Daniel 5

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 5 Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

I. The wild feast (1-4)
II. The handwriting on the wall (5-9)
III. The queen suggests Daniel (10-12)
IV. The king asks Daniel to interpret the writing (13-16)
V. Daniel preaches to the king (17-24)
VI. Daniel interprets the writing and is rewarded (25-29)
VII. The Babylonian kingdom falls (30)

I.The wild feast (1-4)

Discussion Questions:

What kind of feast do you think this was? What would have likely been going on there?
What was going on outside the Babylonian walls at the time of this feast?
What is Bel doing in verses 2-3?
Did he learn any respect for God from Neb?
What does it mean Neb his father?
What is drinking wine from the vessels a symbol of? (Kind of like burning a pig on an altar)

Cross-References

2 Kings 24:13-14 – Neb took all the vessels from the temple.
Ezra 1:7-11 – The vessels go back to Jerusalem.
Isaiah 42:8 – God will not give his glory to idols.
Hosea 2:8-13 – God will take away everything he blessed her with since she didn’t acknowledge Him.

Key Points for Discussion

1. There were armies outside the city. The feast was to boost morale and was also a way of defying the enemy forces. Babylon had massive city walls and was said to have 20 years of food and a water supply. They viewed themselves as impregnable and laughed at the forces outside.

2. Bel defied the true God. Although Daniel and Neb had been an influence, he was showing that he wanted no part of this “Hebrew” God. It wasn’t enough for him to ignore God in his lifestyle and actions. He specifically called for the vessels so that he could desecrate them to publicly show his contempt for the Lord. This was a calculated and planned ritual symbolic of his defiance of God. It was a foolish thing. It’s kind of like a kid who is dared to light firecrackers on somebody’s porch. All the kids nervously watch, wondering if he can do it. Finally, he does it and runs away and all of them laugh at the good joke together, until of course the owner of the house comes and catches them.

3. These vessels were eventually returned to Jerusalem.

4. Instead of praising the true God, they substituted idols. People are spiritual and religious by nature. No one actually worships nothing. If someone doesn’t worship the true God, they will worship something else, maybe money, maybe self, maybe a pagan religion, maybe strength or power, but they will most definitely worship something.

II. The handwriting on the wall (5-9)

Discussion Questions

Whose fingers do you think this was?
Why was the king so scared?
What similarities can you see in his response and Neb’s response earlier to similar situations?
Who did he turn to for help?

Cross-References

Job 20:5 – The joy of the wicked is short.
Proverbs 29:1 – A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed without remedy.
Luke 12:-19-20 – Parable of the rich fool.

Key Points for Discussion:

1. Suddenly. Suddenly at the height of Bel’s pride and defiance, God sent His judgment. Defiance of God never ends well. Just when he thought everything was great, he was surprised. God intervened. It often appears that the wicked will go unpunished and get away with their evil and they do for a while. But eventually, and suddenly, God’s judgment will fall and it will be too late to avoid it.

2. The king turned once again to the ineffective diviners and wise men, who once again were unable to help.

3. The once again offered great promises of reward. This was the system they dealt with. People did favors for the king because they wanted reward or wanted to avoid punishment. Threats of punishment or promises of reward are the tools used by the world.

III. The queen suggests Daniel (10-12)

Discussion Questions

Who might this queen have been?
Why do you think Bel did not know about Daniel?
How old was Daniel when all of this happened?
Why do you think Daniel was no longer around the palace scene?

Key Points

1. The queen was probably a young wife of Neb or his daughter.

2. Neb wasn’t Bel’s direct father. Here “father” is a term for ancestor as it is often used this way. Neb would have been Bel’s grandfather.

3. Daniel would have been around 85 at this point.

4. It seems that when Bel’s administration took over, Daniel wasn’t a major part of it. Bel probably purged Neb’s kingdom of the positive influences for the Most High, such as Daniel. He probably reversed the decrees Neb had made promoting worship of the Most High. His attitude shows a defiance of the Lord, that most certainly wouldn’t have welcomed Daniel to be around. The other possibility is that Daniel himself largely withdrew from the affairs because of the evil direction it was headed.

5. Daniel’s influence had had a profound impact on many people, including the queen. He had been very visible and very influential for God for a long time. We see that here there is some fruit of that.

IV. The king asks Daniel to interpret the writing (13-16)

Why would Daniel be made the “third ruler”?

1. Once again Bel thinks all others will be just like himself in that rewards/threats are the motivating factors.

2. Third ruler behind Nabonidus and Bel.

3. Daniel is once again the last resort.

V. Daniel preaches to the king (17-24)

Discussion Questions

Why would Daniel not take the gifts?
Can you think of anyone else in the Bible that would not take gifts?
Should we take gifts from evil people?
What did Daniel do before interpreting the writing?
What story did he tell to Bel and what was his main point?
What can we see about Daniel’s attitude in front of Bel?
What can we learn from this?
Do you think it is a coincidence the hand appeared right at the climax of the king’s pride and defiance of the Lord? Why do you think it happened then?

Cross-References:

Proverbs 17:27 – A wise man is restrained and even-tempered.
Luke 18:14- The one who is prideful, God will humble. The one who is humble, God will exalt.
Proverbs 16:5, 16:18 –The prideful will be punished.
Isaiah 26:10- Though grace is shown to the wicked, they don’t regard the Lord.

Key Points

1. Daniel took the opportunity to preach.

2. Daniel, like Abraham before, refused to take the gifts. He was showing that materials and rewards were not important to him. He wasn’t like the others. This wasn’t his purpose. He stood for the truth and for right.

3. Daniel reviewed Neb’s lesson and said that Bel should have learned from that.

4. Bel and his kingdom would be punished because they were prideful and didn’t trust in the Lord.

5. This time Daniel doesn’t seem sorry or upset, as he was when he found out Neb would be punished. He doesn’t have this same close relationship with Bel.

6. The punishment was sent when Bel’s pride reached a climax.

VI. Daniel interprets the writing and is rewarded (25-29)

Discussion Questions

How is this similar to the judgment every person will go through?
What prophesy/prophecies did this fulfill?

Cross-References

Job 31:6 – Job said the Lord could weigh him with scales and he would be found blameless.
Jeremiah 25:13, 50:24, 51:8, 44,52,57 – Prophecies against Babylon.
Isaiah 13,47, Jeremiah 50,51, Habakkuk 2:5-19 – Prophesies that Babylon would fall.

Key Points

1. Our lives too will be measured on some “scales” and all of will be found wanting, unless Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.

2. Every kingdom in the history of the world has been found wanting. None of them have been perfect and most have degenerated into being very evil and corrupt. Don’t place your faith in kingdoms or nations.

3. The only kingdom that will never be found wanting is Christ’s kingdom, which will be a permanent one.

4. Sometimes if you don’t want gifts, God will see to it that you still get them. This is not our motivation. Sometimes it is an added bonus.

VII. The Babylonian kingdom falls (30)

Discussion Questions

How did the city of Babylon finally fall?
What does this teach us about God and man?

Key Points

1. History tells us the city fell through a brilliant military strategy of diverting the Euphrates river so that they could go into the city under the walls.

2. It was a miraculous “one day” defeat for the impregnable city brought about by God.

3. Babylon fell as fast as it rose up. God had used it to accomplish His purposes and now its task of punishing Israel was done and it in turn would be punished.

4. The king died the same night. He and his kingdom were punished for their pride.

Study Daniel 6

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