For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. . . . But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet . . . . When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.”….(S)he rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard to bring John’s head. Mark 6:17-27
When I was in the second grade, my teacher wrote on the back of my report card, “Dana always wants to do the right thing.” At age 7, it wasn’t hard to know what the right things were: obey the teacher, be quiet, learn the spelling words, don’t hit people. But as I grow older, it is much more difficult, sometimes impossible, to know what the “right” things are. Should I insist that an aging parent move to assisted living? Should I practice “tough love” with a child using drugs? Should I risk offending someone with the truth? What is the truth anyway?
Herod found himself in a dilemma with his promise to give his daughter, the dancer, anything she wished. Herod experienced internal conflict, at least briefly, because he had respect for John, whose head she wanted on a platter. Keep a promise, or save a life?
Thankfully, we are not left alone to figure out the “right thing.” In prayer we can give to God our thoughts, our worries, or just “the facts.” Put through the filter of God’s wisdom and omnipotence, our way becomes clear and we can act with assurance.
Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. Amen