Open Mouth, Insert Foot!
Matt. 14:5 Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.
Matt. 14:6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod
Matt. 14:7 so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask.
Matt. 14:8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.”
Matt. 14:9 The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given;
Matt. 14:10 he sent and had John beheaded in the prison.
Just because someone has a position of leadership doesn’t mean that they don’t do stupid things. Now, there could probably be a litany of stupid things that were done by Herod, but this was one of those where he opened his mouth and spoke without thinking what he was saying. The problem was that he publicly offered to grant the daughter of Herodias whatever she asked. I’m not sure that promising a teenager (and I’m not sure she was a teenager, but let’s just go there) anything she wants in front of a crowd of people is ever a smart idea. His reaction to her dancing reveals that he’s not thinking very clearly and is a bit overwhelmed by the moment. In that moment he makes a rash promise and now he is stuck.
His ego wouldn’t allow him to go back on this public promise, although it seemed unwise to him. Rather than face the humiliation of doing the right thing, he moves forward and has John killed. Notice that the scripture says that he is grieved! In his heart he knows what the right thing is to do and yet, he will not do it! He had opened his mouth and now had to live with the consequences.
Where can we find ourselves in this story? Sadly, probably right there with Herod.
Moved in the moment. There are times that we can be moved by the experience of a moment and we simply fail to think. Emotions are a very powerful thing and can overwhelm our common sense! One slip in an emotional moment and we can make a decision that will ruin our lives.
Declaring a rash promise. Obviously Herod did not think about the consequences of his promise and from a leadership perspective, his promise made no sense. I’m wondering whether his advisers sitting around him cringed when he spoke the words out loud. They were the level headed ones who probably recognized the consequences immediately. This was not going to end well!
Following through when you know it’s the wrong thing. I think of young people who tell me that they have allowed a relationship to develop and go on, even when they knew it was wrong. Eventually they get to a point where they have no idea how to get out of it and so they marry someone they know they should never have married. It’s not just in the area of relationships, but when it comes to experimenting with the world. Is it wrong for me to try those drugs, or gamble away our savings, or ??? That gentle nudge says it’s wrong, and yet we go ahead anyway, too embarrassed to say no.
Herod is a good example for us — of how not to do things. He becomes a giant reminder of the ways in which we can head down the wrong path. May God help us to avoid opening our mouth, and inserting our foot!
Lord, please be my guide and give me wisdom to know when to keep my mouth shut. Amen.