And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
Herod was "sorry" when Salome asked for the head of John. But "sorry" for what? Was it on account of respect and love for the prophet? or was he sorry because he feared popular indignation? or because he felt that this was going a little too far in cruelty and injustice? Men are sorry in various ways. One is sorry for his sins, and another is sorry for his scruples. One is sorry that he made a fraudulent profit, and another is sorry that he did not. One, with strong anguish, mourns the loss of a friend, and another the loss of a fortune. One sheds drops of pity, and one of mortification. The mother is sorry for her dead babe that lies upon her breast like a withered blossom, and the miser is sorry to part with a dollar. Sorrow is not always Divine, and tears are not always of the kind that consecrate. In Herod's case it is quite significant that we cannot exactly tell why he was sorry. One thing we know, that his sorrow was not strong enough to stop the hand of the executioner, and keep himself from crime. It was not strong enough to resist the sense of shame, and the impulse of the hour.
(E. H. Chapin.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.