3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made a 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.
(a) Under pretence of religion, and holiness in
making an image to his idol Bel, he sought his own ambition and vain glory:
and this declares that he was not touched with the true fear of God before,
but that he confessed him on a sudden motion, as the wicked when they are
overcome with the greatness of his works. The Greek interpreters write that
this was done eighteen years after the dream, and as may appear, the King
feared lest the Jews by their religion should have altered the state of his
commonwealth: therefore he meant to bring all to one type of religion, and so
rather sought his own peace than God's glory.
3:2 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 b dedication of the image
which Nebuchadnezzar the c king had set
(b) Showing that the idol is not known for an
idol as long as he is with workmen: but when the ceremonies and customs are
recited and used, and the consent of the people is there, then they think they
have made a god out of a block.
(c) This was sufficient with the wicked at all
times to approve their religion, if the king's authority were alleged for
the establishment of it, not considering in the meantime what God's word
3:4 Then an herald cried aloud,
To you it is commanded, O people, d
nations, and languages,
(d) These are the two dangerous weapons, which
Satan used to fight against the children of God, the consent of the multitude,
and the cruelty of the punishment. For even though some feared God, yet the
multitude who consented to the wickedness persuaded them: and here the King
required not an inward consent, but an outward gesture, that the Jews might by
little and little learn to forget their true religion.
There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of
Babylon, e 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.
(e) It seems that they named not Daniel, because
he was greatly in the king's favour, thinking if these three had been
destroyed, they might have had better occasion to accuse Daniel. And this
declares that this policy of erecting this image was invented by the malicious
flatterers who sought nothing but the destruction of the Jews, whom they
accused of rebellion and ingratitude.
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?
(f) Signifying that he would receive them to
grace if they would now obey his decree.
3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and
said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we g
[are] not careful to answer thee in this matter.
(g) For they would have done injury to God, if
they would have doubted in this holy cause, and therefore they say that they
are resolved to die for God's cause.
3:17 If it be [so], our God whom we serve is h
able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out
of thine hand, O king.
(h) They have two points as their foundation:
first on the power and providence of God over them, and second on their cause,
which was God's glory, and the testifying of his true religion with their
blood. And so they make open confession, that they will not so much as
outwardly consent to idolatry.
3:19 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 i times more than it
was wont to be heated.
(i) This declares that the more that tyrants
rage, and the more crafty they show themselves in inventing strange and cruel
punishments, the more is God glorified by his servants, to whom he gives
patience and constancy to abide the cruelty of their punishment. For either he
delvers them from death, or else for this life gives them better.
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 k
Son of God.
(k) For the angels were called the sons of God
because of their excellency. Therefore the king called this angel whom God
sent to comfort his own in these great torments, the son of God.
3:26 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, l came
forth of the midst of the fire.
(l) This commends their obedience to God, that
they would not because of any fear depart out of this furnace until the
appointed time, as Noah remained in the ark, until the Lord called him forth.
3:28 [Then] Nebuchadnezzar
spake, and said, m 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
(m) He was moved by the greatness of the miracle
to praise God, but his heart was not touched. And here we see that miracles
are not sufficient to convert men to God, but that doctrine most chiefly be
joined with them, without which there can be no faith.
3:29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people,
nation, and language, which speak n 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.
(n) If this heathen king moved by God's Spirit
would punish blasphemy, and made a law and set a punishment for such
transgressors, much more ought all they that profess religion make sure that
such impiety does not happen, lest according as their knowledge and
responsibility is greater, so they suffer double punishment.