These small group studies of Daniel contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Daniel 2 Inductive Bible Study And Commentary – With Small Group Questions

Outline

I. The setting: Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (1)
II. The inability and political jostling of his “wise” men (2-12)
III. Daniel wisely makes a request for time and then seeks the Lord (13-18)
IV. Daniel praises the Lord after the dream is revealed (19-23)
V. Daniel gives credit to the Lord for the interpretation (24-30)
VI. The king’s dream revealed (31-35)
VII. The interpretation of the king’s dream (36-45)
VIII. Daniel is rewarded (46-49)

I. The setting: Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (1)

Cross-references

Genesis 40 – God gives Pharaoh a dream and Joseph the interpretation to help protect Israel and vault Joseph into power.

Jeremiah 27:5 – It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. There is some difficulty with the date of this account. It is said to be “in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.” But presumably, Daniel was already in Babylon for three years by this point (Daniel 1:5).

How then could this happen in the second year?

Here are a couple of possibilities:

• Perhaps, though three years were appointed for the education of other youth, Daniel was such a quick learner that he “graduated” from this program before the three years were up.
• Another possibility is that this refers to the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s sole reign as king, while before this he co-reigned with his father for some time.

2. Nebuchadnezzar had a restless night filled with dreams – In verse 1, the dreams come first. And after that, his spirit becomes unsettled, and he can’t sleep. The mystery and the magnitude of the dream bothered him. It seemed evident to him that this dream was not just an ordinary dream. It was meant to convey a message to him, but he couldn’t understand it. That curiosity drove him to reach out to experts who could help decipher the puzzle.

II. The inability and political jostling of his “wise” men (2-12)

Discussion Questions

• What kind of people did Nebuchadnezzar call in to tell him his dream and interpret it?
• Why wouldn’t he tell them the content of his dream?
• What do you notice about Nebuchadnezzar and all these wise men from this passage?
• Do you think Nebuchadnezzar was right in his accusations about their motives?
• Were they correct in verses 10-12?
• What does this tell us about the wise men’s ability as sorcerers/magicians and false religious leaders?
• Why were they unable to tell him his dream?
• What does this tell us about the ability of these types of religious figures today?
• Nebuchadnezzar was brilliant. He knew the hearts of his supposed wise men and their political scheming. He wasn’t in the dark about the corruption and deception. So why did he rely on these guys?

Cross-References

Proverbs 19:12 – A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.

Proverbs 20:2 – The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion;
whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.

Isaiah 47:12-15 – Stand fast in your enchantments and your many sorceries, with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire terror. You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you. Behold, they are like stubble; the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame. No coal for warming oneself is this, no fire to sit before! Such to you are those with whom you have labored, who have done business with you from your youth; they wander about, each in his own direction; there is no one to save you.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Nebuchadnezzar reached out to the “experts” for help –

He did not understand the meaning of the dream and that really bothered him. In desperation, he turned to the only source of help he could find.

Nebuchadnezzar was familiar with their political maneuvering and knew their deception and trickery. From the text, it is clear that he did not trust them to give the correct interpretation. Instead, they would simply make up some vague story that sounded good and would be difficult to disprove.

Reflect – Since he knew their deceit and inability to solve this puzzle, why did he still rely on them?

Simply put, he had nowhere else to turn. He lived in a culture that was in the dark. False gods were worshiped in the form of idols. These were the religious leaders and wisest people in society. They were supposed to have the answers. Yet they were blind leaders of the blind.

On some level, the king knew that they were a farce and that what they were selling was a scam. But there seemed to be no other choices. These were the only people he could turn to, which is a sad state.

Application – It is essential to turn to the right people for counsel. Society has so-called experts who people tend to solicit help from, including psychologists, self-help gurus, authors, and all manner of counselors. Many also look to their parents, neighbors, or co-workers for advice.

Proverbs 24:6 – For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Counsel is easy to get, but we need to get it from the right source.

Proverbs 13:20 – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

If you ask an unbeliever for advice on a moral issue, know that it will come from a completely different worldview.

The simple lesson for us is this; ask mature, godly believers for advice.

2. Nebuchadnezzar knew how to deal with them – While he did look to them for aid out of necessity, he did not trust them.

He refused to tell them the contents of the dream to test if what they were speaking was really true. The test was simple. If they could reveal to him what he dreamt, the interpretation would be trustworthy. Having that special knowledge would validate their interpretation of the dream.

Any 10-year-old can come up with an interpretation for a dream, and a wise one would put its events far enough into the future that it couldn’t be tested and proved wrong.

3. The wrath of Nebuchadnezzar – Nebuchadnezzar had been infected with power and grown extraordinarily prideful and arrogant. As the highest person on earth, he expected others to do his bidding and do it immediately. It didn’t matter how absurd the request was; he demanded people to do it.

Also, as we see later in the book, he makes a lot of threats. He has power and intends to use it. These threats are not idle either. He will follow through because he is a man of fury and wrath.

The king declared that if they were unable to reveal the contents of his dream, they would be “torn from limb to limb” and their “houses… laid ruins.” (Daniel 1:5) On the other hand, he was a nice guy. If they came through, there would be great personal reward.

When the wise men told him that this was impossible, he was furious. Moving up the timetable, he ordered the execution not only of those present but of the entire class of wise men throughout the city of Babylon.

This was the kind of person that Daniel was under and served for so many years. Spending time in Nebuchadnezzar’s court was like playing with fire. One mistake and you get burned. Many people were still willing to do it because of the potential reward.

4. The wise men and sorcerers were unable to provide any true assistance – They failed to solve this riddle because they had no real power, authority, or divine wisdom. Much like the Egyptian magicians in the time of Moses, they played the game well. Magic, tricks, deception, and counterfeit were their tools. Their religions were false and they had no actual ability.

Exodus 8:18-19 – The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”

When put up against the true miracles of God, such worldly “experts” are shown to be the frauds they are. Clever words and illusion are their game. It is a game they are good at, but it is still just a game.

This is also true of many similar people today. Speaking smoothly and cheap tricks don’t denote authority, but people often fall for them.

Jesus warned us about false prophets like this who would seek to mislead even the elect if they could.

Matthew 24:24 – For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Most cultures have people something like the Babylonian wise men. For some, it is the medicine man, witch doctor, and shaman. For others, it is fortune tellers. Still more rely on religious leaders (of false religion). And in more developed countries, it is counselors holding P.H.Ds.

Application – Instead of turning to this kind of person who admittedly cannot solve the problem, we must turn to the One, true living God. He is the one who enables ordinary and uneducated men like Peter and John to do supernatural miracles that no earthly man can achieve.

III. Daniel wisely makes a request for time and then seeks the Lord (13-18)

Discussion Questions

• What do you notice about Daniel’s response when he hears about this?
• What do you notice about his relationship with Arioch?
• How does Daniel try to find out the dream?
• Give some specific ways we can apply what we learn from Daniel here to our lives today.

Cross-References

Ecclesiastes 9:17-18 – The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Psalms 50:15 – And call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Jeremiah 33:3 – Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Daniel replied with prudence and discretion –

Throughout the whole process, we can see he was calm and careful. He was never hasty and didn’t act rashly. He didn’t lose his temper, panic, or get nervous. Instead, he remained cool, calm, and collected. Panicking or acting hastily is never helpful and will typically make the situation much worse.

Application – Act, don’t react. Rather than rashly reacting to the situation, Daniel took the initiative to understand it and find a solution.

2. He found out more information from Arioch – The first thing that Daniel did was ask a question, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?”

He didn’t just hear part of the story and then act. He asked and then listened so that he could understand the whole picture.

Proverbs 18:13 – If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

Application – It is vital to get all the facts about a situation before jumping in to share your opinion or solution. Many arguments could be avoided by first asking simple, neutral questions.

For example, if a husband comes home hours late, his wife might say, “You don’t care about the nice meal I made. You are always late. You always put your work first.” It would be much better first to ask a question, and not a loaded question such as, “Why are you home late again?”

A better question would be, “Is everything OK?” or “were you delayed?”

Neutral, fact-finding questions can help you understand the whole story rather than acting based on assumptions that may turn out to be false.

3. Daniel already had a good relationship with Arioch. His character had earned Arioch’s respect over a period of time. This left him in a position to be able to help.

4. He once again asked permission for his plan – He graciously requested the king for more time (and he must have first asked Arioch to allow him an audience with the king). Daniel sought to do the will of God, but he did so under the authority God had placed over him. He was not a lone ranger going off half-cocked.

5. Daniel called in his friends to pray together with him – Once again, he was not a lone ranger. Daniel was not prideful. He wasn’t using this situation to seek after his glory and get all the credit for himself. Neither did he place confidence in his powers. Instead, he surrounded himself with a team, sharing with them the details of the situation. They, in turn, could help him share the load.

And Daniel specifically asked them to “seek mercy from the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:18) so that they would not be destroyed. It was an emergency prayer meeting and Daniel wanted all hands on deck.

Application – There is strength in numbers and no matter how wise or intelligent we are, we need other believers for encouragement, counsel, and support as we seek the Lord together. When you face a difficult situation, remember that you are not alone. Go to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Share with them about your struggles. Ask them to lift up their voices with you so that together you can seek mercy from the Lord. Many times our difficulties are compounded because we try to face them alone. God has made us part of a larger spiritual family. Let us be quick to support others and equally willing to ask for help.

6. He sought the Lord – Daniel did not only seek help from his friends. More importantly, he sought help from the Lord. No matter how wise or smart we are, if we try to do things on our own, we will fail. We must seek the Lord first because only He gives true success.

Study Daniel 2:19-49
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