|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:25-35 The same Spirit that provided for the support of Simeon's hope, provided for his joy. Those who would see Christ must go to his temple. Here is a confession of his faith, that this Child in his arms was the Saviour, the salvation itself, the salvation of God's appointing. He bids farewell to this world. How poor does this world look to one that has Christ in his arms, and salvation in his view! See here, how comfortable is the death of a good man; he departs in peace with God, peace with his own conscience, in peace with death. Those that have welcomed Christ, may welcome death. Joseph and Mary marvelled at the things which were spoken of this Child. Simeon shows them likewise, what reason they had to rejoice with trembling. And Jesus, his doctrine, and people, are still spoken against; his truth and holiness are still denied and blasphemed; his preached word is still the touchstone of men's characters. The secret good affections in the minds of some, will be revealed by their embracing Christ; the secret corruptions of others will be revealed by their enmity to Christ. Men will be judged by the thoughts of their hearts concerning Christ. He shall be a suffering Jesus; his mother shall suffer with him, because of the nearness of her relation and affection.
Verse 29. - Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. The beautiful little hymn of Simeon was no doubt preserved by the Virgin Mary and given to St. Luke. The Nunc dimittis has been used constantly in the liturgics of Christian Churches for fourteen centuries. The thought which runs through the hymn has been well put by Godet: "Simeon represents himself under the image of a sentinel, whom his master has placed in an elevated position, and charged to look for the appearance of a star, and then to announce it to the world. He sees this long-desired star; he proclaims its rising, and asks to be relieved of the post on the watch-tower he has occupied so long. In the same way, at the opening of AEschylus's 'Agamemnon,' when the sentinel, set to watch for the appearing of the fire that is to announce the taking of Troy, beholds at last the signal so impatiently expected, he sings at once both the victory of Greece and his own release."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant,.... He acknowledges him as his Lord, and to have a despotic power over him with respect to life and death; and himself as his servant, which he was, both by creation and grace: and though it expresses humiliation, and a sense of distance and unworthiness, yet to be a servant of the most high God, is a very high and honourable character: what he requests of the Lord is that he might
depart in peace; signifying his hearty desire to die, and with what cheerfulness he should meet death, having obtained all that he could wish for and desire, in seeing and embracing the Saviour: he expresses his death, by a departure out of the world, as in John 13:1 Philippians 1:21 agreeably to the way of speaking of it among the Jews. See Gill on Philippians 1:21 and by a word, which signifies a loosing of bonds; death being a dissolving the bond of union, between soul and body, and a deliverance, as from prison and bondage; the body being, as it were, a prison to the soul in the present state of things: and he also intimates, that whereas, though he had the strongest assurances of the Messiah's coming, and of his coming before his death, by the revelation of the Holy Ghost, and so most firmly believed it, without fluctuation, and hesitation of mind; yet as hope deferred makes the heart sick, he was anxious and restless in his desire, till it was accomplished; but now being come, he could take his leave of the world, and his entrance into eternity, with the greatest calmness and tranquillity of mind, having nothing to disturb him, nor more to desire: he adds,
according to thy word; for he seems to have understood by the revelation made to him, that as he should not die before he saw the Messiah, so, when he had seen him, that he should immediately, or in a very short time after, be removed by death; and which he greatly desired, and in which, he sinned not, because his request was according to the word of God: whereas often, desires of death are not only without the word of God, and due resignation to his will, and any regard to his glory, but to be rid of some trouble, or gratify some lust, as pride, revenge, &c.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. Lord—"Master," a word rarely used in the New Testament, and selected here with peculiar propriety, when the aged saint, feeling that his last object in wishing to live had now been attained, only awaited his Master's word of command to "depart."
now lettest, &c.—more clearly, "now Thou art releasing Thy servant"; a patient yet reverential mode of expressing a desire to depart.
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