Luke 1:72
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
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(72) To perform the mercy.—The verse has been thought, and with apparent reason, to contain a reference, after the manner of the ancient prophets (comp. Isaiah 8:3; Micah 1:10-15), to the name of the speaker, of his wife, and of his child. In “performing mercy,” we find an allusion to John or Jochanan (= “The Lord be merciful”); in “remembering His holy covenant,” to the name Zacharias (= “Whom Jehovah remembers”); in the “oath” of Luke 1:73, to that of Elizabeth or Elisheba (= “The oath of my God”). The play upon the words would, of course, be obvious in the original Hebrew (i.e., Aramaic) of the hymn, which we have only in its Greek version.

His holy covenant.—The covenant is clearly that made with Abraham in Genesis 15:18. In thus going back to that as the starting-point of the New Covenant which was to be made in Christ, Zacharias anticipates the teaching of St. Paul in Galatians 3:15-19.

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.To perform the mercy - To show the mercy promised. The expression in the "original" is, "To make mercy with our fathers" - that is, to show kindness to our fathers; and the propriety of it is founded on the fact that mercy to "children" is regarded as kindness to the "parent." Blessing the "children" was blessing the "nation;" was fulfilling the promises made to the fathers, and "showing" that he regarded them in mercy.

His holy covenant - The word "covenant" means compact or agreement. This is in use among people. It implies equality in the parties; freedom from constraint; freedom from previous obligation to do the thing now covenanted; and freedom from obligation to enter into a compact, unless a man chooses so to do. Such a transaction evidently can never take place between man and God, for they are not equal. Man is not at liberty to "decline" what God proposes, and he is under obligation to do "all" that God commands. When the word "covenant," therefore, is used in the Bible, it means sometimes a "command;" Sometimes a "promise;" sometimes a "regular law" - as "the covenant of the day and night;" and sometimes the way in which God dispenses mercy - that is, by the old and new covenants. In the place before us it means "the promise" made to Abraham, as the following verses clearly show.

72. the mercy promised … his holy covenant … See Poole on "Luke 1:71"

To perform the mercy promised to our fathers,.... By "mercy" is meant salvation by Christ, which springs from the mercy of God; the promise of which was an instance of mercy to the Jewish fathers under the Old Testament, and also the performance of it; for they were saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus, even as we: his blood was shed for the remission of sins that were past, and for the redemption of transgressions under the first Testament:

and to remember his holy covenant; which was made between him, and his Son from all eternity; and was, at various times, dispensed and manifested to the patriarchs, and eminent saints, as Adam, Noah, Abraham, &c. This is called an "holy" one; not only because it was made by, and between holy persons, and provided for the holiness of the people of God, both here, and hereafter; but because in the article of redemption and salvation by Christ, which is here more particularly regarded, care was taken to secure the glory of God's holiness and justice, as well as to display his grace and mercy. Now raising up, and sending Jesus a Saviour, showed, that God was mindful of this covenant, and therefore sent redemption to his people.

To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and {k} to remember his holy covenant;

(k) Declare indeed that he was mindful.

Luke 1:72. ποιῆσαι: in effect epexegetical of salvation, though formally indicating the aim of the salvation.—μετὰ τ. π., as in Luke 1:58, to make mercy with, for to show mercy to.—ἁγίας, holy, applied to another of Israel’s sacred inheritances: the covenant.

72. To perform the mercy promised to our fathers] It is simply to do mercy towards our fathers. The “promised” is a needless addition of the E.V.

72, 73. mercy … remember … oath] These three words have been thought by some to be an allusion to the three names John (‘Jehovah’s mercy’); Zacharias (‘remembered by Jehovah’), and Elizabeth (see p. 45). Such paronomasiae, or plays on words, are exceedingly common in the Bible. For similar possible instances of latent paronomasiae see the author’s Life of Christ, i. 65; ii. 200, 240.

Luke 1:72. Ποιῆσαι) [to perform] by performing.—ἔλεος, the mercy) Mercy and remembrance of the covenant is the same as חסד ואמת, grace and truth.—μετὰ, with[19]) The antithetic word is ἐξ, from [our enemies], Luke 1:71.—τῶν πατέρων, our fathers) long since deceased:[20] ch. Luke 20:37-38.—μνησθῆναι, [to remember] by remembering) An allusion to the name Zacharias.[21]

[19] But Engl. Vers. “promised to.” Rather, as Luke 1:58, μετʼ αὐτῆς; “to perform mercy in His dealings with our fathers.”—ED. and TRANSL.

[20] And yet still He is their God: therefore the covenant still holds good.—ED. and TRANSL.

[21] Which in Hebrew means one whom the Lord remembers, from זָכַי, to remember.—ED. and TRANSL.

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