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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 3

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height [was] threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold. — Having taken Tyre, which was that great service spoken of in Ezekiel 29:18 , subdued Egypt, which was his pay for his pains at Tyre, and overthrown Nineveh, as Nahum had foretold, he was so puffed up with his great success that he set up this monstrous statue of himself, to be adored by all on pain of death. That it was his own image which he here erected for such a purpose, as did also afterwards Gaius Caligula, the Roman emperor, it is gathered, (1.) Because he did not worship it himself; (2.) Because Daniel 3:12 it is distinguished from his gods; (3.) Because this was long since foretold of him, Isaiah 14:14 that, Lucifer-like, he should take upon him as a god; which because he did, he was worthily turned agrazing among beasts. Daniel 4:33 Meanwhile, take notice here of the inconstant and mutable disposition of this proud prince as to matter of religion. Velox oblivio est veritatis, saith Jerome; The truth is soon forgotten. Nebuchadnezzar, who so lately had worshipped a servant of God as a god, and not being suffered to do so, declared for the one only true God, and advanced his servants to places of greatest preferment, is now setting up idolatry in despite of God, and cruelly casting into the fire those whom he had so exalted, because they dissented. Daniel, it is likely, withstood this ungodly enterprise so far as be might, and left the rest to God.

Whose height was threescore cubits. — The ordinary cubit is a foot and half; but the Babylonian cubit, saith Herodotus, was three fingers greater than the common cubit; so that this image might be sixty-seven ordinary cubits high. The Rhodian Colosse was larger yet than this; for it was fourscore cubits high, made of brass in the form of a man, standing with his two legs striding over a haven, under which ships with their sails and masts might pass. Plin., lib. xxxiv, cap. 7. The little finger of it was as large as an ordinary man, being the work of twelve years, made by Chares of Lindum, and worthily reckoned for one of the world’s seven wonders. It was afterwards sold to a Jew, who loaded nine hundred camels with the brass of it; for it had been thrown down by an earthquake. Theop. Pezel., Mell. Hist. This image of Nebuchadnezzar was thus great, to affect the people with wonderment - so they "wondered after the beast" Revelation 13:3 - and thus glorious, gilded at least, if not of solid gold, to perstringe their senses, and with exquisite music to draw their affections. The Papacy is in like sort an alluring, tempting, bewitching religion. Jerome compareth heresy to this golden image; Irenaeus worldly felicity, which the devil enticeth men to admire and adore.

He set it up in the plain of Dura. — In a pleasant plain, mentioned also by Ptolemy Geog., lib. vi. the geographer, quo statua commendatior habeatur, that it might be the more regarded.

Verse 2

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes.Satrapas, not so called quia sat rapiant, as Lyra doateth; for it is a Persian word signifying such as were near the king’s person. Superstition first looks to wind in great ones. Ezra 8:11 The Vulgate are "carried away to dumb idols, like as they are led." 1 Corinthians 12:2 They are sheepish, and will follow a leader as well into a penfold as a pasture; they also feed most greedily on the grass that will rot them.

Verse 3

Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Then the princes, the governors. — These envying the new favourites, and fearing that the king, by his late confession, Daniel 2:47 had too good an opinion of the Jews’ religion, came readily to this dedication, and probably had contrived it for a mischief to those three worthies, as those in Daniel 6:4-5 did to Daniel.

Verse 4

Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,

To you it is commanded. — Chald., They command; i.e., the king and his council. as Esther 1:13 ; Esther 1:15 But what said the heathen? Obediemus Atridis honesta mandantibus, Eurip. in Phaeniss. we will obey rulers if they command things honest, but not else. The Bishop of Norwich asked Roger Coo, martyr in Queen Mary’s days, whether he would not obey the queen’s laws? He answered, As far as they agree with the Word of God I will obey them. The bishop replied, Whether they agree with the Word of God or not we are bound to obey them, if the queen were an infidel. Coo answered, If Shadrach, Meshaeh, and Abednego had done so, Nebuchadnezzar had not confessed the living God. Acts and Mon., fol. 1550.

Verse 5

[That] at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

That at what time ye hear. — See on Daniel 3:1 . The allurements of pleasure are shrewd enticements to idolatry. 2 Peter 2:18 Sir Walter Raleigh said, Were I to choose a religion to gratify the flesh, I would choose Popery. The Catholics, in their supplication to King James for a toleration, plead that their religion is, inter caetera, among others, so conformable to natural sense and reason, that it ought to be embraced! A proper argument. I have read of a lady in Paris who, when she saw the bravery of a procession to a saint, she cried out, Oh how fine is our religion beyond that of the Huguenots!

That at what time ye hear the sound. — So in the Papacy, when the Ave Mary bell rings, which is at sunrising, at noon, and at sunsetting, all men, in what place soever, house, field, street, or market, do presently kneel down and send up their united devotions by an Ave Maria. Spec. Europ.

Ye fall down and worship. — This is all that is required; de certa confessionis forma imperata, ne gry. [Sic.]

Verse 6

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, … — Fire and sword are idolaters’ best arguments. But conscience is the fountain and spring of duty; and if that be not directed and awed by the Word of God, in vain are Acts of Parliament and proclamations, though backed with menaces; as if the spring of a clock be broken, in vain are all the wheels kept clean and put in order.

Verse 7

Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down [and] worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

All the people, nations, and languages fell down. — They that come of the yielding willow, and not of the sturdy oak, will yield with the time, and ever be of the king’s religion. In Queen Mary’s days here, and so in the Palatinate lately, scarce one in five hundred stood out, but fell to Popery as fast as leaves fall in autumn. See on Daniel 3:5 .

Verse 8

Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.

Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. — All the Jews are accused, because some refused to worship. So still all the generation of the righteous must be charged with the pretended miscarriages of some few among them. The world, we see, is no changeling; antiquum obtinet. The Jews indeed, ever since the captivity, have abhorred idolatry; and the Papist worshipping of images, for which both Jews and Turks call them idolatrous Christians, Spec. Europ. is a main scandal to them, and a let to their conversion.

Verse 9

They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.

They spake and said, … O king, live for ever. — Thus they insinuate themselves by flattery. So Acts 24:2-3 .

Verse 10

Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:

Thou, O king, hast made a decree. — Kings’ decrees are much urged by such as are resolved to be of King Harry’s religion, whether he stand for the old mumpsimus One who obstinately adheres to old ways, in spite of the clearest evidence that they are wrong; an ignorant and bigoted opponent of reform ŒD or the new sumpsimus. A correct expression taking the place of an incorrect but popular one (mumpsimus). ŒD

Verse 11

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, [that] he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast, … — This with a graceless man is a swaying argument; he will rather turn than burn; as he came not frying into the world, as one said in Queen Mary’s days, so he cannot go frying out of it. Epicurus in word confessed a God, but in deed denied him, because Anaxagoras was put to death for denying God at Athens, where Epicurus flourished. Aug., De Civ. Dei, lib. xviii, cap. 41.

Verse 12

There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

There are certain Jews. — Everywhere spoken against, as were afterwards Christians, odio humani generis, saith Tacitus, Lib. xv. hated for their religion.

Whom thou hast set over the affairs. — This was it that irked these spiteful accusers: "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?" Proverbs 27:4

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. — Whom, though thou hast highly preferred, and by calling them by the names of thy gods, engaged them to thy religion, yet will they not yield to it, but be singular and refractory.

These men, O king, have not regarded thee. — Chald., Have set no regard upon thee. This was ever unicum crimen eorum qui crimine vacabant.

Verse 13

Then Nebuchadnezzar in [his] rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.

Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury. — His blood boiling at his heart, as brimstone doth at the match; for preventing whereof nature hath placed the heart near to the lungs, ut cum ira ascenditur, pulmonis humore temperetur, for an allay to the heat of it, lest perturbations should boil it into brine.

Commanded to bring Shradrach. — Who, it seems, were present at first, with a holy boldness, confronting their idolatries in the very teeth of the king and nobles. Daniel is excused by his absence and ignorance. But perhaps Nebuchadnezzar might show him the like favour as our Henry VIII did Cranmer, who disputing zealously against the six articles, was willed by the king to depart out of the Parliament House into the council chamber for a time, till the Act should pass, and be granted; which he notwithstanding with humble protestation refused to do. Acts and Mon., 1037. And so it is likely would Daniel, who must therefore be excused as before.

Verse 14

Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, [Is it] true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, …,q.d., I can very hardly believe it. Certe tu non occidisti patrem; Sure thou didst not kill thy father! saith Augustus Caesar once to a parricide, whom he had in examination; and Suetonins saith that it was usual with him to examine malefactors in that way, as if he could not believe any such thing of them. Some Tremel., Buxtorf. render the text Num de industria aut certo consilio? Do ye this on set purpose to cross and provoke me? Others, as Montanus, Nunquid desolatio? q.d., What! you to oppose the command of a king? If this be suffered, what disorder, yea, desolation, must needs follow! Pride ever aggravateth anything done against its own mind.

Verse 15

Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; [well]: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who [is] that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear. — Many can no sooner hear flattering promises of preferment, as it were Nebuchadnezzar’s instruments, but they presently fall down and worship the Babylonish idol; but these three worthies were none such.

And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hand? — What God is he? Sure a mean God he were, thou poor thimbleful of dust, could he not stay thy hand, and stop thy blasphemous mouth with a spadeful of mould, and that in a trice.

Verse 16

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered. — With a heroic faith and well knit resolution. A sound faith and a clear conscience, saith one, are able by their native puissance to pull the very heart, as it were, out of hell, and with confidence and conquest to look even death and the devil in the face.

We are not careful to answer thee. — The saint hath a quietus est rest that supersedeth all his cares. Philippians 4:7 Some render it non necesse habemus. As the king would admit no discussing his decree, but would have it absolutely obeyed, so they were at a point never to do it, nor to be removed from their religion. The heavens shall sooner fall, said that martyr, than I will start or stir an inch from what I have professed. With the like undaunted courage answered Cyprian the proconsul; Basil, the Arian emperor Valens; Dr Taylor, Stephen Gardiner; Mr Hawkes, bloody Bonner. A fagot will make you believe the sacrament of the altar, said Bonner. No, no, answered Hawkes, a point for your fagot. What God thinks meet to be done, that shall ye do, and no more. Acts and Mon., 1445.

Paenae sunt pennae queis super astra vehor.

Verse 17

If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out of thine hand, O king.

Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us. — And deliver us he will, either from death or through it; and we are by his grace in utrumque parati, wholly at his disposal. Never ask, then, O king, Who is that God that shall deliver you? Our God is in heaven, and doeth whatsoever he will in heaven and in earth. He well knoweth how to deliver his out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust, be he king or captive, unto the day of judgment to be punished. 2 Peter 2:9

From the burning fiery furnace.Sic fortissimum martyrem, saith Ambrose of Laurentius, may we as well say of these, saevissima persecutoris flarama superare non potuit; quod longe ardentius veritatis radiis accensa mens eius fervebat. The fiery zeal of these men’s spirits overcame and put out the most scorching heat of the burning fiery furnace.

And he will deliver us out of thine hand. — Hereof they were well assured, because it would further set forth the cause of God, and work a greater conviction in the king and his nobles.

Verse 18

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, … — We should not condition with God, but commit ourselves unto him in well doing, as unto a faithful creator, being unchangeably resolved rather to embrace fire than to resist light. Thus did all the noble army of martyrs, besides many worthy confessors, such as were the Prince of Conde at the same massacre of Paris, who would not redeem his life or liberty by going once to mass; John Frederick, prince elector of Saxony, to whom, when Charles V, whose prisoner he then was, offered to enlarge him, and to restore him to his former dignity, if he would but only assent to the "Interim mystical" doctrine, as they then called it, he absolutely refused; Bucholc., Chron. George, Marquis of Brandenburg, likewise about the same time, professed openly at an imperial diet held at Augsburg, Malle se, flexis ibi coram Caesarea maiestate genibus, spiculatori cervicem feriendam statim praebere, quam Deum et evangelium ipsius abnegare, i.e., That he had rather hold out his neck to be cut off by the headsman before the emperor than deny Christ and his gospel. Scultet., Annal. At ego Chrysostomum secutus, said Calvin, when he was pressed to administer the Lord’s Supper to some notorious offenders, after the example of Chrysostom; I will die rather than do it. Melch. Adam. Louis the French king being taken prisoner by Melechsala the sultan, conditions of peace being concluded between them, for more assurance thereof the sultan offered to swear that if he failed in performance, to renounce his Mohammed; requiring likewise the king to swear that if he failed, to deny his Christ to be God. Turkish History. Which profane oath the king detesting, and wishing rather to die than to give the same, the sultan, wondering at his constance, took his word without any oath at all, and so published the league.

Verse 19

Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: [therefore] he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.

And the form of his visage was changed. — Chal., The countenance of his face. Passionate persons vex and distemper their own hearts and bodies, Proverbs 25:28 and are exceedingly disfigured with furiousness of the looks, extraordinary panting of the heart, beating of the pulse, swelling of the veins, stammering of the tongue, gnashing of the teeth, as those in Acts 7:54 . So the tyrant that martyred Laurence stamped and stared, ramped and fared as out of his wits, swelling like a toad, looking like a devil, … See on Daniel 3:17 .

That they should heat the furnace one seven times more. — Whereas a lingering torment had been heavier, as Bishop Ridley also felt it, and other martyrs: but he spoke as his passion prompted him, which often overshoots. Proverbs 11:29

Verse 20

And he commanded the most mighty men that [were] in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, [and] to cast [them] into the burning fiery furnace.

And he commanded the most mighty men. — That they might be the more strongly bound, and no resistance made.

Verse 21

Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their [other] garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

So these men were bound in their coats, … — Which, for haste of the execution, were never taken off, as is usually done. But these executioners were swift to shed blood, and had blood again to drink, for they were worthy.

Verse 22

Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

The flame of the fire slew those men. — Who were too forward in the execution, and perhaps had been chief persuaders of the king to this whole action. God useth his creatures, as he did also at the Red Sea, for the safety of his saints and destruction of his enemies.

Verse 23

And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

And these three men … fell down bound. — Their binders were burnt, but not their bonds so soon, lest the glory of the miracle should have been thereby defaced.

Into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. — Where yet these holy salamanders took no hurt. In the creatures there is an essence and a faculty whereby the work, as in fire is the substance and the quality of heat: between these God can separate, and so hinder their working, as here he did. Quisque sollicitus sit non tam de vita quam de vocatione, …

Verse 24

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied. — God can soon astonish the stoutest; as he did Dioclesian the tyrant, who laid down the empire in a discontent because he could not, as he desired, root out Christian religion, such was the constance and courage of the professors thereof. Antoninus the emperor set forth an edict in Asia that no Christian should be persecuted; for, said he, it is their joy to die: they are victors, and do vanquish you.

Verse 25

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Walking in the midst of the fire. — As in some pleasant place. Tua praesentia, Domine, Laurentio ipsam craticulam dulcem fecit, saith an ancient, i.e., Thy presence, Lord, sweetened the furnace to these three worthies, the gridiron to Laurence, those exquisite tortures to Theodorus in Julian’s time, Socrates, Theodoret. the Leonine prison to Algerius the Italian martyr (who calleth it in the date of his letter a delectable orchard), the fire wherein he was burnt to Bainham, the English martyr, who, in the midst of the flames, which had half consumed his arms and legs, uttered these words: 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 if I were in a bed of down; but it is to me as a bed of roses. Acts and Mon., 940.

And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God,i.e., Venustissima et quasi divina, very beautiful and angelic. The heathens reputed those to be heroes or demi-gods in whom they beheld and admired anything above the ordinary nature of men and their expectation. Truly this was the Son of God, said that heathen centurion concerning our suffering Saviour; Matthew 27:54 that is, a divine man, such as Homer calleth αντιθεους, Yεοεικελους . This fourth person here in the fiery furnace is by many held to be Christ the Son of God, who appeared at this time in human shape.

Verse 26

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, [and] spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come [hither]. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

Ye servants of the most high God. — This was a high title, such as David and other great princes have gloried in; Psalms 36:1 title See Trapp on " Psalms 36:1 " The devil gave it to Paul and his fellow labourers; Acts 16:17 and they who deny it to Christ’s faithful ministers, loading them with names of scorn and obloquy, show therein less ingenuity than the devil himself.

Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth. — Not till they were called had they any mind to come forth; for where could they possibly mend themselves? Any place is a paradise where God is present. Ubi imperator, ibi Roma. Where the emperor is, there is Rome. Noah was well content to lie buried, as it were, in the ark, which was made in the form of a coffin, so long as God was there with him. Nos quoque non abhorremus a sepulchris ipsis, saith an expositor, Rollock. We also fear not to go down to the grave so long as we may hear God saying unto us, as once he did to old Jacob thinking of his journey to Egypt, "Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will go with thee, and I will also bring thee up again." Genesis 46:3-4 Further, note how these three martyrs carry themselves toward the tyrant: they do simply obey his command, and come forth; they are not puffed up by the strangeness of the miracle wrought upon them, neither do they tattle, but suffer the matter itself and experience to speak, showing themselves to all sorts to be looked upon with greatest humility and modesty.

Verse 27

And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

And the princes, governors, and captains. — Who were more obstinate than the king, and willing to have shut the windows lest the light should shine in upon them; but that there was no withstanding it.

Upon whose bodies the fire had no power. — See on Daniel 3:23 . The creatures are at a league with the saints. Job 5:22

Verse 28

[Then] Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed [be] the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

Then Nebuchadnezzar spake. — Being convinced, but not converted, as appeareth by the next chapter, whatever Augustine and others charitably thought to the contrary. A wicked man may pray and praise God extemporally. Job 27:10

And have changed the king’s word. — Chald., Secundo loco habuerunt. They have preferred God’s word before it.

Verse 29

Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

Therefore I make a decree. — Magistrates then have to do with men in matters of religion. Deuteronomy 13:6 Romans 13:4

Which speak anything amiss. — But was this all he would do for God after so clear convictions? It was very poor. A professor of the Turks’ law proclaimeth, before they attempt anything, that nothing be done against religion.

Verse 30

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

Then the king promoted. — Restored them to their dignities, and strictly forbade others to malign or molest them.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Daniel 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/daniel-3.html. 1865-1868.
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