The angel of the Lord smote him - His death was most evidently a judgment from God.
Because he gave not God the glory - He did not rebuke his flatterers, but permitted them to give him that honor that was due to God alone. See on Acts 12:21; (note).
And was eaten of worms - Whether this was the morbus pedicularis, or whether a violent inflammation of his bowels, terminating in putrefaction, did not actually produce worms, which, for several days, swarmed in his infected entrails, we cannot tell. It is most likely that this latter was the case; and this is at once more agreeable to the letter of the text, and to the circumstances of the case as related by Josephus.
And gave up the ghost - That is, he died of the disorder by which he was then seized, after having lingered, in excruciating torments, for five days, as Josephus has stated. Antiochus Epiphanes and Herod the Great died of the same kind of disease. See the observations at the end of Acts 1:26; (note) relative to the death of Judas.
And immediately the angel of the Lord - Diseases and death axe in the Scriptures often attributed to an angel. See 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:12, 1 Chronicles 21:15, 1 Chronicles 21:20, 1 Chronicles 21:27; 2 Chronicles 32:21. It is not intended that there was a miracle in this case, but it certainly is intended by the sacred writer that his death was a divine judgment on him for his receiving homage as a god. Josephus says of him that he “did neither rebuke them the people nor reject their impious flattery. A severe pain arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner. And when he was quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life, in the 54th year of his age, and the 7th year of his reign.” Josephus does not mention that it was done by an angel, but says that when he looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a rope over his head, and judging it to be an evil omen, he immediately became melancholy, and was seized with the pain.
Because he gave not God the glory - Because he was willing to receive the worship due to God. It was the more sinful in him as he was a Jew, and was acquainted with the true God, and with the evils of idolatry. He was proud, and willing to be flattered, and even adored. He had sought their applause; he had arrayed himself in this splendid manner to excite admiration; and when they carried it even so far as to offer divine homage, he did not reject the impious flattery, but listened stir to their praises. Hence, he was judged; and God vindicated his own insulted honor by inflicting severe pains on him, and by a most awful death.
And he was eaten of worms - The word used here is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. A similar disease is recorded of Antiochus Epiphanes, in the Apocrypha, Acts 12:9, so that worms rose up out of the body of this wicked man,” etc. Probably this was the disease known as morbus pedicularis. It is loathsome, offensive, and most painful. See the death of Antiochus Epiphanes described in Isaiah 42:8.
(3) that the most proud, and mighty, and magnificent princes have no security of their lives. God can in a moment - even when they are surrounded by their worshippers and flatterers - touch the seat of life, and turn them to loathsomeness and putrefaction. What a pitiable being is a man of pride receiving from his fellow-men that homage which is due to God alone! See Isaiah 14.
(4) pride and vanity, in any station of life, are hateful in the sight of God. Nothing is more inappropriate to our situation as lost, dying sinners, and nothing will more certainly meet the wrath of heaven.
(5) we have here a strong confirmation of the truth of the sacred narrative. In all essential particulars Luke coincides in his account of the death of Herod with Josephus. This is one of the many circumstances which show that the sacred Scriptures were written at the time when they professed to be, and that they accord with the truth. See Lardner‘s Credibility, part 1, chapter 1, section 6.
Some of those whose voices were now heard glorifying a vile sinner had but a few years before raised the frenzied cry, Away with Jesus! Crucify Him, crucify Him! The Jews had refused to receive Christ, whose garments, coarse and often travel-stained, covered a heart of divine love. Their eyes could not discern, under the humble exterior, the Lord of life and glory, even though Christ's power was revealed before them in works that no mere man could do. But they were ready to worship as a god the haughty king whose splendid garments of silver and gold covered a corrupt, cruel heart. AA 150.1
Herod knew that he deserved none of the praise and homage offered him, yet he accepted the idolatry of the people as his due. His heart bounded with triumph, and a glow of gratified pride overspread his countenance as he heard the shout ascend, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” AA 151.1
But suddenly a terrible change came over him. His face became pallid as death and distorted with agony. Great drops of sweat started from his pores. He stood for a moment as if transfixed with pain and terror; then turning his blanched and livid face to his horror-stricken friends, he cried in hollow, despairing tones, He whom you have exalted as a god is stricken with death. AA 151.2Read in context »
Early in the morning of the first day of the week, before it was yet light, holy women came to the sepulcher, bringing sweet spices to anoint the body of Jesus. They found that the heavy stone had been rolled away from the door of the sepulcher, and the body of Jesus was not there. Their hearts sank within them, and they feared that their enemies had taken away the body. Suddenly they beheld two angels in white apparel, their faces bright and shining. These heavenly beings understood the errand of the women and immediately told them that Jesus was not there; He had risen, but they could behold the place where He had lain. They bade them go and tell His disciples that He would go before them into Galilee. With fear and great joy the women hurried back to the sorrowing disciples and told them the things which they had seen and heard. EW 186.1
The disciples could not believe that Christ had risen, but, with the women who had brought the report, ran hastily to the sepulcher. They found that Jesus was not there; they saw His linen clothes, but could not believe the good news that He had risen from the dead. They returned home marveling at what they had seen, also at the report brought them by the women. But Mary chose to linger around the sepulcher, thinking of what she had seen, and distressed with the thought that she might have been deceived. She felt that new trials awaited her. Her grief was renewed, and she broke forth in bitter weeping. She stooped down to look again into the sepulcher, and beheld two angels clothed in white. One was sitting where the head of Jesus had lain, the other where His feet had been. They spoke to her tenderly, and asked her why she wept. She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” EW 186.2
As she turned from the sepulcher, she saw Jesus standing near, but knew Him not. He spoke to her tenderly, inquiring the cause of her sorrow and asking whom she was seeking. Supposing that He was the gardener, she begged Him, if He had borne away her Lord, to tell her where He had laid Him, that she might take Him away. Jesus spoke to her with His own heavenly voice, saying, “Mary!” She was acquainted with the tones of that dear voice, and quickly answered, “Master!” and in her joy was about to embrace Him; but Jesus said, “Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.” Joyfully she hastened to the disciples with the good news. Jesus quickly ascended to His Father to hear from His lips that He accepted the sacrifice, and to receive all power in heaven and upon earth. EW 187.1Read in context »
1, 2. A Praise Service on a Stormy Morning—When the roll was called, not one was missing. Nearly three hundred souls—sailors, soldiers, passengers, and prisoners—stood that stormy November morning upon the shore of the island of Melita. And there were some that joined with Paul and his brethren in giving thanks to God, who had preserved their lives and brought them safe to land through the perils of the great deep (Sketches from the Life of Paul, 270). 6BC 1067.1
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When the report of these things was brought to Herod, he was exasperated, and charged the keepers of the prison with unfaithfulness. They were accordingly put to death for the alleged crime of sleeping at their post. At the same time Herod knew that no human power had rescued Peter. But he was determined not to acknowledge that a divine power had been at work to thwart his base designs. He would not humiliate himself thus, but set himself boldly in defiance of God. SR 298.1
Herod, not long after Peter's deliverance from prison, went down from Judea to Caesarea and there abode. He there made a grand festival, designed to excite the admiration and applause of the people. Pleasure lovers from all quarters were assembled together, and there was much feasting and wine drinking. Herod made a most gorgeous appearance before the people. He was clad in a robe, sparkling with silver and gold, that caught the rays of the sun in its glittering folds, and dazzled the eyes of the beholders. With great pomp and ceremony he stood before the multitude, and addressed them in an eloquent oration. SR 298.2Read in context »