Lessons from Herodias and Her Daughter
31 Days of Women from Scripture
Herodias and John the Baptist
Day Nineteen: Lessons from Herodias and her daughter
Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 3:18-20
The woman who asked for John the Baptist’s head. Have you heard of her?
Herodias was her name. She was married to Herod (Mk. 6:17), but she was actually the wife of his brother, Philip (Mt. 14:3; Mk. 6:18).
Herod and Herodias did not like being called out by John on this. Herod wanted to kill John but knew the Jews regarded him as a prophet (Mt. 14:5).
We have talked before about how much power a woman truly wields. Herodias’ story gives us another example of that.
Herod’s birthday comes around. He gives a banquet and invites the important people to celebrate with him (Mk. 6:21).
Herodias’ daughter dances for Herod and all of his guests. Her dancing so pleases him, that Herod does something very foolish. He promises her whatever she wants, up to half his kingdom (Mt. 14:7; Mk. 6:22-23).
Herodias is ready when her daughter shows up wanting to know what she should ask for of Herod (Mt. 14:8; Mk. 6:24). Herodias tells her daughter to ask Herod for “the head of John the Baptist”.
The girl rushes back to Herod’s party and declares, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
Herod is not happy about this. He was so distracted by his niece’s dancing that he forgot to think about what he was saying. Here he is afraid of disrupting the peace by upsetting the Jews, and now he must kill one of their prophets!
He and Herodias both wanted John dead. If he hadn’t been so affected by the dancing of his niece, he might have remembered that.
Herodias was ready with her response! We don’t know how much time had passed since John first called them out about their adulterous marriage. But time HAD passed. What difference did it make to Herodias if John thought she was wrong? For a person in the public eye, the wife of one of the leaders in Roman government – apparently the insult was just too much to bear.
Herod kept his promise. He immediately sent an executioner to kill John and to bring the head on a platter back to him. He then gave this platter to his niece who then gave it to her mother. Aren’t they a lovely family?
Herodias wasn’t interested in correcting her spiritual problem – being married to her husband’s brother. She just wanted the insulting annoyance gone. Her daughter was an obedient girl, I will give her that. But that’s all the good that can be said from what we are told about her.
So, what can we learn from Herodias and her daughter?
As we discussed when looking at Potiphar’s wife, we must look for the things NOT to follow with these two.
Jesus said that we are to turn the other cheek when people strike out against us (Mt. 5:39). One reaction Herodias could have had to John’s accusations was to simply ignore them. We need to follow Jesus’ teaching and avoid being like Herodias.
Like Simon the Sorcerer, Herodias also could have repented when her sin was pointed out to her (Acts 8:22-24). Simon could have been embarrassed about being called out by Peter. Instead, he was fearful of being “in the bondage of iniquity”. Simon repented, as should we.
Herodias shows a spiteful response to having her sins pointed out. How do we respond when someone comes to us with something we have done wrong? Are we moved with godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10-11)?
Another aspect to learn from these two is the effect a dancing woman had upon Herod. The world likes to speak out of both sides of its mouth on this subject. First dancing is supposed to just be fun and non-sexual. Then you listen to words of just about any song on the radio. Dancing is also evocative and enticing. Innocent or enticing? Can it be both?
Dancing in a free and joyful manner, as David did (2 Sam. 6:16) before the Lord is not the same thing as the dancing that is so closely related to sexual intimacy.
Herodias’ daughter danced before Herod in order to please him. What would please a worldly man like Herod is nothing like what would please God. I believe Herod responded to the girl the same way the young man “lacking sense” responded to the harlot in Proverbs 7.
Ladies, we must be careful. While our bodies belong to us first, they were created with pleasing a man in mind. God designed and created Eve to meet Adam’s needs (Gen. 2:28). In a loving, righteous marriage, those needs are met with freedom and joy for both people (1 Cor. 7:2-5; Prov. 5:15-19). We need to be aware of the effect we can have upon men.
That sexual chemistry is a powerful thing. As women, we need to do what is within our power to not put temptation in front of men (1 Cor. 8:9; Mt. 18:6). Yes, men need to be responsible for their own behavior. Their need to learn self-control does not absolve us from the responsibility of behaving and dressing as godly women should (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:3-4).
Many women in scripture misused their beauty for evil – Jezebel, the women of Israel, the adulteress in Proverbs 7. We need to learn from them that this is an evil way to be.
We need to see the beauty in protecting ourselves and the men around us by our chaste behavior.
Herodias’ daughter only knew to use her body as a tool to get what she wanted. Herod’s favor was what she sought. When she had it, it cost John his life.
In the battle between Herodias and John the Baptist. John lost. But he only lost in this world. We know that God promises those who are faithful something better. We trust that John received the same as the poor man Lazarus, a home in Abraham’s bosom (Lk. 16:22) while awaiting the judgment day (1 Thess. 5:15-17). You can choose to be on John’s side.
Click here to get a complimentary lesson from our “31 Days of Women from Scripture Volume 2”, “Reach Out. Lessons from the Woman with an issue of blood”.
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