For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things…
I. HOW MYSTERIOUS AND COMPLEX IS THE CHARACTER OF MAN! In the same individual what a variety of qualities, apparently the most opposite, are sometimes combined. How important it is that we should "know" ourselves and the sins which so easily mislead and overcome us; looking meanwhile for guidance to Him who searcheth the reins and trieth the hearts of men.
II. HOW STRONG IS THE IMPRESSION WHICH REAL EXCELLENCE OF CHARACTER MAKES, EVEN ON THE MINDS OF WICKED MEN. With all his abandonment of principle and looseness of practice, Herod could not help admiring and respecting John.
III. YET A MAN MAY GO FAR IN HIS ADMIRATION OF GOODNESS, WHILE HE REMAINS PRACTICALLY UNAFFECTED BY IT. The precise extent of John's moral influence over Herod we do not know; but it is plain that he did follow his guidance in some respects, and, so far, for good; but, in spite of all, there was no real, decided, permanent change in his heart and character. He had mistaken the semblance of religion for its reality — the husk for the kernel. Consequently, when temptation came, it made him tenfold more the child of Satan than before.
IV. LEARN FROM THIS THE DANGER OF YIELDING TO FAVOURITE SINS. Until met by the home thrust, "It is not lawful for thee to have her," all went on smoothly and pleasantly between Herod and John; but the exposure of his darling vice turned his friendship into enmity.
V. THE DANGER OF TRIFLING WITH SERIOUS IMPRESSIONS AND ACTING CONTRARY TO CONSCIENCE. Herod's association with John ought to have brought him to a humbling sense of sin and a decided change of heart. But he trampled on his convictions; and fatal was the result. Let us be warned by his example. Every funeral that passes, solemn and slow, along the streets; every visit of disease and death to your family circle; every season of holy communion with God; every prick of conscience; these are all so many instruments which God puts in operation for your well-being. Attend to these faithful monitors; cherish them; and they will be productive of lasting benefit to your soul.
(R. Burns, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.