I’m thankful that you asked that question. It’s always refreshing to hear from someone who wants to know what the Bible says about a particular subject. Too often, we form our views or opinions, then search the scriptures for verses that will agree with our individual wants. May our standard always be: WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURES?

In the Word, we read of two particular birthdays being celebrated, and they both ended with someone losing their life! I’m sure most of us are familiar with the story of Joseph being put into prison in Egypt. Before long, Pharaoh’s chief baker and chief butler were put into prison with him. Both of these men dreamed dreams and asked Joseph if he could interpret their dreams. In short, Joseph told both these men that in three days they would both be freed from the prison. The chief butler would return to his job, but the chief baker would be hung to death. I encourage you to read Genesis, chapter 40 to learn the details of this incident. We read in Genesis 40:20-22, “And it came to pass the third day, which was PHARAOH’S BIRTHDAY, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand: But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.” Sounds like an extremely bad birthday party!

In the New Testament, we read that King Herod had taken his brother’s wife for his own. John the Baptist spoke out against Herod’s act. Matthew 14:3-4 tells us, “For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.” Let’s read the rest of the story in Matthew 14:5-11, “And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when HEROD’S BIRTHDAY was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.” Another extremely bad birthday party!

What are we to learn from this? Is the Lord using these events to show us that birthday celebrations are bad? I don’t think so. A birthday celebration, which ought to have been held sacred, was profaned by these two men of great power with disgraceful abuses. It is true that any celebration or feast is subject to being abused by being too disorderly or by the consumption of too much alcohol. Yet, in spite of the outrageous behavior of others, it is possible to honor the Lord in a birthday celebration.

Let’s consider the words of David as he described the wonder of his birth. Psalm 139:13-18 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written. The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God. How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.” (NKJV)

The scripture doesn’t tell us specifically if birthday celebrations are good or bad. When there is not a direct message on any subject, we must look for principles taught in the scriptures to determine what is correct to do. If we keep in mind the words of David in the psalm we just read, we can use our birthdays to celebrate the Lord for the life He has given us. He who knew us before we were even formed, knows the exact number of days that we will live. We can celebrate the wonder of life and the One who has given us life. We can say as David said, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God.” That would be an honorable way to celebrate our birthdays. In fact, we can celebrate this every day! (289.10)