"Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king's personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king's country. So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, 'The voice of a god and not of a man!' Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of the Lord grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:20-24).
For some reason that is unknown to us, Herod was upset with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him pleading for peace. This was a smart move on their part since Herod could interfere with their food supply, if he wished. They wisely were very friendly toward the king's personal aide, Blastus, which would only help them achieve the desired peace with the king.
In response to their reconciliation effort, Herod, dressed in his luxurious, royal garments, spoke to the people. The people, likely in an effort to please Herod, shouted out and affirmed repeatedly: "The voice of a god and not of a man!" Herod knew, of course, that this was not correct and that they were wrong to say such about him. Yet, he did not do anything to silence their repeated cries of glory. In failing to do that he was guilty of false pride and did not give proper glory to the true and living God! As a consequence, Herod died a horrible death after being eaten by worms. In other words, the worms caused his death. Josephus, a secular historian, recorded that Herod did not rebuke their idolatrous praise and that a "severe pain" arose in his stomach (evidently caused by the worms). The pain was so severe he collapsed and had to be carried to the palace. After five days of excruciating pain, Herod died at the age of 54.
Certainly there is a lesson here for us all: When we are guilty of false pride and failing to give God the glory, we will eventually be destroyed if we fail to repent. Proverbs 16:18,19 teaches - "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." Likewise in I Peter 5:5,6 - "Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." May we all endeavor to be humble and give God the glory He so richly deserves!
Despite James' death and Peter's imprisonment, the church continued to grow as the wonderful word of God was spread! The persecution efforts intended to slow or destroy the church, but they failed and had the opposite effect. The providential and sudden death of the murderer, Herod, certainly would have affected the public mindset (it would have been a terror to the wicked and an encouragement to the righteous). "The word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:24). This is a recurring theme in the book of Acts. Even though the church is being persecuted, yet it grows as the disciples stay busy preaching, teaching, praying, and living God's word.