Luke 1:67
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(67) Was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied.—The latter word appears to be used in its wider sense of an inspired utterance of praise (as, e.g., in 1Samuel 19:20; 1Corinthians 14:24-25). The hymn that follows appears as the report, written, probably, by Zachariah himself, of the praises that had been uttered in the first moments of his recovered gift of speech. As such, we may think of it as expressing the pent-up thoughts of the months of silence. The fire had long been kindling, and at last he spake with his tongue.

Luke

ZACHARIAS’S HYMN

Luke 1:67 - Luke 1:80
.

Zacharias was dumb when he disbelieved. His lips were opened when he believed. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets, [Footnote: In the strictest sense, John the Baptist was a prophet of the Old dispensation, even though he came to usher in the New. {See Matthew 11:9 - Matthew 11:11.} In the same sense, Zacharias was the last prophet of the Old dispensation, before the coming of his son to link the Old with the New.] and as standing nearest to the Messiah, his song takes up the echoes of all the past, and melts them into a new outpouring of exultant hope. The strain is more impassioned than Mary’s, and throbs with triumph over ‘our enemies,’ but rises above the mere patriotic glow into a more spiritual region. The complete subordination of the personal element is very remarkable, as shown by the slight and almost parenthetical reference to John. The father is forgotten in the devout Israelite. We may take the song as divided into three portions: the first {Luke 1:68 - Luke 1:75} celebrating the coming of Messiah, with special reference to its effect in freeing Israel from its foes; the second {Luke 1:76 - Luke 1:77}, the highly dramatic address to his unconscious ‘child’; the third {Luke 1:78 - Luke 1:79} returns to the absorbing thought of the Messiah, but now touches on higher aspects of His coming as the Light to all who sit in darkness.

I. If we remember that four hundred dreary years, for the most part of which Israel had been groaning under a foreign yoke, had passed since the last of the prophets, and that during all that time devout eyes had looked wearily for the promised Messiah, we shall be able to form some faint conception of the surprise and rapture which filled Zacharias’s spirit, and leaps in his hymn at the thought that now, at last, the hour had struck, and that the child would soon be born who was to fulfil the divine promises and satisfy fainting hopes. No wonder that its first words are a burst of blessing of ‘the God of Israel.’ The best expression of joy, when long-cherished desires are at last on the eve of accomplishment, is thanks to God. How short the time of waiting seems when it is past, and how needless the impatience which marred the waiting! Zacharias speaks of the fact as already realised. He must have known that the Incarnation was accomplished; for we can scarcely suppose that the emphatic tenses ‘hath visited, hath redeemed, hath raised’ are prophetic, and merely imply the certainty of a future event. He must have known, too, Mary’s royal descent; for he speaks of ‘the house of David.’

‘A horn’ of salvation is an emblem taken from animals, and implies strength. Here it recalls several prophecies, and as a designation of the Messiah, shadows forth His conquering might, all to be used for deliverance to His people. The vision before Zacharias is that of a victor king of Davidic race, long foretold by prophets, who will set Israel free from its foreign oppressors, whether Roman or Idumean, and in whom God Himself ‘visits and redeems His people.’ There are two kinds of divine visitations-one for mercy and one for judgment. What an unconscious witness it is of men’s evil consciences that the use of the phrase has almost exclusively settled down upon the latter meaning! In Luke 1:71 - Luke 1:75, the idea of the Messianic salvation is expanded and raised. The word ‘salvation’ is best construed, as in the Revised Version, as in apposition with and explanatory of ‘horn of salvation.’ This salvation has issues, which may also be regarded as God’s purposes in sending it. These are threefold: first, to show mercy to the dead fathers of the race. That is a striking idea, and pictures the departed as, in their solemn rest, sharing in the joy of Messiah’s coming, and perhaps in the blessings which He brings. We may not too closely press the phrase, but it is more than poetry or imagination. The next issue is God’s remembrance of His promises, or in other words, His fulfilment of these. The last is that the nation, being set free, should serve God. The external deliverance was in the eyes of devout men like Zacharias precious as a means to an end. Political freedom was needful for God’s service, and was valuable mainly as leading to that. The hymn rises far above the mere impatience of a foreign yoke. ‘Freedom to worship God,’ and God worshipped by a ransomed nation, are Zacharias’s ideal of the Messianic times.

Note his use of the word for priestly ‘service.’ He, a priest, has not forgotten that by original constitution all Israel was a nation of priests; and he looks forward to the fulfilment at last of the ideal which so soon became impracticable, and possibly to the abrogation of his own order in the universal priesthood. He knew not what deep truths he sang. The end of Christ’s coming, and of the deliverance which He works for us from the hand of our enemies, cannot be better stated than in these words. We are redeemed that we may be priests unto God. Our priestly service must be rendered in ‘holiness and righteousness,’ in consecration to God and discharge of all obligations; and it is to be no interrupted or occasional service, like Zacharias’s, which occupied but two short weeks in the year, and might never again lead him within the sanctuary, but is to fill with reverent activity and thankful sacrifice all our days. However this hymn may have begun with the mere external conception of Messianic deliverance, it rises high above that here, and will still further soar beyond it. We may learn from this priest-prophet, who anticipated the wise men and brought his offerings to the unborn Christ, what Christian salvation is, and for what it is given us.

II. There is something very vivid and striking in the abrupt address to the infant, who lay, all unknowing, in his mother’s arms. The contrast between him as he was then and the work which waited him, the paternal wonder and joy which yet can scarcely pause on the child, and hurries on to fancy him in the years to come, going herald-like before the face of the Lord, the profound prophetic insight into John’s work, are all noteworthy. The Baptist did ‘prepare the way’ by teaching that the true ‘salvation’ was not to be found in mere deliverance from the Roman yoke, but in ‘remission of sin.’ He thus not only gave ‘knowledge of salvation,’ in the sense that he announced the fact that it would be given, but also in the sense that he clearly taught in what it consisted. John was no preacher of revolt, as the turbulent and impure patriots of the day would have liked him to be, but of repentance. His work was to awake the consciousness of sin, and so to kindle desires for a salvation which was deliverance from sin, the only yoke which really enslaves. Zacharias the ‘blameless’ saw what the true bondage of the nation was, and what the work both of the Deliverer and of His herald must be. We need to be perpetually reminded of the truth that the only salvation and deliverance which can do us any good consist in getting rid, by pardon and by holiness, of the cords of our sins.

III. The thoughts of the Forerunner and his office melt into that of the Messianic blessings from which the singer cannot long turn away. In these closing words, we have the source, the essential nature, and the blessed results of the gift of Christ set forth in a noble figure, and freed from the national limitations of the earlier part of the hymn. All comes from the ‘bowels of mercy of our God,’ as Zacharias, in accordance with Old Testament metaphor, speaks, allocating the seat of the emotions which we attribute to the heart. Conventional notions of delicacy think the Hebrew idea coarse, but the one allocation is just as delicate as the other. We can get no deeper down or farther back into the secret springs of things than this-that the root cause of all, and most especially of the mission of Christ, is the pitying love of God’s heart. If we hold fast by that, the pain of the riddle of the world is past, and the riddle itself more than half solved. Jesus Christ is the greatest gift of that love, in which all its tenderness and all its power are gathered up for our blessing.

The modern civilised world owes most of its activity to the quickening influence of Christianity. The dayspring visits us that it may shine on us, and it shines that it may guide us into ‘the way of peace.’ There can be no wider and more accurate description of the end of Christ’s mission than this-that all His visitation and enlightenment are meant to lead us into the path where we shall find peace with God, and therefore with ourselves and with all mankind. The word ‘peace,’ in the Old Testament, is used to include the sum of all that men require for their conscious well-being. We are at rest only when all our relations with God and the outer world are right, and when our inner being is harmonised with itself, and supplied with appropriate objects. To know God for our friend, to have our being fixed on and satisfied in Him, and so to be reconciled to all circumstances, and a friend of all men-this is peace; and the path to such a blessed condition is shown us only by that Sun of Righteousness whom the loving heart of God has sent into the darkness and torpor of the benighted wanderers in the desert. The national reference has faded from the song, and though it still speaks of ‘us’ and ‘our,’ we cannot doubt that Zacharias both saw more deeply into the salvation which Christ would bring than to limit it to breaking an earthly yoke, and deemed more worthily and widely of its sweep, than to confine it within narrower bounds than the whole extent of the dreary darkness which it came to banish from all the world.Luke 1:67. And Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost — Was endued with a more than ordinary measure of the Spirit of God, supernaturally enlightening his mind in the knowledge of divine things: and even of future events. God not only forgave him his unbelief and distrust, which was signified by discharging him from the punishment of it, but, as a specimen of his abounding grace and mercy toward believers, he filled him with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that he might speak to his praise, and the instruction and edification of mankind of that and every future age and nation. And he prophesied — Of things immediately to follow, which proved the accomplishment of God’s promises made to Abraham, and the other patriarchs and prophets, concerning the redemption and salvation of God’s people by the Messiah. By prophesying, no more is sometimes meant in the Scriptures than celebrating the praises of God with great elevation and affection of soul, as 1 Chronicles 25:1, Where Asaph and Jeduthun are said to prophesy with the harp and cymbal, which, Luke 1:3, is explained by their giving praise and thanks to God. But as Zacharias is said, on this occasion, to have uttered predictions concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah, and the office and ministry of his own son, the ordinary sense of the word prophesy may be here very properly admitted. 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.Filled with the Holy Ghost - See Luke 1:15.

And prophesied - The word "prophesy" means:

1. To foretell future events.

2. To celebrate the praises of God (see 1 Samuel 10:5-6; 1 Kings 18:29); then to,

3. Teach or preach the gospel, etc. See the notes at Romans 12:6.

This song of Zechariah partakes of all. It is principally employed in the praises of God, but it also predicts the future character and preaching of John.

66. hand of the Lord was with him—by special tokens marking him out as one destined to some great work (1Ki 18:46; 2Ki 3:15; Ac 11:21). We must not think that Zacharias was before this time destitute of the Holy Ghost, we heard the contrary before, Luke 1:6, but the Holy Ghost at this time came upon him by a particular and more especial impulse; as it did upon the prophets, whom the Spirit moved but at some special times to prophesy, though it at all times dwelt and wrought in them, as a holy, sanctifying Spirit. This is made good by the next words, which tell us he

prophesied; which word signifieth any speaking for or instead of another, and is not only applicable to such speakings as are foretellings of things which shall afterward come to pass, but unto any speaking for or instead of God, in the revelation of his will made known unto us. In this prophecy there is both predictions of what should come to pass concerning John and concerning Christ, and also applications of what was before spoken of them by the prophets; and it is observed by some, that it is an epitome of all those ancient prophecies, and that there is in it a compendium of the whole doctrine of the gospel. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost,.... With a spirit of prophecy, as his wife Elisabeth had been before, Luke 1:41.

and prophesied saying; the following things, relating to the Messiah, his incarnation and redemption by him; to the accomplishing of the covenant, oath, promise and mercy of God to his people; and to his son, the forerunner of Christ; and to his work and office, in the various parts and branches of it, which he should perform. Whence it appears, that the following song is of divine inspiration; and that Zacharias spake it as he was moved by the Holy Ghost, as the prophets of old did.

{7} And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

(7) John, having just been born, by the authority of the Holy Spirit is appointed to his office.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 1:67. After the historical episode of Luke 1:65 there now follows, in reference to εὐλογῶν τ. Θεόν, Luke 1:64, the hymn itself (the so-called Benedictus) into which Zacharias broke forth, and that on the spot (Kuinoel erroneously suggests that it was only composed subsequently by Zacharias). At the same time the remark ἐπλήσθη πνεύμ. ἁγ. is repeated, and the hymn is in respect of its nature more precisely designated as prophecy. It is, like that of Mary, Luke 1:46 ff. constructed in strophes, containing five strophes, each of three verses. See Ewald.

προεφήτευσε] denotes not merely prediction, but the utterance of revelation generally stimulated and sustained by the Spirit, which includes in it prediction proper. See on 1 Corinthians 12:10.Luke 1:67-79. The song of Zechariah, called from the first word of it in the Vulgate the Benedictus. It is usually divided into five strophes, but it is more obviously divisible into two main parts, Luke 1:67-75, Luke 1:76-79. (Briggs, The Messiah of the Gospels, calls these divisions strophes, thus recognising only two.) Hillmann (Jahrb. f. prot. Theol., 1891) regards the first part as a purely Jewish Psalm, having no reference to the birth of the Baptist; furnished with a preface, Luke 1:67, and an epilogue referring to the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus by the evangelist. J. Weiss (in Meyer) seems to accept this conclusion, only suggesting that the second part (Luke 1:76-79) might be in the source used by Lk., appended to the Psalm by the Jewish-Christian redactor.Luke 1:67. Προεφήτευσε, prophesied) concerning the events which were immediately about to be. These prophesyings were spoken by Zacharias, either on the very day of John’s circumcision, or after that the fact had become widely circulated.Verse 67. - His father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying. The inspired hymn which follows - thought out, no doubt, with the Holy Spirit's help in the course of the long enforced seclusion which his first want of faith had brought upon him - holds a prominent place in all Western liturgics. Like the Magnificat, it is believed to have been first introduced into the public worship of the Church about the middle of the sixth century by St. Csesarius of Aries. It may be briefly summarized as a thanksgiving for the arrival of the times of Messiah.
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