Fear of Herod

[Salome] said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” And although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. And he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. (Matt. 14:8-10)

Even the ruthless Herod had a conscience. In this case, he was sensitive to the evil of an unjust murder. But his oath bound him because he did not want to face the shame of admitting that he had been wrong to make such an open ended offer to Salome.1

Fear of shame among our people can keep us from responding correctly to the conviction or prompting of the Spirit. That kind of fear diverts us from God’s highest will. Something excellent that God had been doing was ruined because Herod would not listen to his conscience. John’s body died, and Herod’s spirit missed an opportunity for life.

And that makes Herods frightening kings to have around. Future prophets have to face the fact that no matter how obedient they are to God, and how powerfully God is moving, there is a king who has a history of ignoring reason and conviction, and opposing God’s moves.

So begins an inner struggle. Will I bow to fear of the Herod, or will I follow the prompting of my heavenly King? Perhaps that struggle is part of the reason that Jesus withdrew when He heard the news about John.2 Jesus needed to count the cost. He had to review the benefits of determined, courageous obedience, and set Himself to trusting that God’s protection would be there as long as necessary. He had to trust that even when a Herod seems to crush the will of God on earth, His will is relentless and will eventually be resurrected and victorious.

So there are really two fears to face. The fear that drove Herod—what will other people think of me? And the fear of what conscience-hardened Herods might do to us. Only the fear of God’s presence and pleasure being diminished will keep us from succumbing to either of the other fears.

The goal of Bible Maturity is to promote spiritual growth and faith in God. Please share these short Bible devotions with your friends and family and pray for revival.

  1. Salome is never named in the Bible but we know lots about Herod’s family from historians of the time. []
  2. Matt. 14:13. []

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