Online Bible Commentary
God Delivers His Servants who Trust in Him
Daniel 3:19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king's command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king." 25 "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this." 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon. (NKJV)
The three Jewish friends of Daniel; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, have refused to bow down and worship the golden idol built by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. These teen age captives from Judah were defying the very king who had elevated them to high positions in the government. The king was enraged by their defiance. The punishment for not worshiping the idol was death in the fiery furnace.
The king, ‘full of fury”, ordered that the furnace be heated to seven times what was normal (v. 19). The use of the term “seven times” was an idiom that meant the maximum amount. The king then commanded his men to cast Daniel’s friends into the furnace (v. 20). They were then cast, fully clothed, into the furnace (v. 21). The fire was so hot that the men who cast them in were killed by the flames (v. 22).
These furnaces were often built into the side of a hill, with a door on top and a viewing area on the side. So, Daniel’s friends “fell down” into the furnace (v. 23). The king was astonished when he saw that the three bound men had turned into four unbound men, unhurt and walking around in the fire (vv. 24-25a). He said “the fourth is like the Son of God” (v. 25a).
The translation, “the Son of God”, could also be translated “a son of the gods”, in the Aramaic. The fourth man could have been the preincarnate Jesus Christ. Even if that was the case, the polytheistic king would not have known about Jesus. The likely proper translation of what the king said was “a son of the gods”, since that better fits his belief system. He later refers to the man as an “Angel” (v. 28), which is a messenger of God.
The king then ordered the men to come out of the furnace, referring to them as “servants of the Most High God” (v. 26). The king had obviously been convinced that the God of the Jews was superior to all other gods. However, he did not relinquish his polytheistic beliefs.
All the people gathered around Daniel’s friends and saw that they were untouched by the fire, with not even a scent of smoke (v. 27). The king then blessed the God of the Bible, “who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him” (v. 28). The king then decreed that no one speak “anything amiss” against their God, threatening death for those and their households who break his decree, “because there is no other God who can deliver like this” (v 29). Finally, the king “promoted” Daniel’s friends “in the province of Babylon” (v. 30).
Whether the fourth man was Jesus or an Angel, God was with Daniel’s friends in the midst of their trial. God is always with Christians in the midst of our trials. His character is not to take us out of the trial but rather to walk us through the trial, in order to strengthen us for the future. So, God delivers us from life’s trials. Nebuchadnezzar was right; there is no other God who can deliver like this, and God delivers his servants who trust in Him.