Daniel 3:17
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.
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(17) If it be so.—The meaning becomes clearer by omitting the word “so.” The sentence will then stand as follows: “If our God is able to deliver us . . . then He will do so; but if He does not deliver us, be assured that we will not serve thy gods.” The three holy children are quite content to leave the whole matter in the hands of Providence. They know that the law of obedience is the first law of all, and this they are resolved to keep. There is not the slightest ground for supposing that they expected a miraculous deliverance. Their language implies no more than faithful obedience. (See Isaiah 43:2.)

Is able.—They did not question His power; they did not know whether He would will to exercise the use of it. (Comp. Genesis 19:22.)

Daniel 3:17-18. If it be so — If we are brought into this strait: if we must be thrown into the fiery furnace unless we serve thine image; our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, &c. — As we are firmly persuaded of the power of our God to deliver us, so we trust in his mercy and goodness, that he will deliver us out of this imminent danger. This they spake out of a well-grounded hope, not from a certain foresight of being delivered; for such an assurance would have detracted much from the worth of their courage and constancy, in despising the danger which threatened them. And it appears, from what follows, that they were firmly fixed in their resolution, not to dishonour the true God by worshipping this image, or any of the gods of Babylon, although they should perish in the flames, for so they declare in the following words. But if not, &c., we will not serve thy gods — It was, therefore, all one to them which way God would honour himself; they were resolved to suffer rather than sin, and leave their cause to God. Indeed, if God be for us, we need not fear what man can do unto us. Let him do his worst: God will deliver us either from death, or in death.

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.If it be so - Chaldee, איתי הן hên 'ı̂ythay - "so it is." That is, "this is true, that the God whom we serve can save us." The idea is not, as would seem in our translation, "if we are to be cast into the furnace," but the mind is turned on the fact that the God whom they served could save them. Coverdale renders this whole passage, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we ought not to consent unto thee in this matter, for why? our God whom we serve is able to keep us," etc.

Our God, whom we serve - Greek, "our God in the heavens, whom we serve." This was a distinct avowal that they were the servants of the true God, and they were not ashamed to avow it, whatever might be the consequences.

Is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace - This was evidently said in reply to the question asked by the king Daniel 3:15, "Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" They were sure that the God whom they worshipped was able, if he should choose to do it, to save them from death. In what way they supposed he could save them is not expressed. Probably it did not occur to them that he would save them in the manner in which he actually did, but they felt that it was entirely within his power to keep them from so horrid a death if he pleased. The state of mind indicated in this verse is that of "entire confidence in God." Their answer showed

(a) that they had no doubt of his "ability" to save them if he pleased;

(b) that they believed he would do what was best in the case; and

(c) that they were entirely willing to commit the whole case into his hands to dispose of it as he chose. Compare Isaiah 43:2.

17. If it be so—Vatablus translates, "Assuredly." English Version agrees better with the original. The sense is, If it be our lot to be cast into the furnace, our God (quoted from De 6:4) is able to deliver us (a reply to Nebuchadnezzar's challenge, "Who is that God that shall deliver you?"); and He will deliver us (either from death, or in death, 2Ti 4:17, 18). He will, we trust, literally deliver us, but certainly He will do so spiritually. They were endued with a strong faith in their God, not only as to his power, which was omnipotent and unlimited, but also as to his will, which readily inclined him to succour his servants in their distress, for his name’s sake, according to his promise and the saints’ experience in the like cases of extremity.

If it be so,.... That we must be cast into the fiery furnace, as thou hast threatened:

our God whom we serve; for though they did not serve the gods of the Babylonians, they did not live without God in the world; they believed in the one true God, the God of Israel, their covenant God and Father; whom they worshipped, had an interest in, and who had and would have a regard for them: he, say they,

is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; either to prevent their being cast into it, or to preserve them unhurt in it, and to bring them safe out of it: instances of his power in other cases, such as the passage of the Israelites through the Red sea safe, when their enemies were drowned, with others, confirmed their faith in this:

and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king; they might have a well grounded hope and persuasion of deliverance, arising partly from former instances of the divine power and goodness in such like cases; and partly from the consideration of the glory of God, which would be greatly conspicuous herein; and chiefly because of the king's defiance of God, and blasphemy against him, which they had reason to believe would be taken notice of; for it does not appear that they had any foresight of certain deliverance, or any secret intimation of it to them, or a full assurance of it, as is evident by what follows:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is {h} able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

(h) They have two points as their foundation: first on the power and providence of God over them, and second on their cause, which was God's glory, and the testifying of his true religion with their blood. And so they make open confession, that they will not so much as outwardly consent to idolatry.

17. If it be so, &c.] If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, he will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and out of thine hand, O king, i.e. we shall be harmed neither by the fire, nor by any other punishment which the king may decree.

Daniel 3:17יכיל denotes the ethical ability, i.e., the ability limited by the divine holiness and righteousness, not the omnipotence of God as such. For this the accused did not doubt, nor will they place in question the divine omnipotence before the heathen king. The conclusion begins after the Athnach, and הן means, not see! lo! (according to the old versions and many interpreters), for which Daniel constantly uses אלוּ or ארו, but it means if, as here the contrast לא והן, and if not (Daniel 3:18), demands. There lies in the answer, "If our God will save us, then ... and if not, know, O king, that we will not serve thy gods," neither audacity, nor a superstitious expectation of some miracle (Daniel 3:17), nor fanaticism (Daniel 3:18), as Berth., v. Leng., and Hitz. maintain, but only the confidence of faith and a humble submission to the will of God. "The three simply see that their standpoint and that of the king are altogether different, also that their standpoint can never be clearly understood by Nebuchadnezzar, and therefore they give up any attempt to justify themselves. But that which was demanded of them they could not do, because it would have been altogether contrary to their faith and their conscience. And then without fanaticism they calmly decline to answer, and only say, 'Let him do according to his own will;' thus without superstitiousness committing their deliverance to God" (Klief.).
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