Before Herod

Meditations on the Psalms

Blessed is the man… nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (Psalm 1:1 ESV)

Finally, the person who is righteous before God does not scoff nor is He trained by, or accepts the teaching of those who do scoff.

A scoffer is someone who heaps scorn, mocks or view another person with disdain. Those who sit in the seat of the scoffer actively teach others to disregard and rebel against God. To sit in the seat suggests the person teaches or trains others. In the ancient world, including Israel, teachers sat while their students stood before them. Everyone who lives is a teacher, having been trained by family and friends and society to live and think and feel in the ways of the group. Yet, the person who sits in the seat of the scoffer has greater influence over those who gather around them. Think of sitting in a classroom where one learns the ways of the scornful, and is given the tools of the trade.

Herod, perhaps the most worldly and wicked, was the third jurist. None of the Herod’s were Jewish, yet they ruled over the Jewish nation.

Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great, who sought to murder Jesus when a baby, murdering all the children in the vicinity of Bethlehem two years of age and under just to make sure. Herod Antipas, after a feast where his wife’s daughter danced, agreed to have John the Baptizer beheaded. Previously, John had confronted him about his adultery so he had John arrested and thrown in prison.

He was s superstitious man, thinking Jesus was John raised from the dead (Matthew 14:1-11). Jesus was warned once that Herod wanted to kill Him (Luke 13:31). Jesus warned His disciples about the teaching of Herod. “Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, ‘Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod’” (Mark 8:14-15 ESV).

Herod had followers called Herodian’s, who were not religious but held to the political worldview of Herod, which appears to encompass sensuality and corrupt living. Herod’s life was a mockery of everything godly.

Jesus stood moot before Herod, refusing to speak to the man. Herod wanted Him to perform, to entertain him and those with him. Herod had murdered Jesus’ cousin, the forerunner of the Christ. Jesus’ refusal to answer suggest His utter disdain for the man and what he represented. Herod’s life was one of scoffing and mockery, so his reaction to Jesus, who would not perform on command and who treated him with disrespect, was to mock and treat with contempt.

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod‘s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.

When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. (Luke 23:6-11 ESV)

Herod, a worldly leader, mocked and scoffed at Jesus because he could not control Him.

What does the godly man not do? He does not walk in his whole being with those whose every word and action contradicts God. He does not stand as a student before a teacher learning how to violate God’s will. Nor does he sit as equals with those, taking part in their blasphemous thinking and comments. Everything the godly man does is diametrically opposed to everything done by the wicked, sinful scoffer.

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