Songs of the King #2
1. The Second Gospel Song was first sung in such a circumstance that “fear came on all their neighbors,” but it is filled the wonderful words of life: “tender mercy...the sunrise shall visit us...to give light...to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
2. It is often called the Benedictus, after the word for the first word, “blessed,” in the Latin version of it.
a. As that beginning suggests, it is a song of thanksgiving; and as we will learn, it is a song of thanksgiving that God has acted to bring about the salvation which he long prepared.
b. It is the song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and it has something to say to all of us.
1. The meaning of the song
a. The setting which produced Zechariah’s song is calculated to heighten its impact on all who heard it.
i. Rejoicing over mercy shown (57, 58)
ii. Puzzling over what he would be called (59-61)
iii. Settled by his father (62, 63)
iv. A tongue loosed to praise God (64)
v. All these things were talked about (65-66)
b. The substance of the song grows out of what it is.
i. A singer prophesying about the prophets (67)
ii. “Salvation” the word around which it is organized (69, 71, 77)
iii. The language and characters of the Old Testament
iv. About something that took place in a prepared context
v. Announcing the fulfillment of what the prophets had announced for centuries
2. The message of the song
a. What Zechariah says (68, 69)
i. Spoken in the “prophetic past tense”
ii. “He has visited”
iii. “He has...redeemed his people”
iv. “He has raise up a horn of salvation”
v. Note carefully the significance of this horn being raised up “in the house of his servant David”
b. What the Old Testament prophets said (70-73)
i. Phrases are added together to emphasize that God has now done what he said he would do.
(1) “as he spoke” (70)
(2) “to show the mercy promised” (72)
(3) “to remember his holy covenant” (72)
(4) “the oath that he swore” (73)
(5) Numbers 23:19
ii. Even the names of the characters here may be teaching this truth.
(1) Zechariah: “God has remembered” (here, his covenant)
(2) Elizabeth: “God is oath” (the absolutely faithful one)
(3) John: “God is gracious” (has been merciful)
iii. A crucial aspect of this song is what it says the fulfillment of God’s oath and his promises was.
(1) What they may have thought when they read “from our enemies”
(2) But what will be said in 77b redefines this: “in the forgiveness of their sins”
(3) God’s goals are spiritual ones: a people who “might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (74b-75; cf. Gen. 22:16-18).
c. What John the Baptist will say (76-79)
i. This child was to have the task of getting his people ready for what another would do.
(1) Called the prophet of the Most High” (cf. 1:16-17)
(2) “Will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (cf. Mal. 3:1)
(3) “To give the knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins”
ii. The mercy of God which would prepare through him would provide through the other.
(1) “The sunrise shall visit us from on high”
(2) “To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death”
(3) “To guide our feet into the way of peace”
1. Zechariah looked forward in faith and spoke as if it had already been done.
2. The question is whether we can look back in faith upon what has actually been done and offer to God the same kind of obedience and thanksgiving because of it.