Print out this free Sunday School lesson based on the book of Daniel chapter one. This Bible story is where Daniel and his 3 friends choose to make a stand for God and not eating the King Nebuchadnezzar’s food. This lesson was prepared for upper elementary age students. It can be used for Children’s Church or simplified for preschool aged students. Additional resources are available at the end of the lesson.
Scripture: Daniel 1
Learning Objective(s): Students will learn that:
- God keeps His Word.
- God blesses obedience.
- God takes care of obedient believers in difficult circumstances.
Teacher preparation before class: Find pictures/objects that represent strength to use for Memory verse activity. Using 4 pieces of different colored construction paper fold each piece (length-wise) into four equal parts. These papers are going to have Daniel and his three friends Hebrew names with meanings and their Babylonian names with meaning. This is how I made mine: Write Daniel on the top portion of the paper. On the next line down write out the meaning of his name (God is Judge). Turn the paper upside down so the words you wrote are upside down and now at the top of the page write Daniel’s Babylonian name Belteshazzar. On the next portion write the meaning Bel will protect. (Use the remaining three papers to do the same with Hananiah-the Lord is gracious/Shadrach-Inspired of Aku (sun), Mishael-Who is like God?/Meshach-Belonging to Aku(sun), Azariah-The Lord is my help/Abednego-Servant of Nego). These can be used as visuals as you get to the part of the lesson where you teach the students that Nebuchadnezzar changed their names. You show one part first (Daniel) then open up what his Hebrew name means. Fold the paper back up and turn around to show his Babylonian name then open up to what that name means.
Print this lesson plan
Memory Verse: Ephesians 6:10 (NIV) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”
Teaching the Verse: Cut out pictures of things that make a person strong. (Examples: picture of a person lifting weights, running, vegetables, meats, Bible, praying hands) Have the Memory Verse written so students can see clearly. Underline the phrase be strong in the Lord and power. Have students choose a picture. As they look at the different pictures have them decide which pictures represent what being strong in the Lord means. Have students discuss the other pictures and what kind of strength they represent.
In order for believers to be strong in the Lord they must read, study, memorize and obey God’s Word. They need to pray and trust God to help them to be obedient to Him.
Bible Lesson Daniel Stands Firm
(This story is a guide for you as a teacher. As you study Daniel 1 pray for God to enable you to teach your students, teaching them with age appropriate language and applications. After studying Daniel 1 read through this lesson and adapt it for the needs of your class. This is just a guide to help you with some ideas.)
Have you ever been punished or have to suffer when someone else has done something wrong? Maybe you were the only child that was sitting quietly in your class while everyone else was talking and the teacher said not to. Since everyone else was being disobedient, the teacher made everyone stay inside and not get to play for recess.
If that has ever happened to you, you know it doesn’t feel good to be punished for others’ disobedience. God still wants you to make wise choices and trust Him when others around you are not being obedient.
Turn in your Bible to Daniel chapter 1.
In our story today a young man named Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah found themselves in a situation just like I just described to you. These young men were around the ages of 15 or 16 years old. They lived in a country called Judah and they were relatives of the King of Judah. We don’t read anywhere that these young men were doing anything wrong. We can assume that they were living lives that pleased God and were obeying Him.
Unfortunately, most of the people living in the land of Judah were not obeying God. God gave His people the Jews the land that they lived in. When He gave them this land to live in He promised that as long as the people obeyed Him, He would bless them and take care of them and let them live in the land. (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) Well, just like people all around us today, the people forgot or ignored God’s Words. They didn’t obey God’s Word and worshiped other gods instead of the One True God. Disobedience to God’s Word is sin. The sin of His people made God very sad that they would chose to disobey Him and bow down and worship gods that were not even real.
Just as God promised to bless His people and take care of them when they obeyed Him, God promised He would punish them if they chose to sin. (Deuteronomy 28:15-68)
God is patient and loving with His people. He sent prophets to warn the people that if they didn’t turn away from their sin and turn back to Him, He was going to punish them. God patiently allowed many years to pass to give His children a chance to turn away from their sin of disobedience and turn back to Him and worship and obey Him. His people chose to be stubborn and disobedient. God always keeps His Word. God’s children were choosing to continue to sin. God had to punish them for their disobedience.
God’s punishment for His children’s disobedience was to allow people who were enemies of Judah to come into the land that God’s children lived in. These enemies were called Babylonians. (If you have a map show where Babylon is in comparison to Judah) The Babylonians came into Judah and Jerusalem and captured many of the people and took them as prisoners back to the country of Babylon. God’s people no longer could live in the land God had given them. Now they would have to live in a strange land with people they didn’t know, and who worshipped many false gods. They would be slaves or servants for the Babylonian people.
This background history of God’s people leads us right into Daniel chapter 1. We don’t know much about the families that lost their children to the soldiers who captured them. Based on what we are going to learn about Daniel and his 3 friends we have to believe that they had Godly parents who taught them God’s laws and the importance of obedience to Him. Perhaps as their parents raised their children and saw most of God’s people disobeying Him, they knew that God keeps His Word and wanted their children prepared to stand up for God no matter where they were. Maybe they knew that because God’s people were being so wicked they knew there was a possibility that in their lifetime their children could be taken away as prisoners. (Deuteronomy 28:41)
Even though Daniel was a young man who loved God and obeyed Him, he was captured and taken to Babylon along with the others. He and his friends might have felt sad and confused but because they believed in God and had known what His Word teaches, they must have been able to trust that God would take care of them even in a place that was not their home.
When Daniel and his three friends were in Babylon King Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to a man named Ashphenaz. He wanted Ashphenaz to go to the young men who had been taken as prisoners from Judah and look for young men who were (have volunteer read 3-4 describing what Nebuchadnezzar was looking for) good looking, smart and were quick learners. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted these young men to work for him in his kingdom and he wanted the best of the young men to work for him.
Ashphenaz chose Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah along with many other young men who were good looking, smart and quick learners.
(If you prepared the names on construction paper, this is the place you would use them.) The king took good care of these young men. He didn’t want them to have their Jewish names anymore so he renamed Daniel and his three friends. Their Babylonian names were Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These names were given to them to make them forget about their old names. Their old names were names that made them think about the One True God. Daniel’s name meant God is my judge. Hananiah means God is gracious. Mishael means who is like God? And Azariah means God is my helper. Now their new names were names of Babylonian idols! Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to forget about the One True God that they worshiped.
The king also gave the young men delicious meals from his table. They were allowed to eat the rich, delicious foods that the king likes to eat. They could also drink the wine that he drank.
The Babylonian people did not worship the One True God. They worshiped pretend gods who are not gods at all. They had celebrations and worshiped their gods in ways that did not please the One True God. Sometimes they took meat and offered it as a gift to their gods and then they would cook and eat the food. Sometimes they would pour wine on their gift to their gods and drink the rest of the wine.
When Daniel saw the food that the king was giving them to eat, he knew he could not eat that food. Daniel wanted to obey God and eat the foods that God said he could eat. The Babylonians ate meat from pigs and Jewish people were not allowed to eat that meat. There were other foods that the Babylonians ate that Daniel knew he should not eat, especially if the food had been offered to idols.
Have volunteer read verse 8. Daniel made up his mind that he would not sin against God by eating food that God did not want him to eat. When Daniel made up his mind to not sin against God it took courage for him to take a stand to go and speak to Ashphenaz about his decision. Daniel was a prisoner. Prisoners don’t tell those in charge of them what they will or will not do. Daniel’s decision might have cost him his life. He didn’t allow fear of the ‘what if I am put to death?’ keep him from taking a stand to obey God.
Daniel told Ashphenaz that he could not eat the food the king was giving them to eat.
When we obey God He blesses our obedience. We won’t always know how He will do that but in Daniel’s situation this is how God blessed him. (Read verse 9) God had worked in Ashphenaz’s heart and caused him to like Daniel. Although Ashphenaz liked Daniel he was afraid of the king. He told Daniel, “I am afraid the king will see that you are not healthy because you haven’t been eating his food. If he sees you sickly looking he will put me to death.”
Ashphenaz put a man named Melzar (KJV) in charge of Daniel. Daniel asked Melzar if he could take a test. He asked if he and his three friends could eat vegetables and drink water for ten days. If at the end of the ten days they looked worse than those who were eating the king’s food, then he could punish him however he needed to.
Melzar agreed to the test and at the end of the ten days the Bible (Have volunteer read verse 15) says that Daniel and his three friends looked healthier than those who were eating the king’s food. Since Daniel and his friends passed the test they didn’t have to eat the king’s food and were able to be obedient to God.
Everytime Daniel and the three friends sat at the table with all the other young men training to serve the king, they were different from everyone else. While others were eating all the rich food from the King’s table and drank wine, Daniel and his friends ate vegetables and drank water. The Bible doesn’t say anything but I wonder if people didn’t tease them or try to get them to go ahead and eat the delicious food?
Believers have similiar situations and one that comes to mind is bowing our heads before each meal and thanking God for our food. Sometimes it is hard to do that in a group of people who don’t pray before they eat. We need to have the courage to bow our heads and quietly thank God for our food before we eat, even if others do not. God will bless us and He often uses this simple act of faith to give us opportunities to share with others about God and why we say a prayer before we eat.
At the end of the three years King Nebuchadnezzar called for all the young men to come before him so he could ask them questions to see if they could work in his kingdom. As he talked with all the young men the King was so impressed with Daniel and his three friends. Have volunteer read verses 19-20. The king found them ten times better than all the wise men he already had working in his kingdom.
We started our lesson talking about how disappointing it is to be punished when we haven’t disobeyed. Daniel and his friends chose to obey God even though they didn’t understand. They made wise choices in a land that didn’t worship the One True God. God blessed them by allowing the King to see them as better than the others and allowed them to work in his kingdom for him. God had a plan for Daniel and his three friends and because they chose to trust and obey God, God was able to bless them in the middle of difficult circumstances.
Play a game of tic tac toe and allow each team to answer a question and if they answer correctly they may place an x or an o on the board.
- Why did God have to punish the Jewish people?
- How did God punish the Jewish people?
- Who may have been suffering because of other’s disobedience in our story?
- What kind of young men did the king want Ashphenaz to look for?
- What Daniel’s name changed to?
- What was Hananiah’s name changed to?
- What was Mishael’s name changed to?
- What was Azariah’s name changed to?
- Why didn’t Daniel want to eat the king’s food?
- What did Daniel ask for to eat for ten days?
- Who found that Daniel and his friends were 10 times better than the other young men?
Give meaning of Daniel’s, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s name. Give the meaning of their Babylonian names.