Three exiled Jews refused to obey the King of Babylon and bow down to his golden image. This poem is an interpretation of part of the book of Daniel, in the Bible.
In the land of Judah, Jehoiakim reigned.
But, in his third year as king, he was chained
By Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon’s king,
Who did besiege him, and who did bring
Him and many of his nobles and clan
Back home to Babylon by caravan.
From these exiles of Judah were selected
Some young men with no defects detected.
These three men, who were both handsome and wise,
Were chosen to serve the king and to advise.
So they were the Chaldean language taught,
And they learned everything the locals thought
They were also given names that were faux:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
King Nebuchadnezzar built on a plain
A tall image of gold, and did ordain
That, whenever any person should hear
Diverse kinds of music being played near,
He must quickly worship and bow down low
And devotion to the gold image show.
But any who did not heed this decree,
Who did not with the king’s order agree,
Must be thrown in a furnace of fire,
Where he would surely suffer and expire.
So when all of the instruments were played,
The people ceased their work and they obeyed.
They bowed down low to the image of gold
That rose up from the plain, as they were told.
However, some of the locals saw three
Who would not obey the king’s strict decree.
And these spies did quickly take the report
To the king, and to his council and court.
And the king’s face became so distorted
With rage at the thing the men reported
That he said with anger to the three Jews,
“What is this most unbelievable news?
Is it really true that you don’t revere
My gods and idols, and don’t even fear
The great fire that I have just prepared
For those who try to do what you have dared?
If you decide now that you will obey
My order and bow down, when the flutes play,
To the image of gold there on the plain,
Then you will not feel any cold, hard chain
And you will not feel the furnace’s heat
Or burn like a piece of scorched human meat.
What god that is worshiped in any land
Can free you from my mighty iron hand?”
And the three from Judah replied to him,
“We do not need to answer your threats grim.
Our God is able to deliver us
From the fire with which you threaten us.
But even if our God does not prevent
The fire from burning, we won’t consent
To serve your gods or to worship the gold
On yonder plain that we all now behold.”
Then the king was overcome by fierce wrath,
And he prepared the furnace fire bath
And the furnace was heated to a grade
Seven times hotter than it normally stayed.
The king also commanded his strong men
To tie up the three in their clothes, and then
To throw them into the furnace of heat
And then to flee and beat a quick retreat.
However, all of the king’s men were slain
By the heat as it burst the fire main.
And the king viewed the fire from a distance
To watch the three men lose their existence.
However, the king was amazed to see,
When he looked, that he no longer saw three.
Instead, he saw four men walking around
Inside the furnace, and even unbound.
The king did to his officials proclaim,
“Did we not cast three men into the flame?”
And they answered the king, “Yes, we did so.”
“Look, I now see four men who freely go
About the hot furnace without burning,
And a son of the gods I am discerning.”
Then the king went up to the furnace door
And to the three he did loudly implore,
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, come out!
You servants of the Most High God, come out!”
And the three came out of the burning blaze,
And the king and council they did amaze,
For they saw that the furnace of fire
Had not harmed their flesh, hair, or attire.
Neither did the strong odor of the smoke
The clothing or hair of the three men soak.
Then the amazed Nebuchadnezzar said,
“Blessed be your God, your Protector, your Head!
For He sent His mighty angel and saved
All three of you men, who willingly braved
The fire, and defied my stern command.
You risked your flesh and lives, and took your stand.
You didn’t worship any other power,
But served only your own God at that hour.
Now I know that no other god can aid
As yours quickly did when you stood unswayed!”