When thou passest through the waters - This is a general promise, and means that whenever and wherever they should pass through water or fire, he would protect them. It had been true in their past history as a people; and the assurance is here given in order that they might be comforted in view of the calamities which they were then suffering in Babylon. Fire and water are often used in the Scriptures to denote calamity - the latter because it overwhelms; the former because it consumes; see Psalm 69:1 - ‹The waters are come into my soul;‘ also Psalm 73:10; Psalm 124:4-5; Psalm 66:12 - ‹We went through fire and through water.‘
I will be with thee - (Compare the note at Isaiah 41:10).
And through the rivers - Also expressive of calamity and danger - like attempting to ford deep and rapid streams.
They shall not overflow thee - As was the case with the Jordan when they crossed it under the guidance of Joshua, and a pathway was made for the armies of Israel.
When thou walkest through the fire - This is expressive of calamity and danger in general like passing through fire. Yet it had a literal fulfillment in the case of the three pious Jews who were cast by Nebuchadnezzar into the burning furnace Daniel 3:25, Daniel 3:27.
Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee - It shall not only not consume thee, but it shall hog even burn, or injure thee (see Daniel 3:27). The Chaldee Paraphrase refers this verse to the passage through the Red Sea, and to the protection which God gave his people there. It is rendered, ‹In the beginning, when you passed through the Red Sea, my word was your aid. Pharaoh and Egypt, who were mighty like the waters of a river, were not able to prevail against you. And when thou didst go among a people who were formidable like fire, they could not prevail against you, and the kingdoms which were strong like flame could not consume you.‘ It is, however, to be understood rather as a promise pertaining to the future; though the language is mainly derived, undoubtedly, from God‘s protecting them in their perils in former times.
Important are the lessons to be learned from the experience of the Hebrew youth on the plain of Dura. In this our day, many of God's servants, though innocent of wrongdoing, will be given over to suffer humiliation and abuse at the hands of those who, inspired by Satan, are filled with envy and religious bigotry. Especially will the wrath of man be aroused against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; and at last a universal decree will denounce these as deserving of death. PK 512.1
The season of distress before God's people will call for a faith that will not falter. His children must make it manifest that He is the only object of their worship, and that no consideration, not even that of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to false worship. To the loyal heart the commands of sinful, finite men will sink into insignificance beside the word of the eternal God. Truth will be obeyed though the result be imprisonment or exile or death. PK 512.2
As in the days of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, so in the closing period of earth's history the Lord will work mightily in behalf of those who stand steadfastly for the right. He who walked with the Hebrew worthies in the fiery furnace will be with His followers wherever they are. His abiding presence will comfort and sustain. In the midst of the time of trouble—trouble such as has not been since there was a nation—His chosen ones will stand unmoved. Satan with all the hosts of evil cannot destroy the weakest of God's saints. Angels that excel in strength will protect them, and in their behalf Jehovah will reveal Himself as a “God of gods,” able to save to the uttermost those who have put their trust in Him. PK 513.1Read in context »
Then the king commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated, and the faithful children of God were cast into the furnace. “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, 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.” Verses 24, 25.... Then Nebuchadnezzar called forth the servants of God, and they had not so much as the smell of fire upon them. If you are called to go through the fiery furnace for Christ's sake, Jesus will be at your side. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2. OHC 358.4Read in context »