Daniel 3

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Nebuchadnezzar's Golden Image

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits[a] and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on 1the plain of Dura, in 2the province of Babylon.
2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather 3the satraps, the prefects, and 4the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
3 Then 5the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 And the herald 6proclaimed aloud, "You are commanded, O 7peoples, nations, and languages,
5 that when you hear the 8sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you 9are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.
6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately 10be cast into a burning fiery furnace."
7 Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all 11the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

The Fiery Furnace

8 Therefore at that time certain 12Chaldeans 13came forward and maliciously accused the Jews.
9 They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever!
10 You, O king, 14have made a decree, that every man who 15hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, 16shall fall down and worship the golden image.
11 And whoever does not fall down and worship 17shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace.
12 There are certain Jews whom you have 18appointed over the affairs of 19the province of Babylon: 20Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, 21pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar 22in furious rage commanded that 23Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king.
14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?
15 Now if you are ready when 24you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.[c] But if you do not worship, 25you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And 26who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?"
16 27Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.
17 If this be so, 28our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d]
18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was 29filled with fury, and the expression of his face 30was changed against 31Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated.
20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army 32to bind 33Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were 34bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[e] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace.
22 Because the king's order was 35urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up 36Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell 37bound into the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was 38astonished and rose up 39in haste. He declared to his 40counselors, "Did we not cast three men 41bound into the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king."
25 He answered and said, "But I see four men unbound, 42walking in the midst of the fire, and they 43are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like 44a son of the gods."
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, 45"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the 46Most High God, come out, and come here!" Then 47Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire.
27 And the 48satraps, the prefects, the governors, and 49the king's counselors gathered together and saw that 50the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their 51cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, "Blessed be the God of 52Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who 53has sent his angel and 54delivered his servants, who 55trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than 56serve and worship any god except their own God.
29 Therefore 57I make a decree: Any 58people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of 59Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego 60shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way."
30 Then the king promoted 61Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in 62the province of Babylon.

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Daniel 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

Nebuchadnezzar's golden image. (1-7) Shadrach and his companions refuse to worship it. (8-18) They are cast into a furnace, but are miraculously preserved. (19-27) Nebuchadnezzar gives glory to Jehovah. (28-30)

Verses 1-7 In the height of the image, about thirty yards, probably is included a pedestal, and most likely it was only covered with plates of gold, not a solid mass of that precious metal. Pride and bigotry cause men to require their subjects to follow their religion, whether right or wrong, and when worldly interest allures, and punishment overawes, few refuse. This is easy to the careless, the sensual, and the infidel, who are the greatest number; and most will go their ways. There is nothing so bad which the careless world will not be drawn to by a concert of music, or driven to by a fiery furnace. By such methods, false worship has been set up and maintained.

Verses 8-18 True devotion calms the spirit, quiets and softens it, but superstition and devotion to false gods inflame men's passions. The matter is put into a little compass, Turn, or burn. Proud men are still ready to say, as Nebuchadnezzar, Who is the Lord, that I should fear his power? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not hesitate whether they should comply or not. Life or death were not to be considered. Those that would avoid sin, must not parley with temptation when that to which we are allured or affrighted is manifestly evil. Stand not to pause about it, but say, as Christ did, Get thee behind me, Satan. They did not contrive an evasive answer, when a direct answer was expected. Those who make their duty their main care, need not be anxious or fearful concerning the event. The faithful servants of God find him able to control and overrule all the powers armed against them. Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst. If He be for us, we need not fear what man can do unto us. God will deliver us, either from death or in death. They must obey God rather than man; they must rather suffer than sin; and must not do evil that good may come. Therefore none of these things moved them. The saving them from sinful compliance, was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as the saving them out of the fiery furnace was in the kingdom of nature. Fear of man and love of the world, especially want of faith, make men yield to temptation, while a firm persuasion of the truth will deliver them from denying Christ, or being ashamed of him. We are to be meek in our replies, but we must be decided that we will obey God rather than man.

Verses 19-27 Let Nebuchadnezzar heat his furnace as hot as he can, a few minutes will finish the torment of those cast into it; but hell-fire tortures, and yet does not kill. Those who worshipped the beast and his image, have no rest, no pause, no moment free from pain, ( revelation 14:10 revelation 14:11 ) . Now was fulfilled in the letter that great promise, ( Isaiah 43:2 ) , When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned. Leaving it to that God who preserved them in the fire, to bring them out, they walked up and down in the midst, supported and encouraged by the presence of the Son of God. Those who suffer for Christ, have his presence in their sufferings, even in the fiery furnace, and in the valley of the shadow of death. Nebuchadnezzar owns them for servants of the most high God; a God able to deliver them out of his hand. It is our God only is the consuming fire, ( Hebrews 12:29 ) . Could we but see into the eternal world, we should behold the persecuted believer safe from the malice of his foes, while they are exposed to the wrath of God, and tormented in unquenchable fires.

Verses 28-30 What God did for these his servants, would help to keep the Jews to their religion while in captivity, and to cure them of idolatry. The miracle brought deep convictions on Nebuchadnezzar. But no abiding change then took place in his conduct. He who preserved these pious Jews in the fiery furnace, is able to uphold us in the hour of temptation, and to keep us from falling into sin.

Cross References 62

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
  • [b]. Aramaic answered and said; also verses 24, 26
  • [c]. Aramaic lacks well and good
  • [d]. Or If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, he will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and out of your hand, O king.
  • [e]. The meaning of the Aramaic words rendered cloaks and tunics is uncertain; also verse 27
  • [f]. Aramaic and changed

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO DANIEL 3

In this chapter an account is given of a golden image made by Nebuchadnezzar; its size; and where placed, Da 3:1, a summons to all his princes, governors, and officers, to attend the dedication of it, Da 3:2,3, a proclamation commanding men of all nations to fall down and worship it, at hearing the sound of music, Da 3:4-7, an accusation of the Jews to the king, particularly Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, for not worshipping it, Da 3:8-12, the king's sending for them in rage, and threatening to cast them into a fiery furnace if they continued to disobey his will, Da 3:13-15, their answer, which showed an inflexible resolution at all events not to comply with it, Da 3:16-18 the king's order to heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual, and cast them into it, which was executed; the consequence of which was, they that cast them in were destroyed through the vehement heat of the furnace, but the three Jews were unhurt, Da 3:19-23. Nebuchadnezzar's amazement at the sight of four persons, instead of three; and these loose, walking in the midst of the fire without hurt; and one of them like the Son of God, which he observed to his counsellors, Da 3:24,25, upon which he called to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to come out of the furnace, which they did in the presence of his princes, governors, and officers, having received not the least harm in their persons or clothes, Da 3:26,27 and then the king, praising the God of the Jews, published an edict that none should speak against him on pain of death; and restored the three men to their former dignity, Da 3:28-30.

Daniel 3 Commentaries