This last year has been a challenging year for many, to say the least. In what seemed like an instant, life changed drastically as we have navigated this Coronavirus pandemic. Many of us had plans that were altered. Our daily routines changed for a while, and we no longer knew what to expect with what each day brought. Throughout everything we have been facing, the question we have had to answer is, “How will we respond?” Will we respond with proven, Christlike character and trust in Christ, or will we let ourselves be overcome by our situation? Today, in our Bible study, we are going to look at the story of an underdog who knew what it was like to have his life suddenly upended and changed. In spite of overwhelming odds, he remained true to his character and faith in God.
Why do you think we love to hear stories about underdogs?
1. Can you think of a time when your life was suddenly changed and uprooted? How did you respond?
2. Read Daniel 1:6-16. What challenges made Daniel seem to be an underdog during this time? What stands out to you about how he responded to his situation?
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.”
Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
3. Read Daniel 6:1-9. What does Daniel’s response tell you about his loyalty? How does this response challenge you in your own life?
Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province. The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests. Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.
Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”
So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” So King Darius signed the law.
4. Why is character so important in the lives of followers of Christ?
5. When was a time in your life when you, like Daniel, had to choose character, boldness, and faith at a time when exhibiting those things would cost you something?
6. Read Daniel 6:15-23. How did God protect Daniel? How have you experienced God’s protection during a dark time?
In the evening the men went together to the king and said, “Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.”
So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.”
A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night.
Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.”
The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.
7. What are some ways this week that you can choose character and integrity over taking the easy way out? Is there a place in your life where you need to take a stand like Daniel?
During the weekend services, we learned about the missionary Karen Watson, who was murdered in Iraq. Her last letter, which was only to be read upon her death, was read at her funeral. In this letter, we read of her strength and boldness, and commitment to her faith. After hearing her letter, we were challenged to answer the question, “How would your last letter read?” Take some time to write a draft of how your last letter would read. After writing, talk about the highlights from the letter and what stood out as most important to you. What steps can you start taking today to live up to that letter so that it would be true of your life?
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Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.