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Daniel 3:13-15

13. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.

13. Tunc Nebuchadnezer cum iracundia et excandescentia, 179179     Some translate, fury — Calvin. jussit adduci Sadrach, Mesach, et Abednego: viri autem illi adduxerunt coram rege. 180180     We must understand, them. — Calvin.

14. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

14. Loquutus est Nebuchadnezer, et dixit illis, Verumne, Sadrach, Mesach, et Abed-nego, deos meos non colitis, 181181     Or rather, my god. — Calvin et imaginem auream quam statui, 182182     Or, I have erected — Calvin. non adoratis?

15. 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?

15. Nunc ecce parati eritis, 183183     Some read it interrogatively, Are ye prepared? — Calvin. simulac audiveritis vocem cornu, vel, tuboe, fistulae, citharae, sambucae, psalterii, symphoniae, et omnium instrumentorum musices, ut procidatis, et adoretis imaginem quam feci. Quoad si non adoraveritis, eadem hora projiciemini in medium fornacis ignis ardentis; et quis ille Deus qui cruat vos e manu mea?

 

This narrative clearly assures us, how kings consult only their own grandeur by a show of piety, when they claim the place of their deities. For it seems very wonderful for King Nebuchadnezzar to insult all the gods, as if there was no power in heaven unless what he approved off What god, says he, can pluck out of my hand? Why then did he worship any deity? Simply to retain the people by a curb, and fires to strengthen his own power, without the slightest affection of piety abiding within his mind. At the beginning Daniel relates how the king was inflamed with wrath. For nothing is more troublesome to kings than to see their authority despised; they wish every one to be obedient to themselves, even when their commands are most unjust After the king is cool again, he asks Shadraeh, Meshaeh, and Abed-nego, whether they were prepared to worship his god and his golden image? Since he addresses them doubtfully, and gives them a free choice, his words imply moderation. He seems to free them from all blame, if they will only bow themselves down hereafter. He now adds directly, if ye are not prepared, behold I will throw you into a furnace of burning fire; and at length breaks forth into that sacrilegious and dreadful blasphemy — There is no god who can deliver the saints alive out of his hand!

We see, then, in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, how kings swell with pride, while they pretend some zeal for piety; since in reality no reverence for God influences them, while they expect all men to obey every command. And thus, as I have said, they rather substitute themselves for God, than desire to worship him and promote his glory. This is the meaning of the words, the statue which I have created, and which I have made; as if he had said, You are not allowed to deliberate about worshipping this image or not,; my orders ought to be sufficient for you. I have erected it purposely and designedly; it was your duty simply to obey me. We see then how he claims the supreme power, by fashioning a god. Nebuchadnezzar is not now treating matters of state policy; he wishes the statue to he adored as a deity, because he had decreed it, and had promulgated his edict. And we must always remember what I have touched upon, namely, this example of pride is set before us, to shew us not to attach ourselves to any religion with rashness, but to listen to God and depend on his authority and commands, since if we listen to man, our errors would be endless. Although kings are so proud and ferocious, yet we must be guided by this rule — Nothing pleases God but what he has commanded in his word; and the principle of true piety is the obedience which we ought to render to him alone. With respect to blasphemy, it clearly demonstrates my previous assertion, however kings put forward some desire for piety, yet they despise every deity, and think of nothing but extolling their own magnificence. Hence, they traffic in the name of God to attract greater reverence towards themselves; but at the same time, if they choose to change their deities a hundred times a-day, no sense of religion will hinder them. Religion, then, is to the kings of the earth nothing but a pretext; but they have neither reverence nor fear of God in their minds, as the language of this profane king proves. What God? says he, clearly there is no God. If any one reply — he speaks comparatively, since he here defends the glory of his own god whom he worshipped, still he utters this blasphemy against all gods, and is impelled by intolerable arrogance and diabolical fury. We are now coming to the principal point where Daniel relates the constancy with which Shadraeh, Meshach, and Abed-nego were endued.


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