There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men…
For the difficult task of acting upon fixed religious principle, example is more helpful than precept.
I. THESE YOUTHS WOULD NOT, TO SAVE THEIR LIVES, COMMIT EVEN ONE SINGLE ACT OF IDOLATRY (v. 12) Had they not been true servants of God they would easily have quieted their consciences with excuses such as these.
1. All are obeying the command.
2. After all, it was a political rather than a religious act.
3. If they failed to comply with the royal mandate, their conduct might be misconstrued. But men of religious principle do not ask if they will be misunderstood, but what is their duty to God.
II. THEY REFUSED TO PARLEY ABOUT THE COURSE OF DUTY (v. 16). Our declining even to discuss the course of duty, when it is plainly and instinctively recognised by the conscience, is a proof of religious firmness and constancy.
III. THEY TRUSTED IMPLICITLY IN GOD'S SPECIAL PROVIDENCE OF HIS PEOPLE (v. 17). When our hold upon Divine truth is lessening or weak, we trust to the arm of flesh and useless expediences. Examples: Asa and the physicians (2 Chronicles 16:12); Israel and the chariots of Egypt (Isaiah 31:1). Those whose hearts are fixed, and who prove true in the fiery ordeal of trial, fall back upon their inner lines of retrenchment. They realise the fact that the Lord reigns, and personally superintends the order of events, so that the wrath of man is restrained, and also that God watches with jealous care His own people.
IV. THEY DID NOT CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR CONSTANCY (v. 18). God has not pledged Himself always to work a miracle or to do anything uncommon to deliver His people. As a rule we must not expect such interpositions. If we were perfectly certain of such help, where would be the worth of our holding out for the truth? It was as much a miracle of grace for the three youths to remain constant as it was a miracle of providence that they were kept safely in the fiery furnace. To determine our conduct, altogether irrespective of the consequences which may follow, shows the value of our religious life.
V. THEY HONOURED GOD BEFORE THE WORLD AND GOD ESPECIALLY HONOURED THEM. As unholy compromises and cowardly denials conduct to shame and confusion, so unflinching courage, and acting upon religious principles, leads to happiness and honour. Such is illustrated in the present case.
1. They are safely protected from the slightest harm in the fiery furnace. The very elements are made to respect them (v. 24, 25, 27).
2. The Son of God blesses them with His company (v. 25; Isaiah 43:2; Proverbs 18:10).
3. Their persecuter, Nebuchadnezzar, bestows greater honour upon them (v. 30; Proverbs 16:7). Is our religion one of fashion, form, education, or one of reality and principle? If the former, then in times of trial we shall fall away; if the latter, we shall by God's grace be kept steadfast. Christians should be prepared to face a fiery ordeal of temptation at some period of their career. This will strengthen and purify their faith.
(C. Neil, M.A.)
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.