Herod, on his birthday, made a feast for his chief officials, the captains of a thousand, and the leading men of Galilee, and the daughter of [Herod’s wife] Herodias came in and danced, and she pleased Herod and those banqueting with him. And the king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you desire, and I will grant it to you.” And he made an oath to her: “Whatever you ask of me, I will grant you, up to half of my kingdom!” So when she went out, she said to her mother, “What shall I ask for myself?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptizer.” And immediately, she hurried in to the king and made her request, saying, “I want you to give me, right now, the head of John the Baptizer on a platter.” And the king was deeply grieved, but because of the oaths and those feasting with him, he would not refuse her. And so, the king sent an executioner and commanded that his head be brought in at once. And he went out and beheaded him in the prison, and carried his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.
If Herod wanted to give this dancing girl anything up to half of his kingdom, it was no one’s business but his. It was perfectly lawful and permissible for him to do that, even if it was foolish for him to make such an offer because he enjoyed someone’s dancing. Herod was probably drunk, having been at his birthday bash for a while before the girl danced; but again, the King was well within his rights as king to make that offer. Even one of Jesus’ parables upheld the legality of a man doing whatever he wanted to do with what is his (Mt. 20:15).
But it was when the young girl, after being advised by her wicked mother, asked for the head of John the Baptist that Herod showed what a great fool he really was. A sane response to the girl’s insane request would have been that John the Baptist was worth more than half his kingdom, more even than all of it. God certainly thought so. That is why He warned His people, “Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm!” (1Chron. 16:22; Ps. 105:15).
But Herod was a fool. He did not value John as he should have, and so, he foolishly fell into his wife’s trap and assented to the ungodly request.
The apostles warned us that there are people around us like Herod’s wicked wife who will also lay traps for our souls. They hate the truth as she did, and those who speak it, and if we get drunk on the things of this world, they will take advantage of our weakness and get us to agree with something that we should not agree to. Our safety is in esteeming the things of God above everything in this life, all we have and even all that we are. When the love of God fills our hearts as it did the prophets, Jesus, Paul, and others, nothing can move us to say or do anything which does not please God. We will please God in everything, and keep our victory over sin.