3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made a an image of gold, whose height [was] threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
(a) Under pretence of religion, and holiness in making an image to his idol Bel, he sought his own ambition and vain glory: and this declares that he was not touched with the true fear of God before, but that he confessed him on a sudden motion, as the wicked when they are overcome with the greatness of his works. The Greek interpreters write that this was done eighteen years after the dream, and as may appear, the King feared lest the Jews by their religion should have altered the state of his commonwealth: therefore he meant to bring all to one type of religion, and so rather sought his own peace than Godís glory.
3:2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the b dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the c king had set up.
(b) Showing that the idol is not known for an idol as long as he is with workmen: but when the ceremonies and customs are recited and used, and the consent of the people is there, then they think they have made a god out of a block.
3:4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, d nations, and languages,
(c) This was sufficient with the wicked at all times to approve their religion, if the kingís authority were alleged for the establishment of it, not considering in the meantime what Godís word allowed.
(d) These are the two dangerous weapons, which Satan used to fight against the children of God, the consent of the multitude, and the cruelty of the punishment. For even though some feared God, yet the multitude who consented to the wickedness persuaded them: and here the King required not an inward consent, but an outward gesture, that the Jews might by little and little learn to forget their true religion.
3:12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, e 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.
(e) It seems that they named not Daniel, because he was greatly in the kingís favour, thinking if these three had been destroyed, they might have had better occasion to accuse Daniel. And this declares that this policy of erecting this image was invented by the malicious flatterers who sought nothing but the destruction of the Jews, whom they accused of rebellion and ingratitude.
3:15 f Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; [well]: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who [is] that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
(f) Signifying that he would receive them to grace if they would now obey his decree.
3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we g [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter.
(g) For they would have done injury to God, if they would have doubted in this holy cause, and therefore they say that they are resolved to die for Godís cause.
3:17 If it be [so], our God whom we serve is h able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out of thine hand, O king.
(h) They have two points as their foundation: first on the power and providence of God over them, and second on their cause, which was Godís glory, and the testifying of his true religion with their blood. And so they make open confession, that they will not so much as outwardly consent to idolatry.
3:19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: [therefore] he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven i times more than it was wont to be heated.
(i) This declares that the more that tyrants rage, and the more crafty they show themselves in inventing strange and cruel punishments, the more is God glorified by his servants, to whom he gives patience and constancy to abide the cruelty of their punishment. For either he delvers them from death, or else for this life gives them better.
3:25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the k Son of God.
(k) For the angels were called the sons of God because of their excellency. Therefore the king called this angel whom God sent to comfort his own in these great torments, the son of God.
3:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, [and] spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come [hither]. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, l came forth of the midst of the fire.
(l) This commends their obedience to God, that they would not because of any fear depart out of this furnace until the appointed time, as Noah remained in the ark, until the Lord called him forth.
3:28 [Then] Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, m Blessed [be] the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the kingís word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
(m) He was moved by the greatness of the miracle to praise God, but his heart was not touched. And here we see that miracles are not sufficient to convert men to God, but that doctrine most chiefly be joined with them, without which there can be no faith.
3:29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak n any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
(n) If this heathen king moved by Godís Spirit would punish blasphemy, and made a law and set a punishment for such transgressors, much more ought all they that profess religion make sure that such impiety does not happen, lest according as their knowledge and responsibility is greater, so they suffer double punishment.