For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold on John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife…
I. THE HERO OF CONSCIENCE CONTRASTED WITH THE VOLUPTUARY. The former chooses to be true and loyal to the right rather than to live; the latter postpones everything to "life," in the lowest and most sensual acceptation of the word. Yet the wicked man involuntarily respects the good man.
II. THE SLAVE OF SPURIOUS HONOUR CONTRASTED WITH THE SERVANT OF THE TRUTH. Herod excuses his violent deed; nay, he pretends that it is required in order to satisfy his word as a man of honor. Such a one as his victim would never have given his word in such a case.
III. THE TRUE PARTS OF MEN IN LIFE OFTEN SEEM TO BE REVERSED. John loses his head at the order of Herod. The sublime hero bows before the weak tyrant. So is it in the "whirligig of time." Unless we keep our eye firmly fixed on the unseen and spiritual, it may appear that all things are turned upside down. But there is only one relation of things, and that is God's. Herod is really to be pitied. Over John is extended the shield of omnipotence, and in the very moment of his violence Herod is most weak. (Comp. R. Browning's poem, 'Instans Tyrannus.') - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her.