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Acts 12:20-25, The Death of Herod

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

The people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!’ And immediately, because Herod had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
— Acts 20:22-23

NL Daily Devotion for Saturday, May 11, 2019

by R. Fergus Moir, Clergy Stuff


Recently I was reading through Acts and I shared with my nineteen-year-old daughter all the horrible things Herod had done. She assessed him as a “total jerk” (in much more colorful language) and I agreed. Five minutes later, I read this passage and—I know this is horribly un-Christian of me—I laughed out loud. It was the abruptness and matter-of-factness of “he was eaten by worms and died” that struck me as comical. But, of course, it really wasn’t. It appealed to the more base nature of my humanity, in which I want to see bad people get their “just deserts.”

Herod was not being punished by God for all the terrible things he had done. No, the problem was that after his speech, the people hailed him as a god, and he didn’t deny it. How many people in our world put themselves in the place of God, though they would never phrase it that way. How many people or things or activities do we put in the place of God? Perhaps we all “deserve” to be eaten by worms and die. But God’s grace is deeper, broader, and farther-reaching than we can possibly imagine. So instead of taking pleasure in bad things happening to the famous, the arrogant, or people we just don’t like, maybe we ought to concentrate on all the ways we can put God first in our own lives. Just a thought.

Loving God, keep me ever mindful that you alone are God, and that judgment belongs only to you. Amen.