Matthew 14 describes a really ugly family situation. King Herod has taken his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own wife. She had a fifteen year old daughter that must have been pretty attractive. Herod has the daughter dance for him and a whole party of men at his birthday celebration. (My guess is that this was not ballet.) Herod was very pleased by the dancing. (Matthew 14:6). In fact, King Herod was so pleased by the performance that he promised this young woman whatever she wanted. She consulted her mother, came back, and asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. John had been imprisoned because he had confronted King Herod about taking the wife of his brother. Luke 3 says that there were other evil things he had done for which John boldly confronted the King.
Herod and Herodias were wicked people. Though the Bible doesn’t give us a great deal of information about them, secular historians have given some. Herod and his ancestors had been known to kill their own sons if they thought they were a threat to the throne, they took each other’s wives, intermarried within the family, and did whatever they thought necessary to protect their individual reigns when on the throne.
It does not sound like anything we will see or have to worry about until you start to look at the generational influence. Each generation did what the last one did. There was very little serving one another and very much protecting one’s own turf. Herodias’s daughter could have asked for “anything” and she asked for the head of a perfectly innocent, godly man after checking with her mother. This was an act of vengeance. What was she teaching her daughter?
The question faithful mothers and fathers need to be asking ourselves is, “what are we teaching?” More importantly, what example are we setting by the actions we take and the decisions we make? Do our children see us seek vengeance on others? Herodias was not considering anyone more important than herself when she prompted her daughter to ask for an innocent head on a platter.
Herod was showing himself to be weak and afraid by not stopping that request in its tracks. The passage says that he “was distressed, but because of his oath and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted.” (Matthew 14:9) The fear of man is a terrible thing. He was distressed because he knew he was wrong. He went ahead and did it because he was afraid of what others, including his wife, would say.
Three questions come to mind for today’s wife and mother. 1. Are we so critical of our husbands that he is afraid of our reaction to his actions? 2. What example is our behavior setting for our children? 3. What are we teaching our children to do as we protect our own reputation or territory?
About the Author: Beth Bingaman is a Bible teacher, speaker, and writer living in Reading, Pa. She is a mother and grandmother whose passion it is to teach the whole counsel of God with clarity, energy and humor. She teaches and speaks for retreats and women’s ministry events with the goal of challenging women to think and live biblically. You can read her devotional blog at www.bethbingaman.com or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/BethBingaman or on twitter.