The conduct of Azarias and its results shew us the value of Prayer made by those under persecution. He led the way, and his comrades joined him.
Azarias is not so taken up with the wrongs of himself and his fellows as to forget the wrongs which his own nation had done; therefore his prayer commences with a humble Confession. Then he relies on the great promises of the past (vv.12, 13). It may be thought that Humility is also shewn in the Song by the Three putting their own names in the last place of the series. But another cause may have contributed to the choice of this order; for, so far as animal life is concerned, the Song follows the order of Gen. i., bringing in human beings last, not as being least important, but as forming the crown of creation.
Although Nebuchadnezzar is severely spoken of in v.9, A.V. (and in iv.27 of the canonical book sins and iniquities' are attributed to Nebuchadnezzar), there is great Self-restraint shewn in wishing for retribution (vv.20, 21); and indeed it is asked that he and his servitors may be brought to the knowledge of God (v.22).
The pleasure of Thanksgiving and Praise on delivery are exemplified by the Three in the production of the Song itself. As soon as ever their prayer was answered, before they emerged from the furnace, they united their voices in thanking God with a glow of fervid faith, recognizing in Him the universal Lord and Benefactor.
They sang in harmonious accord their song of praise at once (v.28). Though staunchly refusing to worship in a wrong way, they were very ready to do so in a right, and lost no time in proving it, publicly and before all creation. As de Muis (1644) says in his Comm. in Psalmos (Louvain, 1770, II.705), |Ut calamitatibus tanquam igne probatur; fidelis animus non modo non deficiat sed etiam animata inanimaque omnia ad Dei laudes provocet.| Eager to honour God, they join in unreserved devotion.
Their Reliance upon God is obviously great. To Him they turn in their martyrdom with prayer and praise; to Him they address themselves with the heart and voice of sure conviction. He is their unfailing resource.
A Love of Nature, as created by the same hand as ourselves, is very apparent in this canticle; there is a thorough fellow-feeling with natural objects, as derived from, and responding to, the same Almighty source. This love of nature appears in Holy Scripture most strongly, as here, in the poetical books, and hardly anywhere does it take a deeper tone than in this canticle.