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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 3

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

Introduction

DANIEL CHAPTER 3

Nebuchadnezzar setting up an image commandeth all persons to worship it, Daniel 3:1-7. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are accused of disobeying the command, Daniel 3:8-12. The king threateneth them; their resolute answer, Daniel 3:13-18. They are cast into the fiery furnace, Daniel 3:19-23. God delivereth them unhurt out of it, which Nebuchadnezzar seeing blesseth God, and acknowledgeth his power, Daniel 3:24-29. Their advancement, Daniel 3:30.

Verse 1

This daring sin of Nebuchadnezzar was aggravated many ways, by the greatness of the kingdom and majesty God had given him, by the late discovery made to him when Daniel interpreted his dream, by his conviction and confession upon it of that great God and his sovereign power: this is the height of ingratitude, arguing his carriage before to be only a fit of astonishment, without the least change upon his heart.

The vast proportion of the statue, or idol, was to show his greatness by the height and bulk of it, and his pride and magnificence in the richness of it, seeing it was of gold, and to be a monument to posterity of his famous exploits. Some give this reason, that he might seem hereby to avert the fate of his empire, foretold by Daniel, and declare himself sole monarch of the world, or head of gold, because he made it of gold, whether massy, or plated, or gilded, matters not. Likewise that he might seem no ways to be inclined to the Jews, or their religion, whereof the Chaldeans might be jealous, seeing he had owned their God to be greatest, and had preferred Daniel and his friends to great honours. Nebuchadnezzar assured his wise men and nobles that he would still maintain the old established religion, without innovation or mixture: so Mald, Menochius, Geierus: that they had a spite against the Jews is clear, Daniel 3:8,Daniel 3:12.

Verse 2

This great statue, whether Nebuchadnezzar’s own, or Bel, or any other of his gods, see Daniel 3:14, must be solemnly dedicated, and therefore all the peers of the realm are called to it; but whether these ranks of men and officers are truly rendered from the Chaldee words is hard to determine, and not worth disputing; etymologists differ in it: this only is material, that the heads of all that vast empire were summoned, of several nations and languages, to testify their conformity to the emperor’s will, and thereby give assurance of obliging the people under them to the same obedience, i.e. to the same idolatrous worship.

It was the manner of the heathen to consecrate their idol before they worshipped it, and herein, as in many other, Satan imitated the Jews, and their temple dedication, John 10:22; they held a feast. The popish church do the like, when they dedicate material temples to particular saints, with solemnity and jollity, from whence come the feasts of wakes and revels to this day.

Verse 3

i. e. In the plains of Dura, where great multitudes might easily be gathered, and behold it lifted up on high, conspicuous to all; they beheld it with admiration, ready to adore it, in obedience to the king’s will and pleasure, for whatsoever pleased him pleased them, walking willingly after the commandment, as Jeroboam by his calves made Israel to sin. Heathenish and profane men are unstable as water, and blown any way by every wind of doctrine, suitable to their princes and to their own lusts. If the king had commanded idols to be broken and burnt, and the worship of the true God to be set up, this people would not have been so forward in their conformity, because men are generally more inclined to false worship than true.

Verse 4

An herald: it is likely there were many heralds at the head of that great concourse, else they could not all hear.

People, nations, and languages: proclamation was made therefore in several languages, to some of several nations assembled there, and to the representatives of all.

Verse 5

All kinds of music, i.e. wind and stringed instruments of various sorts and fashions, for we have here Syrian and Greek ones, as appears by the words, though in Chaldee letters, for this mighty monarch was lord over them all.

Ye fall down and worship: mark, all that is required of them is only a gesture of worship, without oral profession. The pomp and equipage, the solemn sound of the music, and the strict command, was enough to induce them to stoop and fall down to it. This is one of Satan’s great engines to draw the world from God’s pure worship, and the simplicity that is in Christ, dazzling men’s eyes, and bewitching them with a gaudy, whorish dress of idolatrous service, as ye see in this example, and Revelation 17:4,Revelation 17:5; all which ariseth merely from hence, because men do not or will not see that God’s worship is wholly spiritual, and most beautiful and glorious as such, 2 Corinthians 3:7 to the end; by this it excels all pagan, Jewish, and antichristian worship, all which is human, bodily, uncommanded of God, therefore displeasing and provoking, unprofitable, insnaring, and destructive. Now idolatrous gestures are sinful, because forbidden of God, Exodus 20:5, because this satisfies and hardens idolater’s in their way, also because by this snare and critical mark their proselytes are known and distinguished, as here, they that stood up, when others fell down; thus antichrist and new Babylon hath her mark in the forehead and hands of her followers, Revelation 13:15-17. Primitive Christians would not offer a grain of frankincense to a pagan idol for fear or favour, nor true protestants kneel to the host, which the popish priest holds up to insnare them.

Verse 6

This was a punishment usual among the Chaldeans, to scorch, roast, and burn offenders with fire, Jeremiah 29:22; see 1Ma 7:3. And this the king of Moab imitated, 2 Kings 3:27; Amos 2:1. This shows the hellish malice and cruelty of wicked men, especially against those that cross their pride and superstition, which was visible in the tortures Christians were put to in the ten persecutions, and in the fires which antichrist hath kindled in all his reign against the witnesses of Jesus; witness the book of "Acts and Monuments" whom they cannot allure with their gaudery, they fright with their fires and massacres, as ye see the effects of both in the verse following.

Verse 7

The same methods hath new Babylon followed, in the long slavery of their false catholic church, for the whole world wondered after the beast, and none could make war with him, Revelation 13:3,Revelation 13:4,Revelation 13:7,Revelation 13:8.

Verse 12

Now the devil’s cloven foot appears, now ye have the bottom of the plot; one of these two is clear: these Chaldeans finding the Jews made courtiers, and preferred to places of trust and honour, they either put the king upon this work, or else made use of it, both to satisfy their ambition and wreak their malice against those three worthies; as they dealt with Daniel, Daniel 6:4,Daniel 6:5.

They accused the Jews; which word signifies to calumniate, and also to eat up and devour, which is the design of envy and malice. See how they go to work:

1. They strike while the iron is hot, they take the king in his huff.

2. They read a law established.

3. Then they say the Jews do not observe the king’s laws, a people already obnoxious.

4. Yea, several of them despise the king’s laws and authority.

5. They abuse the king’s great favour and indulgence to them.

6. They should give good example, being in places of trust and dignity.

7. Yet, behold, they declare their contumacy and rebellion in not conforming to the king’s laws.

This set the king all in a flame of rage and fury, and he commanded to bring these three men before him.

Verse 13

Why not Daniel too, because he was chief of all in honour?

Answ. Because the king had a greater favour for him, and he was popular, and beloved for his great wisdom and unblamable carriage; they would not meddle with him now, lest by his knowledge and interest in the king he might chance to spoil their plot.

Verse 14

Now when these men were brought before the king, though in rage, yet he doth not presently throw them into the fire, but makes inquiry by interrogatories, that he might see first if they were guilty, by hearing them speak for themselves, and telling them he expected obedience and conformity to his laws from them, and it was in vain to look for any indulgence from him, he would bate them nothing, they should be burned. What! do ye make a jest of my gods, and my religion, and my commands? so the word

tseda in the Syriac doth signify, to scoff or deride, as if he had said, Is it true indeed that ye refuse to worship my gods? do ye do it in earnest, or in jest? it seems by your carriage, if it be true what I hear of you, that ye slight my gods, and make a mock of my authority, but ye shall know there is no jesting with these edge-tools.

Verse 15

Prodigious pride and blasphemy! for he doth not only insult over all gods in general, but particularly against the only true God, whom he lately confessed, Daniel 2:47, to be

a God of gods, and a Lord of kings. So the king of Assyria, 2 Kings 18:30,2 Kings 18:33. Thus all the tyrants of the East, Turk, Mogul, Kham, whose very titles are blasphemy. It is a wonder why these men worship any god, seeing they set up themselves above all. Reason of state makes them set up somewhat to keep the people in awe; they themselves are exempt, and care for none. The root of Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance lay chiefly here, he had burnt the temple of the Jews’ God, and made slaves of his people, and he did not deliver either, and therefore thought he could not; and so presumes the same now; but God will make him quickly of another mind.

Verse 16

Heb. We care not, we may not, there is no need of any answer in this case, for it is in vain for us to deliberate and debate the matter; the king is resolved to have his will of us, and we are resolved on the contrary; for to obey him in this horrid thing will be disobedience against our God to the highest.

Verse 17

They were endued with a strong faith in their God, not only as to his power, which was omnipotent and unlimited, but also as to his will, which readily inclined him to succour his servants in their distress, for his name’s sake, according to his promise and the saints’ experience in the like cases of extremity.

Verse 18

They add this,

But if not, to show they did not presume to tie God to this deliverance absolutely, for God is arbitrary, and knows how to deliver, and sometimes to suffer his saints to glorify him by suffering. It was therefore all one to them, which way of the two God would honour himself, they were resolved to venture suffering rather than sinning, and leave the cause to God.

Verse 19

The king’s fury appeared in his face, and in his words; taking this answer for the highest affront and provocation, which as the case stood he could not bear, the pride of his heart made his indignation boil over, and therefore he made the

furnace seven times hotter. Tyrants would burn the people of God in hell if they could.

Verse 20

Did he think these three men would have resisted, or that their God would defend them from his power, or that, if he had, the king and his mighty men could have prevailed? None of all this was in the case, for God purposed to show his power when the king did his worst, and to quench the violence of the fire, both of the furnace and of the king’s fury, at once; and in the thing wherein he dealt proudly, to be above him.

Verse 21

This is observable and wonderful, that the fire should not catch their garments, being the most obnoxious to it.

Verse 22

The king’s commandment was urgent; which made them the more hasty and precipitate in their execution, and took less care for themselves against the violence of the flame.

The fire slew those men; a signal hand of God upon such as execute wicked commands, who, though mighty men, had no might to escape the flame at the mouth of the furnace, when the other escaped in the midst of it.

Verse 23

All this is expressed with emphasis, to make the power of God more glorious in their preservation; for that flame that slew the executioners might much more easily have suffocated the three children before they fell down.

Verse 24

Rose up in haste: this fear, perturbation, and amazement as the word signifies, surprised the king, being surprised with the strangeness of it, beholding something supernatural in it, together with the disappointment of his design and cruel commands.

True, O king: the Lord extorted this confession from them, though enemies.

Verse 25

I see; the fire gave light to see them, though it had no power of heat to burn them.

Like the Son of God; a Divine, most beautiful, and glorious countenance; either of a mere angel, or rather of Jesus Christ, the Angel of the covenant, who did sometimes appear in the Old Testament before his incarnation, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 18:10,Genesis 18:13,Genesis 18:17,Genesis 18:20; Exodus 23:23; Exodus 33:2; Joshua 5:13-15; Proverbs 8:31; in all which places it is Jehovah; Genesis 19:24; Exodus 3:2; Acts 7:30,Acts 7:32,Acts 7:33,Acts 7:38.

Verse 26

Came near; as near as he durst come, within hearing. And spake with a milder tone than before, God having abated the fire of his fury. Now he could at once confess and acknowledge the true God to be the Most High above all gods, and the three worthies to be his faithful servants.

Came forth of the midst of the fire; they went out upon the king’s call, without which they would not have stirred.

Verse 27

Saw these men, with great admiration, for the satisfaction of all by their sight of them, and by their smell. All the works of God are perfect, and there was nothing here wanting to make this wonderful deliverance complete. Here was a pure act of God’s omnipotence, to divide between the fire and its most intense heat, and to master any creature in the world in its height, by working against and above nature, whose utmost sphere of activity is limited by God.

Verse 28

Thus out of the mouths of blasphemers and contemners of God can the Lord ordain praise: yet all this did not draw off this king from his idolatry, for he saith,

the God of Shadrach, & c., not his God. Wonders will not work conversion till God work upon the heart, Deuteronomy 29:24. He blesseth God for four things.

1. For sending his angel to deliver his servants that trusted in him.

2. That they changed the king’s commandment, i.e. frustrated it, and make it void, and convinced the king, and brought him to a better mind.

3. Therefore yielded their bodies to the fire, and to his fury, by passive obedience, rather than not obey God actively, by worshipping any false god,

4. But only the true, whom they chose to be their own God. Observe also here the power of faith, it quencheth the violence of fire, Hebrews 11:34; and the presence of God with his people, even in the fire, and in fiery trials, Isaiah 43:2; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 4:12.

Verse 29

Observe here, that though he doth not resolve to worship the true God, nor command others to do it, yet he would not allow the God of the Jews to be evil spoken of; this was all that he came up to. He was resolved to hold fast to the religion established, his own idols; nay, the great golden idol, which had been slurred and slighted by these three worthies, he would not take down and relinquish: this was the best quarter the true God could get among them, not to be spoken amiss of under great penalty; though he confessed no god else could deliver after that strange sort. Bel could not preserve his men out of the furnace, God preserves his servants in the furnace. All was one for that, Bel should be his god still.

Verse 30

They that honour God, them will God honour. To suffer, and suffer shame and pains, for God, is to honour God. John 21:19; 1 Peter 4:14. It is probable that the Chaldeans used to reproach the God of the Jews, and more upon this account, because for his sake these his servants refused conformity to Babylonish idolatry; and their common quarrel with the people of God was upon the account of their religion; thus here in this instance, and thus in Daniel’s case, Daniel 6:4,Daniel 6:5; thus Haman, Esther 3:8. Also for that very thing they make them disloyal, and breakers of the king’s laws. Now God would vindicate his people herein, and make this great king to do it too, knowing it was a grief of heart for these men, Shadrach, &c., to hear the name of God abused by idolaters and profane wretches, and doubtless they complained to the king of it, who did them right by this severe decree, as long as it lasted, seeing the king moreover thought fit to promote them to honour, i.e. he did restore them to their places, as the word signifies, and made an addition to their former dignities.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Daniel 3". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/daniel-3.html. 1685.
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