This Bible lesson is based on Daniel 6 where Daniel is thrown into a den of lions because he continued to pray to God even after his enemies tricked Darius to make a law that no one could pray to anyone but him or be punished. This lesson was prepared for an older elementary Sunday School class. It can be used for upper elementary ages and Children’s Church. With simplification it can be used for preschool classes. At the end of the lesson you will find additional resources to help you plan for you class’s needs.
Bible Story: Daniel in the Lion’s Den
Scripture: Daniel 6
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 12 (U.S. 3rd – 6th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
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Lesson Objective(s): Students will learn:
- Godly character allows others to see Jesus more clearly.
- Character has consequences
- Godly character requires discipline.
Memory Verse: 1 Peter 2:12 “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”
Teacher Preparation before students arrive: Put out activities that have been planned for students to engage in as they wait for the others to arrive. Write Memory Verse on the board. Make 2 columns and title the first column Character and the Second Consequences. Then place Daniel and Daniel’s enemies next to the columns.
Bible Lesson: Daniel in the Lions Den
This lesson is just a guide to teach this lesson. God is always faithful to answer prayer for insight to the specific needs of the students of your class. He will show you the truths that you need to emphasize and the style to teach the lesson in.
Begin lesson time with reciting the memory verse together. Explain pagans (unbelievers, people not following Christ).
Ask the students: What is character? Allow the students to respond. (A person, esp. with reference to behavior or personality) What are some character traits that people can have? (Honest, liar, lazy, hard worker, encourager, discourager, loyal, disloyal, etc.) Character traits can be positive and they can be negative. Character also has consequences. If you are honest, people will trust you. If you are lazy, you won’t get good grades that come from studying. Godly character requires discipline. We must follow God every day and obey His commands to have Godly character.
Our verse tells us how important it is that if we are followers of Christ we must live lives with godly character. Those who don’t believe in God and don’t follow Christ are always looking for a reason not to believe and they look at His followers to find some character flaw to be an excuse not to believe. We are commanded to be lights in this world so that we can point others to God. Matthew 5:16 If we are known by our bad character others have a difficult time seeing how great God is.
We are going to get into our Bible study this morning and as we learn about the people in the story we will record the character of the people and the consequences of that character. (Make sure each student has a copy of the Bible so they can follow along as you teach the lesson.)
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Daniel 6.
Review last week’s lesson on the Writing on the Wall.
Darius became king when he and his armies overcame Belshazzar and entered Babylon under the walls. As the ruler of this new territory, Darius chose 120 satraps or governors to have authority over the people living in the different territories. The 120 were under the leadership of 3 vice presidents that the king chose. Have a volunteer read Daniel 6:3. What character trait does Daniel have? (Write it in Daniel’s column) As one of the 3 vice presidents, Daniel had a very good reputation before King Darius. Because of his excellent reputation the king was planning to promote him and set him over the entire kingdom.
The 2 other vice presidents did not like the idea that the King was planning to make Daniel ruler over the entire kingdom. Have volunteer read Daniel 6:4a. What kind of character did these other vice presidents have? Write the character traits under Daniel’s enemies’ column. They were jealous because the king thought Daniel was an excellent man with an exceptional reputation. They didn’t want him promoted as ruler over the entire kingdom.
A term that came to mind that could describe these men’s character is that they had evil eyes. They were looking hard for something wrong with Daniel instead of looking out for his best interest. This term is found in the Bible in Isaiah 29:20. The only way they could keep Daniel from looking good in the eyes of the king was to look for something that Daniel was doing wrong in his work. Surely they could find a time when he was dishonest in his job or took money that didn’t belong to him. Maybe they could catch him taking a nap at his desk when he was supposed to be working. They searched and searched for something bad to say about Daniel but couldn’t find anything wrong. Have volunteer read Daniel 6:4b. What did these men learn about Daniel? Write the traits in under Daniel. In everything Daniel was found trustworthy and faithful.
Can others say that about us? Are you trustworthy? Can people believe what you say and when you do something do you do it to the best of your ability? If you are a Christian you can be trustworthy and faithful with God’s help by the power of His Holy Spirit that lives in your heart.
It frustrated the 2 vice presidents that they could not find anything wrong with Daniel’s behavior. They still wanted to make him look bad to the king so they thought about it and realized that the only way they could make Daniel look bad is if they made him break God’s laws. They knew that Daniel was faithful to his God and the only way he could do something wrong was if he sinned against God.
The two vice presidents gathered many of the satraps that were serving in the kingdom and told them their plan to bring Daniel down. They wanted so desperately to get Daniel in trouble that they began to negatively influence the satraps as well. (Bad company corrupts good character. 1 Corinthians 15:33.) When they came up with their plan and got the crowd of people pumped up about their plan they took it to the King Darius.
Imagine being King Darius on the day his appointed leaders show up before him. They stood before him and spoke flattering words, they said, “O King Darius, live forever! We have gotten together and have agreed that we think that you should make a law that for the next thirty days no one should pray to any other god except to you. If anyone breaks your law the punishment will be thrown into the lions’ den.”
Let’s look at Darius’ character. At this part of the story his character is missing something. He lacks something. Can anyone name what Darius didn’t seem to have at this moment? Darius lacked discernment/wisdom. Discernment is the ability to have good judgment or wisdom. If Darius had discernment he would have seen through the deception of this plan. He didn’t think about the consequences of this unchangeable law.
The king was flattered. Here was a group of his leaders suggesting that all the people only pray to him for the next thirty days. He was being influenced to think he was god and was worthy of others’ praise and worship. It sounded like a good idea to him because he got lost in his own pride and thinking how wonderful it would be to be praised by the people of his kingdom. He wrote out the law and signed and sealed the law making the law unchangeable. What was written must take place and no one could change the king’s law.
The vice presidents’ character had a negative influence on the satraps. Next they moved their negative influence to King Darius. Their actions were causing others to sin against God and trying to hurt Daniel in the process.
Have volunteer read Daniel 6:10. When Daniel heard that the law was written and signed by the king he went home and did what he always did. He opened his window that was facing in the direction of Jerusalem a place he lived with God’s people many years before. He got on his knees and began to pray and asked God for help.
Ask the students: what character trait do you see in Daniel when after hearing that he could be in danger for praying, still prays before God? (Faithful, courage) Daniel was faithful to God and did not let anything keep him from praying and talking to God.
As Daniel is praying with his window open, his enemies came to his house and found him praying to his God. They must have been so excited that they finally caught Daniel doing something wrong. They found so much satisfaction that they had tricked the king so they could catch Daniel breaking a law. They rushed back to King Darius and said, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles (someone who was taken from their own land) from Judah pays no attention to you, O King or to the law you put into writing. He still prays three times a day to his God.
Daniel’s enemies were happy but Darius was very troubled. He knew Daniel was a faithful man with an excellent spirit. He must have wanted to kick himself for falling for the trick of making this crazy law that people could only pray to him. He tried very hard to keep Daniel from being punished because he broke this law. He worked hard until the day was over trying to rescue Daniel from his punishment.
The enemies came to the king and reminded him that he could not break his own law and that Daniel was to be punished in the lion’s den.
This event made me think of how God is our great King. His laws are always right and He doesn’t make hasty decisions that He doesn’t know the outcome. God’s law says sin must be punished by death. King Darius didn’t use wisdom when he made his law. Daniel’s enemies who were desperate to find a way to find something wrong with him heavily influenced him. He made a mistake and could not change his law. Because of his lack of discernment Daniel now was being placed in a dangerous situation. God is just and righteous and makes only wise decisions and we can trust that His laws are for our best and will help us to live a life that pleases Him.
Knowing that he had no other choice, Darius ordered Daniel to be thrown into the lions’ den. As Daniel was being taken to the den the king said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
As Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den the king had a stone placed over the mouth of the den and sealed it with his signet ring. Does this make you think of anything from the New Testament? (Allow them to answer if they know. Matthew 27:66 Jesus’ tomb was sealed with a signet ring.) Why was a seal put on the stone? Verse 17 says so that Daniel’s situation could not be changed. No one would be able to roll away the stone and take him out or worse try to kill him on their own.
Darius returned to his palace and spent the entire night without eating or having any kind of entertainment. If we could see him in his room, what do you think he might have been doing? Do you think he may have paced the floors worrying about Daniel’s life? Is it possible that he prayed to Daniel’s God and asked him to rescue Daniel? We don’t know exactly what he did we just know that it must have been a long night for Darius.
As soon as it was daylight Darius ran to the lions’ den. When he got to the den he called out to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel servant of the living God has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
What a relief it was for Darius to hear Daniel say, “O king live forever! My God sent His angels and He shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”
Daniel had been protected because he was faithful to God and because he had placed his trust in Him. God sees all that we do and He knows when we are treated unfairly. Continue to be faithful and trust Him to protect you and to help you in your difficulty. (Write under Consequences: A consequence to faithfulness to God is having His protection.) It takes daily discipline to be faithful to God. We must spend time each day praying to Him and reading His Word if we are going to be strong in our faith like Daniel was.
The king was overjoyed that Daniel was alive! He gave orders to lift Daniel up out of the den. There wasn’t a bite mark or a scratch found on his body because he had trusted in his God.
The king commanded that Daniel’s enemies who falsely accused him were to be thrown into the lions’ den along with their wives and children. Before they reached the floor of the lions’ den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. (Consequence for deceitfulness is punishment.)
King Darius wrote a new law that said that everyone in his kingdom must honor and respect Daniel’s God. King Darius saw God’s power in Daniel’s godly life and His protection from the hungry lions. Darius praised the living God before the people.
Daniel was successful during the reign of Darius and the next king, Cyrus. God had blessed Daniel’s life because he was a faithful follower of Him.
Our character influences and is powerful to those around us. We see in this story the negative impact the enemies had on those around them. Anyone who joined in their plan was destroyed by the lions along with their own wives and children.
Sin negatively affects all of us. It is like a disease that is passed on to all of us. If we choose to sin our sin affects those around us. Sin leads to death. When we choose to let sin grow in our life we will eventually suffer consequences of that sin. A simple example of this would be smoking. When a person smokes they are misusing their bodies. Over time the effects of smoking harm the person’s body and can cause sickness that leads to death. The choice to take that first puff on a cigarette can lead to death. When someone smokes in a room of others who are not smoking the smoke affects everyone in the room. The non smokers were not choosing to breathe in the cigarette smoke but because the smoker chose to smoke the smoke gets into the lungs of the others. It also causes the non-smokers’ clothes to smell like cigarette smoke. This is just an example of how our sin affects others.
Daniel had a positive impact on Darius. Because of his good reputation and faithfulness to God he gained favor in Darius’ sight. Darius’ came to know that God is living and powerful through Daniel’s excellent life.
How is your character influencing others around you? Are others learning what it means to be a Christian by the way you live your life or are they learning how to get in trouble at school or at home because of your actions and attitudes?
If you are trying to be a good influence it is important that you ask God to show you if you have any habits or attitudes that might not be a good example to those who are watching you.
If you are not a Christian it is impossible to ever live a life like Daniel. No man has the power in him/herself to live a life pleasing to God. All the good things we do are like filthy rags to God. Isaiah 64:6 In our own flesh (without Jesus’ help) there is no good thing. Romans 7:18 The only way we can be a godly influence in this world is to come to God and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world by His death on the cross. God the King says that the punishment for breaking His laws is death. The only way you or I can be rescued from that punishment is through faith in Jesus Christ. He died in our place so we don’t have to die. When you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in your heart. He helps you by convicting you of sin, teaching you how to understand the Bible and helping you to be a godly influence in the lives of those around you.
Let’s choose to live good lives among others this week so we can be a light for Jesus!
Close in prayer.
Questions: Choose a review game that would be fun for your students to play as they answer questions.
1. Who is Darius?
2. How many Satraps did Darius have in his kingdom?
3. Who was one of the vice presidents over the satraps?
4. Why were the 2 vice presidents jealous of Daniel?
5. Why were they looking for something that Daniel had done wrong in his life?
6. How did they plan to get Daniel in trouble before the king?
7. Why was Darius upset when they told him about Daniel praying?
8. Who did Darius want to protect Daniel in the lions’ den?
9. Why was Daniel safe in the lions’ den?
10. What happened to Daniel’s enemies?
11. What can you do this week that will be a positive influence in another person’s life?
While waiting for parents to pick up students play the Bible Sword Drill Game. Have an index card of the scriptures that were included in this lesson. Demonstrate what the students are to do. When the teacher says “Swords Up” hold the Bible with the binding in the palm of your hand. The Scripture reference will be written on the board and spoken aloud. Students wait til teacher says “Charge!” Before trying to find the passage. The student who finds the passage stands up. To allow the other students an opportunity to find the passage too note the student who stood first and when the passage is found allow the student who found it first to read. Sometimes students don’t want to be the first to find it because they don’t like to read out loud. Encourage everyone to participate and if they don’t want to read aloud they can choose a friend to read the passage. The goal of this game is to help students familiarize themselves with God’s Word. (You may also want to do this to ‘warm’ the students up before the Bible lesson. After going over the memory verse you could have a Sword drill with similar verses to drive home the point of the memory verse. Matthew 5:16, Philippians, 2:15, Titus 2:7 (have student read verse 8 as well), 1 Peter 3:16, Daniel 12:3, 1 Timothy 4:12)