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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Daniel 3

Verse 1

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

Between the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:1-49, and that of Daniel 7:1-28, four narratives of Daniel's and his friends' personal history are introduced. As Daniel 2:1-49; Daniel 7:1-28 go together, so Daniel 3:1-30; Daniel 6:1-28 (the deliverance from the lions' den), Daniel 4:1-37; Daniel 5:1-31; of these last two pairs, the former shows God's nearness to save His saints when faithful to Him, at the very time they seem to be crushed by the world power. The second pair shows, in the case of the two kings of the first monarchy, how God can suddenly humble the world-power in the height of its insolence. The latter advances from mere self-glorification, in the fourth chapter, to open opposition to God in the fifth. Nebuchadnezzar demands homage to be paid to his image (Daniel 3:1-30), and boasts of his power, (Daniel 4:1-37.)

But Belshazzar goes further, blaspheming God by polluting His holy vessels. There is a similar progression in the conduct of God's people. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refuse positive homage to the image of the world-power (Daniel 3:1-30); Daniel will not yield it even a negative homage, by omitting for a time the worship of God, (Daniel 6:1-28) Yahweh's power, manifested for the saints against the world in individual histories (Daniel 3:1-30; Daniel 4:1-37; Daniel 5:1-31; Daniel 6:1-28), is exhibited, in Daniel 2:1-49; Daniel 7:1-28, in world-wide prophetic pictures; the former heightening the effect of the latter. The miracles performed in behalf of Daniel and his friends were a manifestation before the Babylonian king, who deemed himself almighty, of God's glory in Daniel's person, as the representative of the theocracy, at a time when God could not manifest it in his people as a body. They tended also to secure, by their impressive character, that respect for the covenant-people, on the part of the pagan powers, which issued in Cyrus' decree, not only restoring the Jews, but ascribing honour to the God of heaven, and commanding the building of the temple (Ezra 1:1-4). (Auberlen.)

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image - Nebuchadnezzar's confession of God did not prevent him being a worshipper of idols besides. Ancient idolators thought that each nation had its own gods, and that, in addition to these, foreign gods might be worshipped. The Jewish religion was the only exclusive one that claimed all homage for Yahweh as the only true God. Men will in times of trouble confess God, if they are allowed to retain their favourite heart-idols. The image was that of Bel, the Babylonian tutelary god; or, rather, Nebuchadnezzar himself, the personification and representative of the Babylonian empire, as suggested to him by the dream (Daniel 2:38), "Thou art this head of gold." The interval between the dream and the event here was about nineteen years. Nebuchadnezzar had just returned from finishing the Jewish and Syrian wars, the spoils of which would furnish the means of rearing such a colossal statue (Prideaux). The colossal size makes it likely that the frame was wood, overlaid with gold.

Whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits. The "height," 60 cubits, is so out of proportion with the "breadth," exceeding it ten times, that it seems best to suppose the thickness from breast to back to be intended, which is exactly the right proportion of a well-formed man (Augustine, 'Civitas Dei,' 15: 26). Prideaux thinks the 60 cubits to refer to the image and pedestal together, the image being 27 cubits high, or 40 1/2 feet, the pedestal 33 cubits, or 50 feet. Herodotus (1: 183) confirms this by mentioning a similar image, 40 feet high, in the temple of Belus at Babylon. It was not the same image, because the one here was on the plain of Dura, not in the city.

Verse 2

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes - "satraps" of provinces. (Gesenius).

Captains - rulers, not exclusively military.

Sheriffs - men learned in the law, like the Arab Mufti (Gesenius).

Verse 3

Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

They stood before the image - in an attitude of devotion. Whatever the king approved of they all approved of. There is no stability of principle in the ungodly.

Verse 4

Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,

The arguments of the persecutor are in brief, Turn or burn.

Verse 5

That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

At what time ye hear the sound of the cornet - a wind instrument, like the French horn, is meant.

Flute - a pipe or pipes, not blown transversely, as our "flute," but by mouth-pieces at the end.

Sackbut - a triangular stringed instrument, having short strings, the sound being on a high sharp key.

Psaltery - a kind of harp.

Dulcimer - a bagpipe, consisting of two pipes thrust through a leather bag, emitting a sweet plaintive sound. [Chaldaic Sumponya, the modern Italian Zampogna, Asiatic Zambonja, Hebrew cuwmponªyaah (H5481), Greek sumfoonia (G4858).]

Fall down - that the recusants might be the more readily detected.

Verse 6

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

Whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into ... a burning fiery furnace. No other nation but the Jews would feel this edict oppressive; because it did not prevent them worshipping their own gods besides. It was evidently aimed at the Jews by those jealous of their high position in the king's court, who therefore induced him to pass an edict as to all recusants, representing such refusal of homage as an act of treason to Nebuchadnezzar, as civil and religious "head" of the empire. So the edict under Darius (Daniel 6:1-28) was aimed against the Jews by those jealous of Daniel's influence. The literal image of Nebuchadnezzar is a typical prophecy of "the image of the beast," connected with mystical Babylon, in Revelation 13:14. The second mystical beast there causeth the earth, and them that dwell therein, to worship the first beast, and that as many as would not should be killed (Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:15).

Furnace - a common mode of punishment in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:22). It is not necessary to suppose that the furnace was made for the occasion. Compare 2 Samuel 12:31; David made the people of Rabbah of Ammon "pass through the brick-kiln." Any furnace for common purposes in the vicinity of Dura would serve. Chardin, in his travels (1671 AD - 1677 AD), mentions that in Persia, to terrify those who took advantage of scarcity to sell provisions at exorbitant prices, the cooks were roasted over a slow fire, and the bakers cast into a burning oven.

Verse 7

Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

All the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. None of the Jews seem to have been present except the officers, summoned specially.

Verse 8

Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.

Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews - literally, ate the torn limbs or flesh of the Jews (cf. Job 31:31; Psalms 14:4; Psalms 27:2; Jeremiah 10:25). Not probably "the Jews" in general, but, as Daniel 3:12 states, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Why Daniel was not summoned does not appear. Probably he was in some distant part of the empire on state business, and the general summons (Daniel 3:2) had not time to reach him before the dedication. Also, the Jews' enemies found it more politic to begin by attacking Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who were nearer at hand, and had less influence, before they proceeded to attack Daniel. Moreover, Daniel was regarded by Nebuchadnezzar as having himself a divine character (Daniel 2:46), and therefore was not required to bow to the image.

Verse 9

They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.

O king, live forever. A preface of flattery is closely akin to the cruelty that follows. So, Acts 24:2-3, etc., Tertullus, in accusing Paul before Felix, begins by flattering the Roman governor.

Verses 10-11

Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 12

There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon - implying that the high honours conferred on them by the king greatly aggravated by ingratitude the crime of their disobedience.

They serve not thy gods - not only not the golden image, but also not any of Nebuchadnezzar's gods.

Verse 13

Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.

Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego - instead of commanding their immediate execution, as in the case of the Magi (Daniel 2:12), Providence inclined him to command the recusants to be brought before him, so that their noble "testimony" for God might be given before the world-powers "against them" (Matthew 10:18), to the edification of the Church in all ages.

Verse 14

Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

Is it true? - rather, as margin. (Theodotion), 'Is it purposely that ye do not serve my gods?' Compare the Hebrew, Numbers 35:20; Numbers 35:22. Notwithstanding his "fury," his past favour for them disposes him to give them the opportunity of excusing themselves, on the ground that their disobedience had not been intentional; so he gives them another trial, to see whether they would still worship the image.

Verse 15

Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? - so Sennacherib's taunt (2 Kings 18:35); and Pharaoh's question, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?" (Exodus 5:2).

Verse 16

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered ... O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee

- rather, 'we have no need to answer thee:' thou art determined on thy side, and our mind is made up not to worship the image: there is therefore no use in our arguing, as if we could be shaken from our principles. Hesitation, or parleying with sin, is fatal; unhesitating decision is the only safety, where the path of duty is clear (Matthew 10:19; Matthew 10:28).

Verse 17

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

If it be so. Vatablus translates, 'Assuredly.' The English version agrees better with the original. The sense is, If it be our lot to be cast into the furnace, our God (quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord") is able to deliver us, (a reply to Nebuchadnezzar's challenge, "Who is that God that shall deliver you?") and He will deliver us, etc., either from death, or in death (2 Timothy 4:17-18). He will, we trust, literally deliver us, but certainly He will do so spiritually.

Verse 18

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

But if not ... - connected with Daniel 3:18. 'Whether our God deliver us, as He is able, or do not, we will not serve thy gods.' Their service of God is not mercenary in its motive. Though He slay them, they will still trust in Him (Job 13:15). Their deliverance from sinful compliance was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace as that from the furnace was in the kingdom of nature. Their youth and position as captives and friendless exiles before the absolute world-potentate, and the horrid death awaiting them if they should persevere in their faith, all enhance the grace of God which carried them through such an ordeal.

Verse 19

Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.

The form of his visage was changed. He had shown forbearance (Daniel 3:14-15) as a favour to them; but, now that they despise even his forbearance, anger 'fills' him, and is betrayed in his whole countenance.

Therefore he ... commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont - literally, 'than it was (ever) seen to be heated.' Seven is the perfect number - i:e., it was made as hot as possible. Passion overdoes and defeats its own end, because the hotter the fire the sooner were they likely to be put out of pain.

Verse 20

And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 21

Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Coats ... hosen ... hats. Herodotus (1: 195) says that the Babylonian costume consisted of three parts:

(1) wide long pantaloons;

(2) a woolen shirt;

(3) an outer mantle with a girdle round it.

So these are specified (Gesenius), 'their pantaloons, long and wide, as they are worn by Orientals (not as the English version, coats), inner tunics (hosen, or stockings, are not commonly worn in the East), and outer mantles' (so the version called 'the breeches Bible' renders it cloaks). Their being cast in so hurriedly, with all their garments on, enhanced the miracle, in that not even the smell of fire passed on their clothes, though of delicate inflammable material.

Verse 22

Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

The flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego - (cf. the similar The flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego - (cf. the similar recoiling of the destruction plotted against Daniel upon his enemies, Daniel 6:24; Psalms 7:16, "His mischief shah return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate").

Verse 23

And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

These three men ... fell down - not cast down; because those who brought the three youths to the furnace perished by the flames themselves, and so could not cast them in. Here follows an addition in the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, and, Vulgate versions: 'The prayer of Azarias,' and 'The song of the three holy children.' It is not in the Chaldee. The hymn was sung throughout the whole Church in their liturgies from the earliest times (Rufinus in 'Symboli Apostolorum,' and Athanasius). The 'astonishment' of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:24 is made an argument for its genuineness, as if it explained the cause of his astonishment, namely, 'they walked in the midst of the fire praising God,' etc., 'but the angel of the Lord came down into the oven' (Daniel 3:1 and Daniel 3:27 of the apocryphal addition). But Daniel 3:25 of the English version explains his astonishment without need of any addition.

Verse 24

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.

Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered ... True. O king. God extorted this confession from His enemies' own mouths.

Verse 25

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Lo, I see four men - "four," whereas but three had been cast in.

Loose - whereas they had been cast in "bound." Nebuchadnezzar's question in Daniel 3:24 is as if he can scarcely trust his own memory as to a fact so recent, now that he sees, through an aperture in the furnace, what seems to contradict it.

Walking in the midst of the fire - image of the godly unhurt and at large (John 8:36). "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me" (Psalms 138:7: cf. Psalms 23:3-4; and especially Isaiah 43:1-2, "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine ... when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee"). They walked up and down in the fire, not leaving it, but waiting for God's time to bring them out, just as Jesus waited in the tomb, as God's prisoner, until God should let Him out (Acts 2:26-27). So Paul (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). So Noah waited in the ark, after the flood, until God brought him forth (Genesis 8:12-18).

The form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Unconsciously, like Saul, Caiaphas (John 11:49-52), and Pilate, he is made to utter divine truths, the full import of which he did not himself understand. "Son of God" in his mouth means only an "angel" from heaven, as Daniel 3:28 proves, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, etc., who hath sent his angel." (Compare Job 1:6; Job 38:7, where "the sons of God" mean the angels; Psalms 34:7-8, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them;" and the probably pagan centurion's exclamation, Matthew 27:54, "Truly this was the Son of God"). The Chaldeans believed in families of gods: Bel, the supreme god, accompanied by the goddess Mylitta, being the father of the gods: thus by the expression he meant one sprung from and sent by the gods. Really it was the "messenger of the covenant," who herein gave a prelude to His incarnation.

Verse 26

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

Ye servants of the most high God - he acknowledges Yahweh to be supreme above other gods (not that he ceased to believe in these); so he returns to his original confession, "your God is a God of gods" (Daniel 2:47), from which he had swerved in the interim, perhaps intoxicated by his success in taking Jerusalem, whose God he therefore thought unable to defend it.

Verse 27

And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Nor was an hair of their head singed - (Luke 12:7, "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered;" Luke 21:18, "There shall not an hair of your head perish"). Upon whose bodies the fire had no power - fulfilling Isaiah 43:2; cf. Hebrews 11:34, "Who through faith ... quenched the violence of fire." "Our God" alone is a "consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).

Nor the smell of fire had passed on them - (cf. spiritually, "Abstain from all appearance of evil," 1 Thessalonians 5:22). The believer is careful, by the Spirit's help, not merely to avoid evil itself, but even the slightest odour of it (Romans 12:17; Romans 14:16, "Let not your good be evil spoken of"). He with fear not only pulls out of the fire of the pit the body, but also hates the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 1:23).

Verse 28

Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

Then Nebuchadnezzar ... said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach. In giving some better traits in Nebuchadnezzar's character, Daniel agrees with Jeremiah 39:11-12, "Now Nebuchadrezzar ... gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee;" Jeremiah 42:12.

And have changed the king's word - have made the king's attempt to coerce into obedience vain. Have set aside my word (so "alter this word," means set aside my commandment, Ezra 6:11) from regard to God. Nebuchadnezzar now admits that God's law should be obeyed rather than his (Acts 5:29, "We ought to obey God rather than men").

Yielded their bodies - namely, to the fire, as a voluntary offering, in testimony of their faithfulness to God (cf. Romans 12:1, "I beseech you ... by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service").

That they might not serve - by sacrificing.

Nor worship any god - by prostration of the body. Decision for God at last gains the respect even of the worldly (Proverbs 16:7).

Verse 29

Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

I make a decree, That every people ... which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach ... shall be cut in pieces ... because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. This decree, promulgated throughout the vast empire of Nebuchadnezzar, must have tended much to keep the Jews from idolatry, in the captivity and thenceforth (Psalms 76:10).

Remarks:

(1) The miraculous deliverance of the three godly youths from the fiery furnace, as recorded in this chapter, manifested the glory of God before the haughty King of Babylon at a time when the pagan world-power seemed triumphant, and the cause of the people of God hopelessly lost. Thus a two-fold object was much promoted; first, the curing of the Jews of their past tendency to idolatry; and, secondly, the securing to the captive covenant-people, on the part of the pagan rulers, of that respect and consideration which meanwhile mitigated the severity of their exile, and which ultimately issued in the decree of Cyrus, not only restoring them, but also ascribing, before the whole pagan world, honour to the God of heaven (Ezra 1:1-3; Ezra 6:3-12). So wonderfully doth God make the wrath of man to praise him, and restrain the remainder of wrath (Psalms 76:10).

(2) Serious impressions, produced by special visitations of God, are often transient, when the circumstances which have called them forth have passed away. Nebuchadnezzar had confessed, upon the interpretation of his remarkable dream by Daniel (Daniel 2:47), "Of a truth ... your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings." But though he had thus confessed God when just relieved from his previous anxiety, he had never renounced his idols. Men, in times of trouble, will worship the Lord, but still all the time not renounce their heart-idols. And these latter will soon, if cherished, supplant the remembrance of the only true God. So it was in the case of Nebuchadnezzar. Losing sight of the fact that Yahweh will not have a divided allegiance, he still retains his idols. Elated with his conquests of Judea and Syria, subsequently to his dream, and choosing to remember of the latter only so much as flattered his self-deifying pride, he determined, with the rich spoils which he had carried home, to realize, in the form of an outward colossal idol of gold, the statement of Daniel (Daniel 2:38), "Thou art this head of gold." Overweening pride contains in it the root of self-worship, and is utterly incompatible with the sincere worship of the Lord God.

(3) The step from idolatry and superstition to persecution is an easy one, and soon taken. Nebuchadnezzar insisted on all worshipping his golden image, on pain of being thrown into a fiery furnace. Pride and bigotry have often caused despotic rulers to require their subjects to follow them in superstition; and when worldly interest tempts, and threatened penalties frighten, few have the holy courage and tender conscientiousness to refuse. Conforming to error causes no scruple to the indifferent, the carnal, and the unbelieving, who form the great mass of men. So with Nebuchadnezzar's courtiers and people; having no fixed religious principle of their own, what the king approved of they all at least professed to approve of. Rather than offend the king they scrupled not to offend God. What self-destroying folly to fear man, who at his worst can only kill the body, and not to fear God, who can kill both body and soul forever in hell!

(4) The cruel decree of the king seems not to have solely originated from himself. There were many of the Babylonian courtiers jealous of the high position of the Jews in the king's court. Accordingly, by flattery and misrepresentation, they induced him to pass the decree affecting all recusants, representing such refusal of worship to the golden image of himself as an act of treasure against his majesty, as the civil and religious "head" of the empire. Herein Nebuchadnezzar is a type of Antichrist, to whose image as many as will not offer worship shall be killed (Revelation 13:14). It is "they that dwell in the earth" - that is, the earthly-minded-who shall comply. Then, too, as in Nebuchadnezzar's time, the godly few, the elect remnant, shall, at the cost of being found guilty of treason to the earthly ruler, eschew treason to the King of kings. (5) The accusers of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego prefaced their charge with a salutation of flattery, "O king, live forever" (Daniel 3:9); so often do flattery, malice, and cruelty go together. They not only allege the fact of the refusal of the three Jews to worship the golden image set up by the king; but they add that the high offices conferred by the king on those who had been once but captive exiles aggravated with foul ingratitude the crime of their disregard of the king himself, and treasonous defiance of his commandment (Daniel 3:12). Malice is never at a loss for missiles to hurl at the virtuous and godly. The purest acts can easily be misrepresented, and the worst construction put upon them.

(6) The accused are next brought before Nebuchadnezzar himself. Even still they might have escaped the fiery furnace by one act of worship to the golden image. An incensed king, with absolute power over their bodies, tells them the awful alternative, bow down or else burn. "Who is that god," said he, "that shall deliver you out of my hand? (Daniel 3:15.) Had they obeyed the promptings of sense, they could not have withstood such an appeal. But faith told them, in opposition to the king's challenge, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand" (Daniel 3:17). God will deliver His people either from death or in death. His people know that He can and may deliver them even from temporal death, but undoubtedly He will deliver them from spiritual and everlasting death, which is the only death really to be dreaded and shunned at all costs. Therefore the three youths did not hesitate a moment which to choose-whether life, at the sacrifice of the favour of God, or death, with the certainty of His eternal favour. "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter," is their unflinching reply. It is needless to listen to arguments against stedfastness when our minds are made up to serve none other but God, cost what it may. To parley with the tempter is fatal, when the path of duty is clear. The servants of God serve Him in no hireling spirit. While they hope He may deliver them from temporal death, yet even if He permit them to be slain, they will still trust in Him (Job 13:15). "But if not" - if God be pleased not to deliver us - "be it known unto thee, O king, we will not serve thy gods." Truly it was as great a miracle of grace that three captive and friendless youths should have braved death in its most appalling form, rather than compromise their godly consistency, as it was a miracle in nature that their bodies subsequently were unharmed by the devouring flame.

(7) They are cast into the furnace heated seven degrees beyond its wonted heat. And here, first, God vindicates their cause by causing their executioners to be the victims of the flame which was intended to consume them (Daniel 3:22). Next, to the utter astonishment of the king, the three youths, who had been cast in bound, are seen to walk at large, loose in the midst of the fire, and unhurt. The flame had only burnt the bonds that bound them, and formed a wall of fire around them against their enemies (Zechariah 2:5). The servants of God can joyfully lay hold of His sweet promise (Isaiah 43:2), "When thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Those who suffer for the Lord shall have His presence with them in their sufferings; and the presence of the Son of God (Daniel 3:24) dispels every fear, and gives liberty amidst bonds, safety in the midst of a fiery ordeal of tribulation, and life in death. Not a hair of their head can really be injured; the garment of Christ's righteousness which they wear is proof against all the power of the flame (Daniel 3:27).

(8) God ordered it so that the very enemies of His three servants were constrained to recognize the reality of their divine deliverance (Daniel 3:24); and the king himself retracted his taunt, "Who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands?" (Daniel 3:15,) by his declaration, "There is no other God that can deliver after this sort" (Daniel 3:29). The same ruler who had insisted on the worship of his golden image on pain of death now acknowledged the God of the recusants to be the most high God (Daniel 3:26), and decreed that whosoever should speak aught against Yahweh should be cut in pieces (Daniel 3:29).

Moreover, he promoted still higher the youths whose past elevation had excited the jealousy of the courtiers so as to seek their destruction (Daniel 3:30). Thus it is shown that decision for God often, in the end, secures the respect of even the worldly, who had at first opposed the godly; and that "he who rebuketh a man, afterward shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue" (Proverbs 28:23), and that "when a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7). Let us, then, be decided for God, and follow the Lord fully and at all costs, and in all companies, making David's resolution ours, "I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed" (Psalms 119:46).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Daniel 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/daniel-3.html. 1871-8.