Daily Devotions

Herod killed James, before he himself died desperately

Acts 12:2-23

‘Herod the king…killed James the brother of John with the sword…. Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne and made an oration…. The people gave a shout, saying: “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!” And immediately, the Angel of the Lord smote him — because he did not give God the glory…. He was eaten by worms…. But the Word of God grew!’ Acts 12:1-24.

Calvin comments: “There follows a fresh persecution instigated by Herod…. This man was incited to trouble the Church not so much out of concern for religion, as to win over the common people to himself by this public spectacle…. It is probable that he shed innocent blood, in order to gratify a furious people….

“‘He killed James.’ There is no doubt that the cruelty of this insane man (Herod) was kept back and checked by the secret power of God…. He would have piled up huge heaps of martyrs, if God had not intervened to protect His flock…. The Lord spares His sheep, and does not allow those men (like Herod) to do as much harm as they intended…..

“He killed James…. The Lord allowed him to be rushed to his death, after He had provided him with steadfastness to be victorious in death as a courageous and unbeaten champion…. God nevertheless chooses sacrifices of a pleasing odour for Himself, in order to confirm the faith of His Gospel….

“(‘Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne and made an oration.’) Josephus says that his garments were covered with gold, so that when they were struck with the rays of the sun — they glittered back in turn…. This was seized on by the courtiers, as an opportunity to hail him as a god. He says that a wound was suddenly inflicted on him….

“He (Josephus) has no doubt that his sacrilegious insolence was being censured, by this kind of punishment…. He mentions that, even as he was suffering horrible pain, he openly acknowledged it: ‘Look at me, the one whom you are honouring as a god! I am being forced to end my life, in the most wretched way!’….

“‘Immediately, (the angel of the Lord) smote him’…. The word which Luke has used, means that he (Herod) was consumed by worms. Many conjecture that the disease was lice infestation…. When he was still alive, he was wasting away with rottenness and an offensive smell, so that he was…a living corpse…. The Lord wished to choose a kind of punishment by which He would obliterate the ferocity of a proud man, with extreme ignominy…. When he was infested by lice and worms, and that stinking putrefaction which gnawed at him and consumed him broke out of his body, he was being treated according to his merits and deserts…. ‘He gave not God the glory…. But the Word of God (grew)!’… The Church always survives its enemies!”

Herod the king killed James, before that king himself died desperately! How shall you die?