Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. (Matthew 2:7–9)
Psalm 2 is a helpful place to start as we look at this passage. Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:1–3) Why indeed!
From Herod in the first century to leaders in the 21st century, people plot to overthrow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet he is still on his throne. Notice how Herod attempted get rid of this king.
He first entertained the Wise Men’s questions with the answer he had obtained. Then he brought them in secretly. Why secretly? Herod didn’t want to let on that he was worried or angry. He pretended kindness and even delight at this news. Herod made it seem like he was happy, truly intrigued and excited to hear of this birth.
Herod also didn’t want the people to know. Plots must be kept secret to risk any type of accountability. The smaller the circle of knowledge, the easier it is to keep secret.
Notice what Herod said in verse 8: “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”
Every word but the last two in this sentence was the truth. He wanted them to search diligently, to find the baby, to bring him so that he could come.
Worship was not on Herod’s mind. Worship in the Greek language means to bow the knee or prostrate before someone. Herod would never bow to God or his Son Jesus.
Herod must have been somewhat convincing, because the Wise Men listened to him. God used Herod, even though Herod would never agree to be used by God. We see at the end of the passage that Herod didn’t succeed. God’s plan is not thwarted by deception.
God’s response to Herod, and to all who rage against him, is this: As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill. 7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:6–8). Praise the sovereign Lord of all!