But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods ... - This answer is firm and noble. It showed that their minds were made up, and that it was with them a matter of "principle" not to worship false gods. The state of mind which is denoted by this verse is that of a determination to do their duty, whatever might be the consequences. The attention was fixed on what was "right," not on what would be the result. The sole question which was asked was, what "ought" to be done in the case; and they had no concern about what would follow. True religion is a determined purpose to do right, and not to do wrong, whatever may be the consequences in either case. It matters not what follows - wealth or poverty; honor or dishonor; good report or evil report; life or death; the mind is firmly fixed on doing right, and not on doing wrong. This is "the religion of principle;" and when we consider the circumstances of those who made this reply; when we remember their comparative youth, and the few opportunities which they had for instruction in the nature of religion, and that they were captives in a distant land, and that they stood before the most absolute monarch of the earth, with no powerful friends to support them, and with the most horrid kind of death threatening them, we may well admire the grace of that God who could so amply furnish them for such a trial, and love that religion which enabled them to take a stand so noble and so bold.
But if not, to show they did not presume to tie God to this deliverance absolutely, for God is arbitrary, and knows how to deliver, and sometimes to suffer his saints to glorify him by suffering. It was therefore all one to them, which way of the two God would honour himself, they were resolved to venture suffering rather than sinning, and leave the cause to God.
be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, be it as it will, whether we are delivered or not; we are not sure of the one, but we are at a point as to the other:
nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up; come life, come death, we are ready; we had rather die than sin: they were all of one mind, and agreed in this matter; a noble instance of spiritual fortitude and courage!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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. But even if He cannot, or will not, do this, still we can never fall down and worship thy gods. The three men shew the same courage, the same unflinching determination not to compromise their faith, which were shewn by the loyal Jews in the age of the Maccabees (1Ma 1:62-63; 2Ma 6:18 ff., 2Ma 6:7 &c.).
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