and making him live like an animal in the field. Ask: “Who was hurt by Nebuchadnezzar’s pride?” (he was).
Remind the students that Belshazzar was so proud and arrogant that he brashly used the gold and silver vessels stolen from God’s Temple for drinking glasses at his drunken party. He also proudly praised false gods that don’t exist. Ask: “Who was hurt by Belshazzar’s pride?” (him, his nobles, and the rest of his kingdom).
Remind the class that Darius was so proud that he thought people should pray to him as if he was God. Ask: “Who was hurt by Darius’ pride?” (Daniel).
Direct the class’ attention once again to the header on the board that says, “Pride – The Root of All Sin.” Tell the students that pride was dangerous in the lives of those three ancient kings, and pride is still dangerous today. Tell them we all have pride in some areas of our life. Pride is sin; it always hurts us and it often hurts others. Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read Proverbs 16:18 (which the students memorized last month) and James 4:6.
Ask the students to bow their head and close their eyes. Tell them to use this private time to examine themselves for signs of pride, and to confess the sin of pride. Wait a few moments and then voice a closing prayer, thanking God that He rules the universe and “all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing” (Dan. 4:35).
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize James 4:6. Tell them whenever they feel important or boastful to remember the terrible consequences brought on by the pride of these three kings.
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