*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Daniel 3:16-18 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Daniel 3:16
  • Daniel 3:17
  • Daniel 3:18

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego give a prompt answer to the king: they will never worship his idols. They worship their God alone, who is able to save them from the fire.

Nebuchadnezzar has arrested Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and put them on trial based on the accusations of their political rivals, certain Chaldean officials. However, the king has given the Jews one final opportunity to hear the royal music and worship his golden statue, so that Nebuchadnezzar can see their obedience. If they do not bow, they will be executed in a fiery furnace.

But Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego answer the king resolutely. They don’t need another chance to bow to the statue to save their lives.They tell Nebuchadnezzarthat they do not need to give him an answer concerning the matter. For one thing, they aren’t concerned about preserving their lives if it requires them to disobey God. For another, they don’t deny that they failed to bow to the statue beforehand. They refused to worship the statue once; they won’t worship the statue even now. They are worshippers of only one God, the God of Israel.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego don’t plead for the king to spare their lives. They don’t protest the unfairness of the law. First, they express great faith in their own God: If it be so, He who they serve is able to deliver them from the blazing fire. These men accept the consequence of their disobedience, believing that God can save them even so, if He wills it. They claim God is not only able to deliver them, but that He will deliver them out of Nebuchadnezzar’s hand.

God is sovereign over the events in the world, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are faithful to Him, not Nebuchadnezzar’s idolatry. But they do not pretend to speak for God or to know what will happen, saying that even if God does not deliver them, the king should understand that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are not going to serve his gods or worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar constructed. This expresses their confidence that even in death, they will be delivered. This shows an active belief in life after death. They are trusting God that being martyred for being righteous has greater reward than simply living longer.

In the event that He does not rescue them from the fiery furnace, it should be clear to the king that idolatry or man-worship is not an option. They will never practice it. They only serve their God. And in faith, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego have given their lives to Him.

Biblical Text

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

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