This lesson is about the humbling of King Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel chapter 4. The powerful king has a disturbing dream about a tree and then God teachers him humility. The students will discover that a life that pleases God requires a humble heart. The lesson was prepared for older students and can be adapted for younger students. This is only a resource to aid you as you prepare for your ministry’s needs.
Bible Story: King Nebuchadnezzar is humbled
Scripture: Daniel 4
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, flannels/pictures for lesson, two men’s dress shirts, post-it notes/index cards (tape or safety pins), construction paper flower cut-outs, pencils, markers,
Learning Goal: Students will learn that humility pleases God and pride does not.
Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their understanding by participation in learning activities and by answering review questions.
Learning Activity #1: What will you wear? Have two students volunteer to put on large button up shirt. One student will be clothed with pride and the other with humility. Talk about characteristics of a prideful person. Write the word on a post-it note or a note card and stick to the shirt of the person clothed with pride. Talk about characteristics of a person clothed in humility and stick those traits upon the student clothed with humility.
Learning Activity #2: How to accept compliments object lesson. This idea is taken from a quote from Corrie Ten Boom. “Every time a person praises me for something, I just accept it as a flower. Then at the end of the day I put all the flowers together into a lovely bouquet, get on my knees, and say, ‘Here, Father, this bouquet belongs to You. The lovely things people have said about me, they were really saying about You. Thank you, Father, for using me.’” Using cut-out flower shapes have students write on one side a compliment they might receive. On the other side have them write out how they can thank God for that compliment. Put all the flowers together as a bouquet to praise God for all that He has done.
Learning Activity #3: Drama option-Students can act out parts of the king’s dream as the teacher narrates the story.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Daniel 4:37 “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.” (The verse can be shortened depending on the needs of your students.)
Memory Verse Activity: Draw an outline of a large tree on freezer paper. On construction paper cut out leaves, fruit, birds and animals. Write the different phrases or words on the objects. Students will place the objects on the tree and recite the verse.
Bible Lesson: King Nebuchadnezzar is humbled
(Begin with prayer)
Do the ‘What will you wear?’ activity.
Let’s open our Bibles to Daniel 4. Last time we met we learned about a dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had. (If you taught Daniel 2 review the lesson with the students.)
King Nebuchadnezzar worshiped false gods. The One True God revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar in the dream about the statue. God was showing him that He was in charge of all the kingdoms of the earth. One day a King would come who would rule over the earth forever. That King is Jesus and we are waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.
When God reveals Himself to a person it should not cause a person to be prideful but to be humble. When God told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold in the statue he allowed pride to control his heart and he had a gold statue built so that people would worship him. (Daniel 3)
God is merciful. That means He doesn’t punish sinners as they truly deserve to be punished. God was merciful to King Nebuchadnezzar. When he built the gold statue and demanded people to worship it, God allowed him to see the Son of God in the fiery furnace with Daniel’s 3 friends who were thrown in as punishment because they would not worship his statue. When he saw the miracle in the fiery furnace he praised the One True God who rescued Daniel’s three friends.
As believers we witness to unbelievers who do not believe in Jesus by living a humble and obedient life. There will be people in our lives who are like King Nebuchadnezzar who have not yet believed in Jesus but acknowledge that they see God in our lives. Only God can save a person from their sins. Our responsibility is to live a Christ-like example before those who don’t believe.
So far in the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar has experienced God’s activity in his life by receiving the dream about the statue and seeing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego saved from the fiery furnace. He still has not turned away from his sin of idol worship and turned to the One True God. Chapter four will show us God’s mercy to Nebuchadnezzar once again.
Let’s read verses 1-3. This might seem like a continuation of Nebuchadnezzar’s acknowledgement of the One, True God from chapter three but it is not. These three verses are sort of like a journal entry that King Nebuchadnezzar began to write after another life changing experience with the God of heaven. (Show picture or flannel of the king writing)
Once again the king has a dream. This dream frightened Nebuchadnezzar. Just like in chapter two, he called for his wise men. The difference this time is that he tells them the dream and asks for them to explain what it means. As in chapter two, Daniel isn’t part of this group of wise men. (If chapter two was covered ask: “Why was Daniel not with these wise men?” He was set apart from those who practiced evil.) When none of the king’s wise men could interpret his dream Daniel is brought in.
Let’s see how Nebuchadnezzar speaks of Daniel, the servant of the Most High God. Read 4:8-9. This verse tells us that Nebuchadnezzar hasn’t turned from the sin of worshiping false gods because he refers to his god. What did he see that was different about Daniel? He saw that the spirit of the holy gods was in Daniel.
Daniel believed in the One True God and lived a life that was humble and obedient before Him. King Nebuchadnezzar could see that Daniel’s life was different than the other wise men in his kingdom. (1 Peter 2:11-12) Daniel had wisdom and understanding that was not his own and only could come from God.
If you are a believer the moment you believed that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and asked Him to save you, the Holy Spirit (the Third Person of the Trinity) came to live in your heart. The Holy Spirit enables (empowers) you to live a humble obedient life before others. They should see a difference in your life compared to those who do not believe in Jesus.
(Optional: Choose students to act as the different parts of the dream as you narrate.)
Daniel listened carefully as King Nebuchadnezzar began to tell him his dream. “In my dream I saw an enormous tree in the middle of the land. The tree grew strong and tall and the top of the tree touched the sky. Every one in all the land could see the huge tree. The tree had beautiful leaves and so much fruit that it could feed everyone. Under the tree I saw animals resting in its shade and birds resting in the branches. As I was looking at this amazing tree a holy messenger came down and spoke in a loud voice. He said, “Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter the fruit. Make the animals run away from the tree and cause the birds to fly away. Keep the stump in the ground along with the roots. Put a band of iron and bronze around the stump. The stump is going to be wet with the dew from heaven and will live among the animals in the field. The stump won’t have the mind of a human but the mind of an animal. The stump will stay that way for seven years.”
When Nebuchadnezzar finished telling Daniel the dream he sat silent. This dream puzzled and terrified Daniel. Even though Daniel had been captured by Babylonian soldiers and taken far from his home in Jerusalem, he had forgiven Nebuchadnezzar. He had grown to care for King Nebuchadnezzar. What the Lord revealed to Daniel about the dream may have caused him to be fearful of how the king would respond. His life could have been in danger because the truth he was about to share was not going to be good news for the king.
Even though the truth about the dream wasn’t going to make Nebuchadnezzar happy, Daniel chose to tell what the dream meant.
“King Nebuchadnezzar I wish this dream was meant for your worst enemies but unfortunately it is not. The tree you saw, well that tree was you. You have become a great and powerful king. Your greatness is known all over the world. God has ordered that your kingdom will be taken away from you and you will be sent to live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like cows and live outside for seven years. The stump that has a band around it is symbolic of how after you acknowledge that God is the Ruler of all kingdoms you will be given your kingdom back.”
Daniel knew that God forgives those who repent and turn away from their sin. He urged King Nebuchadnezzar to do that because he didn’t want to see Nebuchadnezzar punished for his pride. Read verse 27.
Believers must share the truth to unbelievers of the consequences of sin and how they can have eternal life if they choose to believe in Jesus and call upon Him to save them from the punishment of sin (eternal separation from God in hell). It is not easy to tell people that they are sinners and their sin must be punished. That message would be very bad news. However, God has sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried and was raised to life on the third day. This is Good News because whoever calls upon Jesus to save them from his/her sins will be forgiven and will receive the gift of eternal life. (Romans 6:23)
Daniel shared the truth with Nebuchadnezzar but the choice to turn from pride was up to the king. Sadly, Nebuchadnezzar did not listen to Daniel’s advice.
Read verse 28-30. God is patient. Notice how much time has passed since Nebuchadnezzar received his dream. (12 months) God is patient, but He is also perfect and just. He says what He means. Sometimes a parent may say that he/she is going to punish their child if they don’t obey. (Example: No TV if you don’t clean up your room.) If they never follow through when their child disobeys, their words were only idle threats. God doesn’t ever make threats. He does what He says He is going to do. While the prideful words of Nebuchadnezzar were still on his lips a voice from heaven spoke to him. Immediately the kingdom was taken away from Nebuchadnezzar and he was sent out to live with the wild animals. He would live like a wild animal for seven years.
The king’s dream had come true. The once powerful king was now crawling around like a wild animal. (Verse 33)
God knew how long it would take for Nebuchadnezzar to finally acknowledge that He is the One who is in control over all kingdoms. After seven years of living like a wild animal, Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledged that God is the King over all. He was given his kingdom back. Nebuchadnezzar praised God and no longer lived as a prideful king.
God is pleased when we clothe ourselves with humility. He is not pleased when we clothe ourselves with pride. As you listened to the Bible lesson God may have shown you an area of your life that is prideful. As we close in prayer the first few moments are going to be silence. Take those quiet moments to talk to God in your heart about what He is showing you. I will close us in prayer. Remember that if you have any questions about the lesson please talk to us after we pray.
Close in prayer.
- What caused King Nebuchadnezzar to be afraid? (He had a dream)
- What were some things you remember in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? (Allow different responses)
- Who was able to tell the king his dream? (Daniel)
- What advice did Daniel give the king after he told him what the dream meant? (Turn away from sins, do what is right, be kind to the oppressed)
- When did King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream come true? (1 year later)
- How long did Nebuchadnezzar live like a wild animal? (7 years)
- Who did Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledge as the Ruler over all? (God)