Bible Lesson: Belshazzar’s Arrogance

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This new lesson from the Book of Daniel focuses on the attitude of arrogance versus an attitude of confidence in Christ. The lesson was prepared with older students in mind.  The lesson is a guide to provide ideas to teach Daniel 5. Please adapt according to the needs of your students.

Bible Story: Belshazzar’s Arrogance
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, word cards with arrogance on one side/confident on the other, visuals for lesson, construction paper with verses for activity #2,
Learning Goal: Students will learn that being filled with the Holy Spirit creates an attitude of confidence in Jesus Christ; being filled with selfishness creates an attitude of arrogant confidence in self.
Learning Activity #1:  Take 9 index cards or pieces of construction paper and on one side write the letters arrogance and on the other side write the letters confident.  Place the letters for arrogance face up (out-of-order).  These letters spell an attitude. See if you can unscramble to guess what it is.  What comes to your mind when you hear the word arrogance?  What are some things people say or do when they have an attitude of arrogance?  An arrogant attitude is a result of being filled with selfishness and trust in your own abilities. An arrogant person boasts of his/her greatness while looking down on others.  Arrogance is a prideful attitude and is sin.
Flip the cards to the other side (scrambling the letters again).  These letters are an attitude that is different from arrogance.  Unscramble the words to see what it is.  Being confident as a follower of Jesus means that you understand that God gives you everything you have.  You are His creation and He has given you a work to do and will enable you with the power of the Holy Spirit. (Philippians 4:13, John 15:5, 2 Corinthians 3:5, Philippians 1:6,)
Learning Activity#2: On strips of construction paper write Scripture references about arrogance and confidence (2 Corinthians 3:5, Psalm 94:4, 1 John 2:28, Nehemiah 9:29, Philippians 1:6, John 15:5, Psalm 5:5, Jeremiah 17:7, Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 2:11, etc.).  Stick on walls around the classroom.  When music plays they walk around the room (with their Bible in hand) and when the music stops they are to find a verse that no one is standing at.  Once all the students find the verse they take turns reading.  Do this a couple of times. (In our class we did this activity before the arrogance/confident activity.  The words arrogance and confident were written on the board.  This activity is a clue to what the words might be that they are unscrambling.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse:  Daniel 5:22-23b “But you his 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.”

Bible Lesson:  Belshazzar’s Arrogance

Let’s open our Bibles to Daniel 5.  Choose volunteers to read verses 1-4.  Belshazzar is Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.  During Bible times it was common to call your ancestor your father.  An example would be how kings who lived long after King David died referred to him as their father. (1 Kings 15:11)
When we read these words we may not understand the depth of Belshazzar’s character if we are unfamiliar with God’s Word.  What items does Belshazzar want?  (Gold and silver goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem)  Why?  (So that the king and the guests might drink from them) As they drank from the gold goblets what did they do?  (Praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone)
By examining Scripture we will get a brief Biblical history to help us understand the severity of Belshazzar’s behavior.  Let’s flip back to Leviticus 8:10 (read this verse).  Now let’s look at one more verse in Exodus 30:29.  God instructed every detail about the tabernacle and the articles in it.  Moses followed all of God’s instructions.  The items in the tabernacle were only to be used to worship God.  They were holy and not to be used other than how God instructed.
God is holy and man is not.  In order to worship a holy God in a way that pleases Him man must worship God according to God’s requirements.  To worship God in any fashion that seems right to man leads to sin and idol worship.

  • When a person becomes a believer God sets his/her life apart as holy.  We have His Holy Spirit living in our hearts.  We are called to be Holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:13-15).

Back to Belshazzar’s behavior-was he worshiping and honoring a holy God with items that had been declared holy instruments to be used only in the One True God’s temple?  (No)  Who did Belshazzar praise with God’s holy cups?  (The gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone) Is Belshazzar’s attitude arrogant or confident?
As Belshazzar parties and praises gods that aren’t gods at all the God he dishonored and mock sends him a personal message in a very unique way.  Read verses 5-6.  This is a supernatural thing that the One True God allowed to interrupt this arrogant king’s party.  How did Belshazzar respond?  (Face turned pale, so frightened that his knees knocked and his legs gave way)
Belshazzar called out for his ‘wise men’.  He wants them to tell him what the words say and what they mean and he will make them the third highest ruler in his kingdom (his father was the first and he was second).  None of the ‘wise men’ could help.  This terrified Belshazzar.
The queen heard the startled voices of Belshazzar and his nobles and came into the banquet hall.  She told Belshazzar that he didn’t need to be alarmed.  Read verses 11-12.  Review Daniel’s character traits (God’s spirit was in him, had insight, intelligence, wisdom, keen mind, knowledge, understanding ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems).

  • If you are a follower of Christ would others be able to describe you as a person with excellent character?

Read verses 18-24.  God had revealed his power as the King of Heaven to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.  God’s punishment for Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was not done in private.  It was known by many, even Belshazzar knew of his grandfather’s experience.
God punished Nebuchadnezzar for his pride and Belshazzar didn’t learn from his example.  He chose to dishonor God.  As a result God was going to punish Belshazzar for his arrogance.

  • We have a responsibility to respond to the truth that God reveals to us.  Each of us has in our hands a copy of God’s Word written to us.  These Scriptures reveal God and His plans to the world.  When we read it and understand who God is and what He requires of our lives we can choose to obey Him and please Him or we can ignore Him and face punishment for our sin.  (1 Corinthians 10:6,11 “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.  These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”)

Daniel 5:25-28-Daniel interprets the dream:
Mene:  God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel:  You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Peres:  Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
That very night Babylon was invaded by the Persians and killed Belshazzar.  King Darius took over the kingdom.  God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.  That very night God’s Word to Belshazzar came true.
In Daniel 5 we have seen the attitude of arrogance and the attitude of confidence.  Belshazzar was filled with pride and dishonored God.  Daniel knew God’s Word and walked with God.  He was not arrogant in his attitude toward Belshazzar.  He was able to confidently tell him the truth because he was filled with God’s spirit.
As we close in prayer if God has brought to mind any areas where you may be arrogant you can ask Him to forgive you.  The more you walk in obedience to God’s Word the less arrogant you will be and the more you will rely on the confidence that comes from Jesus.
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:

  1. Who is the King of Babylon in Daniel 5? (Belshazzar)
  2. What does Belshazzar order to be brought to his banquet?  (Gold and silver goblets that were taken by Nebuchadnezzar from the temple)
  3. What does he do with the gold goblets? (Praises false gods)
  4. Why does Belshazzar become terrified? (Fingers from a human hand begin writing on the wall)
  5. Who is able to interpret the writing? (Daniel)
  6. What did Belshazzar know about Nebuchadnezzar that he should have put into practice in his life?  (Not to be prideful)
  7. When did the words that God sent take place?  (That very night)
  8. What truth about God and His Word will you put into practice this week?
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