This well-known story is recorded in Daniel chapter 3.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to an image of gold as an act of homage to King Nebuchadnezzar and because of this they were thrown into a fiery furnace. There is no mention at all of Daniel being there so various questions have been raised: Was he present when this occurred? If so, did he refuse to bow down like his three Hebrew friends? If he was faithful, why wasn’t he cast into the furnace along with his friends?

The short answer is: WE DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER to any of these questions, for God has not told us. Scripture is silent on this and any attempts to answer them would be pure speculation. One common explanation that has been offered is based on Daniel 2:46-47 which reads, “Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours to him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.” Here we see Nebuchadnezzar himself “bowing down to Daniel and worshipping him,” so it has been suggested that Daniel was not required to bow down to the golden image because in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar HE WAS A GOD.

Others offer explanations based on verses 48-49, “Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.” Because Daniel was given the highest position in Babylon:

  1. He was out of the country serving as a diplomat, or
  2. He was not required to bow down due to his exalted position, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were forced to because of their lower position under Daniel.

Others have speculated that perhaps Daniel was present and that he did bow down to the image in a moment of weakness or out of respect for the King whom he served. We boldly reject that view, for not only is Scripture silent on this issue, but EVERYTHING that is said about Daniel portrays him as a godly and faithful servant of the Lord. In Daniel 1:8 we read, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” From the moment Daniel entered into Babylon, his heart was set on serving the Lord and keeping himself free from the defilements of this wicked and idolatrous city. When Daniel was called upon to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream he told him in 2:27-28, “Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king: But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” Daniel was determined to glorify God in everything he did and God was pleased to use him time and time again. In Daniel 4 he interpreted another dream of king Nebuchadnezzar; in Daniel 5 he interpreted a strange writing on a wall; in Daniel 6 he too was persecuted by being thrown into a den of lions; in Daniel 7-8 he was given visions of future events; in Daniel 9 the angel Gabriel gave him the marvelous prophecy of 70 weeks; and in Daniel 10-11 he was given more visions concerning his people Israel. Most of these interpretations of dreams and visions he had were AFTER the persecution of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, so it is inconceivable that Daniel bowed down to the golden image, for God would not have used him in these ways had he worshipped an idol. Daniel is one of the few persons in Scripture where no failures are recorded of him and thus we have every reason to believe that Daniel was faithful to the very end.  (190.7)  (DO)