Daniel 3:16
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) O Nebuchadnezzar.—They mention the king by name, so as to make their address correspond with his (Daniel 3:14). His attention would in this way be directed to the strong antithesis between his statement (Daniel 3:15) and theirs (Daniel 3:17). Great though the distinction was between king and subject in such a country as Babylon, yet that distinction was lost when any collision occurred between duty to Jehovah and obedience to a royal edict.

We are not careful.—More correctly, as translated by Theodotion, We have no needi.e., it is needless for us to give any reply.

Daniel 3:16. Shadrach, Meshach, &c., said, We are not careful to answer thee, &c. — In so plain a case there is no room for deliberation: we have an answer ready at hand, that we ought to obey God rather than man. Admirable example this of a true faith in God, and ready obedience to his will! How worthy of our imitation! It is such an instance of fortitude and magnanimity as is scarce to be paralleled. They did not break out into any intemperate heat, or passion, against those that worshipped the golden image, did not insult or affront them, nor did they rashly thrust themselves upon the trial, or go out of the way to court martyrdom; but when they were duly called to the fiery trial, they quitted themselves with a conduct and courage that became sufferers for so good a cause.3:8-18 True devotion calms the spirit, quiets and softens it, but superstition and devotion to false gods inflame men's passions. The matter is put into a little compass, Turn, or burn. Proud men are still ready to say, as Nebuchadnezzar, Who is the Lord, that I should fear his power? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not hesitate whether they should comply or not. Life or death were not to be considered. Those that would avoid sin, must not parley with temptation when that to which we are allured or affrighted is manifestly evil. Stand not to pause about it, but say, as Christ did, Get thee behind me, Satan. They did not contrive an evasive answer, when a direct answer was expected. Those who make their duty their main care, need not be anxious or fearful concerning the event. The faithful servants of God find him able to control and overrule all the powers armed against them. Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst. If He be for us, we need not fear what man can do unto us. God will deliver us, either from death or in death. They must obey God rather than man; they must rather suffer than sin; and must not do evil that good may come. Therefore none of these things moved them. The saving them from sinful compliance, was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as the saving them out of the fiery furnace was in the kingdom of nature. Fear of man and love of the world, especially want of faith, make men yield to temptation, while a firm persuasion of the truth will deliver them from denying Christ, or being ashamed of him. We are to be meek in our replies, but we must be decided that we will obey God rather than man.Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king - They appear to have answered promptly, and without hesitation, showing that they had carefully considered the subject, and that with them it was a matter of settled and intelligent principle. But they did it in a respectful manner, though they were firm. They neither reviled the monarch nor his gods. They used no reproachful words respecting the image which he had set up, or any of the idols which he worshipped. Nor did they complain of his injustice or severity. They calmly looked at their own duty, and resolved to do it, leaving the consequences with the God whom they worshipped.

We are not careful to answer thee in this matter - The word rendered "careful" (חשׁח chăshach) means, according to Gesenius, "to be needed" or "necessary;" then, "to have need." The Vulgate renders it, "non oportet nos" - it does not behove us; it is not needful for us. So the Greek, ου ̓ χρείαν ἔχομεν ou chreian echomen - we have no need. So Luther, Es ist Nicht noth - there is no necessity. The meaning therefore is, that it was not "necessary" that they should reply to the king on that point; they would not give themselves trouble or solicitude to do it. They had made up their minds, and, whatever was the result, they could not worship the image which he had set up, or the gods whom he adored. They felt that there was no necessity for stating the reasons why they could not do this. Perhaps they thought that argument in their case was improper. It became them to do their duty, and to leave the event with God. They had no need to go into an extended vindication of their conduct, for it might be presumed that their principles of conduct were well known. The state of mind, therefore, which is indicated by this passage, is that their minds were made up; that their principles were settled and well understood; that they had come to the deliberate determination, as a matter of conscience, not to yield obedience to the command; that the result could not be modified by any statement which they could make, or by any argument in the case; and that, therefore, they were not anxious about the result, but calmly committed the whole cause to God.

16. not careful to answer thee—rather, "We have no need to answer thee"; thou art determined on thy side, and our mind is made up not to worship the image: there is therefore no use in our arguing as if we could be shaken from our principles. Hesitation, or parleying with sin, is fatal; unhesitating decision is the only safety, where the path of duty is clear (Mt 10:19, 28). Heb. We care not, we may not, there is no need of any answer in this case, for it is in vain for us to deliberate and debate the matter; the king is resolved to have his will of us, and we are resolved on the contrary; for to obey him in this horrid thing will be disobedience against our God to the highest. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king,.... In a mild and gentle manner, without affronting his majesty, or insulting his gods, and yet without the least degree of servile fear or fawning flattery:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter; about worshipping the image; we are not solicitous about a choice of words, or in what manner to draw up our answer, it is ready in our mouths; we have no need to take time and consider of this matter, and think what to say, we are at a point about it: as thou art peremptory in thy will to have thine image worshipped, we are as resolute, as determined, never to worship it; so that there is no need to spend time in a debate about it; thou art come to a conclusion, and so are we: or in this matter, about the power of our God to deliver, we are not solicitous about an answer to that; we leave him to defend himself, and his own power, against such insults upon him.

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 God's cause.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. are not careful] have no need (R.V.).Verses 16-18. - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. The Septuagint Version differs in several slight points from the Massoretic. "And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the King Nebuchadnezzar, O king, we have no need to answer thee in regard to this command, for our God in the heavens is one Lord, whom we fear, who is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and will deliver us out of thy hands, and then it shall be manifest to thee that we neither serve thy gods, nor the golden image which thou hast set up do we worship." In this version we see the sixteenth verse agrees with the Massoretic: in the next verses there are considerable differences. The Septuagint translator seems to have read some part of דתל (dehal) instead of פלחין (paleheen). We cannot be certain that Κύριος represents יהוה, here, from the fact that the mannerism of the translator expresses itself in a preference for rendering אלהים by Κύριος. The Septuagint has τῶν χειρῶν instead of τῆς χειρός. Not improbably the original was dual, but the dual had practically disappeared from Hellenistic Greek. There seems a reference to the creed of the Jew (Deuteronomy 6:4) and to Psalm 115:3; speaking of God as "God of heaven" occurs in the previous chapter, ver. 18, and in ver. 28 Daniel speaks of his God as "in the heaven." However suitable, the first portion is yet to be put aside as an addition. The second portion of this differing clause occurs in Theodotion, and of it we shall shortly speak. There are several other less important differences over which we need not delay. Theodotion has, like the Septuagint, ἐν οὐρανοῖς, and like the Septuagint has the enclitic connection γὰρ, instead of the somewhat abrupt connection of the Massoretic, although the phrase, "in the heavens," has thus the support of the two. The Peshitta Version has to some extent resulted from the abrupt beginning to the seventeenth verse as it appears in the Massoretic. The Peshitta renders the opening clause, "our Lord is merciful." As in the Septuagint, so in the Peshitta, the word פִתְגַם (pith'gam) is taken as meaning "decree;" but miltha precedes it, which must be rendered, "matter of the decree." Otherwise there is nothing worthy of notice in the Peshitta Version of these verses. Jerome begins the seventeenth verse with "ecce entre," which is not so much a difference of reading from the Massoretic as a difference of rendering from the Authorized. It is clear that the Massoretic punctuation implies something awanting. הֵן in Biblical Aramaic means "if," and איתי "it is," that is, "if it be." One feels inclined to think that, suppressed, there was some statement equivalent to "if it be his good pleasure," thus manifesting a readiness to submit to God's will. According to the Massoretic, what follows asserts merely the ability of Jehovah, "our God whom we worship," to deliver his servants from the burning fiery furnace, and even from the hand of the great king himself; but there is no assertion that he will deliver them. The Septuagint Version presents a different aspect, as also Theodotion and the Peshitta. The mental attitude of the Massoretic is very different from the mood of later times. The versions, save Jerome, declare that God wilt deliver them out of the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. If they had received this assurance from God, there was in a sense less of witness-bearing to God than if they had not. The text of the Massoretic is here to be preferred. It is implied also in the meaning of the following verse. Even if God did not deliver them, still their determination is fixed - they will not worship the gods of the king, nor will they worship the golden image he has set up. It sometimes seems as if, even in our own day, we should be the better for the advent of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There is still a demand that the people of God worship the golden image in the shape of wealth. The ministers of God are, we are told, not to denounce the wrongs of the world, lest the rich be offended. Wealth is not the only form of the golden image which men may be called upon to worship; the breath of popular applause may call them to denounce employers of labour unjustly on penalty of being dismissed or held up to reprobation. It is not the side that is important, but the motive; the cause of the poor may be pleaded as unjustly as that of the rich.
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