Summary: A sermon based on a vacation bible school song encouraging us to be more careful and deliberate in the way in which we live.
Be Careful What You Promise
Intro: There is an old chorus that I learned as a child in Vacation Bible School that applies to this passage beautifully. The words are as follows; Verse 1 - “O be careful little hands what you do. For the Father up above is looking down in love. So be careful little hands what you do.” Each verse could be modified by adding a body part such as eyes, ears, mouth, feet, etc. I believe this little child’s song has applications to three characters in this most interesting passage from Mark.
I. The first is Salome. Her verse would be, “O be careful little hands what you do.”
A. Salome was both a step-daughter and niece to Herod for whom she danced. Since she had this relationship to Herod, she would most certainly been considered of royal birth and lineage and probably a princess of the kingdom. As such, she would have been recognized as a person of position who should therefore be respected and admired.
B. This royal princess was encouraged to do a vulgar, solo dance for her step-father/uncle. It wasn’t just any respectable dance but one with great sexual overtones and highly erotic. This was a dance normally done by prostitutes and was usually followed by sexual activity.
C. When summoned to do this dance, Salome had a choice. She could have said no. But she was advised and directed by her mother into doing something that definitely would have gone against her status as a member of the royal family and certainly would raise eyebrows of spectators even today. Yet she is not unlike many young people today who are tempted to do something that goes against God’s laws and Jesus’ teachings. But, she could have just said no! But would she? She was encouraged by her mother. How many children today are led astray by well-meaning parents who encourage their children to be popular at any cost or who provide alcoholic beverages for teenager’s parties so that their children will be popular and well-liked? --- Oh be careful little hands what you do!”
II. Next would be Herodias, the mother of Salome and the wife of Herod. Her verse would probably be, “O be careful little ears what you hear.”
A. Herodias had been married to Herod’s brother. But Herod had lusted after his brother’s wife and seduced her murdering her husband and then taking her for his own wife. – I wonder what Herod said to her or promised Herodias to first, give in to his sexual advances. Then agree to marry him after he had murdered her first husband and his own brother? What could she have heard that would encourage her to be a party to these acts?
B. There were other words being said to and about Herodias. These were the words of John the Baptiser: Words that were accusatory, words that brought her sins and those of her husband into the public forum, words that enraged a queen and led to the death of God’s messenger. But they were also words of truth, words that spoke of sins committed in private but known to the world, powerful words, convicting words, bold words.
C. Truth about selves always hurts. We don’t like to see our sins and often we are not sorry for them. – How many times have you heard, “Don’t get mad, get even.” Or perhaps you have been confronted by your own sin and in righteous indignation claim that it wasn’t your fault, you were lead astray by some other or by circumstances. When the plain and simple fact is that you did it and didn’t care at the time about the consequences. When confronted by our sin we try to justify it or sweep it under the rug because we, like Herodias don’t want to hear it. – “O be careful little ears what you hear.”
III. Herod’s verse would definitely be “O be careful little mouth what you say.”
A. Remember this is the guy who killed his brother, murdered his own sons, and seduced brother’s wife. Doesn’t sound like the kind of person I would want in my family. But, then again, we don’t always get to choose the people with whom we will be related. --- Not only is he a murder, but in all likelihood he has displayed other deviant behavior. Salome is his step-daughter and he permits her to perform a sexually explicit dance for him and presumably others to enjoy. In seeing his pleasure, Herod’s judgment was impaired, his sense of values distorted.
B. He is so pleased and obviously aroused by what he has seen that he promises anything to Salome. When she comes back and asks for the head of John, what can Herod do but to grant her request. After all, he is the king and he must follow through with his oath. He was all about “saving face” and caving in to pressure from crowd who would surely remind him of his promise to Salome.