Luke 1:79
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(79) To give light to them that sit in darkness.—The words are an echo of those of Isaiah 9:2, which we have already met with in Matthew 4:16, where see Note. Here they carry on the thought of the sunrise lighting up the path of those who had sat all night long in the dark ravine, and whose feet were now guided into “the way of peace,” that word including, as it always did, with the Hebrew, every form of blessedness.

Luke 1:79. To give light to them that sit in darkness — The Messiah at his coming would enlighten with the knowledge of salvation the Gentile nations, who had long lived in ignorance and wickedness, the cause of death. To guide our feet into the way of peace — And he would guide the feet, even of the Jews, into the way of finding peace with God, peace of mind, and true happiness, by making them more perfectly acquainted with the method of salvation, and the will of God concerning them. Such phrases as darkness and the shadow of death, describe with peculiar propriety the ignorant and miserable state of the Gentile world: and, probably, the former clause might be intended principally of them. But as Christ’s preaching to the Jews in Galilee is said, Matthew 4:14-16, to be an accomplishment of Isaiah 9:1-2, to which Zacharias here seems to refer, we must not confine the sense of it merely to the Gentiles; for indeed the sad character and circumstances of the Jews at this time too well suited the representation here made. Such are the elevated strains in which this pious man, under the extraordinary influence of the Holy Ghost, described the great blessings which mankind were to enjoy by the coming of the seed promised to Adam, to Abraham, and to David.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 give light ... - See the notes at Matthew 4:16.

To guide our feet ... - The figure in these verses is taken from travelers, who, being overtaken by night, know not what to do, and who wait patiently for the morning light, that they may know which way to go. So man wandered. So he became benighted. So he sat in the shadow of death. So he knew not which way to go until the Sun of righteousness arose, and then the light shone brightly on his way, and the road was open to the promised land of rest - to heaven.

This song of Zechariah is exceedingly beautiful. It expresses with elegance the great points of the plan of redemption, and the mercy of God in providing that plan. That mercy is "great." It is worthy of praise - of our highest, loftiest songs of thanksgiving; for we were in the shadow of death - sinful, wretched, wandering - and the light arose, the gospel came, and people may rejoice in hope of eternal life.

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]. Here Zacharias showeth us the end why God visited us with his Son, the Branch, the Light, the Dayspring, the Sun of righteousness. Men were in the darkness of sin and ignorance, dead in trespasses and sins, at war and enmity with God; Christ came to give them the light of gospel revelations, the light of spiritual comfort and salvation, to purchase peace, and to direct them how to walk that they might have peace with God, and at last enter into peace. This he did to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles: see Isaiah 9:1,2 60:1,19. 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.

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the {q} way of peace.

(q) Into the way which leads us to true happiness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
79. in the shadow of death] The Hebrew Tsalmaveth. Job 10:21; Job 38:17; Psalm 23:4; Psalm 107:10; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16, &c.Luke 1:79. Ἐπιφᾶναι, so as to give light to [to shine in full manifestation on]) Again comp. Psalm 132:17 [I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed].—τοῖςκαθημένοις, them that sit) Comp. Matthew 4:15, note on the passage of Isaiah quoted there.—σκότει καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου, in darkness and the shadow of death) These are conjoined as their opposites, light and life.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. To guide (κατευθῦναι)

From εὐθύς, straight. Wyc. has dress, which is formed through the old French dresser, to arrange, from the Latin dirigere, to set in a straight line, draw up. Hence the military term dress for arranging a line.

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