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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 3

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

Verses 1-30

Daniel 3:1

Bentley's first year at Trinity is marked by at least one event altogether fortunate his marriage. At Bishop Stillingfleet's he had met Miss Joanna Bernard, daughter of Sir John Bernard, of Brampton, Huntingdonshire. 'Being now raised to a station of dignity and consequence, he succeeded in obtaining the object of his affections,' says Dr. Monk who refuses to believe a story that the engagement was nearly broken off owing to a doubt expressed by Bentley with regard to the authority of the book of Daniel. Whiston has told us what this alleged doubt was. Nebuchadnezzar's golden image is described as sixty cubits high and six cubits broad. Now, said Bentley, this is out of all proportion; it ought to have been ten cubits broad at least, 'which made the good lady weep'. The lovers' difference was possibly arranged on the basis suggested by Whiston that the sixty cubits included the pedestal.

Sir R. C. Jebb's Bentley, pp. 97, 98.

Daniel 3:7

When he was away from his beloved Hanover, everything remained there exactly as in the prince's presence. There were eight hundred horses in the stables, there was all the apparatus of chamberlains, court-marshals, and equerries; and court assemblies were held every Saturday, where all the nobility of Hanover assembled at what I can't but think a fine and touching ceremony. A large arm-chair was placed in the assembly-room, and on it the king's portrait The nobility advanced, and made a bow to the arm-chair, and to the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and spoke under their voices before the august picture, just as they would have done had the king Churf├╝rst been present himself.

Thackeray's The Four Georges: 'George the Second'.

Daniel 3:8-18

Here were they who formerly resolved not to defile themselves with the king's meat, and now they as bravely resolved not to defile themselves with his gods. Note a steadfast, self-denying adherence to God and duty in lesser instances will qualify and prepare us for the like in greater.

Matthew Henry.

References. III. 9. J. Baines, Twenty Sermons, p. 29. III. 13-25. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Daniel, p. 55.

Daniel 3:14

Whom shall I honour, whom shall I refuse to honour? If a man have any precious thing in him at all, certainly the most precious of all gifts he can offer is his approbation, his reverence to another man. This is his very soul, this fealty which he swears to another: his personality itself, with whatever it has of eternal and Divine, he bends here in reverence before another. Not lightly will a man give this if he is still a man.... Will a man's soul worship that, think you? Never; if you fashioned him of solid gold, big as Benlomond, no heart of a man would ever look on him except with sorrow and despair. To the flunky heartalone is he, was he, or can he at any time be, a thing to look upon with upturned eyes of 'transcendent admiration,' worship, or worthship so-called.

Carlyle, Latter-day Pamphlets: 'Hudson's Statue'.

References. III. 14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1930. III. 16-18. F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons (2nd Series), p. 203. C. Kingsley, The Good News of God, p. 31. Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons (3rd Series), p. 27. H. M. Butler, Harrow School Sermons, p. 147. J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 167. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvii. No. 2217. F. Bourdillon, Plain Sermons for Family Beading (2nd Series), p. 42.

Daniel 3:18

The Reformer's chief business always is to destroy falsehood, to drag down the temple of imposture, where idols hold the place of the Almighty.

The growth of Christianity at the beginning was precisely this. The early martyrs... died, it cannot be too clearly remembered, for a negation. The last confession before the praetor, the words on which their fate depended, were not, 'We do believe,' but 'We do not believe'. 'We will not, to save our miserable lives, take a lie between our lips, and say we think what we do not think.'


References. III. 18. H. J. Hastings, Sermons Trinity to Advent, p. 299. Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, vol. iii. p. 17. Cecil, Works, vol. iii. p. 196. Roberts, Plain Sermons, vol. ii. p. 241. Kingsley, 'Song of Three Children,' Good News of God, Sermon IV. John Foster, Lectures (2nd Series), p. 190. W. M. Taylor, Daniel the Beloved, chap. iv. Homiletic Quarterly, vol. v. p. 517. Geikie's Hours With the Bible, vol. vi. p. 278. Kennedy, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 260. Stanley Leathes, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv. p. 289. Coster, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii. p. 101. Stanley, Jewish Church, vol. iii. p. 31. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. xi. No. 662, and see Expositor (2nd Series), vol. viii. p. 223; (3rd Series), vol. i. p. 217. J. Keble, Sermons for the Sundays After Trinity, p. 251.

Daniel 3:24

See Keble's lines on 'The Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity'.

Daniel 3:24-25

That Babylon has fallen; but there is another Babylon which still goes on, and always will go on, till Christ comes again to judgment. There is the overwhelming and overawing spectacle of this world, with its pomps and glories. Its look is lofty, and it speaks great things, and its vast array is ever before us. We cannot getaway from it. Go where we will it follows us. It is a vision before our minds if not a sight before our eyes; it is the scene of Babylonian power and greatness still going on, though in another form, and accommodated to every age in succession.... Men reject everywhere the office of witnessing to Divine truth; they throw it off as ah obstacle, a shackle, and a burden, something that stands in their way, and prevents them from being friends with the world, and from getting on in the world. They know the truth, but will not witness to it. They know that the world is transitory, and they act as if it were eternal.... Yet we may venture to say, and with certainty, that never, on any occasion, by any one of the humblest servants of God, was this office of witness to the truth executed without a reward. Never in this mixed world did a Christian soul offer to God the sacrifice of a practical confession of Him, by standing apart from the ways of the world not accepting its voice, not yielding to its spells, or being overawed by its show: never did any one face any measure of adversity or gloom, or isolation or deprivation, as the consequence and penalty of bearing witness to the truth and expressing that truth in action, but he had, like the three witnesses, in that adversity a companion.


The Furnace of Affliction

Daniel 3:24-25

The lessons from this wonderful story are on the surface.

I. Those who are Faithful to God must reckon on being: Cast into the Furnace of Persecution.

'All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.' For a time, and along considerable tracts of their experience and intercourse with the world, it may go well with them, as it did with those good and brave Hebrew youths. But when images must be worshipped, or even spoken respectfully of, the case is altered. Slavish compliance with all the customs of the society in which you move, discreet silence, at least, over undoubted wrongdoing, worshipping of certain fashionable idols, all this is demanded by the world, and cannot be given by the faithful follower of Christ. Such collisions kindle the fiery furnace as naturally as the striking of the flint by the steel kindles sparks. It may be gross and declared persecution, it may be coarse mockery or refined sneering, it may be quiet and persistent ignoring of your claims in one way or another the furnace will be lighted, and you will be cast into it.

II. God will Preserve Those who are Cast into that Furnace for His Sake. One 'like the Son of God' will remain by their side. Nothing knits true friends together like calamity; and Jesus is the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. The faithful follower of Christ feels his Saviour nearest when men are most estranged, and know Him kindest when the furnace is hottest.

III. Those who Remain Faithful to Christ 'have no Hurt'. How many are soured, made selfish and querulous and jealous and melancholy, by their troubles! But he who has the fellowship of Christ in them, standing true to his Master in spite of them, comes through them all unhurt His nature is refined, not corroded by them. He comes forth from the furnace as gold seven times tried, a vessel meet for the use of the Master.

IV. Those who Remain Faithful to Christ have Liberty given to Them. Only one thing was burned in that fierce furnace, and that was the fetters by which they had been bound. They were loose, walking in 'the midst of the fire'. If we are humble and Christlike, feeling that we have Christ's presence with us in the midst of our troubles, we shall take to them kindly and feel free in the midst of them. When sel is utterly sacrificed, and compromises, which are the miserable bonds between the world and Christ, are burned in the fiery furnace, then you are Christ's freemen, and stand in the liberty wherewith He has made you free.

References. III. 25. J. C. M. Bellew, Sermons, vol. i. p. 23. Bishop Bickersteth, ibid. p. 253.

Daniel 3:27

'When a child,' says Thomas Fuller, 'I loved to look on the pictures in the Book of Martyrs. I thought that there the martyrs at the stake seemed like the three children in the fiery furnace, ever since I had known them there, not one hair more of their head was burnt, nor any smell of the fire singeing of their clothes. This made me think martyrdom was nothing. But, oh! though the lion be painted fiercer than he is, the fire is far fiercer than it is painted. Thus it is easy for one to endure an affliction, as he limns it out in his own fancy, and represents it to himself but in a bare speculation. But when it is brought indeed, and laid home to us, there must be a man, yea, there must be God to assist the man, to undergo it.'

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Daniel 3". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/daniel-3.html. 1910.
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