This lesson plan is based on Daniel chapter 5 and the famous handwriting on the wall story. It recounts how Belshazzar did not learn from the consequences of his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar’s pride. As this story ends, the prideful king loses everything.
This Bible study was created for older students and can be adapted for other ministry needs. This is a free guide to help give you ideas in your preparation. We welcome your ideas and comments below.
Bible Story: Belshazzar’s Banquet
Scripture: Daniel 5
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 Secret message: light colored card, white crayon, watercolor paints, brush
Learning Goal: Students will learn that God punishes pride and arrogance.
Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of Bible Lesson by answering review questions.
Learning Activity #1: Secret Message activity from Kaboose.
Learning Activity #2: Drama re-enactment of the story.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Daniel 5:22, 23b “But you his (Nebuchadnezzar) son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this…..But you did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways.”
Memory Verse Activity: Write phrases on paper and tape to the walls in the correct order. Play music or use the light switch as a way to have students know when to start and stop. Have students travel around the room while playing music. When the music stops they stop under the phrase closest to them. Have each group recite their phrase. Continue to do this so they can each stop at different phrases.
Bible Lesson: Belshazzar’s Banquet
If you taught about the humbling of King Nebuchadnezzar, review Daniel 4.
Let’s suppose Nebuchadnezzar is your grandfather. You have heard all the stories of his battles and how he became a great king. Not only have you heard of his greatness you have also heard of the time he was humbled. You heard that the God of heaven punished Papa Neb because he became proud and arrogant. You heard the humiliating story of how he crawled around for seven years like a wild animal. What lesson do you think you could take from this story and put into practice in your life? (Acknowledge that the Lord God is ruler over all and he punishes pride and arrogance.)
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Daniel 5. Today in our story Daniel is about 90 years old. He had been living in Babylon for a very long time. In all those years Daniel remained faithful to the Most High God. He had an excellent reputation.
At this point in Daniel’s life Nebuchadnezzar was no longer living. His grandson Belshazzar was ruling Babylon.
Belshazzar doesn’t worship the One, True God. He is a very prideful and arrogant. He also knows about how the God of heaven punished his grandfather for pride and arrogance. It didn’t seem to change the way Belshazzar lived his life.
Belshazzar had built walls around his kingdom so enemies could not invade and attack. The walls were about 8 stories high and they were wide enough to be a six lane high way. Chariots could be ridden around on the top of these walls.
Belshazzar had made a passage way under the wall for the Euphrates River to flow in to the city so the people could have water and be secure inside the closed walls. He made sure that there was enough food inside the walls so his kingdom could stay inside the closed walls for a very long time.
Belshazzar was quite proud of himself. He thought his plan to protect his kingdom from being invaded was perfect. No one could ever defeat him and take away his kingdom. He knew that there were enemies outside trying to invade and attack him but he was very confident they would never get to him or his kingdom.
King Belshazzar decided to throw a great feast or banquet to show how confident and relaxed he was that he was safe from his enemies. He invited 1000 of his most important leaders. He had lots of food and wine for all his party guests.
The more he and his guests drank the wine the more they became under the power of the alcohol. Alcohol causes you to not be able to be in complete control of your thinking and actions. Belshazzar and his guests were celebrating and drinking and were becoming drunk with wine.
If you are a follower of Christ we are told in God’s Word to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) As believers we should never put anything into our bodies that doesn’t allow the Holy Spirit to have complete control over our actions.
Belshazzar was already proud and boastful before he was drinking. As he became drunk with wine it made him even more arrogant. He came up with what he thought would be a brilliant idea that would show the greatness and power of his kingdom.
He remembered the greatness of his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom and how he had invaded the land of Jerusalem and captured the Jewish people. His soldiers had taken many of the very special articles that were in the temple where the Jews worshiped their God.
Belshazzar thought that on that special night when he believed he was safe from his enemies to have some of the special cups that had been taken from God’s temple brought to his party so they could fill them with wine and praise their gods.
God is holy. That means He is completely perfect. When the Jewish people built the temple God gave instructions how to build the temple. He also gave instructions for all the items that were to be placed in the temple. All the things that were made were to be treated special because they were made to worship a Holy God.
God does not allow anyone to treat the things He has made only to worship Him in a disrespectful way. He punishes anyone even His own people if they try to go into the temple and disobey His instructions of how to properly worship Him.
The special cups were brought to Belshazzar and he had wine poured into them. Belshazzar the prideful king lifted God’s special cup and began to praise gods that weren’t even god at all. He praised the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.
Pride is sin because it causes a person to think they are great because of their own wisdom and power. Pride focuses on self and not on the God who created all and has power over all.
Belshazzar did not learn from the punishment his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar experienced. God would not allow this king treat His special cups in such an arrogant prideful way. As Belshazzar and all his guests are laughing and having a great time, a human hand appeared in the banquet hall. On the wall a hand began to write a message near a lamp stand. Belshazzar saw the hand writing a message on his wall.
Belshazzar’s rosy pink cheeks drained of all color and his face was as white as snow. His body began to tremble and he was so afraid that his knees began to knock together. He said in a loud voice, “Quick bring someone to me that can tell me what the writing on the wall means! Whoever tells me what this writing says, will receive a purple robe, a gold necklace and will be the third most important person in my kingdom!”
All of the king’s wise men were brought in. They looked at the writing on the wall. As they looked and looked at the writing they were puzzled. They said the king, “We are sorry your majesty, but we have no idea what this says.”
This frightened Belshazzar even more. He and all his party guests were very confused. This was not an ordinary occurrence for anyone so they knew that this message written with a human hand was important.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s wife was still living at this time and she had heard the chaos and confusion taking place and came to talk to Belshazzar her grandson.
She told him about a man named Daniel. “Belshazzar, this man has an excellent reputation. He has the spirit of the gods in him. He is able to tell people what their dreams mean. You should call for him immediately so he can tell you what this writing means.”
Belshazzar sent for Daniel. As Daniel stands before him he tells him of the awards he will receive if he can tell him what the writing means. Daniel didn’t need awards from a wicked king to be obedient to God. He told the king he could keep his awards and he would tell him the message on the wall.
Before Daniel told Belshazzar what the writing meant he reminded him of how God had worked in his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar’s life. Read 22-24.
Daniel said, “You have known all these things and yet you are full of pride. You have not humbled yourself and worshiped and praised the Most High God. You have bragged about your power and not thanked God for giving it to you. If that wasn’t enough you used His special cups to worship and praise the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone. You cannot even see these gods because they aren’t gods at all. They cannot hear you or understand you. You have not worshiped the God who gave you your very life and all that you have. The Most High God has sent you this message:
“Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres. Here are the meanings of these words: Mene-God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has put an end to it. Tekel-God has seen all that you have done and you are not righteous. Peres-God has divided your kingdom and the Medes and Persians will take over your kingdom.”
This was not good news for Belshazzar. God had seen his pride and arrogance and was going to punish him. That very night the Medes and Persians had entered through the place where the Euphrates River came into the kingdom. They attacked and invaded Belshazzar’s kingdom and killed him.
Belshazzar chose to ignore the lesson he heard about his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar. He chose to live a prideful and arrogant life. God punished his sin and he lost his life and his kingdom.
God is merciful and shows everyone kindness. When we have been shown His truth and we do not turn from our sin we will be punished. If we turn from our sins and ask God to forgive us He does. When God forgives us for our sins He also gives us the power to live a life that pleases Him.
As we close let’s not ignore the lesson God has taught us from the life of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Let’s live humbly before Him acknowledging that He is the ruler of all and deserves all our praise.
Close in prayer.
- Who was Belshazzar’s grandfather? (Nebuchadnezzar)
- True or False: Belshazzar learned from what happened to his grandfather to be a humble king. (False)
- What did Belshazzar do to celebrate his confidence that he was safe from his enemies? (Had a banquet)
- What appeared in the banquet hall? (A. Musicians B. Clowns or C. A human hand? Answer C)
- How did Belshazzar respond? (He was terrified)
- Who was able to tell Belshazzar what the message meant? (Daniel)
- What did the message mean?
- How long did it take for God’s message to come true? (That very night)