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God’s Word for You

Mark 6:21-23 The sin of Salome (Part 1)

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, January 14, 2023

Remember as we read that this account is a flashback, telling us why Herod thought that Jesus might possibly be John the Baptist risen from the dead. Here as in some other places, the Greek text does not call John “the Baptist,” but “the Baptizer” or “the one who baptized.”

21 Then an opportunity came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his nobles, military commanders, and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I will give it to you.” 23 Then he promised her with an oath: “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

An opportunity came for the bitterness of Herodias. It was Herod’s birthday, and the daughter of Herodias danced into the room during the birthday dinner banquet. The daughter of Herodias is not named here, but Josephus says that this was the daughter from Herodias’ earlier marriage with Herod’s brother, and that her name was Salome. Notice the girl’s sins. She is willing to go along with anything her mother says—the mother who abandoned her father and now plots to make a fool of her present husband.

The dance was such that it delighted her stepfather so much that he was led to make a ridiculous oath: He would give her anything she wanted. The traditional, “up to half my kingdom,” was used in ancient times (1 Kings 13:8; Esther 5:3,6, 7:2), and Herod is not being original in offering it, yet it was “at once boastful, frivolous, and foolish.” Perhaps this was a “voluptuous solo dance, or the pantomime which had found its way from Greece into the Orient, especially during the rule of Alexander the Great.” The reason for it all was the hatred of the mother for John’s preaching.

The sin of this young woman, Salome, probably never much affected her conscience. There is a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4), sometimes as part of the play of children (Judges 11:34), sometimes for a girl to attract a husband (Judges 21:23) or for a wife to flirt with and tease her husband (Song of Solomon 6:13). Sometimes a dance takes place to celebrate a victory (1 Samuel 21:11), and sometimes to praise the Lord (Psalm 149:3, 150:4). But Salome saw her dancing as a way to get what she wanted. She was falling headlong into the devil’s trap, thinking that she should use her body to get whatever she wanted in life. That she was led into this by her mother shows how careful parents need to be with their children. For if the pagans can lead their offspring into these sorts of sins, Christians will pray that they do not!

Our children look to us for patterns and role models. What patterns do we set? What kind of role models are we? Our children are the most precious treasure on earth. And while they are to regard us parents the same way, we must lead them to the feet of their Savior, cheerfully, regularly, so that they will look to us as their best examples of true Christian living. What greater joy can there be to a parent in the hour of their death than to know that they have godly children, properly taught, and raised in true blessedness? Our goal as a parent should be, to be able to say to a child: “Ask me for anything you want,” and being answered: “I have Jesus already, and he is everything I ever need!”

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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