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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 3

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

DANIEL - CHAPTER 3

THE PRIDE AND FOLLY OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR

Verses 1-7:

Verse 1 sets forth the fickleness of human nature. Though having declared that Daniel’s living God was "King of kings" and "God of lords," Nebuchadnezzar turned 19 years later to make an "image of gold," a monstrous image of himself, with an height of 60 cubits (90 ft.) and a breadth of 6 cubits (9 ft.). It was likely wood overlaid with gold. Then he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon, just south of the city. It was to symbolize him as the golden head of the first one world Gentile Empire. His confession of God did not keep him from being, continuing as a worshipper of idol gods. This golden image required self-worship that follows, Daniel 2:38, and appears to be a type of that one day to be demanded of the antichrist, the man of sin, Daniel 9:26-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. See also 1 Kings 12:28; Psalms 96:5; Isaiah 41:24; Isaiah 46:6; Hosea 2:8; Hosea 8:4.

Verse 2 adds that when the monstrous image of gold (representing Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 2:38) was set up in the plain of Dura, the king sent out a call for all the puppet-rulers of this Empire to come to the dedication of the god. Special calls went to: 1) the princes, 2) the governors, 3) the captains, 4) the Judges , 5) the treasurers, 6) the counselors, 7) the sheriffs, and 8) all the administrative rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image, as the central god of his Empire. From all ruling levels of society the magi were called. It appears that this was an effort to unify all the religions of the earth, and his empire, to worship him, much as the antichrist beast, representing Gentile powers will do, as related Daniel 6:7; Daniel 7:8; Acts 12:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-11; Revelation 13:11-15; Revelation 19:20.

Verse 3 affirms that all the rulers of the province of Nebuchadnezzar’s Empire came at his call, and stood as a mighty conclave, before the monstrous golden image to admire it, do obeisance toward, or worship it. It simply added to the dead gods they already worshipped, Psalms 115:4-9; Matthew 7:13; Romans 1:21; Romans 1:28; Romans 3:11.

Verses 4, 5 state that an herald cried aloud (with a mighty voice), a decree that all nations, people, and tongues, when they heard the sound or music of the flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of orchestrated music, were to fall down upon their faces, in worship of the monstrous golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had made, as an object of self-deification, Daniel 4:1; Daniel 6:25. They were to fall down, not only for worship, but also that any who refused might be detected.

Verse 6 adds that the decree for dedication not only required that all present fall down to worship, at the sound of the stringed and percussion music, but also announced that any who refused would immediately, the same hour, be carried and cast alive into the fiery furnace, the very kind that had melted the gold for the image of the king that was before them. It was "worship me or die," as 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:11-15. Such was a common method of punishment in Babylon, Jeremiah 29:22; 2 Samuel 12:31.

Verse 7 asserts that when all who were commanded assembled, as rulers of the nations, practicing worship of many gods anyway, they fell down obediently before the image to worship, at the sound of the symphonic, orchestrated music. It appears that no Jews were present, except the three governors, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, v. 12; 2 Corinthians 8:5-6.

Verses 8-18

THREE JEWISH COLLEAGUES REFUSE TO WORSHIP THE IMAGE

Verses 8-18:

Verse 8 recounts that certain (a certain blood thirsty king) of the Chaldeans came near or seized and accused the Jews--Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, specifically. So jealous were they of the Jews that they wished to tear them limb from limb of their bodies. Why Daniel was not summoned is not clear, but apparently he was not summoned of the king to worship the image, Daniel 6:12-13; Ezra 3:6.

Verse 9 notes the flattery of the "Jew hating" Chaldeans in their direct address, "O King, live forever;" Their flattery is akin to the cruelty that follows. It is similar to Tertullus’ flattery of Felix as he prepared to spew forth his condemnation against Paul, before the Roman governor, Acts 24:2-3. See also 1 Samuel 10:24; Nehemiah 2:3; Hosea 7:3; Daniel 2:4; Daniel 5:10; Daniel 6:6; Daniel 6:21.

Verses 10, 11 recount the decree that Nebuchadnezzar had made, as requoted to him by certain ones of his super-sanctified Chaldeans. They were perhaps of those who were jealous of these Jewish colleagues of Daniel and sought occasion to slay them. They reminded him that he had publicly decreed the death of any who did not bow down to worship before the image of gold, at the prescribed sound of music, v. 5-7.

Verses 12 states that these "certain" Chaldeans charged before Nebuchadnezzar that three certain Jewish overseers of his province, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had not obeyed his command, did not serve any of his gods, nor had they worshipped the golden image that he had set up. Thus they suggested such action was a capitol crime, worthy of their being deposed and slain; See 1 Samuel 18:7-11; Ezra 3:8; Proverbs 27:4; Ecclesiastes 4:4; Daniel 2:49; Daniel 6:13.

Verse 13 relates that this public accusation of these three Jewish confidants or colleagues of Daniel caused King Nebuchadnezzar to go into a rage of fury. Instead of having them immediately executed, as he had done to the fraudulent magi Daniel 2:1-2, he had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego brought before him, to hear their testimony and defense, if they had any for their failure to obey the mandate of the king to worship his monstrous image of gold. They were brought there as a challenge to their testimony for their God and their faith, Matthew 10:18; Mark 13:9.

Verse 14 states that when they were hailed before the king he publicly asked them whether or not they had purposely neglected or refused to worship his gods or worship the image, Numbers 35:20-22. In spite of his fury, his past good will toward them inclined him to give them another trial or opportunity to worship his gods, bow down to his image. It was a thing the law of their God to whom they were committed forbade, Exodus 20:1-5; Acts 5:29.

Verse 15 recounts his second chance offer to save face for themselves and for him. He mandated anew that at the sound of the musical band, symphony, or orchestra of named musical instruments, they were to bow down and worship the monstrous golden image that he had made and set up, v. 1. The pre-announced verdict was that if they did all would be well, but if they did not they would be cast alive into the fiery furnace, Exodus 32:32; Luke 13:9. Then in sarcasm he asked, like Pharaoh and Sennacherib, "who is that god that will deliver you out of my hand?" 2 Kings 18:35; Exodus 5:2.

Verse 16 states that Meshech, Shadrach, and Abednego replied to the king, delaying his musical offer, "we are not careful (over sensitive) to respond to you in this matter," this kind of a matter, that affects our spiritual relations with our God! With them this was not a civil but a religious matter of soul and conscience, Matthew 10:19; Acts 5:29; Acts 20:24. The path of duty to God was clear to them and they would not pretend to evade it, Exodus 20:1-5; Matthew 10:28.

Verses 17, 18 conclude their firm testimony in this matter. It was that if Nebuchadnezzar chose to cast them into the fiery furnace they had a living God who was able and would also deliver them out of the fiery furnace; They told the king, "face to face," "we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up," Job 13:15; Acts 4:19. To worship these idols was a breach of their own law, which, though their nation had broken, they as a remnant faithfully refused, to break, Exodus 20:3-5; Leviticus 19:4. So also will there be a faithful remnant among the many at the regathering of Israel, at the end of this age, even under great trial, Isaiah 1:9; Romans 11:5; Psalms 2:5; Revelation 7:14.

Verses 19-25

PRESERVATION--NO HARM IN THE FURNACE

Verses 19-25:

Verse 19 relates the fury, rage, and changed countenance of Nebuchadnezzar toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, because they refused his second chance, v. 14, 15. Because of their stand for their God, against idols and the image worship that he had decreed, he commanded that the fiery furnace be made seven times hotter than normal for the burning of these three Jewish patriots. Seven is the perfect number. It simply means it was to be heated as hot as possible. Passion overdoes its own end, for the hotter the fire the sooner they would be out of pain, if the Lord did not intercede, Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 13:5.

Verse 20 further relates that the most mighty (the strongest) of his armed men were ordered to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the fiery furnace, so that there would be no escape. They vainly thought they would then be rid of them, even as those Jews who sealed the tomb of our Lord, Matthew 27:62-66; Matthew 28:11-15.

Verse 21 adds that these three were bound alive in their coats, hose, hats, and their other garments (fully dressed) and cast by these mighty men of Nebuchadnezzar’s army into the burning fiery furnace. This should have been the end of them, except their God was their protection, Psalms 34:7; Hebrews 13:5.

Verse 22 discloses that because the king’s command was so furiously urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, those mighty men of the king’s army were slain, burned to death, when they threw Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego headlong into the furnace, Daniel 6:24; Psalms 7:16; Numbers 32:23.

Verse 23 affirms that these three men, the certain colleague Jews accused by the Chaldeans, v. 8, 12, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego "fell down bound" into the midst (very center) of the high-heated fiery furnace. Such demonstrated the arm or care of the God they trusted, v. 16-18. He protected them through it all, not keeping them out, but protecting them while they were in there, to deliver them, Psalms 34:7.

Verse 24 states that Nebuchadnezzar was suddenly astonished, aghast, upon looking into the fiery furnace, at the door of which his three mighty men of his army had burned to death from the escaping heat, from within the furnace. He arose up in haste and demanded of his counselors "did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" From the mouths of our Lord’s own enemies they truthfully affirmed that this was true, v. 21.

Verse 25 adds that Nebuchadnezzar replied that he saw four men loose, (not bound) walking in the midst of the fire and that they had no hurt, Isaiah 43:2; John 8:36. Their coats, hose, hats, and garments were fit to wear in a royal palace, unharmed by the flames. But Nebuchadnezzar cried that one of the four was of the likeness of the "Son of God." What did he know about the Son of God? Acts 2:26-27; 2 Corinthians 12:8-9; Genesis 8:12-18. Evidently Daniel and these three faithful Jews had so witnessed of Jesus, the Messiah, that his conscience had a perfect vision of that one who never leaves nor forsakes His own, Psalms 34:7; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 13:5; John 11:49-52; Matthew 27:54.

Verses 26-30

THE CONVINCED KING--TWO DECREES Verse 26-30:

Verse 26 describes Nebuchadnezzar the king as coming near the mouth or opening of the fiery furnace and calling aloud, addressing the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace by name, as "servants of the most high (Jehovah) God." He called for them to come forth out of the midst of the fire. And they did, well dressed and strong, by Divine, miraculous protection, Daniel 6:16-23; Genesis 5:24; Jonah 1:10. Note Nebuchadnezzar who had said to Daniel 19 years before this, "your God is a God of gods," a living God over dead gods, Daniel 2:47; had since turned away from that view, having since then destroyed Jerusalem, with no immediate harm coming to him, Proverbs 29:1.

Verse 27 adds that the princes, governors, captains, and king’s counselors, while assembled, saw these three Jewish young men upon whose bodies the fire had no power; neither burning an hair on their heads, smutting their clothes, nor making any smell or scorch of fire upon them, Luke 12:7; Luke 21:18.

Verse 28 expresses a benediction of Nebuchadnezzar toward the living God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; He vowed this God had sent (mandated) his angel (Gabriel) and delivered His servants who trusted in Him as related v. 16-18. See also Proverbs 3:3-5; Psalms 34:7; Proverbs 16:7; Acts 5:29; Romans 12:1; Hebrews 1:14. He attributed the preservation of the three Hebrew children to the guardian care of the living God, because they refused to worship idol gods, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6.

Verse 29 announces a decree by Nebuchadnezzar that any people, nation, or language which spoke any unbecoming thing against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego should be hacked to pieces and their residences made to be a dunghill, totally destroyed. Because there is (exists) no other God, said he, that can deliver or liberate after this sort he had just witnessed, Romans 2:1; Deuteronomy 32:31; Psalms 3:8; Daniel 6:27.

Verse 30 concludes that then the king promoted or made to prosper Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. And no more is it reported any effort was made to force the Jews to worship idols, of which they had now received their fill of judgment, Exodus 20:3-5; Numbers 32:23.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Daniel 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/daniel-3.html. 1985.
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