Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spoke, and said to his counsellors…
As soon as the fierce tempest in Nebuchadnezzar's mind had expended its little force, there succeeded the calm of exhaustion. The tyrant is transformed into a servant, and appears like a docile child. Something has produced a strange impression on him - perhaps the sudden burning of his own officers, perhaps the unbending fortitude of the three Hebrews, perhaps the natural reaction from high-wrought excitement. Abandoning royal pomp, he visits himself the fiery furnace, that he may discern the wreck of human life wrought by foolish violence. An unexpected sight awaits him.
I. PERSECUTION IS HARMLESS TO THE SAINTS. Their experience is not always uniform. God seldom follows precisely the same course twice. The bodily life of the oppressed is not always preserved. Yet, in every case, it is true that no real harm is done to them. Often -
"Persecution has dragged them into fame,
And chased them up to heaven." On this occasion the material flame, though heated sevenfold, was not nearly so vindictive and deadly as the fiery rage of the king. He had summoned into his service one of the most destructive elements of nature, but it would not obey him. The flame did them no harm: it did them good. It consumed their bends; it did not singe their clothes. It gave them liberty. It brought them new experience. It put a new sceptre into their hands, and made them kings of nature. They were mightier men than ever. It admitted them into new society, and brought an angel into their circle. God himself gave them new evidence of his presence, his tender concern for them, and his all-sufficient power, Now it is evident that fire has no consuming property of its own. It is a property given and maintained by God. All the forces of nature are like the manuals of an organ touched by a Divine hand. By faith in God these men "quenched the violence of fire."
II. PERSECUTION OF THE SAINTS GIVES OCCASION FOR THE MIRACULOUS INTERPOSITION OF GOD. All opposition raised against God only brings out the greater resources of his omnipotence. Satan's oppression of our race gave scope for the redemptive miracle. Creation is miracle, for the like was not before. Providence, which is but a continuous act of creation, is a miracle. Granting that there is a God, there is nothing unreasonable in miracle. Whenever God is pleased to work, if ordinary methods fail, extraordinary methods are forthwith introduced. No occasion is more fitting for the introduction of miracle than persecution. God has identified himself with his people, and injury done to them is resented as injury done to him. Nor are we to think only of the miracle wrought on the material flame or on the living bodies of these men. That is a narrow view of miracle. There was miraculous agency also displayed in the mind, the temper, and the conduct of these oppressed Hebrews. It was not natural that they should submit to human injustice without a word. It was not natural, but supernatural, that they showed no vindictive spirit nor indulged in any language of personal triumph. Their modesty and self-forgetfulness were as miraculous as their faith. With the ending of the persecution came the ending of the angel's visit.
III. PERSECUTION PATIENTLY ENDURED PRODUCES CONVICTION IN THE UNGODLY. The king himself was overcome by astonishment. He could not believe the evidence of his eyes. He could scarcely trust his memory. Hence he summoned his princes and counsellors to his assistance. He appeals to their recollections. He requires them to see, to investigate, and to understand these strange facts for themselves. In their presence the king himself (not a deputy) entreats these injured Hebrews to come out of the mystic flame. He prays to them whom just now he cruelly condemned. The king styles them, not fanatics, miscreants, traitors - he styles them "servants of the most high God." Yes, of that God whom he had awhile despised. The proof of Divine succour and of supernatural protection is complete, undeniable, overwhelming. And, with candour of mind, Nebuchadnezzar yields himself to the evidence. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
WEB: Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste: he spoke and said to his counselors, Didn't we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered the king, True, O king.