Daniel 3:24-25

24. Then Nebchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.

24. Tunc Nebuchadnezer rex contremuit, 1 et surrexit in festinatione, celeriter: loquutus est, et dixit consiliariis suis: 2 An non viros tres projecimus in fornacem ligatos? vinctos. Responderunt, et dixerunt regi, Vere, rex.

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 Son of God.

25. Respondit, et dixit, Atqui ego video viros quatuor solutos, ambulantes in igne, et nulla noxa in ipsis est: et facies quarti similis est filio Dei.


Here Daniel relates how God's power was manifest to the profane -- to both the king and his courtiers, who had conspired for the death of these holy men. He says, then, the king trembled at that miracle; since God often compels the impious to acknowledge his power, and when they stupidity themselves, and harden all their senses, they are compelled to feel God's power whether they will or not. Daniel shews how this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. He trembled, says he, and rose up quickly, and said to his companions, Did we not cast three men bound into the fire? When they say, It is so, Nebuchadnezzar was doubtless impelled by Divine impulse, and a secret instinct, to inquire of his companions to extract this confession from them. For Nebuchadnezzar might easily approach the furnace, but God wished to extract this confession from his enemies, that both they and the king might allow the rescue of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, to have proceeded from no earthly medium, but from the admirable and extraordinary power of God. We may here remark, how the impious are witnesses to God's power, not willingly, but because God placed this question in the king's mouth, and also in his not permitting them to escape or turn aside from the confession of the truth. But Nebuchadnezzar says, four men walked in the fire, and the face of the fourth is like the son of a god. No doubt God here sent one of his angels, to support by his presence the minds of his saints, lest they should faint. It was indeed a formidable spectacle to see the furnace so hot, and to be cast into it. By this consolation God wished to allay their anxiety, and to soften their grief, by adding an angel as their companion. We know how many angels have been sent to one man, as we read of Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15.) And there is this general rule -- He, has given his angels charge over thee, to guard thee in all the ways; and also, The camps of angels are about those who fear God. (Psalm 91:11, and Psalm 34:7.) This, indeed, is especially fulfilled in Christ; but. it is extended to the whole body, and to each member of the Church, for God has his own hosts at hand to serve him. But we read again how an angel was often sent to a whole nation. God indeed does not need his angels, while he uses their assistance in condescension to our infirmities. And when we do not regard his power as highly as we ought, he interposes his angels to remove our doubts, as we have formerly said. A single angel was sent to these three men; Nebuchadnezzar calls him a son of God; not because he thought him to be Christ, but according to the common opinion among all people, that angels are sons of God, since a certain divinity is resplendent in them; and hence they call angels generally sons of God. According to this usual custom, Nebuchadnezzar says, the fourth man is like a son of a god. For he could not recognize the, only-begotten Son of God, since, as we have already seen, he was blinded by so many depraved errors. And if any one should say it was enthusiasm, this would be forced and frigid. This simplicity, then, will be sufficient for us, since Nebuchadnezzar spoke in the usual manner, as one of the angels was sent to those three men -- since, as I have said, it was then customary to call angels sons of God. Scripture thus speaks, (Psalm 89:6, and elsewhere,) but God never suffered truth to become so buried in the world as not to leave some seed of sound doctrine, at least as a testimony to the profane, and to render them more inexcusable -- as we shall treat more at length in the next lecture. 3


Grant, Almighty God, since our life is only for a moment, nay, is only vanity and smoke, that we may learn to cast all our care upon thee, and so to depend upon thee, as not to doubt time as our deliverer from all urgent perils, whenever it shall be to our advantage. Grant us also to learn to neglect and despise our lives, especially for the testimony of thy glory; and may we be prepared to depart as soon as thou callest us from this world. May the hope of eternal life be so fixed in our hearts, that we may willingly leave this world and aspire with all our mind towards that blessed eternity which thou hast testified to be laid up for us in heaven, through the gospel, and which thine only-begotten Son has procured for us through his blood. -- Amen.

Lecture Sixteenth

1 Or, was terrified. -- Calvin.

2 Some translate, to his companions; and the word may be derived from either consilium or consuetudo: hence it might mean companions who were around the king; but soon afterwards it means counselors, and there is no need of variety. -- Calvin.

3 See Dissertation 13 at the end of this volume.