Daniel 3 Commentary

 

 

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DANIEL COMMENTARIES

Daniel 2:1-23 Commentary 
Daniel 2:24-49 Commentary

Daniel 4 Commentary

 

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Daniel 3:1-30 Commentary

REFERENCES

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Christian Friend
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Ron Daniel
Bob Deffinbaugh
Elizabeth Elliot
Explore the Bible
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William Sprague
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Daniel 3 Art
Daniel 3 The Fourth Man in the Furnace
The King's Dream And The Prophet's Visions
Daniel And His Times
Daniel Commentary

Daniel 3 - Lecture 5
Daniel 3 The Ugliness of the Proud

Daniel 3 Insulated but not Isolated

Daniel 3 When the World Takes Notice

Daniel 3

Daniel 3-4

Daniel 3:1-30
Daniel the Prophet
Daniel Expository Commentary Notes

Daniel 3:1-16 The Image of Gold

Daniel 3:1-16 For God Forever

Daniel 3:19-27 How the Critics Fare in the Fiery Furnace

Daniel 3:19-27 In the Fiery Furnace

Daniel 3:23-27 The Glorious Presence

Daniel 3 Allowable Insubordination
Daniel 3:1-30 - Faith and the Furnace - Recommended
Daniel 3, 6 Fear of Man

Daniel 1:1-4:37 Use Godly Tact and Discretion
Daniel 3 Notes

Book of Daniel 01 Introduction, 02, 03, 04, 05, 07
Book of Daniel 06 Intro - Chronological Structure of Daniel
Daniel 3-4
Daniel 3 Commentary
Daniel 3:17 Better to Die in a Furnace than to Disobey God's WORD

Daniel 3:19-25 The King’s Heart is Changed

Daniel 3:1-30 The Golden Image, the Fiery Furnace

Daniel 3 Courage under fire
Daniel 1-6 Commentary
Daniel 3:1‑3 Uncompromising Faith in the Fiery Furnace - Part 1
Daniel 3:4‑30 Uncompromising Faith in the Fiery Furnace - Part 2

Daniel 3:1, 2 Da 3:3-7 Da 3:8-1 Da 3:13-18 Da 3:19-27

Daniel 3:28-30 Mp3's

Daniel 3:25 Devotional
Daniel 3 Commentary Notes
Daniel 3: A Time to Disobey
Daniel 3:17-18 The Martyrs

Daniel 3:1-7 Daniel 3:8-17
Daniel 3:18 Daniel 3:19-23
Daniel 3:24-25 Daniel 3:26-30

Daniel 3:1-30 Furnace Faith
Daniel 4:34-37 Hebrew Youths in Fiery Furnace-open Vol 9-scroll down

Daniel 3:16-17 Commitment

Daniel 3:16-18 The Commitment that Wins

Daniel 3:22-25 With You In the Fire
Daniel Commentary
Daniel 3:16-18 Christian Decision
Daniel 3:14 Is It True? (Pdf)
Daniel 3:16-18: Three Names High on the Muster-roll
Daniel 3:25: Consolation in the Furnace (
or in Pdf)
Daniel 3: Through Floods and Flames
Daniel 3:16-18: Lose all rather than lose your integrity
Daniel 3:27: No Smell of Fire

Daniel - On the Way to the Future - Good Overview
Daniel 2:19-45: When Dreams Come True

Daniel 2:32-45: The Last Act
Daniel 3: To Bow or Not to Bow?

Daniel 3 Daniel 3 Daniel 3
Chapter 3 The Golden Image Of Nebuchadnezzar
Daniel 3: Bringing Christ Into Your Crisis
Daniel 3: The Furnace of Blazing Fire
Daniel 1-6 - Pt 1 - Living Out a Biblical Worldview
Daniel 7-12 - Pt 2 - Gaining Understanding of the Time of the End

Daniel 1-6 - You're A Brave Man, Daniel!
Daniel 7-12 - Fast Forward to the Future
Discovering What the Future Holds - 40 Minute Bible Study
Timeline of Ezekiel - Prophet During Daniel's Ministry
Daniel 3:17: He is Able to Deliver Thee

THE BOOK OF DANIEL
IN HEBREW & ARAMAIC

Daniel 1 Daniel 2:4-7:28 Daniel 8-12
Written in
Hebrew
Written in
Aramaic
Written in
Hebrew

Daniel's
"No Compromise"
Stand

God's
Prophetic Plan
for Gentile Nations
God's
Prophetic Plan
for Israel

Daniel 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. (made: Da 2:31,32 5:23 Ex 20:23 32:2, 3, 4,31 Dt 7:25 Jdg 8:26,27 1Ki 12:28 2Ki 19:17,18 Ps 115:4, 5, 6, 7, 8 135:15 Isa 2:20 30:22 40:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 46:6 Jer 10:9 16:20 Ho 8:4 Hab 2:19 Ac 17:29 19:26 Rev 9:20) (in the province: Da 3:30 2:48 Es 1:1)

Image (Aramaic tselem, cp Hebrew = tselem) -16x Ge 1:26, 27; 5:3; 9:6; 1Sa 6:5, 11; 2Ki 11:18; 2Ch 23:17; Ps 39:6; 73:20; Eze 7:20; 16:17; 23:14; Am 5:26) - Note that the related Hebrew word is used first in Ge 1;26, 27 (cp Ge 9:6) describing man made in the "image" of God, next in the description of Adam's offspring Seth "in his own likeness, according to his image (tselem)" (Ge 5:3). The use that most directly relates Daniel's description is Exodus 20:4 where Moses records that...

You shall not make for yourself an idol (Hebrew = tselem), or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (Ex 20:4, cp Dt 5:8, 9, 10)

Comment: The NAS rendering of "idol" is actually 2 words in the the Hebrew which is more literally rendered "graven image". Carved or graven figures are described frequently in the OT (Ex 20:4; Lv 26:1; Dt 4:16, 23, 25; 5:8; 27:15; Jdg 17:3, 4; 18:14, 17, 18, 20, 30, 31; 2Ki 21:7; 2Ch 33:7; Ps 97:7; Isa 40:19, 20; 42:17; 44:9, 10, 15, 17; 45:20; 48:5; Je10:14; 51:17; Na1:14; Hab2:18)

Bob Deffinbaugh notes that...

While there seems to be a connection between the statue of chapter 2 and the image of chapter 3, there are striking contrasts between these two representations. Consider these contrasts:

Images of Chapter 2: (a) divine origin; (b) a vision only; (c) made of different metals; (d) not an object of worship; (e) privately revealed to Nebuchadnezzar; (f) fairly well described; (g) prompted king to bow down. (h) Ended with the King acknowledging God as the God of gods and Lord of kings.

Images of Chapter 3: (a) human origin; (b) a reality; (c) made only of gold; (d) an object of worship; (e) revealed to all; (f) described only generally; (g) men commanded to bow down. (h) Ended with the King acknowledging God as the Most High God Who Alone is able to deliver...

What should Nebuchadnezzar have learned from his dream and the interpretation of Daniel, as recorded in Daniel 2? From that dream, he learned that the entire statue (the Gentile kingdoms) disintegrated because a stone struck the feet which were weak. The weakness, he was told, was due to a racial mixture in the last kingdom. Seeking to “fix the feet” by making an idol of solid gold and creating one religion, Nebuchadnezzar constructed the gold image and required every race and culture to worship it. Nebuchadnezzar may have hoped to change the course of history and prolong the glory of his kingdom.

Nebuchadnezzar was still a pagan though he had acknowledged the God of Daniel and his three friends as a God of wisdom and revelation. In chapter 3, he learned that the God of Israel was also the Deliverer of His people. What the king did not take seriously enough was the Stone, the real cause of the statue’s destruction and the Creator of the new, eternal, kingdom which replaced Gentile rule. Rather than “fix the feet,” he needed to fall at the feet of the “Stone,” Jesus Christ. Nebuchadnezzar did not yet grasp the sovereignty of God over history. Although he was told the dream and its interpretation were trustworthy (2:45), he still believed he could change the course of history.  (Faith and the Furnace)

Henry Morris...

The king, taken with his importance as the golden head of the prophetic image to influence and direct the entire sequence of kingdoms that would come after him, arrogantly constructed his manufactured image entirely of gold, in effect proclaiming himself as destined to be the greatest man in world history.

Of gold -  Most likely this image was not solid gold but overlaid with gold, a practice described in Isa 40:19; Jer 10:3, 4. Some commentators feel that Nebuchadnezzar was deifying himself by making this image.

height...sixty cubits...width six cubits - If a cubit is about 18" (elbow to tip of hand) the height would have been about 90' or higher that the average telephone pole and about 9 feet wide. Picture this image with a height to width ratio of 10 to 1 which would make it a very narrow image, analogous to an obelisk.

Guzik comments that...

The image was more like a stylized obelisk than a normal statue, being 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. Being so large, it is safe to say that it was not made of solid gold but probably wood overlaid with gold. This was a common method of construction in the ancient world. "On the plains of Dura there stands today, a rectilinear mound, about twenty feet high, an exact square of about forty-six feet at the base, resembling the pedestal of a colossal statue." (Heslop) (Ref)

As an aside the dimensions of the statue are another substantiation that Daniel was written in the 6th Century BC, because the Babylonian system of mathematics was based upon 6’s (See discussion of sexagesimal [base sixty]) whereas the Greek system was somewhat similar to our decimal system which uses 10's (See discussion of Greek numerals). It is intriguing that the Babylonian legacy of sexagesimal still survives in our day in the form of degrees (360° in a circle or 60° in an angle of an equilateral triangle), minutes (60 in an hour), and seconds (60 in a minute) in trigonometry and the measurement of time, although both of these systems are actually mixed radix. Recall how the statue of Daniel 2 was a "unit" composed of successive kingdoms, implying that various facets of each of these kingdoms endured to the "foot and toe stage" but which will be totally obliterated by the victorious return of Christ to defeat all Gentile powers and influence in new Messianic age.

It is also worth noting that the statue was 60 and 6 cubits, since most authorities agree that from a Biblical perspective 6 is the number of man who was created on the 6th day (Ge 1:26, 27) (see Six: Man’s Incompleteness, Human Will), whereas 7 is the number of perfection or completion, leaving man always one integer short. And so it is not surprising that the last "world leader" of the Gentile kingdoms, the Antichrist, is identified in Revelation 13 by a series of "6's"...

Re 13:14-note And he (the False Prophet) deceives those who dwell on the earth ("Earth Dwellers") because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast (The Antichrist) who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15-note And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, (see Image of Beast.. Also see all 10 uses of "image" 8 verses in Revelation = Re 14:9-note, Re 14:10-note, Re14:11-note [where worship = proskuneo is used in Septuagint of Da 3:5], Re 15:2-note, Re 16:2-note, Re 19:20-note, Re 20:4-note) that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16-note And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, 17-note and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18-note Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast (the Antichrist, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six (666).

Comment: Tony Garland observes that "Among the enemies of God marked by the number six: we find Goliath, whose height was six cubits, having six pieces of armor and a spear’s head weighing six hundred shekels of iron (1Sa 17:4, 5, 6, 7); Nebuchadnezzar, whose “image” was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide (Da 3:1); and Antichrist, whose number is six hundred and sixty-six (Re 13:18). Even Solomon at the height of his earthly glory received a mere six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold (1Ki 10:14) each year and sat on a throne of only six steps (1K. 10:19). Solomon, in his advanced human wisdom, great power and influence, but eventual drift from God, illustrates characteristics shared by the Antichrist of the end. Throughout history, the best that man can produce by every available means and effort of rebellious will is “666” which falls short of God’s triune completeness (“777”). (Six - Man’s Incompleteness, Human Will)

Note that "image" (of the Antichrist) is a key word in the Revelation and for some who worshiped the image it resulted in eternal death (Re 14:11-note) and for others who refused to worship the image, it resulted in temporal death and eternal life (not that it "earned" them eternal life but demonstrated they had genuine saving faith) (Re 20:4-note)

Revelation 13 tells us of a coming day when the pressure to "Bow or burn (be beheaded)" will be intense. At that time Daniel 3 will surely be a source of great encouragement to the faithful remnant who refuse to bow while most willingly worship the image of the Antichrist. Indeed, the faithful remnant will hearken to Christ's word's to...

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10-note)

Plain of Dura - Dura means "walked place". In such a flat location the statue would be unimpeded by hills or knolls and thus would be readily visible from quite a distance, an awesome site sparkling in the radiant sunlight. In 1863 the French archeologist Jules Oppert discovered a pedestal 6 miles SE of Babylon with dimensions of 45’ square and 20’ in height. Oppert felt that this was a possible site of Nebuchadnezzar's image, but there is no further evidence to substantiate this premise.

Keep the context in mind, recalling what Nebuchadnezzar "fell on his face and did homage (this is the same Aramaic word "cegid" rendered worship in Da 3:5) in  (Da 2:46) declaring to Daniel that "Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings." (Da 2:47). And in face of a God glorifying declaration, the king now seeks to glorify the golden image (possibly of himself although that his not clearly stated).

While not stated in the Aramaic, in the Septuagint the Jewish translators of this verse added a notation that may help us understand Nebuchadnezzar's actions, this notation suggesting that the events of Daniel 3 may be some 15 years after the events of Daniel 2. The Septuagint reads...

In his eighteenth year Nabuchodonosor the king made a golden image, its height was sixty cubits, its breadth six cubits: and he set it up in the plain of Deira, in the province of Babylon (Brenton's English Translation of the Septuagint of Theodoret)

Nebuchadnezzar assumed the throne of Babylon in about 605BC which (if one accepts the the Septuagint dating as accurate) would place the events in Daniel 3 in about 587 or 586BC very near the final destruction of Jerusalem (2Ki 25:8). The Net Bible note alludes to the Septuagint but then makes the comment that "there seems to be no real basis for associating the events of Daniel 3 with this date." Clearly, one has to be careful not to be dogmatic in dating Daniel 3 and in so doing miss the point that these events are clearly related to the "single great statue" of Daniel 2. The upshot is that since the time is not specified in the original Aramaic text, it is not critical for one's understanding of Daniel 3 (or God would have given it)! The statement in Da 3:12 that "There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon" support the fact that there was little time lapse between Daniel 2 and Daniel 3.

C I Scofield feels that...

The attempt of this great king of Babylon to unify the religions of his empire by self-deification will be repeated by the beast, the last head of the Gentile world-dominion Rev 13:11-15 See note on "Beast, the" Da 7:8" See Re 19:20" It has repeatedly characterized Gentile authority in the earth, e.g. Dan 6:7; Acts 12:22 and the later Roman emperors.

Key Words in Daniel 3 -

Image - 11x in 10v - Da 3:1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 18

Set up - 11x in 8v - Da 3:1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 12, 14, 18

Fall down (fell down) - 6x in 6v - Da 3:5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 15

Worship (worshiped) - 10x in 11v - Da 3:5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 28

Serve - 5x in 5v - Da 3:12, 14, 17, 18, 28

Horns, etc ("Music") - 4x in 4v - Da 3:5, 7, 10, 15

Just from observing these key words and phrases one can see that one of the major themes of Daniel 3 has to do with worship and specifically idol (image) worship. Nebuchadnezzar is not just asking the leaders to physically bow down, but his goal is that they worship and serve his gods (Da 3:12, 14). He knows that what a person worships is intimately linked with the "god" that they serve. And so it is not surprising that in the Old Testament, we repeatedly see idolatry associated with worship and serve (Ex 20:5, 23:24, Dt 4:19, 5:9, 8:19, 11:16, 17:3, 29:26, 30:17, 1Ki 9:6, 9, 16:31, 22:53, 2Ki 10:23, 17:16, 21:3, 21, 2Chr 7:19, 22, 33:3, Je 8:2, 25:6, Da 3:12, 14, 18, 28). Notice also the important role of music in worship, in this case false worship. Does the modern church really recognize the vital role that music plays in preparing our hearts for worship of God in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23, 24-note)? I fear the 21st century church in America is drifting away from the singing of theologically rich psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Ep 5:19-note), failing to recognize the important role of "deeper" bibliocentric lyrics (which can still have a good beat!) in teaching sound doctrine to the saints (cp Col 3:16-note).

Warren Wiersbe notes that...

Nebuchadnezzar was wise to use instrumental music because it could stir the people’s emotions and make it easy for him to manipulate them and win their submission and obedience. Throughout history, music and song have played an important role in strengthening nationalism, motivating conquest, and inspiring people to act. Music has the power so to grip human thoughts and emotions that people are transformed from being free agents into becoming mere puppets. The English poet William Congreave wrote that “music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” but music also has power to release the savage in the breast. Music can be used as a wonderful tool and treasure from the Lord or as a destructive weapon from Satan. (Wiersbe, W. W. Be Resolute)

BRIEF EXCURSUS
ON IDOLATRY

As we consider the response of the three Hebrew boys, we need to remember that Judah was in captivity for two reasons: (1) Not keeping the Sabbath years for 490 years (2Chr 36:20, 21, Jer 25:11, 12, cp God's law Lv 25:3,4, God had prophesied their disobedience Lv 26:33, 34, 35) and (2) Worshiping and serving idols rather than being solely devoted to the living God (2Chr 36:14, 15, 16, 17, speaking of Jeshurun = "Upright One" = Israel Dt 32:15, 16, 17, 18, 19 - Observe in v15 what predisposed Israel to pursuing idolatry). It is fascinating that the Jews wanted idols more than they wanted God and so God gave them what they wanted by giving them over to Babylon, the birthplace of idolatry, so that they might "get their fill" of their "heart's desire"! Beloved, if we as NT believers persist in pursuing what God warns us not to pursue, we run the danger (after His repeated warnings) that one day He no longer provides a remedy but gives us over to what we have been willfully, rebelliously pursuing! Woe!

The 3 Hebrew boys would also know that God had commanded Israel that...

You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol (cp Nebuchadnezzar's golden image), or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me. (Ex 20:3, 4, 5)

One of many dangers of idols is that in worshiping and serving them, we become like them, the psalmist declaring...

Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them. O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield. (Ps 115:8, 9)

Notice in this Psalm the "antidote" for not becoming like the godless idols is to trust in Jehovah.

In another psalm the writer plainly states the danger of idols...

And served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood. Thus they became unclean in their practices, and played the harlot in their deeds. (Ps 106:36, 37, 38, 39)

Idols are a snare or trap, and lure us into practices that are abominable to God, a veritable "stench in His nostrils"! Such unfaithful behavior is pictured in this psalm and throughout the OT as playing the harlot or going "a whoring" (Ex 34:15KJV, Ex 34:16KJV, Lev 17:7KJV, God's prophecy which Israel fulfilled - Dt 31:16KJV, Jdg 2:17KJV, 1Chr 5:25KJV, Ezek 33:30KJV)

The subtle attraction to images is dramatically illustrated in the familiar event in Numbers 21 when the children of God sinned causing God to send fiery serpents among them

So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live. And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived. (Nu 21:7, 8, 9).

Jesus referred to this OT shadow (See Study of Biblical types) as pointing to His being lifted up on the Cross...

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. (Jn 3:14, 15)

In Numbers those who were bitten had to exercise faith and look (faith is an action verb) at the symbol in order to preserve their physical life. Jesus says that just as the Israelites did not die physically because of the exercise of their faith (that event did not convey spiritual rebirth), in a similar way, as men "bitten" by the sting suffered spiritual death, they could be "healed" by "looking" (cp Isa 45:22KJV) to Jesus, by believing in Him for eternal life. (Read C H Spurgeon's miraculous testimony of the new birth when he "looked" to Jesus!)

Some 700-800 years later we read the story of godly King Hezekiah of the southern kingdom of Judah (the 10 northern tribes = "Israel" had no godly kings) who...

removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah (the places where abominable acts of idolatrous "worship" were being performed, many of these acts associated with forbidden sexual practices common to the Canaanites - see discussion of association of idolatry with immorality - From idolatry to immorality is just one short step. If man is his own god, then he can do whatever he pleases and fulfill his desires without fear of judgment.). He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan (a "worthless piece of brass"). (2Kings 18:4)

Thus we see the attraction of our fallen flesh to images and the perversion of what God intended to be a good thing, but which Israel had turned into idol worship for almost 800 years! And beloved, lest we be too hard on Israel for their foolish, rebellious behavior, we need to remember that Israel's behavior is often a picture of our own fallen flesh. Flesh in our modern world is just as evil as in ancient Israel. It's just that we have changed the names of our idols to things like plenty (money, wealth), possessions, pleasure (entertainment, sports, etc), people, pride (position, power, prestige), etc. We as NT believers must learn from Israel's sins (1Co 10:6, 11) and remember that...

the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:17-note)

And so it not surprising that the NT gives us clear commands regarding idols...

Therefore, my beloved, flee (pheugo in the present imperative = command to do this continually because we are continually prone to be ensnared by idols!) from idolatry (eidololatreia [word study]). (1Cor 10:14)

Come out (aorist imperative = Command to do this now. Do it effectively. The command is urgent because the danger is great!) from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch (present imperative = command to do this continually because we are continually vulnerable to touch unclean things including idols!) what is unclean (including anything that smacks of idolatry) and I will welcome you.  (2 Co 6:17).

Little children, guard (aorist imperative = Command to do this now. Do it effectively. The command is urgent because the danger is great!) yourselves from idols. (1Jn 5:21)

Remember that anything or anyone that comes between you and God is an idol. Anything or anyone you are more devoted to than God is an idol. We need to continually do a heart check (Pr 4:23-note) because to the corrupting, destructive effects of idolatry. I think the 3 Hebrew lads had done their heart check in this chapter. What idols are you worshiping dear believer? Cast them out. Repent. Seek His face and His forgiveness and He will welcome you with intimate communion.

Remember that your attitudes, choices and behavior will be determined by one of two "compasses", either external pressure or internal principle. These Hebrew lads were enabled to stand strong because they stood on internal (Biblically based) principles.

And in case you think you don't have any idols, note Paul's sweeping definition of idolatry...

Therefore consider (aorist imperative - Do this now! Do it effectively! It is urgent!) the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (Colossians 3:5 -note)

As Paul explains greed or covetousness is synonymous with idolatry because it places selfish desire above obedience to God. The individual whose life is dominated by the desire to get things has set up things in the place of God and that is the essence of idolatry. Covetousness is also the root cause of all sin, because when people sin, it is basically people doing what they desire, rather than what God desires. This in turn amounts to worship of self rather than worship of God, and this is the very essence of idolatry!

Related Resources:

Idolatry - Dictionary Articles

Idolatry and Immorality - relationship and antidote

Idols - eidolon - word study

Idolatry - eidololatreia - word study

Idolater - eidololatres - word study

Romans 1 - Read and study Ro 1:19-32 (see notes) which explains the inevitable, inexorable spiritual devolution that ensues when one rejects the truth about God, truth He has made evident to every person. Man is made to worship and if he rejects God, he will inevitably worship false gods but not without significant spiritual/moral consequences - see esp Ro 1:25-note, Ro 1:26--note

Torrey's Topic
Idolatry

Forbidden -Exodus 20:2,3; Deuteronomy 5:7

CONSISTS IN
Bowing down to images -Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9
Worshipping images -Isaiah 44:17; Daniel 3:5,10,15
Sacrificing to images -Psalms 106:38-note; Acts 7:41
Worshipping other gods -Deuteronomy 30:17; Psalms 81:9-note
Swearing by other gods -Exodus 23:13; Joshua 23:7
Walking after other gods -Deuteronomy 8:19
Speaking in the name of other gods -Deuteronomy 18:20
Looking to other gods -Hosea 3:1
Serving other gods -Deuteronomy 7:4; Jeremiah 5:19
Fearing other gods -2 Kings 17:35
Sacrificing to other gods -Exodus 22:20
Worshipping the true God by an image, -Ex 32:4, 5, 6; Ps 106:19-note, Ps 106:20-note
Worshipping angels -Colossians 2:18
Worshipping the host of heaven -Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3
Worshipping demons -Matthew 4:9-10; Revelation 9:20
Worshipping dead men -Psalms 106:28-note
Setting up idols in the heart -Ezekiel 14:3,4
Covetousness -Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5
Sensuality -Philippians 3:19
Is changing the glory of God into an image -Romans 1:23; Acts 17:29
Is changing the truth of God into a lie -Romans 1:25; Isaiah 44:20
Is a work of the flesh -Galatians 5:19,20
Incompatible with the service of God -Ge 35:2,3; Josh 24:23; 1Sa 7:3; 1Ki 18:21; 2Co 6:15,16

DESCRIBED AS
An abomination to God -Deuteronomy 7:25
Hateful to God -Deuteronomy 16:22; Jeremiah 44:4
Vain and foolish -Psalms 115:4-8-note; Isaiah 44:19; Jeremiah 10:3
Bloody -Ezekiel 23:39
Abominable -1Pe 4:3
Unprofitable -Judges 10:14; Isaiah 46:7
Irrational -Acts 17:29; Ro 1:21, 22, 23
Defiling -Ezekiel 20:7; 36:18

THEY WHO PRACTICE
Forget God -Deuteronomy 8:19; Jeremiah 18:15
Go astray from God- Ezekiel 44:10
Pollute the name of God -Ezekiel 20:39
Defile the sanctuary of God -Ezekiel 5:11
Are estranged from God -Ezekiel 14:5
Forsake God -2 Kings 22:17; Jeremiah 16:11
Hate God -2 Chronicles 19:2,3
Provoke God -Deuteronomy 31:20; Isaiah 65:3; Jeremiah 25:6
Are vain in their imaginations -Romans 1:21
Are ignorant and foolish -Romans 1:21,22
Inflame themselves -Isaiah 57:5
Hold fast their deceit -Jeremiah 8:5
Carried away by it -1 Corinthians 12:2
Go after it in heart -Ezekiel 20:16
Are mad upon it -Jeremiah 50:38
Boast of it -Psalms 97:7-note
Have fellowship with devils -Hosea 4:12
Ask counsel of their idols -Hosea 4:12
Look to idols for deliverance -Isaiah 44:17; 45:20
Swear by their idols -Amos 8:14
Objects of, numerous -1 Corinthians 8:5

OBJECTS OF DESCRIBED AS
Strange gods -Genesis 35:2,4; Joshua 24:20
Other gods -Judges 2:12,17; 1 Kings 14:9
New gods -Deuteronomy 32:17; Judges 5:8
Gods that cannot save -Isaiah 45:20
Gods that have not made the heavens -Jeremiah 10:11
No gods -Jeremiah 5:7; Galatians 4:8
Molten gods -Exodus 34:17; Leviticus 19:4
Molten images -Deuteronomy 27:15; Habakkuk 2:18
Graven images -Isaiah 45:20; Hosea 11:2
Senseless idols -Deuteronomy 4:28; Ps 115:5-note, Ps 115:7-note
Dumb idols -Habakkuk 2:18
Dumb Stones -Habakkuk 2:19
Stocks -Jeremiah 3:9; Hosea 4:12
Abominations -Isaiah 44:19; Jeremiah 32:34
Images of abomination -Ezekiel 7:20
Idols of abomination -Ezekiel 16:36
Stumbling blocks -Ezekiel 14:3
Teachers of lies -Habakkuk 2:18
Wind and confusion -Isaiah 41:29
Nothing -Isaiah 41:24; 1Co 8:4
Helpless -Jeremiah 10:5
Vanity -Jeremiah 18:15
Vanities of the Gentiles -Je 14:22

Making idols for purpose of, described and ridiculed -Is 44:10,11,12,13,14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Obstinate sinners judicially given up to -Deut 4:28; 28:64; Ho 4:17
Warnings against -Deuteronomy 4:15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Exhortations to turn from -Ezekiel 14:6; 20:7; Acts 14:15
Renounced on conversion -1Th 1:9
Led to abominable sins -Ro 1:26-32; Acts 15:20

SAINTS SHOULD
Keep from -Joshua 23:7; 1Jn 5:21
Flee from -1 Corinthians 10:14
Not have anything connected with in their houses -Deut 7:26
Not partake of any thing connected with -1Co 10:19,20
Not have religious intercourse with those who practise -Josh 23:7; 1Co 5:11
Not covenant with those who practise -Ex 34:12,15; Deuteronomy 7:2
Not intermarry with those who practise -Ex 34:16; Deut 7:3
Testify against -Acts 14:15; 19:26
Refuse to engage in, though threatened with death -Daniel 3:18
Saints preserved by God from -1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4
Saints refuse to receive the worship of -Acts 10:25,26; 14:11-15
Angels refuse to receive the worship of -Revelation 22:8,9
Destruction of, promised -Ezekiel 36:25; Zechariah 13:2
Everything connected with, should be destroyed -Ex 34:13; Deut 7:5; 2Sa 5:21; 2Ki 23:14
Woe denounced against -Habakkuk 2:19
Curse denounced against -Deuteronomy 27:15

PUNISHMENT OF
Judicial death -Deut 17:2, 3, 4, 5
Dreadful judgments which end in death -Je 8:2; 16:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Banishment -Jeremiah 8:3; Hosea 8:5-8; Amos 5:26,27
Exclusion from heaven -1Co 6:9,10; Ep 5:5; Re 22:15
Eternal torments -Revelation 14:9-11; 21:8

EXEMPLIFIED
Israel -Exodus 32:1; 2Ki 17:12
Philistines -Judges 16:23
Micah -Judges 17:4,5
Jeroboam -1Kings 12:28
Maachah -1Kings 15:13
Ahab -1Kings 16:31
Jezebel -1 Kings 18:19
Sennacherib -2 Kings 19:37
Manasseh -2 Kings 21:4, 5, 6, 7
Amon -2 Kings 21:21
Ahaz -2 Chronicles 28:3
Judah -Jeremiah 11:13
Nebuchadnezzar -Daniel 3:1
Belshazzar -Daniel 5:23
People of Lystra -Acts 14:11,12
Athenians -Acts 17:16
Ephesians -Acts 19:28

ZEAL AGAINST-EXEMPLIFIED
Asa -1 Kings 15:12
Josiah -2 Kings 23:5
Jehoshaphat -2 Chronicles 17:6
Israel -2 Chronicles 31:1
Manasseh -2 Chronicles 33:15

All forms of, forbidden by the law of Moses -Ex 20:4,5
All heathen nations given up to -Ps 96:5-note; Ro 1:23,25; 1Co 12:2
Led the heathen to think that their gods visited the earth in Bodily shapes -Acts 14:11
Led the heathen to consider their gods to have but a local Influence -1Ki 20:23; 2Ki 17:26

OBJECTS OF
The heavenly bodies -2 Kings 23:5; Acts 7:42
Angels -Colossians 2:18
Departed spirits -1 Samuel 28:14,15
Earthly creatures -Romans 1:23
Images -Deuteronomy 29:17; Ps 115:4-note; Isaiah 44:17

Temples built for -Hosea 8:14
Altars raised for -1 Kings 18:26; Hosea 8:11
Accompanied by feasts -2 Kings 10:20; 1 Corinthians 10:27,28

OBJECTS OF, WORSHIPPED
With sacrifices -Numbers 22:40; 2 Kings 10:24
With libations -Isaiah 57:6; Jeremiah 19:13
With incense -Jeremiah 48:35
With prayer -1 Kings 18:26; Is 44:17
With singing and dancing -Ex 32:18,19; 1Ki 18:26; 1Co 10:7
By bowing to them -1 Kings 19:18; 2 Kings 5:18
By kissing them -1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:2
By kissing the hand to them -Job 31:26,27
By cutting the flesh -1 Kings 18:28
By burning children -Deut 12:31; 2Chr 33:6; Je 19:4,5; Ezek 16:21
In temples -2 Kings 5:18
On high places -Numbers 22:41; Jeremiah 2:20
In groves -Exodus 34:13
Under trees -Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 2:20
In private houses -Judges 17:4,5
On the tops of houses -2 Kings 23:12; Zephaniah 1:5
In secret places -Isaiah 57:8

Rites of, obscene and impure -Ex 32:25; Nu 25:1-3; 2Ki 17:9; Is 57:6,8,9; 1Pe 4:3
Divination connected with -2 Chronicles 33:6
Victims sacrificed in, often adorned with garlands -Acts 14:13

THE JEWS
Practiced, in Egypt -Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 23:3,19
Brought, out of Egypt with them -Ezekiel 23:8; Acts 7:39, 40, 41
Forbidden to practise -Exodus 20:1-5; 23:24
Often mixed up, with God’s worship -Ex 32:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 1Ki 12:27,28
Followed the Canaanites in -Judges 2:11, 12, 13; 1 Chronicles 5:25
Followed the Moabites in -Numbers 25:1, 2, 3
Followed the Assyrians in -Ezekiel 16:28, 29, 30; 23:5, 6, 7
Followed the Syrians in -Judges 10:6

Adopted by Solomon -1 Kings 11:5-8
Adopted by the wicked kings -1Ki 21:26; 2Ki 21:21; 2Chr 28:2, 3, 4; 33:3,7
Example of the kings encouraged Israel in -1Ki 12:30; 2Ki 21:11; 2Chr 33:9
Great prevalence of, in Israel -Isaiah 2:8; Je 2:28; Ezek 8:10
A virtual forsaking of God -Jeremiah 2:9, 10, 11, 12, 13
The good kings of Judah endeavored to destroy -2Chr 15:16; 34:7
Captivity of Israel on account of -2 Kings 17:6-18
Captivity of Judah on account of -2 Kings 17:19, 20, 21, 22, 23

NAVE'S TOPIC
IDOLATRY

Wicked Practices of - Human sacrifices, Lv 18:21; 20:2, 3, 4, 5; Dt. 12:31; 18:10; 2Ki 3:26, 27; 16:3; 17:17, 18; 21:6; 23:10; 2Chr. 28:3; 33:6; Ps 106:37, 38; Is 57:5; Je 7:31; 19:4, 5, 6, 7; 32:35; Ezek 16:20, 21; 20:26, 31; 23:37, 39; Mic 6:7; practices of, relating to the dead, Dt 14:1; licentiousness of, Ex. 32:6, 25; Nu 25:1, 2, 3; 1Ki 14:24; 15:12; 2Ki. 17:30 (Succoth-benoth - “tents of the daughters” probably indicating some deity worshiped by sexual orgies); 2Ki 23:7; Ezek. 16:17; 23:1-44; Hos 4:12, 13, 14; Amos 2:8; Mic 1:7; Ro 1:24, 26, 27; 1Co 10:7, 8; 1Pe 4:3, 4; Re 2:14, 20, 21, 22; 9:20, 21; 14:8; 17:1-6.

Other Customs of
Offered burnt offerings,
Ex. 32:6; 1Ki 18:26; Acts 14:13; libations, Is 57:6; 65:11; Je 7:18; 19:13; 32:29; 44:17, 19, 25; Ezek 20:28; of wine, Dt 32:38; of blood, Ps 16:4; Zech 9:7; grain offerings, Is 57:6; Je 7:18; 44:17; Ezek 16:19; peace offerings, Ex. 32:6.

Incense burned on altars, 1Ki 12:33; 2Chr 30:14; 34:25; Is 65:3; Je 1:16; 11:12, 17; 44:3; 48:35; Ezek 16:18; 23:41; Hos 11:2.

Prayers to idols, Jdg 10:14; Isa. 44:17; 45:20; 46:7; Jonah 1:5. Praise, Jdg. 16:24; Da 5:4.
Singing and dancing, Ex. 32:18, 19.
Music, Da 3:5, 6, 7.
Cutting the flesh, 1Ki 18:28; Jer. 41:5.
Kissing, 1Ki 19:18; Hos. 13:2; Job 31:27.
Bowing, 1Ki 19:18; 2Ki 5:18.
Tithes and gifts, 2Ki 23:11; Da 11:38; Amos 4:4, 5.

Annual Feasts 1Ki 12:32; Ezek. 18:6, 11, 12, 15; 22:9

Objects of -
Sun, moon, and stars
, Dt 4:19; 2Ki 17:16; 21:3, 5; 2Chr 33:3, 5; Job 31:26, 27,28; Je 7:17, 18, 19, 20; 8:2; Ezek 8:15, 16; Zeph 1:4, 5; Acts 7:42.
Images of angels, Col 2:18; animals, Ro 1:23.
Gods of Egypt, Ex. 12:12.
Golden calf, Ex. 32:4.
Brazen serpent, 2Ki 18:4.
Net and drag, Hab. 1:16.
Pictures, Nu 33:52; Isa. 2:16.
Pictures on walls, Ezek. 8:10.
Earrings, Ge 35:4.

Denunciations Against - Ge 35:2; Ex. 20:3-6, 23 Dt. 5:7-9. Ex. 23:13 1Co 10:7. Lv 19:4; 26:1, 30 Dt. 16:21, 22, 4:15, 16, 19, 15-23; 4:25, 26, 27, 28; 11:16, 17, 28; 28:15-68; 30:17, 18; 31:16-21, 29; 32:15-26; 1Ki 9:6-9. Dt. 12:31; 27:15 Ex. 34:17. 1Sa 15:23; Job 31:26, 27, 28; Ps 16:4; 44:20, 21; 59:8; 79:6; 81:9; 97:7; Is 42:17, 45:16. Joel 3:12; Jonah 2:8; Mic. 5:15; Hab 1:16; Ac 15:29, 20; 1Co 8:1-13. Ac 17:16; Ro 1:25; 1Co 6:9, 10; 1Co 10:14, 20, 21,22.; 1Jn 5:21; Re 21:8, 22:15.

Warnings Against, and Punishments of - Dt. 17:2, 3, 4, 5; 2Chr. 28:23; Neh. 9:27-37; Ps 78:58-64; 106:34-42; Is 1:29-31; 2:6-22; 30:22; 57:3-13; 65:3-7; Jer. 1:15, 16; 3:1-11; 5:1-17; 7; 8:1, 2, 19; 13:9-27; 16; 17:1-6; 18:13, 14, 15; 19; 22:9; 32:35; 44; 48:8; Ezek 6:1ff; 7:19; 8:5-18; 9; 14:1-14; 16; 20; 22:4; 23; 44:10, 11, 12; Hos. 1:2; 2:2, 3, 4, 5; 4:12-19; 5:1, 2, 3; 8:5-14; 9:10; 10; 11:2; 12:11-14; 13:1-4; 14:8; Amos 3:14; 4:4, 5; 5:5; Mic. 1:1-9; 5:12-14; 6:16; Zeph 1:1ff; Mal. 2:11, 12, 13.

Prophecies Relating to - Ex. 12:12 Nu 33:4. Is 2:18, 20, 31:7, 17:7, 8; 19:1; 27:9; Je 10:11, 15; 51:44, 47, 52; Is 21:9. Ezek 43:7, 8, 9; Hos. 10:2; Mic. 5:13; Zeph 2:11; Zech 13:2

Folly of - Dt 4:28; 1Ki 18:27 Jdg. 6:31; 1Sa 5:3, 4. 2Chr 25:15 1Sa 12:21; 2Ki 3:13; Is 16:12; 36:18. 2Chr. 28:22, 23; Ps 115:4, 5, 8, 96:5; 135:15, 16, 17, 18; Is 2:8, 40:12-26; 41:23, 24, 26-29; 44:19, 9-20; 45:20; 46:1, 2, 6, 7; 47:12, 13, 14, 15; 2Ki 19:18; Isa. 37:19; Zech 10:2. Is 57:13; Je 2:28 Dt. 32:37, 38; Jdg. 10:14. Je 10:5, 3-16; 48:13; 51:17; Hab 2:18, 19. Je 11:12; 14:22; 16:19, 20; Ho 8:5, 6 Ex. 32:20; Ps 106:20. Ac 14:15; 17:22, 23, 29; Ro 1:22, 23; 1Co 8:4, 5; 10:19, 12:2; Gal. 4:8; Re 9:20 Dt 4:28; Da 5:23

Daniel 3:2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. (sent: Ex 32:4, 5, 6 Nu 25:2 Jdg 16:23 1Ki 12:32 Pr 29:12 Rev 17:2)

King sent word to Assemble - All the leaders in Babylon were required to be present and by some estimates the number was in the thousands (or even much higher). This was a call for these leaders to publicly acknowledge their absolute loyalty to the King by bowing to the image (possibly an image of the King himself).

Satraps - This is a Persian loan word meaning "protector of the realm." These were governors of main provinces.

Daniel 3:3 Then the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces were assembled for the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. (Es 3:12, etc., a satrap. Ps 82:1-8 Ac 19:34,35 Ro 1:21-28 3:11 1Co 1:24-26 Rev 13:13-16 Rev 17:13,17) (treasurers: Ezra 7:21)

The stood before the image - When the "king of kings" (Da 2:37, Ezek 26:7) called, all obediently responded, even the three Hebrew boys. In contrast to the false accusation in Da 3:12, they did not disregard Nebuchadnezzar's commands which did not call for compromising their faith or God's truth.

There is a time to disobey the king, and it would be when his commands clearly contradicted God's commands to not worship images. Here in Daniel 3 and in Acts 5:27, 28, 29 Scripture presents the clear guideline for when believers should not obey the authorities, Peter declaring "We must obey God rather than men." We need to be very careful in the "gray areas" but idol worship is certainly not one of those areas. So the 3 boys were on good grounds and God honored their honoring of His law (Da 3:30). However, remember that when we have good grounds to disobey the authorities, we must be prepared to accept the consequences as were the 3 boys (cp flogging in Acts 5:40, 41, 42).

Daniel 3:4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed: "To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, (loudly: Da 4:14 Pr 9:13, 14, 15 Isa 40:9 58:1) (command: Ho 5:11 Mic 6:16) (peoples: Da 4:1 6:25 Es 8:9)

Herald loudly proclaimed - No one could say "I didn't know". As clear as this pagan herald was regarding his call to false worship of dead gods, so should we be as God's heralds of the gospel of grace which leads to true worship of the living God (cp Jn 4:24).

Daniel 3:5 that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. (horn Da 3:10,15)

The horn, et al - The fact that some of these instruments have Greek names does not necessarily support a late date for the authorship of Daniel, because Greek products and trading cities existed through much of western Asia as early as the sixth century B.C.  Such instruments were common in Babylon at this time. In fact notice that the king's proclamation (Da 3:4) also acknowledged other languages in Babylon.

Fall down - An act of submission.

Worship - (Aramaic = cegid; Hebrew = cagad = to prostrate one's self in homage). The Septuagint translates cegid with the picturesque Greek verb proskuneo [word study]. Note that worship is a key word in Daniel 3 occurring some 10x in in 9v (Da 3:5; 3:6; 3:10; 3:11; 3:12; 3:14; 3:15; 3:18; 3:28). The call to worship indicates this is not just a command to show political allegiance but clearly has religious or spiritual overtones.

The image - Idolatry is image worship. Note the role of music in the practice of idolatry.

Smith writes that idolatry

strictly speaking denotes the worship of deity in a visible form, whether the images to which homage is paid are symbolical representations of the true God or of the false divinities which have been made the objects of worship in his stead. (Smith's Dictionary)

Daniel 3:6 "But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire." (fall: Da 3:11,15 Ex 20:5 Isa 44:17 Mt 4:9 Rev 13:15-17) (shall be: Da 2:5,12,13 Mk 6:27) (furnace: Ge 19:28 Jer 29:22 Eze 22:18, 19, 20, 21, 22 Mt 13:42,50 Rev 9:2 14:11)

Immediately - No "due process" here, which is interesting because he did give the 3 Hebrews a "second chance" (Da 3:13, 14, 15).

Cast into the midst of a furnace - In short "Bow or Burn"! Compromise or conflagrate!

Daniel 3:7 Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. (when: Da 3:10) (all the peoples: Jer 51:7 Ac 14:16 1Jn 5:19 Rev 12:9 13:3,8,14 17:8 19:20)

When all the peoples heard - Guzik comments that this "literally reads as soon as they were hearing they were falling down. There was total and immediate obedience to Nebuchadnezzar's command!"

Worshiped the golden image - This is clearly idolatry. They feared the king (man), not God, for their temporal lives were at stake. Isn't it amazing that when we talk with men today about the fact that their eternal lives are at stake, they are so often apathetic or adversarial because their is no fear of God before their eyes (Ro 3:18-note)!

How might these 3 Jewish boys have rationalized (some might call it "situation ethics"!) bowing or living by the dictum “When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians do."? They might have rationalized it by saying we'll bow down physically but in our hearts, we remain "standing up". They may have reasoned that the king had been so good to them, it would be ungrateful not to bow. They may have justified bowing y reasoning that they were being forced against their will to bow and for that reason God would forgive. After all, no one in Jerusalem would ever know whether they bowed or not. The age old favorite is "Everyone is bowing down.” Or they may have reasoned “If we don’t, we’ll be killed and God needs us in these positions of power to help His people." Let's be honest, for we all know that when we want to compromise, we can always find an excuse. On the other hand, when you set your heart to obey God, you don't need excuses.

Imagine how they must have felt as they stood alone among hundreds or thousands of bowed bodies! Some in their vicinity undoubtedly must have shouted "Bow down or you'll burn!"

Donald Campbell tells this story of one who took a bold stand...

When the Communists invaded a Korean village, they found a young man with a vigorous Christian testimony who, regardless of their edicts to the contrary, continued to witness for Christ. Determining at last to make him a public example, the soldiers commanded the entire village to appear in the town square. A Communist soldier led the young Christian to the center of the crowd, put a pistol against his head, and shouted, "Denounce Jesus Christ and embrace Communism, or die!" The young man hesitated, looked around the gathered crowd, and saw some he had brought to faith in Christ. Then quickly he raised his gaze to heaven and cried, "I believe in Jesus Christ! I believe . . ." Crack! And he was dead, inspired by a courage and faith similar to that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Campbell, D. Daniel God's Man in a Secular Society)

Wiersbe notes that...

The difference between the true believer and the unbeliever isn’t the presence of faith, because everybody lives by faith in something. The difference is in the object of that faith. The crowd believed the herald and the king, and therefore they obeyed. The three Hebrew men believed the commandment of God, so they disobeyed. The crowd had credulous faith, but the Jews had confident faith. (Ibid)

Daniel 3:8 For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews. (charges: Da 6:12,13 Ezra 4:12-16 Es 3:6,8,9 Ac 16:20, 21, 22 17:6, 7, 8 28:22 1Pe 4:3,4)

Brought charges against  (NIV = denounced) - The NAS rendering is not as strong as the Aramaic which literally means "ate the pieces of", a vivid idiom for slander (although 2 of their 3 charges were true - see Da 3:12). What was their motive? Jealousy, the "jaundice of the soul" and it was a sin which quickly pounced on Abel (cp Ge 4:7) motivating him to murder his brother. Jealousy (Ge 37:11)led Joseph's brothers to sell him as a slave to the Midianite traders (Ge 37:26, 27, 28). Indeed as someone has well said jealousy is the raw material of murder. And of course the most horrendous crime motivated by envy was the betrayal and crucifixion of our Lord, Matthew recording...

For he (Pilate) knew that because of envy they had handed Him over. (Mt 27:18) (Comment: Thomas Manton said "There are two sins which were Christ's sorest enemies, covetousness and envy. Covetousness sold Christ and envy delivered Him.")

He that looks through a green glass sees no other color. - Thomas Adams

As a moth gnaws a garment, so does envy consume a man. - John Chrysostom

Envy eats nothing but its own heart.

The Puritan Thomas Brooks gives perhaps the best synopsis of this horrible "cancer" writing...

Envy, it tortures the affections, it vexes the mind, it inflames the blood, it corrupts the heart, it wastes the spirits; and so it becomes man's tormentor and man's executioner at once.

C H Spurgeon observed that...

The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshipping God and communing with him all the day long, however long the day may seem.

Today in the Word notes that...

You may find that obeying God and obeying the laws of men usually go hand in hand. But that isn't always the case. When legal or social mandates require you to compromise your faith, are you prepared to do the right thing . . . and to do it in the right way? Ask the Lord to give you the strength to stand for what is right, but also the humility to avoid self-righteous grandstanding. Make sure you are disobeying for God's sake, not for your own publicity (Devotional)

If God's Word guides your conscience,
let your conscience be your guide.

Daniel 3:9 They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: "O king, live forever! (king: Da 3:4,5) (O King: Da 2:4 5:10 6:6,21 Ro 13:7)

Daniel 3:10 "You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. (have made: Da 3:4, 5, 6, 7 6:12 Ex 1:16,22 Es 3:12, 13, 14 Ps 94:20 Ec 3:16 Isa 10:1 Jn 11:57 Rev 13:16,17) (the horn: Ex 15:20,21 32:18,19 1Ch 15:16,28 16:5,6 25:1-6 2Ch 29:25 Ps 81:1, 2, 3 92:1, 2, 3 149:3,4 150:3, 4, 5, 6 Am 6:5)

Daniel 3:11 "But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.

A furnace of blazing fire - Fire and other forms of martyrdom have been the fate of many believers over the centuries who stood boldly for Christ and refused to compromise their conviction and their confession of their Lord.

The story is told of John Hus (or here) promoted John Wycliffe’s teachings including the premise that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the established church that threatened the penalty of execution for anyone even possessing a non-Latin Bible. It is thus not surprising that Hus was condemned to burn at the stake. Apparently on the night before his execution while in his cell, he tested himself with a match and recoiled in pain.  Hus is quoted as saying “If I can’t withstand the fire of a candle, how the stake?” But the next day Hus not only endured the blazing flames (by some reports with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling!), he was enabled to die singing "Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon me." God's grace was sufficient and he went through the flames in a manner that glorified His Father (Mt 5:14, 15, 16). According to one source, Hus' very last words are reported to have been "in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed." Hus was burned at the stake in 1415 and a little over a century later in 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses of Contention on the church door at Wittenberg, setting into motion the protestant reformation! Indeed the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

You may have heard their names before, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer. We will meet them someday soon so it behooves us to know their story and be encouraged by their willingness to suffer for Christ's sake.

Nicholas Ridley had been raised Catholic but converted to Protestantism. Hugh Latimer became a great preacher and Ridley helped author the Book of Common Prayer. During the Protestant persecution by Queen Mary ("Bloody Mary") of 1553-55, both men were arrested and condemned to be burned at the stake. As the flames were being lit, Latimer cried out to his fellow-martyr,

Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as shall never be put out.

Thomas Cranmer (read his brief bio) watched them die in agony. At one time he had been the Archbishop of Canterbury. Later under great pressure he recanted his evangelical faith. But watching his two friends die seemed to give strength to his soul and a few months later he was condemned to die at the stake. As they lit the flames, he placed his right hand into the fire to show his tormentors that he was not afraid to die (cp "a sign of destruction for them" Php 1:28-note). (For more detail see Hugh Latimer, Bishop and Martyr) (Related Resource: Fox's Book of Martyrs)

Dave Guzik...

The command is empowered by a naked threat. Nebuchadnezzar regarded refusing to worship the image as treason, not only as a religious offense. In this, Nebuchadnezzar is just like most politicians, who often seem willing to use religion to strengthen their grip on political power. Politicians are happy to blend together spiritual allegiance and national allegiance. An example of this was displayed in 1936 when Herr Baldur von Schirach, head of the youth program in Nazi Germany, said: "If we act as true Germans we act according to the laws of God. Whoever serves Adolph Hitler, the fuehrer, serves Germany, and whoever serves Germany serves God."

Another example comes from 1960 when the President of Ghana had a slightly larger than life-size statue of himself erected in front of the national house of Parliament. An inscription on the side of the statue read, "Seek ye first the political kingdom and all other things shall be added unto you." (cp Jesus' words Mt 6:33!) The statue was destroyed after a bloodless coup in 1966. (
Ref)

Today in the Word notes that the stand of the 3 Hebrew lads in Daniel 3...

is a reminder that the means are sometimes more important than the end result. Many believers have made similar stands, only to be martyred without being rescued (Ed: see following examples). By doing the honorable thing, we can show the world the righteousness of God; only He can display His power. When this world tempts you to compromise your faith, be willing to accept the consequences that threaten your obedience. Our God is stronger than this world (Devotional)

How Firm a Foundation
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply:
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
-John Rippon

Daniel 3:12 "There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up." (certain: Da 2:49 6:13 1Sa 18:7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Es 3:8 Pr 27:4 Ec 4:4) (disregarded Ac 5:28 17:7)

Certain Jews - This phrase is used in a derogatory sense in this passage. Notice that the 3 Hebrew lads did not make a scene over their defiance. It took the tattling of "certain Chaldeans" to bring the matter to the king's attention.

Appointed over the administration - Envy (see discussion of envy) and/or jealously (see discussion of jealousy) are dangerous emotions which often lead to destructive declarations as in the present case. As has been well said every time you turn green with envy you are ripe for trouble. Ultimately envy eats nothing but its own heart. Under the guise of showing their loyalty to the king, these Chaldeans were very happy to be the "whistle blowers" for these foreigners who had attained positions of power.

Observe the three accusations against the "boys" - (1) They were showing no respect for the king (not true); (2) they refused to serve Nebuchadnezzar's idolatrous gods (this was true) and (3) they refused to worship the golden image (this was also true).

Spurgeon comments that...

Though their actions were not public, neither were they hidden. These three Hebrew men must have known they would be discovered, yet they obeyed God rather than man. "You will not be able to go through life without being discovered: a lighted candle cannot be hid. There is a feeling among some good people that it will be wise to be very reticent, and hide their light under a bushel. They intend to lie low all the war time, and come out when the palms are being distributed. They hope to travel to heaven by the back lanes, and skulk into glory in disguise. Ah me, what a degenerate set!"

Today in the Word writes that...

people who are willing to stake their lives on their theology are pretty serious about it. That was the case for the three young Hebrew men in Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made a courageous, principled stand (Ed: Cp Our decisions are based either on "External Pressure" or "Internal Principle") against King Nebuchadnezzar's order to bow to his golden statue. At the heart of their commitment was their view of God. These young men, taken as captives from Israel to Babylon, took with them their knowledge of God's commands. From their very first days of captivity in this pagan country, these three and their pal Daniel decided that the most important thing they could do was obey God.

Do not serve your gods (Ex 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 5) - Bowing is not an innocent action, because what we bow to we end up serving.

Serve your gods...or worship - This statement makes the image more that just an innocent image, and strongly implies it was an image related to Nebuchadnezzar's god (possibly even self-deification!) (cp Da 3:28 where Nebuchadnezzar clearly links both verbs to idolatry -- "to serve or worship any god").

Serve (Aramaic = Pelach)(06398)(Septuagint = latreuo [word study]) is clearly a key word in this chapter and also throughout this "middle" (Gentile) section of Daniel (8x in Daniel - Da 3:12, 14, 17, 18, 6:16, 20, 7:14, 27). Nebuchadnezzar understood the spiritual dynamics of idolatry and was calling not just for physical bowing down to an image but for a submission of one's heart to serve his gods. What one serves is one's master and the one to whom he or she is enslaved or in bondage.  Jesus taught this axiomatic principle in His Sermon on the Mount declaring that...

No one (Greek = absolute negation! No exceptions!) can (dunamai [word study]) serve (douleuo [word study]) two masters (kurios [word study] from); for either he will hate the one and love (agapao [word study])  the other, or he will be devoted to (hold to) (antechomai [word study] from) one and despise (kataphroneo [word study]) the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth) (mammonas). (Mt 6:24-note)

See in depth commentary on related passages:

James 4:4 -James 4:4 Commentary

1Jn 2:15 - 1John 2:15 Commentary 

1Jn 2:16 -1John 2:16 Commentary 

OUR BEHAVIOR IS BASED ON...
EXTERNAL PRESSURE
OR
INTERNAL PRINCIPLE

MacArthur writes that...

Our decisions, our attitudes and our behaviors are determined by one of two things: external pressure, or internal principle....the battle is going on all the time in our lives between these two conflicting items. And we're very good at self-justification so a lot of times when we succumb to external pressure we define it as internal principle. But basically we have to come down to that bottom line. Do we do what we do, say what we say and act the way we act because we have convictions about it or because we feel the pressure from the outside? Are our convictions altered by pressures brought to bear upon us?

MEN OF
COMMITMENT

Chuck Smith reiterates the importance of internal principle discussing the parallel term "Commitment" noting that commitment...

gives you the strength to go against...the current of this world (which is anti-God: "love not the world")...declaring the material is superior to the spiritual. Without real commitment you will be swept away (by) the "everybody is doing it" syndrome. Your commitment becomes an encouragement to others. "Give me some men who are stout hearted men..." Men who are committed are the men who change the world...Paul's commitment, "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Php 1:21-note) No wonder he was accused of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6).  Men of commitment cannot be stopped. Threats of death cannot dissuade them. How does a person become so committed? They had purposed in their hearts (Da 1:8)...more than a mind-set (for) it is easy to change the mind (instead) it is a matter of setting your heart. It is by the power of the Spirit, "not by might nor by (fleshly) power" (Zech 4:6). Peter's denial of the Lord (was because) he was trusting in his flesh. Peter's bold witness before the Sanhedrin (was because he was) ..."filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 3:8, cp Acts 2:4). The result of their commitment (was that) the LORD stood with them (cp 2Ti 4:16, 17, 18-note). He will always stand with us, if we dare to stand for Him. (Daniel 3:16, 17 Sermon Notes) (cp Jesus' words Mt 6:24 - They remind me of an old song by Bob Dylan the theology of which is not bad! You Gotta Serve Somebody-Bob Dylan)

I saw the martyr at the stake,
The flames could not his courage shake
Nor death his soul appall.
I asked him whence his strength was given,
He looked triumphantly to heaven
And answered, Christ is all.

Then come to Jesus, come today,
Come, Father, Son and Spirit say,
The Bride repeats the cal;
Come, He has blood for all your stains,
Come He has balm for all your pains
Com, He is all in all.
-W A Williams
(From The Sailors' Magazine)

Nebuchadnezzar’s threats could not cause these 3 young Jewish men to bow because the had already "bowed" their heart to Jehovah and now their ‘’heart was fixed (prepared)...

 

Ps 57:7KJV "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise." (Fixed = Hebrew word meaning something brought into incontrovertible existence and figuratively conveys the idea of one who is inwardly determined to stand firm and remain steadfast)

 

As a follower of Jesus, when everyone else is bowing to idols of pride or plenty or pleasure or possessions, etc, take your stand for righteousness, for what is right. His promise is sure. He will be with you, even when you are the only one standing! (Cp Ps 23:4-note, Ps 23:5-note, Is 43:1, 2, 3, Mt 28:20)

 

Matthew Henry observes that...

 

Good thoughts of God, and a full assurance that He is with us while we are with Him, will help very much to carry us through sufferings; and, if He be for us (Ro 8:31-note), we need not fear what man can do unto us (Mt 10:28, Lk 12:4, 5, cp Acts 5:41); let him do his worst. God will deliver us either from death or in death (through death's doorway into eternal life in His glorious presence! 2Co 5:8).

 

When you take your stand for Christ,
you will not stand alone.

Daniel 3:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. (rage: Da 3:19 2:12 Ge 4:5 1Sa 20:30-33 Es 3:5,6 Pr 17:12 27:3 29:22 Lk 6:11) (Then: Mt 10:18 Mk 13:9 Lk 21:12 Ac 5:25-27 24:24)

Rage and anger - It takes two synonyms to convey the degree of the king's fury. He clearly had an anger problem, for after all he does not even know yet whether they are guilty of the charges. Anger is like that isn't it? It's more often a mindless reaction rather than a responsible action after thoughtful consideration.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a mighty general and much like Alexander the Great years later (the "Bronze" kingdom), these two great empire conquerors were sadly unable to conquer themselves (Alexander became an alcoholic and died at age 33).

Solomon writes that...

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. (Pr 16:32).

Daniel 3:14 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? (true: Ex 21:13,14) (my gods: Da 3:1 4:8 Isa 46:1 Jer 50:2)

Is it true - This shows that the king did not blindly accept the accusations of the Chaldeans. At first the king seems taken aback that they would have refused to bow, but his mood would soon change after they refused his "second chance" to bow.

Matthew Henry reads it this way...

Was it designedly and deliberately done, or was it only through inadvertency, that you have not served my gods? What! you that I have nourished and brought up, that have been educated and maintained at my charge, that I have been so kind to and done so much for, you that have been in such reputation for wisdom, and therefore should better have known your duty to your prince; what! do not you serve my gods nor worship the golden image which I have set up?’’ Note, The faithfulness of God’s servants to him has often been the wonder of their enemies and persecutors, who think it strange that they run not with them to the same excess of riot (1Peter 4:4-note).

Guzik makes a cogent point noting that...

This (their answer to "Is it true?") was an even greater test for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. It is one thing to make a stand for God; it is a greater thing to stick to your stand when pointedly asked, "Is it true?" Peter could follow Jesus after His arrest, but he wilted and denied Jesus when asked, "Is it true?" (Ref)

C H Spurgeon adds that...

If, standing before the heart-searching God at this time, you cannot say, 'It is true,' how should you act? If you cannot say that you take Christ's cross, and are willing to follow Him at all hazards, then hearken to me and learn the truth. Do not make a profession at all. Do not talk about baptism or the Lord's Supper, nor of joining a church, nor of being a Christian; for if you do, you will lie against your own soul. If it be not true that you renounce the world's idols, do not profess that it is so. It is unnecessary that a man should profess to be what he is not; it is a sin of supererogation (act of performing more than is required by duty, obligation, or need), a superfluity of naughtiness. If you cannot be true to Christ, if your coward heart is recreant (unfaithful to duty) to your Lord, do not profess to be His disciple, I beseech you. He that is married to the world, or flint hearted, had better return to his house, for he is of no service in this war.

Serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up - Can we not see Nebuchadnezzar's gigantic ego ("my...I") which causes him to brazenly declare what amounts to an antithesis of the first of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:3) saying in essence "You shall have no other gods before my gods". Passages like this remind us of God's great mercy to sinners.

As Spurgeon says...

We can imagine the enormous pressure on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to compromise. Everything in front of them - the king, the furnace, the music, their compatriots, their competitors - all of it conspired to convince them to compromise. Yet God was more real to them than any of those things. "Do not judge the situation by the king's threat and by the heat of the burning fiery furnace, but by the everlasting God and the eternal life which awaits you. Let not flute, harp, and sackbut fascinate you, but hearken to the music of the glorified. Men frown at you, but you can see God smiling on you, and so you are not moved.

Daniel 3:15 "Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?" (hear: Da 3:10 ) (fall down:  Lk 4:7,8) (but: Da 3:17 Ex 32:32 Lk 13:9) (who: Da 3:28,29 6:16,20 Ex 5:2 2Ki 18:35 2Ch 32:15-17 Isa 36:20 37:23 Mt 27:43, Mt 10:19 Mk 13:11 Lk 12:11 21:14,15 Ac 4:8, 9, 10, 11, 12,19 5:29 6:15 Ac 24:10, 11, 12, 13)

Now if you are ready - One more temptation to compromise. How often our enemies the flesh and the devil parrot these words "you just have one more chance to __________."

Matthew Henry...

Thus does the matter lie in a little compass—Turn, or burn; and, because he knew they buoyed themselves up in their refusal with a confidence in their God, he insolently set him a defiance: "And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Let him, if he can.’’ Now he forgot what he himself once owned, that their God was a God of gods and a Lord of kings, ch. 2:47. Proud men are still ready to say, as Pharaoh, Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice? or, as Nebuchadnezzar, Who is the Lord, that I should fear his power?

What god is there who is able to deliver - Nebuchadnezzar clearly recognized the spiritual issues involved and knew full well that to bow was tantamount to submission to the Babylonian gods. The king had already learned that the God of Israel is able to reveal mysteries (Da 2:47) to His servants, but he doubted God's ability to save the three dissenters.

Observe that Nebuchadnezzar is placing himself above all gods, saying in a sense "I am more powerful than the gods". He must have forgotten that earlier he had said "Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings" (Da 2:47). He was like Pharaoh another prideful ruler who confronted another Jewish man Moses with the question...

Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go. (Ex 5:2)

Walvoord adds that...

Rabshakeh made the same arrogant and blasphemous claim when threatening King Hezekiah (Is 36:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)—the claim to the possession of a human power so great that there is no divine power to which the victim can turn for help. (Walvoord, J. F. Daniel: The Key To Prophetic Revelation)

Guzik makes an interesting observation that...

Nebuchadnezzar thinks nothing of insulting all gods with this statement. He is more of a secularist or a humanist than a theist. The god he really believes in is himself, not the gods of Babylon. (Ref)

Deliver - This is a key word in the second half of Daniel 3 - Da 3:15, 17, 28, 29. Note the effect of the steadfast witness of these 3 Hebrew lads on Nebuchadnezzar's heart and mind. He goes from "what god is there who can deliver" (Da 3:15) to "there is no other god (like the Most High God) who is able to deliver in this way" (Da 3:29). Truly these three young men stand as shining examples of the charge by our Lord for us to be salt and light in our this passing world...

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.  You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 5:13-note, Mt 5:14, 15, 16-note)

Ray Pritchard comments that...

the three young men refused to bow because years earlier they had learned the Ten Commandments. The First Commandment says there can be “no other gods” before the God of Israel. The Second Commandment prohibits all forms of image-making and worship of idols. Simply put, these young men knew their Bible and that’s why they wouldn’t bow. (A Time to Disobey- Nov, 1999)

EBC...

Like Sennacherib, who had derided Hezekiah's trust in God by boasting that none of the gods of the other nations had ever been able to save their people from the might of Assyria (2Kings 18:33, cp Ps 3:2-note), Nebuchadnezzar had converted his confrontation with men into a contest with the Lord God Almighty. Nebuchadnezzar's doom and fall were sure, even though he had earlier served God's purpose as a scourge to chasten God's apostate people (Jer 27:6, 7, 8). Ungratefully he had scoffed at the very God who had granted him success in battle; therefore he was to undergo one humiliation after another, till he groveled in the dust before Israel's God.

Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.

The righteous are bold as a lion.
Proverbs 28:1

We do not need to give you an answer - There is nothing to say. In essence they admit their guilt and thus make no attempt to defend themselves. International Children's Bible - "Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves to you."

Walvoord...

Such an answer by itself might be considered arrogant and disrespectful to the king; but coupled with the explanation, it is clear that they feel their case is not in their hands anyway. (Ibid)

The three may have read Isaiah's declaration (theoretically it was available as he prophesied 740-680BC)...

Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song (Is 12:2)

EBC notes that...

The Aramaic word order of Da 3:16 places an emphasis on the pronoun "we," implying that it is the Lord himself who will deal with this king who thinks he is sovereign on earth. (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary OT 7 Volume Set: Books: Zondervan Publishing or Pradis = computer version)

Remember that these three young men had not read the end of the chapter yet and thus had no idea that God was about to miraculously deliver them. They had not received any special revelation promising their deliverance. In short, as they stood before the king, they knew they might truly die.

These well-trained Hebrew lads undoubtedly knew God's clear command in Ex 20:3, 4, 5, and were not prepared to bow to anyone but the Almighty. Beloved, when we know God's Word and obey God's Word, His Spirit will fortify us so that we too can be bold as a lion! God's commandments always include His enablements! Our obedience may not cost us our life, but it may cost us our job, some relationship, some possession (or desire for some possession), etc.

Showers observes that...

they were not being arrogant. They were not saying, “We don’t have to tell you anything.” Instead, they were admitting that the charge against them was true; therefore, no defense or apology needed to be made. (The Most High God)

HOW TO
STAND FIRM
IN THE FIRE!

How were these three young men able to resist the temptation to bow to the image and compromise their integrity and their witness? Ultimately they were enabled to stand by the all sufficient grace of God which is magnified in our times of weakness (2Cor 12:9-note, 2Co 12:10-note). Man's extremity is God's "opportunity" to show Himself mighty! Here are several factors (the list is not intended to be exhaustive!) that enabled them to stand firm against the schemes of the prideful king (cp Ep 6:11-note)...

(1) They knew God's Word and His clear command against idol worship (Ex 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Remember that God never give us a commandment that He does not also give us the enablement (Spirit, grace) to obey the command!

(2) They knew that idol worship was one of the main reasons Judah was in captivity in Babylon (2Chr 36:14, 15, 16).

(3) They had experienced the delivering power of God's grace in Daniel 1 when they (concurring with Daniel, the spokesman) made a choice to refuse the king's choice food which would have defiled them (Da 1:8-note). In Daniel 2 they were delivered from being torn limb from limb (Da 2:12-note) when God revealed the mystery to Daniel in the prayer meeting with his three friends.

(4) They had been undoubtedly been taught God's Word including the truths of His past great deliverances such as: (1) The Passover Deliverance where Jehovah delivered Israel from Pharaoh and Egyptian bondage (Ex 12:11, 12, 13, 14, 13:8, 9, 10); (2) The Red Sea Deliverance (problem = Ex 14:8,.9; the faith of Moses = Ex 14:13, 14, the deliverance by God = Ex 14:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30); (3) The stones of remembrance (Josh 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, esp Josh 4:6, 7, for context see Josh 3:1-12, 13,14,15,16,17). In summary, they were taught the truth about God and this truth was used by His Spirit to increase and stabilize their faith (cp Ro 10:17-note).

In light of (3) and (4), the practical application for us as believers today is to make an effort to keep a written record ("journaling") of God's past deliverances in our life, so that we do not forget that He is able to deliver us (Da 3:17, Heb 2:18-note) when the crisis comes (cp Dt 6:10, 11, 12). Our hearts must be prepared before the crisis. The moment of crisis is too late to prepare our hearts.

(5) They feared God and trusted Him, and did not fear Nebuchadnezzar's raging (cp Pr 29:25). Fear of God is the best "antidote" for neutralizing fear of man and the worst that man can do to us (cp Jesus' command in Mt 10:28)

In short, when you go through the fire, cling fast to the truth you know about God, fixing your eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2-note)  - His promises (cp Isa 43:2), His past deliverances, His commandments that include His enablements, etc. When the fiery test comes, remember especially that God promises not to test us beyond what we are able to endure (1Cor 10:13-note). God had prepared the Hebrew lad's hearts for "such a time as this" (cp Esther 4:14)!

Matthew Henry...

It was a matter of life and death, and one would think they might have considered awhile before they had resolved; life is desirable, and death is dreadful. But when the sin and duty that were in the case were immediately determined by the letter of the second commandment, and no room was left to question what was right, the life and death that were in the case were not to be considered. Note, Those that would avoid sin must not parley with temptation. When that which we are allured or affrighted to is manifestly evil the motion is rather to be rejected with indignation and abhorrence than reasoned with; stand not to pause about it, but say, as Christ has taught us, Get thee behind me, Satan.

 They needed no time to contrive how they should word it. While they were advocates for God, and were called out to witness in his cause, they doubted not but it should be given them in that same hour what they should speak, Mt. 10:19. They were not contriving an evasive answer, when a direct answer was expected from them; no, nor would they seem to court the king not to insist upon it. Here is nothing in their answer that looks like compliment; they begin not, as their accusers did, with, O king! live for ever, no artful insinuation—to put him into a good humour, but every thing that is plain and downright

Wiersbe notes that...

The three men could have compromised with the king and defended their disobedience by arguing, “Everybody else is doing it,” or “Our office demands that we obey,” or “We’ll bow our knees but we won’t bow our hearts.” They might have said, “We can do our people more good by being officers in the king’s service than by being ashes in the king’s furnace.” But true faith doesn’t look for loopholes; it simply obeys God and knows that He will do what is best. Faith rests on commands and promises, not on arguments and explanations. (Ibid)

Pritchard...

So many Christians want to make deals with God. “Lord, I’ll stand up for you as long as (pick one) A) I don’t lose my job, B) my friends don’t make fun of me, C) I still get that promotion, D) I don’t get in trouble with my boss, E) I can still have a successful career.” But God doesn’t make deals with anyone. He calls us to be faithful and we are called to leave the results with him. He doesn’t promise us an easy road if we decide to be faithful to him. And that’s why these three young men said, “But if not.” They knew God could save them but they knew he might have higher purposes in mind that would require their death. Therefore, they didn’t try to back God into a corner by demanding that the Almighty work a miracle on their behalf. They accepted God’s will in advance without knowing how things would work out. (A Time to Disobey- Nov, 1999)

C H Spurgeon (Morning and Evening)...

The narrative of the manly courage and marvellous deliverance of the three holy children, or rather champions, is well calculated to excite in the minds of believers firmness and steadfastness in upholding the truth in the teeth of tyranny and in the very jaws of death. Let young Christians especially learn from their example, both in matters of faith in religion, and matters of uprightness in business, never to sacrifice their consciences. Lose all rather than lose your integrity, and when all else is gone, still hold fast a clear conscience as the rarest jewel which can adorn the bosom of a mortal.

Be not guided by the will-o’-the-wisp of policy, but by the pole-star of divine authority. Follow the right at all hazards. When you see no present advantage, walk by faith and not by sight (2Co 5:7). Do God the honour to trust Him when it comes to matters of loss for the sake of principle. See whether He will be your Debtor! See if He doth not even in this life prove His word that “Godliness, with contentment, is great gain,” (1Ti 6:6) and that they who “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, shall have all these things added unto them.” (Mt 6:33)

Should it happen that, in the providence of God, you are a loser by conscience, you shall find that if the Lord pays you not back in the silver of earthly prosperity, he will discharge His promise in the gold of spiritual joy. Remember that a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of that which he possesseth (Lk 12:15). To wear a guileless spirit, to have a heart void of offence, to have the favour and smile of God, is greater riches than the mines of Ophir could yield, or the traffic of Tyre could win. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and inward contention therewith.” An ounce of heart’s-ease is worth a ton of gold.

Daniel 3:17 "If it be so, our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. (our God: Da 4:35 6:20, 21, 22,27 Ge 17:1 18:14 1Sa 17:37, 1Sa 17:46 Job 5:19 34:29 Ps 27:1,2 62:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 73:20 115:3 121:5, 6, 7 18:10,11 Isa 12:2 26:3,4 Isa 54:14 Lk 1:37 Ac 20:24 21:13 27:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 Ro 8:31 Heb 7:25)

If it be so - That is if they are thrown into the blazing fire.

Our God...is able (cp Da 4:37) - They affirm their confidence (faith, trust) in God's ability to deliver. Of that they were confident, but the "how" was less clear (they had not yet read the rest of the chapter!) When you are faced with the furnace, fix your face on the Father!

Matthew Henry...

Their believing confidence in God and their dependence upon him, Da 3:17. It was this that enabled them to look with so much contempt upon death, death in pomp, death in all its terrors: they trusted in the living God, and by that faith chose rather to suffer than to sin; they therefore feared not the wrath of the king, but endured, because by faith they had an eye to Him that is invisible (He 11:25-note, He 11:27-note)

Jesus taught His disciples...

make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. (Lk 21:14,15)

I love the phrase "He is able" and it is especially poignant in the book of Hebrews where we read...

For since He Himself (Jesus) was tempted (perfect tense = past completed action, ongoing effects, cp Mt 4:1-10) in that which He has suffered (Lk 22:44), He is able (dunamai in the present tense = continually has the inherent ability) to come to the aid (boetheo - to run to us on hearing our cry and to give assistance) of those who are (peirazo in the present tense = continually being) tempted (tested). (Heb 2:18-note)

Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25-note)

Come ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love, and power;
He is able, He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more. —J. Hart

Honest doubt, if properly handled,
can become the vestibule of faith!

Chuck Smith writes about the importance of commitment in the daring decision by the lads...

 We shall each face the fiery furnace. God never promised us immunity from trials, quite the opposite, "and they that live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2Ti 3:12-note). To pray "not my will, Thy will be done" (Lk 22:42, cp Mt 6:10-note) can sometimes involve a cross. My human nature would seek the easy path, but the easy path usually leads to nowhere. We observe some who have fallen by the wayside. "Ye did start well, what did hinder you?" (Gal 5:7) Some are like seed on the stony ground (Mk 4:5, 6, 16, 17). What is the problem? Lack of deep commitment. Their commitment came from their confidence in God...They knew He could deliver from...He will deliver us from your hand." One way or the other. Even if we burn in your fire we will be delivered from you. (Sermon Notes)

Years earlier another young Hebrew lad took a bold stand in the face of overwhelming odds, a stand that was based upon his past experiences with Jehovah...

And David said, "The LORD (Jehovah) Who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and may the LORD be with you." (1Sa 17:37, cp 1Sa 17:46)

In some of his last written words the apostle Paul testified that our God is able declaring...

For this reason (Context = 2Ti 1:10, 11-note - ultimately for the Gospel) I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know Whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (2Ti 1:12-note)

I Know Whom I Have Believed (play)
by Daniel Whittle
But I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

The psalmist puts it beautifully...

The LORD (Jehovah) will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD (Jehovah) will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. (Ps 121:7, 8 - notes)

Out of your hand - Remember that in Da 1:2, the Lord (Adonai) had delivered Judah into Nebuchadnezzar's hand and so He is fully capable of delivering out of the king's hand (hand speaks of power and authority).

O king - Notice that even in their refusal to obey the king, they were still respectful, which is a good lesson for us when we disagree with our pagan adversaries. So while they respected the king, they were not afraid of what he might or could do to them. These three young men clearly had a healthy fear of God which is the best antidote against the fear of man, for he that fears God fears nothing else (cp Pr 29:25).

As Charles Bridges says the fear of the LORD...

is that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father's law (in this case His prohibition against idol worship).

John Calvin adds that...

Nothing is more powerful to overcome temptation than the fear of God.

Alan Redpath rightly says that...

Reverent fear of God is the key to faithfulness in any situation.

Thomas Watson explains how the 3 lads were able to take such an uncompromising stand writing that...

Grace has a soul-strengthening excellency. Grace enables a man to do that which exceeds the power of nature. Grace teaches us to mortify our sins, to love our enemies—and to prefer the glory of Christ before our own lives. Thus the three Hebrew children in Daniel, by the power of grace, marched in the face of death; neither the sound of the music could allure them—nor the heat of the furnace frighten them (Da 3:17). Grace is a Christian's armor, which does more than any other armor can—it not only defends him, but puts courage into him. Grace makes us not only bear suffering—but rejoice in suffering (Ro 5:3). A soul steeled and animated with grace, can tread upon the lion and adder (Psalm 91:13), and with the leviathan can laugh at the shaking of a spear (Job 41:29). Thus does grace infuse a heroic spirit and drive strength into a man—making him act above the sphere of nature. (The Beauty of Grace)

Donald Campbell writes that...

Those who believe the saying, "Every man has his price!" should consider well the response of these men in this crisis when their lives were at stake. They could not be bought—for any price! (Ibid)

Daniel 3:18 "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (be known: Job 13:15 Pr 28:1 Isa 51:12,13 Mt 10:28,32,33,39 16:2 Lk 12:3-9 Ac 4:10-13,19 5:29, 30, 31, 32 Rev 2:10,11 12:11) (that: Ex 20:3-5 Lev 19:4)

But even if He does not - They were ready to burn rather than betray their God! Why? Because they had yielded their hearts to Him, which paved the way for them surrendering their physical bodies to Him for His purposes.

These young men knew that God could deliver if that was His will for they knew that "wisdom and power belong to Him" (Da 2:20) and that He had "granted Daniel (and them) favor" and that He had given "them knowledge and intelligence" (Da 1:17). We too need to maintain a ready recall of God's Word and His past deliverances, so that we will be motivated and enabled to remain firm in our faith when the fiery trials and afflictions come upon us unexpectedly! An aid in remembering God's past presence and power in our lives is to keep a journal of His answers to prayer and a record of the times when He has delivered us in both "big" and "small" ways.

The essence of Faith
is the willingness to serve God
without a guarantee
.

The three Hebrew lads believed that God could deliver them, but they would trust Him even if He did note. Here we see that the boys while not doubting God's ability to deliver them, did not presume to know His will in this specific matter, recognizing that God's way might be different than their desires. They recognized the sovereignty of God  in their situation (cp "able to deliver out of your hand" Da 3:17 and Da 1:2 "into his hand"!) Leaving the outcome in His hands is in every sense an act of trust in His character, especially His goodness, sovereignty and providence. God has a purpose for everything He does, no matter how it appears to us for now we see in a mirror dimly (1Co 13:12). Years earlier Job had voiced a similar affirmation declaring "Though He slay me, I will hope (wait on, trust) in Him." (Job 13:15)

Showers observes that...

They declared that, if it were God’s purpose to deliver them, He would deliver them; however, if it were not God’s purpose to deliver them, they still would not offend Him by obeying the king’s command. Here were saints who exercised implicit faith in God. (The Most High God: Commentary on the book of Daniel. Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc)

Jesus' word to His disciples is relevant for He declared...

do not fear (present imperative + negative = stop fearing or don't begin fearing - He then explains that the worse men can do to us is only temporal) those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mt 10:28)

We are not going to serve  your gods - They had prepared their hearts. They had stood firm when challenged to eat impure foods (Da 1:8) and experienced God's hand of favor in response to their obedience (Da 1:9). They had experienced divine deliverance in Daniel 2. These past tests and divine deliverances gave them the courage to obey God now in the midst of their "fiery" trial. Their course was set. They swam against the current in contrast to their Hebrew counterparts (there is no mention of any other Hebrew lads not bowing). Decisions in the fire are based either on external pressure or internal principle. These 3 lads had established the principle that they would not compromise in the "small things" (king's food), which prepared them to remain uncompromising when the "big test" came. If you have been compromising in the "small things", don't deceive yourself with the thought that "I'll stand uncompromisingly when the big test comes."

Leupold writes that...

The quiet, modest, yet withal very positive attitude of faith that these three men display is one of the noblest examples in the Scriptures of faith fully resigned to the will of God. These men ask for no miracle; they expect none. Theirs is the faith that says: ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,’ Job 13:15.

The Psalmist's description would apply to them in that they were not...

like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart, and whose spirit was not faithful to God. (Ps 78:8)

EBC...

Ford (p108) makes the following observation: "Had the story been the invention that many have suggested; had it originated in the days of the Maccabees to nerve the faithful against Gentile oppression, it is unlikely that the chief hero would have been omitted. Reality transcends fiction, and the very `incompleteness' of this account testifies to its fidelity." It is hard to see how the force of this deduction can be successfully evaded. There is no psychological reason for an idealizing romancer to leave Daniel out of this exciting episode. The only way to account for this omission is that in point of fact he was not personally in attendance at this important function (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary OT 7 Volume Set: Books: Zondervan Publishing or Pradis = computer version)

Matthew Henry observes that the Hebrew boys may have had another reason to believe that God might deliver them explaining that...

partly because, in such a vast appearance of idolaters, it would be very much for the honour of his great name to deliver them, and partly because Nebuchadnezzar had defied Him to do it (Da 3:15b). God sometimes appears wonderfully for the silencing of the blasphemies of the enemy, as well as for the answering of the prayers of His people, Ps 74:18, 19, 20, 21, 22; Dt 32:27.

Chuck Smith writes that their...

commitment came from dedication of purpose...They committed themselves to worship and serve only God. They like Daniel in Da 1:8 had purposed in their heart not to be defiled by the king's command to worship idols...How can you stop these kind of men?...God did not deliver them from the furnace...God delivered them in the furnace (cp the similar truth of 1Co 10:13-note). (Sermon Notes)

Oswald Chambers in his often somewhat enigmatic manner of stating things adds...

The fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission. It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances, we are developed because of them. It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them.

BEWARE OF BOWING
LEST YOU BECOME BOUND!

Notice that what you "bow" to (fall down and worship) will eventually be what you are "bound" to, for it will become your master and you will serve it (like a slave). God alluded to this spiritual dynamic when He encouraged Elijah...

Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him. (1Kings 19:18)

When are we to make the choice not to obey man? In the book of Acts we find an example of "not bowing", Luke recording that the Jewish council and high priest

gave...strict orders not to continue teaching in this Name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this Man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:28, 29)

When man’s laws clearly conflict with God’s laws, you are to obey God BUT be ready for the consequences. Peter and the apostles continued to speak the Name before the Jewish council and high priest and so

they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name." (Acts 5:40, 41)

What if a law is passed that says we can’t share our faith on the job or with a classmate during lunch? What if all public evangelism is prohibited by law (cp Acts 5:28, 29)? What if proclaiming Christ becomes a “hate crime"? If these situations arise in our lifetime, then we need to recall the principles in Daniel 3. We need to remember that while God promises to take care of us, that doesn’t guarantee that standing up for what is right will turn out the way we might prefer. Our charge is not to guess what will happen but to be faithful to God's clearly revealed will (and law), allowing Him to take care of the results. Yes, sometimes God does protect us from the fire but other times He protects through the fire. God may intervene to deliver us but he is not obligated to do so.

STAND WITH JESUS AND
JESUS WILL STAND WITH YOU

When we stand for Jesus, the world will stand against us but He will stand with us, even as Paul experienced in his last recorded words...

At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion's mouth. 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and (here is our ultimate deliverance) will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2Ti 4:16, 17, 18-note)

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus (play)
by George Duffield, Jr

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.

Guzik points out that the 3 Hebrew lads do not make any excuses in the face of this extreme test...

They might have said, "There is nothing to gain by resisting; wouldn't we do more good by living?" It is easy to say, "we must live," but in reality, we all must die - so why not die making a stand for God?

They might have said, "We are in a different place; in Rome, do as the Romans do." Yet they knew that God has unlimited jurisdiction. We must do more than "perform" acts of religious obedience when we have an audience.

They might have said, "We will lose our jobs and our standard of living." Often when God blesses us we make the blessing an idol and compromise God to keep what we have.

They might have said, "After all, we are not being called to renounce our God." They did not have a super-elastic conscience that said "we are not bowing down to the idol, but in respect for the king, or to the music." Excuses like this are common but prove the principle that anything will serve as an excuse, when the heart is bent on compromise.

They might have said, "Everybody else is doing it." Instead they cultivated brave personalities, willing to stand alone with God

They might have said, "It is only for once, and not for very long. Ten minutes, just for the king. It is stupid to throw our lives away for ten minutes." These men knew that ten minutes could change an entire life. Ten minutes can chart the course for your eternity.

They might have said, "This is more than can be expected of us; God will understand just this once." It is true that God understands our struggle with sin - that is why He loves the sinner and made provision at the cross for freedom from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. Knowing that "God understands" should be a spur to obedience, not a license to sin.

"I am glad that the three holy children were not 'careful to answer,' [the KJV has, "we are not careful to answer thee" here] or they might have fallen upon some crooked policy or lame excuse for compromise. What have we to do with consequences? It is ours to do the right, and leave results with the Lord." (Ref)

Albert Lee writes that...

Loving God is easy when He grants our requests and provides what we desire. Loving Him in difficult circumstances tests our faith...There's a lesson in this for all of us. Is God all-powerful? Yes. Is He able to deliver us from all our problems? Yes. Does God always deliver us from our difficulties? No. We may not fully comprehend God's purpose in our difficulty and suffering, but we must not cease to love Him. We must trust Him and hope in Him in spite of the trials that threaten to overwhelm us. Genuine faith stays strong when deliverance seems distant.

I have learned to love my Savior,
And I trust Him more each day;
For no matter what the trial,
He will always be my stay. —Hess

><>><>><>

TESTED AND TRUE -When doctors perform surgery, the attending nurse must keep careful tab of the number of hemostats and sponges used, so that an incision is not closed until each item has been removed. A young nurse on her first day with this duty told the surgeon he had used twelve sponges, but she could account for only eleven. The doctor curtly announced that he had removed them all. The young woman insisted that one was missing, but the doctor grimly declared he would proceed with the suturing. The nurse, her eyes blazing, said, "You can't do that! Think of the patient!" The doctor smiled and, lifting his foot, showed the nurse the twelfth sponge which he had deliberately dropped to the floor. "You'll do!" he said. He had been testing her to see if she had the courage and integrity to carry out the duties of her position!

Daniel's three friends were also tested by King Nebuchadnezzar's evil edict. They knew that their refusal to worship the image of gold might result in their death. However, they never wavered but proved they were true to God by standing firm in the face of the enemy's threats.

The Lord still permits trials and temptations to enter the lives of his children. The challenge may come as an invitation to gratify the lusts of the flesh, or as a series of disheartening circumstances. Whatever form it assumes, you must not yield, or you will experience spiritual defeat. However, overcoming the temptation will strengthen you and enable you to reach a new plateau in your Christian life.

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin,
Each vict'ry will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.
—H. R. Palmer

A gem cannot be polished without friction,
nor a man perfected without trial!

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John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, was afraid when he was in prison for his commitment to Christ. “My imprisonment,” he wrote, “might end on the gallows.” We can understand his fear, can’t we? No one wants to face the prospect of being hanged. But, a change took place in Bunyan’s life one day. He became ashamed of being afraid. He said, “Me thought I was ashamed to die with a pale face and tottering knees for such a cause as this.” William Barclay comments, “Bunyan finally came to a conclusion as he thought of himself climbing up the ladder to the scaffold: ‘Wherefore, thought I, I am going on and venturing my eternal state with Christ whether I have comfort here or no; if God doth not come in, I will leap off the ladder even blindfold into eternity. Lord Jesus, if Thou wilt catch me, do; if not, I will venture for Thy name.’“ (Morning Glory, August 19, 1993)

The psalmist's words are apropos...

For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High (Da 3:26), your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
(Ps 91:9-12-
note)

Spurgeon comments that...

It is impossible that any ill should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord; the most crushing calamities can only shorten his journey and hasten him to his reward. Ill to him is no ill, but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his medicine, reproach is his honour, death is his gain. No evil in the strict sense of the word can happen to him, for everything is overruled for good. Happy is he who is in such a case. He is secure where others are in peril, he lives where others die.

 It is a security in the very midst of evils. Not like the security of angels -- safety in a world of safety, quiet in a calm; but it is quiet in a storm; safety amid desolation and the elements of destruction, deliverance where everything else is going to wreck. Cicaties Bradley, 1840.

(Commenting on) To keep thee in all thy ways. To be a bodyguard, a garrison to the body, soul, and spirit of the saint. The limit of this protection "in all thy ways" is yet no limit to the heart which is right with God. It is not the way of the believer to go out of his way. He keeps in the way, and then the angels keep him. The protection here promised is exceeding broad as to place, for it refers to all our ways, and what do we wish for more? How angels thus keep us we cannot tell. Whether they repel demons, counteract spiritual plots, or even ward off the more subtle physical forces of disease, we do not know. Perhaps we shall one day stand amazed at the multiplied services which the unseen bands have rendered to us.

Matthew Henry notes that the three boys...

know they must obey God rather than man; they must rather suffer than sin, and must not do evil that good may come. And therefore none of these things move them; they are resolved rather to die in their integrity than live in their iniquity. While their brethren, who yet remained in their own land, were worshipping images by choice, they in Babylon would not be brought to it by constraint, but, as if they were good by antiperistasis, were most zealous against idolatry in an idolatrous country. And truly, all things considered, the saving of them from this sinful compliance was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace as the saving of them out of the fiery furnace was in the kingdom of nature. These were those who formerly resolved not to defile themselves with the king’s meat, and now they as bravely resolve not to defile themselves with his gods. Note, A steadfast self-denying adherence to God and duty in less instances will qualify and prepare us for the like in greater. And in this we must be resolute, never, under any pretence whatsoever, to worship images, or to say "A confederacy’’ with those that do so.

Daniel 3:19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. (was: Da 3:13 Pr 21:24 Isa 51:23 Lk 12:4,5 Ac 5:33 7:54) (facial expression: Da 5:6 Ge 4:5,6 31:2) (answered: Ex 15:9,10 1Ki 20:10,11 2Ki 19:27,28 Ps 76:10 Pr 16:14 27:3,4) (seven: Da 6:24 Lev 26:18,21,24,28) (than: 1Ki 18:33, 34, 35 Mt 27:63, 64, 65, 66)

Filled with wrath - What fills a person, controls a person as it controlled the king and resulted in certain actions consistent with the wrath with which he was filled. The lesson for us is to be very aware of the danger of making declarations and decisions which impact others when we are controlled by our emotions (be they anger, fear, grief, etc).

The king's wrath is like the roaring of a lion, But his favor is like dew on the grass. (Pr 19:12)

Nebuchadnezzar was playing the fool for Solomon says that...

He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. (Pr 14:29)

Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools. (Ec 7:9)

Matthew Henry...

How little was it the honour of this mighty prince that he had rule over so many nations when at the same time he had no rule over his own spirit, that there were so many who were subjects and captives to him when he was himself a perfect slave to his own brutish passions and led captive by them! How unfit was he to rule reasonable men who could not himself be ruled by reason!

The following cross references with the phrase "filled with" make an interesting study on the importance of the concept of "being filled" -- Lk 1:15 referring to the John the Baptist, Lk 1:41, 42, Lk 1:67, 68ff, Lk 4:28, 29 [context = Lk 4:24, 25, 26, 27], Lk 5:26 [context = Lk 5:24, 25], Lk 6:11 [context = Lk 6:7, 8, 9, 10], Acts 2:4, 4:8, 9, 10, 4:31, 32, 33, Acts 5:17, 18, Ac 9:17, 13:9, 10, 11, 12, Acts 13:45 [jealousy], Ac 13:52, Ac 19:28, 29 [context = Ac 19:26, 27], Ro 1:28, 29, Ro 15:14, 2Co 7:4, Ep 5:18, see the effects/evidence in Ep 5:19, 20, 21, Col 1:9).

Facial expression was altered - Imagine his face! Bright red! Nostrils flaring. Features distorted. Anger is an ugly thing not to mention that a distorted face (from anger) usually results in distorted judgment. The only thing hotter than his face for the superheated furnace!

Seven times - This is probably not literal but figurative language conveying the idea that the fire was to be made as hot as was physically possible. The number seven is frequently used in Scripture to speak of completion or perfection (Ge 2:2, 3, Pr 24:16; Pr 26:16, Re 3:1-note, Re 4:5-note). His order shows the irrationality of one who is angry, because a lower temperature fire would have actually prolonged their agony! To heat the furnace even hotter would have lengthened their time on "death row" at least a few minutes. It is difficult to imagine what was going through their mind and I look forward to asking them in eternity future. I would not be surprised to hear them say something like Psalm 23:4-note or Psalm 27-note!

Related Resource: Tony Garland on Seven-Perfection, Completeness.

Geoffrey King comments on filled with wrath noting that...

then he lost his temper! That is always the mark of a little man. His furnace was hot, but he himself got hotter! And when a man gets full of fury, he gets full of folly (Pr 14:29, Ec 7:9). There is no fool on earth like a man who has lost his temper. And Nebuchadnezzar did a stupid thing. He ought to have cooled the furnace seven times less if he had wanted to hurt them; but instead of that in his fury he heated it seven times more. (Ed: And hurt himself, losing some of his best soldiers to the blaze!)

Spurgeon comments that...

Despite the intense intimidation, the men stayed courageous in their confession of faith...Remember also that by yielding to the fear of man you are demeaning yourself (cp Pr 29:25). There shall come a day when the man that was ashamed of Christ will himself be ashamed (Mk 8:38, Lk 9:26, 1Pe 4:16): he will wonder where he can hide his guilty head. Look at him! There he is! The traitor who denied his Lord! The Christ was spat upon and nailed to the cross, and this man was afraid to own Him. To win the smile of a silly maid, to escape the jest of a coarse fellow, to win a few pieces of silver, to stand respectable among his fellow-men, he turned his back upon his Redeemer and sold his Lord; and now what can be said for him? Who can excuse him? The angels shun him as a man who was ashamed of the Lord of glory (1Co 2:8). He is clothed with shame and everlasting contempt (Da 12:2KJV). Even the lost in hell get away from him, for many of them were more honest than he. Is there such a man as this before me? I summon him in the name of the living God to answer for his cowardice! Let him come forth and own his crime, and humbly seek forgiveness at the hands of the gracious Savior.

Daniel 3:20 He commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire. (Tie: Da 3:15 Ac 12:4,5 16:23,25)

He commanded some of his best, elite, strongest men to bind the boys. He would soon see the folly of this angry command in conjunction with the "superheating" of the furnace.

One has to marvel at the mind of an angry man, binding them up as if they were actually going to be able to escape!

Daniel 3:21 Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire.

Trousers - The Greek historian Herodotus says the Babylonian dress was a linen tunic, another of woolen, a white short cloak, and a turban.

Showers makes the cogent observation that...

Three things should be noted about the punishment. First, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were thrown into the furnace with highly flammable clothing. Second, the fire in the furnace was such a raging inferno that it killed the soldiers when they got close enough to cast in the Jews. Third, the Jews were bound so well that they could not move when they were dropped into the fire. All three points emphasize the miracle about to take place. (Ibid)

Daniel 3:22 For this reason, because the king's command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. (urgent: Ex 12:33) (slew: Da 6:24 Pr 11:8 21:18 Zec 12:2,3 Mt 27:5 Ac 12:19)

Slew those men - The irony is that while the earthly king of kings (Da 2:37, Ezek 26:7) could not protect his valiant warriors, the God of heaven (Da 2:18, 19, 37, 44), the true King of kings (Re 17:14-note, Re 19:16-note), was able to protect His valiant warriors of faith!

Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, opposed the heretical teaching of Arius who denied the deity of Christ. He was exiled five times for his opposition to Arius. They brought Athanasius before Emperor Theodosius who mandated that he cease his opposition to Arius. The Emperor sharply reproved him and said, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius answered, “Then I am against all the world!” (Ref)

Daniel 3:23 But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up. (fell: Da 6:16,17 Ps 34:19 66:11,12 124:1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Jer 38:6 La 3:52, 53, 54 2Co 1:8, 9, 10, 4:17 1Pe 4:12,13)

But - This conjunction emphasizes the contrasting fates of the king's men versus God's men, and indeed serves as a foreshadowing of the fate of every person ever born, for all will either experience the eternal fires of Gehenna and separation from God or the eternal presence of God Who delivers believers from the wrath to come.

Still tied up ("bound" in Da 3:24) - A small detail the significance of which becomes apparent in succeeding verses.

SUFFICIENT GRACE
FOR EVERY "FIERY FURNACE"

Fell into the midst of the furnace - Perhaps you are thinking "I could never be able to endure such a test!". We need to remember that for "various (poikilos) trials" (1Pe 1:7-note) God gives "manifold (poikilos) grace" (1Pe 4:10-note), truth that is the testimony of many believers throughout this present evil age. Just the exact amount of grace needed, just in the "nick of time", fully sufficient for the trial at hand! That is our great and awesome Father!

So let us ask again, how were they able to endure this incredible test of their faith? Trouble and the grace to bear it come in the same package. Annie Johnson Flint (see more poems) put it this way...

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
-
-Annie Johnson Flint (click for more poems)

Pritchard makes an interesting point...

Here is the ultimate paradox. The three Hebrews were safer in the furnace than when they were standing in front of the king. If they had not been thrown in the fire, they would surely have been killed some other way. But since the furnace was God’s will for them, they were safer in the flames than anywhere else. (Ibid)

THE BELIEVER'S
FIERY FURNACES

The furnace of blazing fire - While we as believers are unlikely to experience a literal fiery furnace, there are a number of "fiery furnaces" for which we must be prepared...

(1) The fire of persecution - This is the furnace men prepare for us.

indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2Ti 3:12)

Comment: This is one of the "promises" of God we would rather not "claim"!

For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Php 1:29-note)

And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. (Mt 10:22, 23, 24)

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18, 19)

For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps (1Pe 2:20-note, 1Pe 2:21-note)

Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22b)

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:10, 11, 12-note)

No temptation (test) has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (test) will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. (1Co 10:13-note)

Comment: God has promised that the test will not be too great and that He will always be with us, whether we are delivered or martyred. The Hebrew lads were delivered while the Spirit filled believer Stephen was martyred (Acts 7:57, 58, 59, 60). In both circumstances these saints experienced the presence of the Lord in a special way. Even if we don't have the same experiences, we can be assured that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin—
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.
 —Palmer

John MacArthur observes that...

Self-centered Christians who serve the Lord halfheartedly seldom have to pay a price for their faith. They are of little threat to Satan’s work because they are of little benefit to Christ’s.

(2) The fiery missiles of the evil one - This is the furnace Satan prepares for us and is manifest as spiritual warfare described by Paul who exhorts us that...

in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. (Eph 6:16-note)

(3) The furnace of fiery trials - This furnace is prepared by God and refers to those trials the Omniscient God allows for our good and His glory, as described repeatedly in the NT...

Consider (aorist imperative = command to do this now. Don't delay!) it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas 1:2-note, Jas 1:3, 4-note)

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Ro 5:1, 2-note, Ro 5:3-note, Ro 5:4, 5-note)

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1Pe 1:6-note, 1Pe 1:7-note)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. (1Pe 4:12, 13-note)

Through many tribulations (thlipsis [words study]-conveys the idea of being squeezed or placed under pressure) we must (note the verb dei [word study] = suffering is not optional) enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22b)

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (Jn 16:33)

Let us pray for furnace grace...
That we may be like the three Hebrew lads.

Deffinbaugh notes that...

It is at this point in the text that Greek versions include a long addition: a prayer, a prose description of their deliverance and a hymn, commonly known as the Benedicite, supposedly sung from the furnace by the three men, or by Azariah alone (according to Theodotion). Evidence from Qumran has shown conclusively that these additions were not part of the original. Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978), p. 106. (Faith and the Furnace)

Daniel 3:24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, "Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?" They replied to the king, "Certainly, O king." (astounded: Da 5:6 Ac 5:23, 24, 25 9:6 12:13) (officials:  Da 3:2,3) (O king: Da 3:9,10,17 4:22,27 5:18 6:7,22 1Sa 17:55 Ac 26:13,27)

The Septuagint is interesting in that it reads the king "heard them singing praises".  If this singing in the furnace did in fact transpire, it reminds us of two other suffering saints Paul and Silas singing in the midst of the Philippian jail (Acts 16:25). Surely these are men who are controlled by the Holy Spirit, as there song is a "supernatural" song.

The ESV Study Bible notes that...

the various Greek OT versions add The Song of the Three Young Men, which is an effort to elaborate the men's experience of deliverance in the furnace. (This addition to Daniel is also included in the Apocrypha).

Astounded - Startled, alarmed. The Aramaic tevahh is related to the Hebrew word tamahh which is a root word meaning to be astounded, dumbfounded, bewildered with an element of fear, whether because of an amazing or fearful sight or a terrifying sound.

Stood up in haste - Can't you picture this? Smugly confident that he had dealt definitively with the 3 upstarts to his kingdom authority, but wait! What's this? And up he jumps.

Daniel 3:25 He said, "Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!" (Without harm:  Ps 91:3, 4, 5, 6,7, 8, 9 Mk 16:18 Ac 28:5 1Pe 3:13) (a son: Da 3:18,28 Job 1:6 38:7 Ps 34:7 Pr 30:4 Lk 1:35 Jn 19:7,8 Ro 1:4)

"FIERY FURNACES"
CAN LOOSE OUR BONDS
AND SET US FREE!

Loosed - Bound in Da 3:23, 24.  Literally they were set free in the fiery affliction. Fire has a way of removing the "dross" in our life (Job 23:10-note).  Afflictions and trials are often effective in break the ties that bind us and set us free, free even from a "false confidence" in our own sufficiency (2Cor 3:5, 6) and when this happens, we then we are able to live in the power and strength of God (cp 2Cor 12:9-note2Co 12:10-note).

Showers observes that...

Five things startled Nebuchadnezzar. First, there were four persons instead of three in the furnace. Second, not one of the persons was bound. Third, all four persons were walking around in the fire—none was lying down. Fourth, all four persons were unhurt. Fifth, the fourth person looked “like a son of the gods." (Ibid)

Spurgeon...

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lost something in the fire—not their coats, not one hair of their heads. The fire did not hurt them, but it snapped their bonds. Blessed loss! A true Christian’s losses are gains in another shape. Many of God’s servants never know the fulness of spiritual liberty till they are cast into the midst of the furnace.

The psalmist alluded to the "loosening" effect of fiery trials...

Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Thy word. (Ps 119:67-note)

It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes. (Ps 119:71-note)

Isaiah recorded God's encouragement to Israel (cp Isa 43:1) and perhaps a promise that the three Hebrew lads were aware of (since Isaiah prophesied from 740-680BC and the events of chapter 3 most likely take place between 605-586BC) and indeed may have "claimed"...

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. (Isa  43:1, 2)

Man's extremity is God's opportunity;
Man's security is Satan's opportunity.

The preservation of the 3 Hebrew young men is a clear testament to the truth of God's Word to His people that in their fiery trials and afflictions, they would not be utterly overwhelmed. The testimonies of many martyrs throughout the church age is that even when being burned at the stake, they received mysterious and miraculous power to sing and testify even as the flames took hold of them! Let this "great cloud of witnesses" encourage us to...

lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, (Heb 12:1-note, He 12:2-note)

Wiersbe adds that...

Faith means obeying God regardless of the feelings within us, the circumstances around us, or the consequences before us...True faith isn’t frightened by threats, impressed by crowds, or swayed by superstitious ceremonies. True faith obeys the Lord and trusts Him to work out the consequences. These three Jewish men know the law of God—“You shall have no other gods before Me .… You shall not bow down to them nor serve them” (Ex. 20:3, 5). Once the Lord has spoken on a matter, the matter is settled and there’s no room for discussion or need for compromise. To bow before the image even once, no matter what excuse they might give, would have destroyed their witness and broken their fellowship with God. The tense of the Greek verb in Matthew 4:9 indicates that Satan asked Jesus to worship him only one time, and the Savior refused. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow down to the golden image even once because it would lead to serving Nebuchadnezzar’s false gods for the rest of their lives. (Ibid)

In Hebrews 13 God promises...

I WILL NEVER (absolutely never by no means - see comment) DESERT (I will not let go of you. I will not relax my hold on you.) YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT SHALL MAN DO TO ME?" (He 13:5b, He 13:6)

Comment: Note in He 13:5b we have the promise of God's presence and in He 13:6 the promise of His power in our hour of need. Note also the incredibly strong negation using five Greek words that each convey negation. And so more literally God emphatic promises "I will never, never desert you. I will never, no, never leave thee."

A SON OF THE GODS...
THE SON OF GOD

Like a son of the gods - By using the term of comparison "like" the king was saying that there was something different, even something divine about the fourth figure.

A son of the gods - The KJV renders it "the Son of God" but the more literal translation is "a son of the gods". Although not all agree, most conservative commentators interpret the fourth figure as more than a created angelic messenger, and many of these in fact feel that this was a Christophany, a visual manifestation of the Creator Himself, designated elsewhere in the OT as the Angel of the LORD (see discussion of OT appearances of Christ), the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christophanies (appearances of Christ) were not uncommon in the OT, one of the most dramatic occurring to Hagar who had been banished from Abram's family and was met by the "Angel of the LORD" in the wilderness...

7 Now the Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. (Comment: "Angel" = Hebrew mal'ak = one who is sent = a messenger)
8 And
He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai."
9 Then the
Angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority."
10 Moreover, the
Angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count." (This is not a promise a created angel would make!)
11 The
Angel of the LORD said to her further, "Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son; and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.
12 "And he will be a wild donkey of a man. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers."
13 Then she called the name of the
LORD Who spoke to her, "Thou art a God Who sees" (See study of El Roi: God Who Sees); for she said, "Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?"
14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.
16 And Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.

Spurgeon comments that...

You must go into the furnace if you would have the nearest and dearest dealings with Christ Jesus. Whenever the Lord appears, it is to his people when they are in a militant posture. Moses saw God at Horeb, but it was in a burning bush (Ex 3:1, 2, 3, 4). Joshua saw him, but it was with a drawn sword in his hand, to show that his people are still a militant people (Josh 5:13, 14, 15). And here where the saints saw their Savior, it was as Himself being in the furnace. The richest thought that a Christian perhaps can live on is this, that Christ is in the furnace with him. When you suffer, Christ suffers. (Acts 9:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - cp Study of Covenant and God's Commitment to Defend His Own)

H A Ironside...

The blessed Son of God was there with His dear servants in their hour of trial.

Wiersbe...

the fourth person in the furnace was Jesus Christ in one of His preincarnate appearances in the Old Testament (Ibid).

Campbell writes that Nebuchadnezzar did not see...

what he expected; rather, he was shocked to see not three men in the fire, but four; not bound prisoners, but free men; not individuals who were motionless and unconscious, but who were moving about in the fire; not men writhing in pain, but instead showing no symptom of any injury; and most startling, the appearance of the fourth not like the rest, but like "a son of the gods...most Bible students do believe that this was a preincarnate appearance of Christ, who also appeared to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, who walked with Enoch, who feasted with Abraham, who wrestled with Jacob, who spoke to Moses in the burning bush, who appeared to Joshua as Captain of the Lord's host, who spent the night with Daniel in the lions' den, and who came to be born in a stable. God manifest in the flesh! (Ibid)

C H Spurgeon...

Many a time before his incarnation, he descended to this lower earth in the similitude of a man; on the plains of Mamre (Gen. 18), by the brook of Jabbok (Ge 32:24-30), beneath the walls of Jericho (Jos. 5:13), and in the fiery furnace of Babylon (Da 3:19, 25), the Son of Man visited his people.

William MacDonald...

We believe that it was indeed the Son of God, no matter how the king viewed Him. The Lord either saves us out of troubles or He is with us in the troubles.

J Dwight Pentecost...

This One was probably the preincarnate Christ (Ed: cp Ge 16:11, 13 where "Angel" = Messenger). Though Nebuchadnezzar did not know of the Son of God, he did recognize that the Person appearing with the three looked supernatural.

John MacArthur...

The fourth person could possibly have been the second person of the Godhead (Jesus Christ) in a pre-incarnate appearance

Charles Ryrie...

It may have been an angel or possibly a preincarnate appearance of Christ, though the king would not have known who He was.

Notice that Jesus never manifests himself except inside the furnace, at the very moment when he was needed the most. Beloved, has it not been your experience that it is in the fires of life that you have experienced the presence of Christ most powerfully. Our Lord is always there, but He makes Himself known most often when we are "in a fiery furnace"!

John Trapp quotes an English martyr's words as he was burnt at the stake...

O ye Papists, behold ye look for miracles; here now you may see a miracle; for in this fire I feel no more pain than as if I were in a bed of down; but it is to me as a bed of roses.

F B Meyer observes that...

There was no doubt about their being bound. Their turbans, mantles, and other garments had bound their limbs so tightly, that when first they reached the furnace they fell down bound in its midst. Whatever else the fire could not do, it at least freed them, so that they walked loose; and the dewy glades of Paradise were not more fragrant and delightful than were those white-hot cinders.

This is what trial has often done for us. We had become conscious of the binding effect of our own habits which we had permitted as comparatively innocent; but gradually the conviction grew that they were amongst the weights that should be laid aside. Yet they clung to us until some fiery trial befell us, and from that hour, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we were free. Do not fear the fire. It cannot hurt one hair of your head, or leave the smell of burning on you; but it will eat out the alloy, and gnaw away the iron bands that bound you.

Beat on, true heart, for ever!
Shine bright, strong golden chain;
And bless the cleansing fire
And the furnace of living pain.

But Jesus never allows His beloved to walk the fire alone. If it is heated seven times hotter than its wont, this is only the reason for his becoming more real, as our living and glorious Friend. There always goes beside the tried saint, though not always patent even to the eye of the spirit, another whose aspect is that of the Son of God. Reach out thy hands to Him, beloved—He is there. The Refiner not only watches the crucible, He is in it with thee. In all thy affliction He is afflicted.

Daniel 3:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!" Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. (servants: Da 3:17 2:47 6:20 Ezra 5:11 Ac 16:17 27:23 Ga 1:10 Rev 19:5) (Most High - Ge 14:18) (Come here - Jos 3:17 4:10,16-18 Isa 28:16 52:12 Ac 16:37)

Most High God - See discussion of El Elyon: Most High God - Sovereign Over All. (Da 3:26, 4:2; 17; 24; 25; 32; 34; 5:18; 21; 7:25) Notice that Nebuchadnezzar recognizes that the three lads serve the Most High God even before they are out of the furnace.

Come here...came out - They could not obey the king godless request to worship the image, but do not hesitate to obey his command in this instance.

The actions of the 3 Hebrews validated what they said they believed. Do I see trials and afflictions as opportunities to bring God glory (cause others to see Him as He really is) or do I view them with irritation and questions ("Why me Lord?")?

THE TWO
SUFFICIENTS

Evil shall pass with the day that brought it,
As the sea is stayed by the barrier land;
When the Giver of Good shall say, "No farther,"
And bid the foeman restrain his hand;
But the grace of the Lord outstays the evil,
Outlasts the darkness, outruns the morn,
Outwatches the stars in their nightly vigil,
And the foe that returns with the day re-born,
As he left it unwearied, shall find it unworn.
-
-Annie Johnson Flint (click for more poems)

Daniel 3:27 The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king's high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them. (Satraps - Da 3:2,3 1Sa 17:46,47 2Ki 19:19 Ps 83:18 96:7, 8, 9 Isa 26:11 Ac 2:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 26:26) (on the bodies: Isa 43:2) (hair: Mt 10:30 Lk 21:17,18 Ac 27:34)

GOD'S DELIVERANCE
IS COMPLETE!

The satraps, et al - These pagan leaders saw (and thus could bear witness to) a miracle in that the fire had no effect!

Three men walked by faith and not by sight and became living epistles that pointed to a supernatural God Who even the king of kings was forced to acknowledge as the Most High God! When we stand for Christ, He stands with us (whether we feel like He is there or not - His promise is sure = Heb 13:5,6-note) and the world receives a witness through our stand, regardless or whether they surrender to Him or not. What an encouraging example for each of us to stand fast like these three did. By their one act of steadfast faith they became witnesses of the true and living God to the entire Babylonian Empire! May their tribe increase in our world which desperately needs to see supernatural evidence of the Living God lived out in and through His children!

The fire had no effect on the bodies - This could be the event referred to by the writer of Hebrews who records that men of old "quenched the power of fire" (Heb 11:34-note), and they did so not by might nor by power but by His Spirit and by faith (Heb 11:33-note) in God's faithfulness and His faithful Word of deliverance either in or through the fire.

Four things were unchanged in the fiery furnace - (1) They were not burned in any way; (2) Their hair was not singed; (3) Their garments were not altered (no soot); and  (4) There was no smell of fire. The only changed was the removal of the rope that bound them!

Bob Deffinbaugh makes an important observation and application of this section noting first that...

Theirs was a complete deliverance, because God accomplished it. They were not merely delivered from the fire; they were delivered through the fire. They were delivered through the fire which brought death to their executioners and in a way that destroyed only their bonds. They were delivered from sizzling, singeing, and even the scent of smoke. That is complete deliverance.

The deliverance which God has accomplished for us is like that described in Daniel 3. It is, first and foremost, God’s deliverance. It is not a deliverance from all suffering and trials, but one which exists because God Himself experienced the fire. As the fourth person was present with the Hebrews in the furnace, Christ has endured the wrath of God, in our place. We are delivered from God’s eternal wrath because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered for us, in our place. Deliverance, all deliverance, has been accomplished on the cross of Calvary.

I doubt that you and I fully grasp the extent of the deliverance we have in Christ. We say we believe that God has delivered us from Satan, sin, hell and death, but do we really believe it? Why do Christians frantically seek deliverance from drugs, addictions, fear, guilt, and bitterness in sources other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ? We do not fathom or experience the totality of the deliverance which God has for us now, let alone in eternity. God’s deliverance is complete deliverance. (Faith and the Furnace)

Comment: As an aside, you might want to study the passages in the Psalms which use the words deliver, Deliverer, deliverance, etc, most referring to Divine Deliverance (most positive, some negative) - Ps 3:2; 7:1, 2; 17:13; 18:1, 2, 17, 43, 48, 50; 22:1, 4, 5, 8, 20; 25:20; 27:12; 31:1, 15; 32:7; 33:16f, 19; 34:4, 17, 19; 35:10; 37:40; 39:8; 40:13, 17; 41:1; 43:1; 50:22; 51:14; 54:7; 56:13; 59:1f; 60:5, 11; 63:10; 68:20; 69:14; 70:1, 5; 71:2, 11; 72:12; 74:12, 19; 78:62; 79:9; 82:4; 86:13; 89:48; 91:3, 14; 97:10; 106:43; 107:6, 20; 108:6, 12; 109:21; 119:170; 120:2; 142:6; 143:9; 144:2, 7, 11. Listen to Chris Tomlin's song The Everlasting God as you ponder and praise Him for being our Strong Deliverer - Everlasting God)

Walvoord comments that...

Just as the reign of Nebuchadnezzar is symbolic of the entire period of the times of the Gentiles, so the deliverance of Daniel’s three companions is typical of the deliverance of Israel during the period of Gentile domination. Particularly at the end of the Gentile period Israel will be in fiery affliction (Ibid).

Comment: A number of commentators take a similar approach to using the events in Daniel 3 as a foreshadowing of the future of Israel during the Tribulation or Daniel's Seventieth Week, identifying Nebuchadnezzar with Antichrist (I have great trouble here because Antichrist never speaks of the true God in such exalting language as did Nebuchadnezzar not to mention that in Daniel 4 we read the story of his likely conversion!), his image like the one in Revelation 13, the fiery furnace like the Great Tribulation, the 3 Hebrews like the believing Jewish remnant who come through the Great Tribulation, the executioners like those kings who align with Antichrist but are destroyed when Christ returns and the mysterious absence of Daniel as a picture of the absence of the church during the Tribulation. While there are undoubtedly parallels between these events (especially the image of the beast in Revelation 13-see notes above). Whether this was one of God's intended purposes of Daniel 3, the reader will have to decide applying the principles of the Bereans (Acts 17:11-note), remembering that the field of typology has been subject to extremes pro and con (see Typology - Study of Biblical types) The danger of focusing on this type of typological (pun intended) interpretation is that one might miss some of the profound principles for living an uncompromising, unbending life of faith fully surrendered to God in the face of intense peer pressure to conform to a godless, idol worshipping culture like our country in the "post-Christian" era!

Spurgeon...

A man who has been in the furnace and has come out of it is a marked man. I think I should know Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego even now if I were to meet them. Though the smell of fire had not passed on them, I feel sure that it left a glow on their countenances and a glory on their persons which we find nowhere else. They are henceforth called “the three holy children.”

Nor had the smell of fire -  They passed the smoke test! This detail emphasizes the completeness of their Divine deliverance and the truth Paul proclaimed in Romans...

MORE THAN CONQUERORS
IN CHRIST

 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer
through Him who loved us
. (Ro 8:37-
note)

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
by Martin Luther
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever

Daniel 3:28 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king's command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. (Blessed: Da 2:47 4:34 6:26 Ge 9:26 Ezra 1:3 7:23-28) (has sent: Da 3:25 6:22,23 Ge 19:15,16 2Ch 32:21 Ps 34:7,8 103:20 Isa 37:36 Ac 5:19 12:7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Heb 1:14) (trust: 1Ch 5:20 2Ch 20:20 Ps 22:4,5 33:18,21 34:22 62:8 84:11,12 Ps 146:5,6 147:11 Isa 26:3,4 Jer 17:7,8 2Co 1:9,10 Eph 1:12,13 1Pe 1:21) (and have: Ezra 6:11 Ac 4:19) (yielded: Ro 12:1 14:7,8 Php 1:20 Heb 11:37 Rev 12:11) (serve: Da 3:16, 17, 18 Ex 20:5 Mt 4:10)

May we note well the lesson that pagans are greatly impacted (either positively as the King or negatively) when they see us in "fiery trials", walking around not panicking. That is when they begin to see our Jesus living in and through us and they will either be drawn to Him or shrink away from Him (Jn 3:19, 20, 21)

Blessed be the God - The pagan, idol worshipping king, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges the supremacy of God. In chapter 2 he acknowledged God as the "revealer of mysteries" (Da 2:47 - What a great Name of God!) and here as the God "Who is able to deliver" (Da 3:29). Indeed, He is truly worthy to be blessed and to be worshiped in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24-note on what it means to worship in spirit and in truth.)

His angel - His messenger, which is very compatible with this being Jesus, who is called the Messenger of the Covenant (Malachi 3:1). The Greek Septuagint does not read literally "an angel" but "the angel" (definite article identifying Him as "the" specific angel, not just any angel - further support this is the Angel of the LORD).

Angel of the LORD - This phrase is used 56x in 52v in the OT - Ge 16:7, 9, 10, 11; 22:11, 15; Ex 3:2; Nu 22:22, 23, 24, 31, 32, 34, 35; Jdg 2:1, 4; 5:23; 6:11, 12, 21, 22; 13:3, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21; 2Sa 24:16; 1Ki 19:7; 2Ki 1:3, 15; 19:35; 1Chr 21:12, 15, 16, 18, 30; Ps 34:7; 35:5, 6; Is 37:36; Zech 1:11,12; 3:1, 5, 6; 12:8; Mt 1:20, 24; 2:13, 19; 28:2; Lk 1:11; 2:9; Jn 5:4; Ac 5:19; 8:26; 12:7, 23.

Delivered His servants (Deliver = key word 5x in 4v = Da 3:15, 17, 28, 29) - The king answers his own question in Da 3:15 clearly manifesting a change of mind. In other words we see some glimmers of repentance in King Nebuchadnezzar.

Guzik sums up what the king knows and acknowledges about the Most High God...

· He is the God of the Hebrews (the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego)

· He is the God who sends a Savior (who sent His Angel)

· He is the God of great power (delivered His servants)

· He is the God worthy of trust (who trusted in Him)

· He is the God worthy of full surrender (frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies)

· He is the God who demands exclusive allegiance (that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God)

One application of these truths is that a person can know a lot about God and yet fail to know Him personally as Savior and Lord. Knowing about God will bring no one into heaven, for even the demons know about Him and believe He is one (Jas 2:19-note).

Put their trust in Him - The affirmation of their trust (faith) in God in Da 3:17, 18 was not in word only but was manifest by their obedience, in this case their willingness to give their life for what they believed, regardless of whether God chose to save them or not. Faith is an "action verb". Don't tell me you believe. Show me. Don't misunderstand. Faith alone saves, but the faith that genuinely saves is not alone. Thus Nebuchadnezzar "saw" their faith in action and it greatly impacted his "spiritual persona" although not yet to the point of conversion (but read Daniel 4). If you are a believer, you can be sure that the pagan world is watching your actions to see whether or not your actions validate your affirmation of faith in Christ.

Yielded up their bodies - They first surrendered their heart and then they surrendered their bodies.

What a beautiful OT example these Hebrew lads provide for the surrender to which Paul calls all believers in Romans 12...

Therefore (in a sense a conclusion based on all of the great truths in Romans 1-11) I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present (surrender, yield to the disposal of another) your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed (suschematizo in the present imperative + a negative = stop being poured into the mold of this godless world - a world which constantly cries "Bow or Burn"!) to this world, but be transformed (metaschematizo in the present imperative = command to make this one's lifestyle, being continually changed into the image of His Son, cp 2Co 3:18) by the renewing of your mind (by the Word, cp Jn 17:17, 1Pe 2:2-note), so that you may prove (dokimazo) what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Ro 12:1-note, Ro 12:2-note)

Daniel 3:29 "Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way." (therefore: Da 6:26, 27) (The God - Da 3:15,17,28) (Torn -  Da 2:5) (Inasmuch - Da 6:27 De 32:31 Ps 3:8 76:10)

I make a decree - After God delivered the three Hebrew lads, the king’s decree guaranteed religious freedom to the Jews. The faithfulness of three brought freedom of religion for all Jews in Babylon. This truth should encourage all believers to stand for righteousness regardless of the consequences, for we do not know what impact our stand might have on others around us, both believers and non-believers! I am reminded of Paul's great exhortation to...

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men (be brave), be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1Cor 16:13, 14)

Comment: All 5 verbs in these 2 concluding verses are present imperatives and thus are commands for these attitudes and actions to be our continual goal, our virtual lifestyle. Why? Because in this short life we are in an unceasing life and death struggle with our intractable foes, the world, the flesh and the devil, and must remain continually vigilant and dependent on God's grace and Spirit to enable us to experience the victory Christ wrought for each of us on the Cross.

No other god - Nebuchadnezzar is beginning to get a correct opinion of the Living God because of the "good works" of the three Hebrew lads. When we live with a similar commitment to God and His Word, others will see our good works of commitment and will be led to glorify (give a proper opinion of) Him (Mt 5:16-note).

Nebuchadnezzar still does not understand God and is much like the NFL head coach who kept a minister on the sidelines during games. Why asked why he retorted "I'm not even sure if I believe in God, but in case their is one, I want Him on my side!"

There is no other god who is able to deliver this way - "There is none like Him"! Good theology Nebuchadnezzar!

Able to deliver (Deliver in Da 3:15, 17, 28, 29) - The Septuagint translates "deliver" with the Greek verb rhuomai [word study], which means to rescue from a situation of potentially great harm. Rhuomai emphasizes greatness of peril from which deliverance is given by a mighty act of power and in the NT rhuomai is always associated with God as the Deliverer and with a person as the object of His deliverance. (Study the 17 uses of rhuomai in 15v in the NT -  Mt. 6:13; 27:43; Lk 1:74; Ro 7:24; 11:26; 15:31; 2Co. 1:10; Col 1:13; 1Th 1:10; 2Th 3:2; 2Ti 3:11; 4:17, 18; 2Pe 2:7, 9) Rhuomai was used in a secular writing to describe a soldier going to a wounded comrade on the battlefield and carrying him to safety (he runs to the cry of his comrade to rescue him from the hands of the enemy).

To summarize: God is the only Deliverer. Deliverance comes from God, to the people of God. Deliverance is complete and able to bring us through the fire of tribulation and adversity. Our God is able to deliver us from, in or through the fire.

Daniel 3:30 Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon. (king: 1Sa 2:30 Ps 91:14 Jn 12:26 Ro 8:31) (Ps 1:3)

To prosper - Those who honor God will be honored (in this life and/or the one to come, cp 1Ti 4:8-note). The Septuagint says that the king "advanced them, and gave them authority to rule over all the Jews who were in his kingdom."

Jesus promised...

Blessed (fully satisfied independent of the circumstances) are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:11, 12)

C H Spurgeon...

The unfaltering fidelity of the three holy children is worthy of our imitation. They never hesitated or parleyed with the tyrant. Fixed were their hearts in God (cp He 12:2-note), and confidently stayed on him; and so they conquered the proud monarch; yea, and vanquished death itself, quenching the violence of the flames. Rich was their reward. Jesus walked the glowing coals with them, and turned the furnace into a fair pavilion. In His name let us also abide by the truth without flinching, and no evil shall come nigh unto us. Never let us debate or question, but for God and His holy gospel let us be bold to sacrifice even life itself. May the sons of this family be such young men as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Amen. (The Interpreter: Spurgeon's Devotional Bible)

Wiersbe rightly observes that...

As we move toward the end of the age, the furnace of opposition will be heated seven times hotter and the pressure to conform will become stronger and stronger. It will take a great deal of grace, prayer, courage, and faith for God’s people to stand tall for Christ while others are bowing the knee to the gods of this world. The Book of Daniel is a great source of encouragement, because it reminds us that God cares for His people and honors them when they are true to Him. (Ibid)

In first Samuel we read this eternal principle...

'Far be it from Me-- for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed." (1Sa 2:30b, cp Pr 3:9, 10, 14:31)

Jesus echoed this truth declaring that...

If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
 

Tempted and persecuted here,
Afflicted and distress’d,
With steadfast faith we persevere,
And stand the fiery test:


The fire shall all our bands consume,
And in the furnace tried,
Out of the flames we soon shall come,
Unhurt and purified.

Throughout my sinful soul I feel
The strength of pride invincible;
But thou th’ Almighty God of grace
Can all my haughty thoughts abase.


All things are possible to thee,
Display thy humbling grace in me;
And in thy tender love impart
My Saviour’s lowliness of heart.


I freely feed them now
With tokens of my love;
But richer pastures I prepare,
And sweeter streams above.


Unnumber’d years of bliss
I to my sheep will give
And, while my throne unshaken stands,
Shall all my chosen live.


This tried almighty hand
Is raised for their defence;
Where is the power shall reach them there?
Or what shall force them thence?


Your harps, ye trembling saints,
Down from the willows take:
Loud to the praise of love divine,
Bid every string awake.


Though in a foreign land,
We are not far from home;
And nearer to our house above
We every moment come.


Blest is the man, O God,
That stays himself on Thee!
Who waits for Thy salvation, Lord,
Shall Thy salvation see.

 


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