The chief official gave them new names: To Daniel he gave the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
I. THE VARYING CONDITIONS OF IMMORTALITY. The reference is to subjective immortality, i.e. in the memories of men. The principal stable condition seems to be the possession of soul-power (see Luke 1:80; Luke 2:40). But this may develop itself:
1. Evilly. The immortality then is one of infamy.
2. Continuously; e.g. Daniel, through a long life.
3. Specially at a crisis. These thoughts are suggested by the little we know of the three Hebrew children. One heroic resolve made them immortal. But how much in their antecedents did that heroism imply? Picture the parental culture of the Jerusalem home, etc. The lesson, Live not for fame; but to do that which God may think worthy of being held in everlasting remembrance.
II. THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL HEROISM Describe the offence in the king's portion.
(1) Food forbidden by the Mosaic Law.
(2) Food consecrated by presentation to idols. In moral heroism there will be one, or some, or all of these constituent elements.
1. Resistance; he. to strong and overwhelming temptation. In this case:
(1) The tempted were away from home.
(2) Early religious associations had been broken down. Note the change of names (ver. 7), and the significance of it.
(3) There was temptation to regard the matter as a trifle, of no account; but great principles are often involved in the trivialities of life.
(4) To regard the circumstances as peculiar.
(5) To be afraid of undue self-assertion. It might have seemed to Daniel that he was about to be righteous over-much.
(6) The heroic act was against their own interests.
(7) And imperilled the lives of others.
2. A certain obscurity of origin. "Purposed in his heart." The resolution took its rise in the depths of the soul, like a river in the hills far away.
3. Fortitude. Daniel thoroughly and irrevocably made up his mind.
4. Gentleness. No mock-heroics with him; but, having made up his mind, combined the suaviter in modo with the fortiter in re. "He requested," etc. (ver. 8).
5. Perseverance. Defeated temporarily with Ashpenaz, Daniel tried Melzar.
6. Wisdom. Proposed only an experiment for ten days.
7. Inspiration. Daniel's resolve seems to have stirred up the others.
III. THE PREVENTIONS OF GOD. (Ver. 9.) When men resolve on the right, they soon find that God has gone before them to prepare the way (Psalm 21:3). (See a grand and suggestive sermon from this verse in 'Westminster Chapel Pulpit,' 1st series, No. 2, by Rev. S. Martin.)
IV. THE SEQUENCES OF GOD. Very encouraging is it to know that God is alike our vanguard and our rearguard on our moral way. In this case (and always is it so more or less) the sequences were:
1. Physical health and vigour. Not miraculous.
2. Intellectual attainment and strength.
3. Moral and spiritual power. For proof, see after-history.
4. Continued prosperity and influence. (Ver. 21; Job 17:9.) - R.
Genesis 41:45), and the Assyrians changed the name of Psammetichus II into Nebo-serib-ani, "Nebo Save mo." They therefore made the names of the boys into the names of the Babylonian deities.
The Prince of the Eunuchs gave names.
1. Daniel. His name may be rendered "God my judge." Instead, he was called Belshazzar, derived from Bel. Daniel's estimate of this change may be inferred from the small use he made of it. He appears to have regarded it as no compliment. Thrice happy are they who, like Daniel, have God for their judge. Whenever they are falsely judged, the just Judge can "bring forth their righteousness as the light, and their judgment as the noon-day."
2. Hananiah. This names signifies, "the grace and favour of God." Shadrach, for which it was changed, denotes the same thing in an idolatrous sense — "the favour, or illumination, or inspiration, of the Sun-god." A contrast is thus illustrated between the divine complacency, and the favour and applause of the world. "The God of this world" is worshipped with as much devotion as the Babylonians coveted the shining rays of their great Sun-god. The world's smiles, her caresses, honours, wealth, and pleasures, are the inspirations of the eager devotion of the multitude. In these things consist their sunshine. Contrasted with this is the true light, revealing by its clear and steady rays all dangerous passes, pitfalls, and precipices, whereby so many perish through the glare of sin. And this favour is a light that shines always.
3. Mishael. This name is composed of two Hebrew words which may be rendered "comparable to God," or resemblance to God." The substituted name retains a part of the word, displacing the last syllable, which is the name of Jehovah, by the name "Shak," the chief goddess of Babylon, the goddess of beauty and pleasure. Meshach, therefore, signifies a votary to the chief goddess of beauty and pleasure, who smiles upon all who bear her name. Babylon's goddess still rules with successful sway. Men are "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." Too often is the temptation yeilded to by God's spiritual Israel.
4. Azariah. This name may be rendered "God my help." "Abednego" means "servant of the shining light," or "servant of Lucifer." The two names furnish illustrations of the contrasted characters of the servants of righteousness and those of sin. The service of sin is the service of grief. In a course of evil pleasure and pain are twin companions. Light is attractive, sad so is sin; but the light is the effect of fire, and fire burns; so does sin — like the glaring taper alluring to slay the bewildered moth.
(F. W. Farrar.)
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