|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:67-80 Zacharias uttered a prophecy concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah. The gospel brings light with it; in it the day dawns. In John the Baptist it began to break, and increased apace to the perfect day. The gospel is discovering; it shows that about which we were utterly in the dark; it is to give light to those that sit in darkness, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is reviving; it brings light to those that sit in the shadow of death, as condemned prisoners in the dungeon. It is directing; it is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way which will bring us to peace at last, Ro 3:17. John gave proofs of strong faith, vigorous and holy affections, and of being above the fear and love of the world. Thus he ripened for usefulness; but he lived a retired life, till he came forward openly as the forerunner of the Messiah. Let us follow peace with all men, as well as seek peace with God and our own consciences. And if it be the will of God that we live unknown to the world, still let us diligently seek to grow strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.
Verse 79. - To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. It would seem that for a moment the Hebrew priest saw beyond the narrow horizon of Israel, and that here, in the close of his glorious song, he caught sight of the distant far-reaching isles of the Gentiles, over which so deep a darkness brooded for ages.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
To give light to them that sit in darkness,.... God's elect among the Jews, who were not only in a state of unregeneracy, which is a state of darkness, ignorance, and unbelief; but in the darkness of the legal dispensation, and at this time under more than ordinary darkness and ignorance; having lost the knowledge of the righteousness of God, and of the spirituality of his law, the true sense of the Scriptures, and right notions of the Messiah; being led by blind guides, the Scribes and Pharisees,
and, were as it were also,
in the shadow of death; in a state seemingly irrecoverable, when Christ, the great light arose, and shone upon them; and communicated spiritual light, life, and heat unto them; see Isaiah 9:2 compared with Matthew 4:13 though Christ is also a light, to lighten his chosen ones among the Gentiles, Luke 2:32 but the Jews seem chiefly to be intended here:
to guide our feet into the way of peace; which we knew not: not that he came to teach us how to make our peace with God, but to make peace for us, by the blood of his cross; and so by his Spirit and word, lead us into the true way of enjoying spiritual peace here, and eternal peace hereafter.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
79. (Compare Isa 9:2; Mt 4:13-17). "That St. Luke, of all the Evangelists, should have obtained and recorded these inspired utterances of Zacharias and Mary—is in accordance with his character and habits, as indicated in Lu 1:1-4" [Webster and Wilkinson].
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