Introduction: My neighbor was sitting on the curb at his front lawn.
His head was in his hands. This was unusual, so I walked over and
asked him what was the matter. He told me that he felt as if a black
cloud was following him around because he faced a series of problems.
Daniel and his three friends might have a similar complaint. They
have been taken captive, their homeland and their traditional lives
destroyed, and now they face execution! Those problems are worse than
faced by my neighbor. Let’s jump into our study of the lesson and
find out how to deal with “black cloud” times of life!

  1. The Dream

    1. Read Daniel 2:1-3. Have you had a dream that bothered you?
      Has a dream caused you to lose sleep?

      1. Have you considered the possibility that your dream
        was a message from God?

      2. Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar was so troubled about
        his dream? (You need your sleep! Kings know they are
        important. Thus, their dreams must be important. The
        New Bible Commentary tells us that in the ancient
        Near East kings believed the gods gave them messages
        through dreams.)

        1. Would the true God give Nebuchadnezzar a
          message through a dream? Why not give the dream
          to Daniel? (Read Daniel 2:37. God gave
          Nebuchadnezzar his power, why not give him a
          message, too? If this were Daniel’s dream, the
          King would not have paid any attention to it.)

      3. What kind of experts did Nebuchadnezzar bring in to
        fix his dream problem?

      4. Read Deuteronomy 18:9-12. What is God’s opinion of
        these kinds of “experts?”

    2. Read Daniel 2:4. Does this seem to be a reasonable

    3. Read Daniel 2:5-6. What kind of boss is Nebuchadnezzar?

      1. Is he just a maniac? Or, is there a method behind his
        madness? Does his request make logical sense to you?

    4. Read Daniel 2:7-9. Nebuchadnezzar explains his logic. What
      do you think of it? (Nebuchadnezzar distrusts his
      advisors. He thinks they might have a practice of making
      things up. Since he should be able to confirm what he
      dreamed, he believes this is the only way to know that the
      interpretation is correct. That makes sense to me.)

    5. Read Daniel 2:10. Does the King’s demand make sense to his
      advisors? (No! They argue that this request is
      unprecedented and impossible.)

      1. What are the advisors arguing when they say, “No
        king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a
        thing?” (They are telling the King that he is not
        properly doing his job.)

    6. Read Daniel 2:11. Carefully consider this response. Is
      this truly beyond their capability? (It seems that is
      their job, to tell the King what the gods have to say.)

      1. Let’s assume that Nebuchadnezzar remembered his dream
        and shared it with his advisors, as they requested.
        What would they be doing? (Presumably telling him
        what the gods said that it meant! My bet is that they
        had a long history of doing this. Thus, this is a
        telling admission.)

  2. The Challenge

    1. Read Daniel 2:12. Is the King properly furious? Is he
      right to be mad? (Consider what the advisors have just
      told him. They cannot communicate with the gods, despite
      past representations to the contrary. And they tell him
      that they are not the ones failing to do their jobs
      properly, it is the King who is incompetent in doing his
      job. These are not the kind of things you should say to
      keep your boss happy!)

    2. Read Daniel 2:13-14. How would you react if you heard the
      decree of the King? Would “wisdom and tact” be the way to
      describe your response? Or, would “freaking out” be a
      better description?

      1. We discussed whether this penalty was fair for the
        King’s advisors, but had Daniel and his friends ever
        boasted that they could interpret dreams? Had they
        ever mislead the King?

      2. When you are unfairly treated at work, when you are
        punished for the failures of others, do you use
        emotional intelligence? Are you tactful?

    3. Read Daniel 2:15-16. How would you like to go before the
      King? What was that last report about his attitude? (He
      was “angry and furious” and he wanted to execute some wise
      men. I would not be eager to show up!)

      1. Notice that Daniel asked for more time. Re-read
        Daniel 2:8. Do you think that Daniel promised to
        interpret the dream? If he did not, he was doing the
        same thing the King accused the other wise men of

    4. Read Daniel 2:17-18. If you think that Daniel promised to
      interpret the dream, is be being presumptuous? This shows
      that Daniel does not yet know if God will show him mercy!

      1. What does Daniel think about group prayer? Do you
        think that group prayer is better?

    5. Read Daniel 2:19. God comes through and Daniel praises
      Him. Compare how intensely you pray for help with how
      intensely you pray praises thereafter?

    6. Read Daniel 2:20-23. Notice the nature of Daniel’s praise.
      How does this fit the interpretation of the King’s dream?
      (This description of God’s ability says much about God’s
      control over the future.)

  3. The Interpretation

    1. Read Daniel 2:24-25. Why does Daniel go to Arioch first?
      Is he afraid he will start executing Daniel’s friends? Is
      Daniel trying to save the other wise men?

      1. Why not let these other wise men die? After all, this
        is part of the reason why God took out the Canaanite
        people. See Deuteronomy 18:9-12.

      2. How do you like Arioch taking credit for this? Why
        didn’t Daniel say, “That’s not true, I came to you,
        you didn’t find me?”

        1. What does this teach us about the times when
          our boss takes credit for our ideas?

    2. Read Daniel 2:26. Think carefully about how you would
      answer this question if you were Daniel.

    3. Read Daniel 2:27-28. Is this how you decided you would
      answer? (I would never answer it this way. My first word
      would be “Yes!” The last thing I would do is repeat the
      lines of the wise men that caused the king to decide to
      execute them!)

      1. Do you think that Daniel is smart enough to know

        1. If so, why does he start his answer out in the
          most idiotic way – according to human wisdom?
          (Daniel’s point is to bring praise and credit
          to God rather than to Daniel. Compare this with
          Arioch’s approach.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:29-30. Once again, is this how you would
      answer? (Daniel consistently gives the glory to God rather
      than to himself. If I were being humble I would answer,
      “I’m not smarter than the other wise guys, but I do know
      Who to ask.”)

      1. Is Daniel telling the truth about why the mystery was
        revealed to him? Isn’t it because Daniel asked God to
        save his life, and not because the King was curious?
        (The whole event is much bigger than Daniel and his
        friends. This is a difficult truth for Christians to
        accept – it is not about us!)

    5. Read Daniel 2:31-32 and Daniel 2:37-38. Why did God
      structure the dream in such a way to give the highest
      glory to Nebuchadnezzar? (Read Daniel 2:46 & 48. This is a
      second important truth, reflected in James 4:10 and Luke
      12:8. If we give glory to God, as Daniel did, He will
      lift us up and give glory to us. The side affect of
      structuring the dream in this way was to put Daniel in the
      position of greatly honoring Nebuchadnezzar. Bringing
      honor to your boss is good for your job security!)

    6. I’m not going to have you formally read Daniel 2: 33-45,
      but you should do it if you do not know the story. Read
      Daniel 2:44-45. What is the “bottom line” on the history
      of the world? (The great God of Heaven will triumph in
      history and will set up a kingdom that will endure

    7. Friend, consider how Daniel’s day turned around. He was
      faithful to God, he trusted God, he gave glory to God. The
      result was that God turned what could have been the worst
      day of his life into what might have been the best day of
      his life. Will you determine to be faithful to God?

  4. Next week: From Furnace to Palace.