Thu, 4 February 2016
(Sir.47:2-11; Ps.18:31,47,50-51; Mk.6:14-29)
“Herod feared John,
knowing him to be an upright and holy man.”
O how the Lord has given power to His great men. It is He who “gave great victories to [the] king.” David “called upon the Most High God, who gave strength to his right arm”; and as David “made sport of lions as though they were kids,” as he “slew the giant” and his “tens of thousands” in battle, so John the Baptist slays the sins of the multitude, even striking great fear into the heart of King Herod by the simple words: “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.” And though it is John who is beheaded, it is Herod who shakes in his boots long after the Baptist is gone. As our gospel relates today, “On hearing of Jesus, Herod exclaimed, ‘John, whose head I cut off, has been raised up!’” This king’s guilt remains, as do the words of the Baptist in his heart.
“He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him,” David declares so knowingly in our psalm today. Indeed, the Lord’s blessed protection has been continually with his king, who has ever taken Him as his Rock. Of David, Sirach writes, “With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise. With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung.” What tremendous witness the wise man gives to the Lord’s chosen king. And perhaps most poignant and most significant is his statement that “the Lord forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever.” David does not lose his kingship because of his failures – as does Herod, who is already dead by his wickedness – but in fact has the establishment of “his throne in Israel” fulfilled in the coming of Christ.
The Lord’s power is upon His chosen. To each He gives the grace needed to offer lives of sacrifice. As David’s life was “like the choice fat of the sacred offerings” and John’s death a holocaust that rises yet unto God, so all our lives may be enriched and blessed, and made whole in His sight; so will they be as “sweet melody,” if we but entrust them to the Lord our God. And then none shall be able to stand before the power that is with us, for His holiness conquers all.
O LORD, may all we do be a song of praise
to your holy NAME;
let all evil be overcome by the strength of your Word.
YHWH, as David slew Goliath so John the Baptist slays Herod, even from the grave. Still this vain king is tormented by the Baptist’s word of truth; still his sin is exposed and his guilt apparent. Still he lives in fear. Still John speaks in Jesus his Savior.
O LORD, with David let us sing praise to your holy NAME, for you conquer all evil in this world and the next; you give power to your Son Jesus and His apostles to destroy all wickedness. Who can stand before your glory? Before you the dance of lust turns to dust.
You are the shield of all who take refuge in you, LORD. You are indeed God Most High, and to you we offer thanks and praise. For there is nothing we need fear; with you at our side we are safe from all our enemies.
Into your kingdom let us come, dearest LORD and God, far apart from this sinful world. Even here you reassure our hearts of your eternal presence.