Lesson: Replacing Pride with praise

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From the life of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4 students will learn that God will humble those who are filled with pride. This lesson was originally presented to older children and teaches them to protect their hearts from pride by choosing to praise God for all things.  The lesson is only a guide and may be adapted to the needs of your ministry.

Bible Story: Nebuchadnezzar learns to replace pride with praise
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, index cards with Scriptures written on them, visual aids for the Bible lesson,
Learning Goal:  Students will learn that praising God protects a heart from pride.
Learning Activity #1:  Before class prepare index cards with Scripture references focusing on God’s sovereignty (here are the ones chosen for our class:  Daniel 2:21-22; Exodus 4:11; Deuteronomy 8:10-14, 18; Job 33:4; Proverbs 29:13; Isaiah 14:24,27, 45:6-7; Zechariah 10:1; John 19:10-11)  (I usually play a non-competitive sword drill for the purpose of getting students familiar with finding different passages of Scripture.  I say the Scripture and write it on the board and they look up the Scripture.  The first person up gets to read the passage (or choose someone who hasn’t had an opportunity) but must wait til everyone has found the passage.  Assistance is given to those who are having difficulty. This has worked well but recently a child was choosing to ‘look like he was participating’ but wasn’t trying and since he didn’t have to read the Scripture didn’t put any effort into opening his Bible to the passage.  I made an adaptation using the Sword Drill format by instructing the students that while they have their swords up an index card (verse facing down)was gong to be placed on their laps.  When the word “Charge!” is spoken each student will begin to search for the Scripture on their cards.   This modification helped each student to participate enabling them to look up their own passage and each one read their own verse.  The purpose for the verses chosen for this lesson was for students to hear from God’s Word that He is ruler over all things coinciding with the lesson on Nebuchadnezzar.
Learning Activity #2:  Role play with students by asking them what they feel they are gifted at (if they don’t know ask them what have others say they do really well?)  Using their answer ask the class to role play what a person who is filled with pride says when a compliment is given.  Then allow them to share ways they can respond that point others to God who has given them ability.
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.”

Bible Lesson:  Nebuchadnezzar learns to replace pride with praise

Everything you and I have or are able to do is given to us by God.  The aim of every man, woman, boy and girl should be to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  People glorify God when they acknowledge that He is ruler over all things. We glorify God by praising Him for all that He has done and is doing in our lives.  Unfortunately when sin entered the world people do not naturally use the life God has given him/her to glorify God.  We use our lives for our own pleasures and believe that we are in charge of our lives.  Instead of praising God and acknowledging that everything He has given us is from Him we become prideful and believe we are the masters of our own destiny.
Before anyone can fully glorify God he/she must become a new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Otherwise people are incapable to praise God and truly glorify Him because they are dead spiritually.  (Ephesians 2:1) (Use a puppet as a word picture by placing it on the floor and ask the puppet to get up and greet the students.  Of course the puppet cannot do that without someone placing his hand inside and animating the direction of the puppet.  This is similar to the life of a person before God.  Without faith in Christ a person is completely incapable to obey God.  Only when he/she believes in Jesus by faith does the Holy Spirit come to live within his/her life and empowers them to live according to God’s ways.) To be able to please God and live according to His Word you must acknowledge that you are a sinner and hopelessly lost/separated from God because of your sin.  When you place your faith in Jesus; that He died on the cross for your sins, was buried and raised to life three days later, you become a new creation empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life that pleases God and ultimately glorifies Him.
A life that has been raised to life through the Lord Jesus should be one that is filled with thankfulness and praise.  When God is praised by His creation He is glorified.
Let’s turn to Daniel 4.  Read verses 1-3.  (Use flannels/visual aids as you tell the story)
The chapter begins with the king of Babylon praising the Most High God.  The way this chapter begins is similar to stepping into Nebuchadnezzar’s office while he opens up his journal and begins to write.  He begins his entry with words of praise for God.  And then we are invited to learn from his experience how he came to the point in his life.
We have been learning about Nebuchadnezzar in our study of Daniel and we have seen a king who has witnessed amazing miracles that only God could perform. (Allow students to recall the miracles Nebuchadnezzar has seen if your class has been studying Daniel 1-3.)  Unfortunately the goodness of God (when God reveals Himself to any person it should cause them to turn from sin (repent) and turn to God) did not lead Nebuchadnezzar to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
(Daniel 4:4-9) Once again Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that troubles him.  Similarly he calls for his wise men minus Daniel and asks for their help.  This time he tells them what he saw but they could not interpret it for him.  When he realizes they can’t help him he turns to Daniel.
Who we turn to first for help reveals who we trust.  After all that Nebuchadnezzar has experienced so far with Daniel and his three friends it seems as though he would be at the place in his life that he automatically calls on Daniel for help.
Read Daniel 4:8-9.  Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that the spirit of the gods in Daniel and that nothing baffles him or is too difficult for him.

  • Many times people turn to other people or things for help because if they turn to God they will have to give up sin.  Nebuchadnezzar worships many gods and is not in a place where he is ready to give up his gods to follow the One and only True God. (Jonah 2:8-Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.) What sin are you clinging to that keeps you from turning to God in every situation?

(Daniel 4:10-18) Nebuchadnezzar tells Daniel that he saw an enormous tree that touched the sky and could be seen by everyone.  It was a fruitful tree where animals and birds came for shelter and food.  Choose volunteers to read verses 13-17.
(Daniel 4:19-27) Daniel interprets the king’s dream.
What is Daniel’s reaction to the dream?  (Daniel 4:19) He was alarmed and his thoughts terrified him.
What is Daniel’s attitude toward a king who still worships many gods instead of the Only God?  (Daniel 19) He has compassion and concern.

  • If you are a follower of Christ what is your attitude toward people who are not believers?

Who is the tree in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? (Daniel 4:20-22)
Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that his dream is about how God is going to take Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom away and humble him for seven years.  What does Daniel say Nebuchadnezzar will be doing for 7 years?  (Living with wild animals and eating grass like a cow) God was going to punish him because he was prideful and did not praise the One who had given him the authority to be a ruler over Babylon. The stump that is left means that once Nebuchadnezzar repents of his pride and acknowledges that God is the ruler over all he will be given back his kingdom.
Read Daniel 4:27. Daniel urges Nebuchadnezzar to repent and do what is right.

  • Believers are responsible to speak God’s word truthfully to others.  We must warn others of the punishment for sin and the Good News that Jesus can save them from that punishment.

Daniel 4:28-33 Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t listen to Daniel’s warning.  How much time passes after his dream does Nebuchadnezzar boast of his greatness?  (Verse 29-12 months)
At the beginning of our lesson we talked about the purpose or aim for every human being is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Who is Nebuchadnezzar glorifying with his words? (Himself)  If Nebuchadnezzar would have followed Daniel’s advice and chose to praise God his heart would have been protected from pride.
Pride is sin because it is a false idea that what we believe about ourselves places us above God.  An example would be that if a person is intelligent he might say, “I have straight A’s because I study for hours each day.  I have earned all that I have because I am a good student.”  It is true that we must study and do our part to do well but ultimately any wisdom and intelligence is from God our creator.  We should always remember to thank Him for any gift or talent we have to guard our hearts from pride.
God always does exactly what He says He is going to do.  As soon as Nebuchadnezzar uttered his prideful words a voice from heaven speaks to him.  Read verses 31-32.  How soon did punish Nebuchadnezzar for his pride?  (Verse 33-immediately)
After 7 years of living like an animal, Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself before God.  Let’s read verses 34-35.
God kept His word to give Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom back once he acknowledged that God is ruler of all.
As we close we are going to read verse 37 together.  (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.)  Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way that God will humble those who are prideful.  Let’s learn from Nebuchadnezzar to choose to give God the credit/praise for all things and turn away from pride.  Pride steals glory that belongs to God alone.
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:

  1. True or False King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about 7 fat cows and 7 skinny cows. (False)
  2. True or False King Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to help him after he asked his own wise men. (True)
  3. True or False King Nebuchadnezzar would be like an animal for 9 years. (False)
  4. True or False Daniel was thrilled that God was finally going to punish this wicked king. (False)
  5. True or False Daniel warned Nebuchadnezzar to turn from his sins so God would not have to punish him. (True)
  6. True or False Two months after the dream King Nebuchadnezzar boasted about his power. (False)
  7. True or False God punishes Nebuchadnezzar immediately while his boastful words are still in his mouth. (True)
  8. Allow students to create a True or False statement.

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