7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and inquired from them exactly the time the star appeared.
Herod decided to have a private word with the wise men in order to establish the exact time the star had appeared. Why was this done in private? Even at this stage was the paranoia of Herod leading him to be afraid for his own throne, and the succession to one of his sons?
It would seem that the darker side of Herod’s character was coming to the forefront. His life was controlled by fear both for his own life, and for the succession of his throne.
Fear can be a dominant force that propels us into actions that can be either crippling or positive. Unfortunately our English word for fear has to take different meanings.
There is the positive fear of reverence, which Proverbs speaks about: Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding – Prov. 9.10 (NLT).
However, at other times fear can be a real dread or horror. This fear is also spoken about in Proverbs: ‘Fearing people is a dangerous trap’ – Proverbs. 29.25 (NLT)
Herod’s understanding was not that the Messiah had been born, but that one had been born who would wrestle his kingdom away from him.
His desire to know the exact time of the stars appearing was to do with his imagined political and supposed assassination plots, but nothing to do with the advent of the Kingdom of God. He was governed by the fear of man and not the fear of the Lord.
Here is an important lesson for us all: If we fear (revere) the Lord we will grow in wisdom and understanding, whereas if we live in the fear of man our spiritual growth will be stunted, and we are likely to sink into the depth of paranoia.
God’s word also tells us that: In love there is no fear because perfect love drives it out. The person fearing has not been made perfect in love – 1 John 4.18.
May the love of Jesus completely overcome our fear of man and lead us deeper into the fear (reverence) of our Heavenly Father.