There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men…
Man is a worshipper. If there were no God before whose shrine he could bend his knees, he would make himself an object of worship. We have a remarkable instance of this in the narrative before us. What was the design of the Babylonian despot in the erection of this colossal image? Two different answers might be given to this question. It was intended either as an expression of his gratitude to the deity who he imagined had so greatly prospered him on the battle-field, or as a representation of himself under the title of the long-expected "Divine Son," or universal sovereign of the world. The fact that he summoned all the great officers of the empire to be present at its inauguration is a clear proof that this was not an ordinary idol. It is not probable that he would thus have ordered all the officers from their labours and posts of duty merely to add to the magnificence and splendour of an ordinary scene. The proud monarch had something of far greater importance in view; he wished to secure for himself the homage of his chief officers, and through them that of his numerous subjects. Then, the terrible punishment threatened upon disobedience to the royal mandate is a further proof of the great importance the Babylonian despot attached to this ceremony. This threat was in perfect keeping with the despotism of Chaldea, and the spirit of that benighted age. But in spite of the severity of the threat, the three Hebrews were found true to their principles, and dared to oppose the king's impiety. How could they pay homage to an idol? Every principle of their religion, every feeling of their heart, revolted against the very thought. The honour due to their God they will not lavish on their monarch.
I. TRUE PRINCIPLES SEVERELY TESTED. Every principle will sooner or later be tried. There is a fiery furnace that will test the principles and motives of every heart. The test in the case of the young Hebrews was peculiarly severe.
1. They had to oppose the will of a powerful benefactor.
2. They had to incur the odium of an excited public.
3. They had to forfeit the honours and emoluments of office.
4. They had to meet death in one of its most terrible forms.
II. TRUE PRINCIPLE NOBLY MAINTAINED.
1. Their calm demeanour. True godliness possesses sweet sustaining power.
2. Their strong faith. Their language was the language of faith; the language of a pious heart firmly confiding in the faithfulness of Heaven. Their faith took hold of two things. The power of God: "Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace." And also His willingness: "And He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king." These two elements form the basis of true faith. You confide in that person because you believe him to be both able and willing to befriend you.
3. Their inflexible determination. "But if not, we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image."
III. TRUE PRINCIPLE ULTIMATELY TRIUMPHANT. Several very important points were gained by this glorious triumph of true principle.
1. The impious ambition of the monarch was checked.
2. The living personality of the " Divine Son" was established. The deities of the Gentiles were the creations of their own fancy. Nebuchadnezzar had probably no faith in them. But the person whom he saw in the "fiery furnace" was not a myth, but a real living person. The God of Shadrach and his companions was a living person, not an imaginary object we worship not an idea, but a God who has a heart to love us, and an arm to save us.
3. The faith of the weak and the wavering was confirmed. Had their bitter affliction almost driven the poor Hebrew captives into despair? The occurrence on the plain of Dura would revive their hope, and fill them with wonder and gratitude. Many a disconsolate exile would be greatly encouraged, his faith strengthened, and the expiring embers of his religious love fanned into a flame.
4. The welfare of the captive Jews was effectually promoted. Their treatment of the exiles would be more humane and generous; and they would naturally infer that the people whose God would thus interpose on their behalf were not to be despised.
5. The honour of the true God was greatly enhanced. How valuable is vital godliness! It possesses a sustaining power. It brings down upon the soul the richest blessing of God. Be faithful to it. Let its living principles be exemplified in your life.
(J. H. Hughes.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not respected you. They don't serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.