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Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldst reveal this secret.' For this service Daniel was made chief governor over all the wise men of BabyIon, and ruler over the whole province; but Daniel requested that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, might be placed over Babylon, while he himself sat in the gate of the king.
These young men did not escape without some trials; they had hitherto been in favor with the king, and their path had been easy: they were, however, soon to be called upon to own their God, even, it might be, at the cost of their lives, but they did not hesitate for a moment what to do.
King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image in the plain of Dura, before which he commanded every one to bow and worship; of ⚫ course these young men could not do this, they only did homage to the Lord their God: and not even to please the king of Babylon could they consent to do what they knew would displease the Almighty, although it was declared that whoever did not fall down and worship it, should that very hour be cast into a fiery furnace.(2) Sooner than deny their God, they knew that it was better to die at the command of wicked
men, far better than, for the sake of gaining the favor of man, to live under the displeasure of the Almighty. But they trusted in One who would not forsake them, in One who had power over him at whose command the idol was set up and this wicked law made.
It was told the king, that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, did not bow down to the golden image; at which he was very angry, and declared that they should be cast into the fire, saying, "and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" but the young men told him, "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, Ŏ king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind these young men, "and they were bound in their coats, their hosen,(43) and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace," the heat of which was so great, that it killed those men who put them in. But the God of Israel did not forsake them;
He who had given them courage to call upon His name in the midst of their enemies, enabled them to bear the heat of the flames, and suffer no hurt. When the king looked into the furnace he was astonished, and rose up in haste, and said, "did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" they said, "True O king!" "for," he said, "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." Nebuchadnezzar then called upon them to come out of the flames; and when the three young men came before all the people, it was found that the fire had had no power over them, "nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them;" nothing was burnt but the bonds with which they had been bound. Then did Nebuchadnezzar confess the power of the only God, and made a decree, that any who spoke evil against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, should be put to death; for he said, "there is no other God that can deliver after this sort."
After this, Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, in which he saw a fine and
stately tree, the leaves whereof were fair, and the branches spread very wide, so that the fowls of the air had shelter in it, and the beasts of the field found shadow under it; but a command came from on high to hew down the tree, cut off its branches, and scatter its fruit, yet the stump was to remain in the earth, to be wet with the dew of heaven, and to be left with the beasts of the field, until the living should know "that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." The king related this to Daniel, who was greatly troubled; but at length, in the name of his God, he interpreted the dream, telling him that the tree which was so fair and strong was himself, who, although now a king, should one day be driven from among men, and make his dwelling with the beasts of the field; but that as the stump of the tree was left in the ground, so should he not be rooted out of his kingdom, which, Daniel said, should be his again, after he had owned the power of God. Then the prophet advised him to break off his sins, and shew mercy to the poor, that the days of his peace might be lengthened.
But all these things came upon Nebu
chadnezzar, for we find his heart was proud and haughty; he took much delight in admiring his own works, and we read that, "at the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon," and said, "Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?"
But in the hour of his pride did the power of the Lord come upon him, and cause Daniel's prophecy to come to pass; for while he was thus thinking of his own might, he was made to feel that there was One on High mightier than himself, for in that hour was he "driven from the dwellings of man, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws;" but at length he lifted his eyes to heaven, his understanding returned, and he blessed the most High, honoured Him that liveth for ever, and humbled himself before Him: shortly after this, king Nebuchadnezzar died.
Here we see again the displeasure of the Lord against the proud in heart; but this haughty king was at last brought to "extol(") and honour the King of hea