The end of Acts 12 has a startling description of the death of Herod, who had been a chief persecutor of the early church:
On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the word of God increased and multiplied (Acts 12:21-24, emphasis mine).
The first-century Jewish historian, Josephus (not a Christian), confirms this hard to believe account, vividly describing how Herod suffered:
His entrails were also exulcerated, and the chief violence of his pain lay on his colon; an aqueous and transparent liquor also settled itself about his feet, and a like matter afflicted him at the bottom of his belly. Nay, farther, his privy member was putrified, and produced worms; and when he sat upright he had a difficulty of breathing, which was very loathsome, on account of the stench of his breath, and the quickness of its returns; he had also convulsions in all parts of his body, which increased his strength to an insufferable degree. (The Works of Josephus: Ant 17.169).
Ouch. This is obviously a horrible way to die. The question that comes to my mind is, why would God strike Herod down in this particular way? There were many ways to strike Herod other than this. What might we learn from it?
I think the lesson from this is that giving way to pride and self-exaltation is like allowing your life to be eaten alive from the inside out. Pride is an inner disease that sometimes even hides itself in those who appear humble. It eats away at your heart and slowly decays your ability to love, worship, serve, and give.
Want to die on the inside? Then don’t give God the glory, honor, and credit he deserves. It might feel good now, but soon enough your life will be ruined from the inside out.