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Luke 1:57-80: Zechariah’s Song of Praise

Do you ever rehearse mistakes you have made in your head? Things you said but wished you had not?

Imagine with me for a moment the thoughts that might have filled Zechariah’s head during his wife’s pregnancy? Would he chastise himself over and over for having questioned Gabriel, God’s messenger? Would he wordlessly beg God to allow Him to speak again? Was he mapping out what he might say when he was given the ability to talk again?

Also, imagine the challenges of not being able to speak in ancient days. Today we have individual-sized whiteboards and ink that magically wipes away. Then they had stone or wood tablets covered with wax. Zechariah would have inscribed words in wax and then had to melt the wax to erase. I wonder how often he felt compelled to join in a conversation and realized he could not do so easily.

If the gift of speech was taken from you, only to be given back to you some nine months later, what would be your first words? Zechariah praises God!

At the heart of Zechariah’s song is this reminder that God keeps His covenants!

He has been merciful to our ancestors
    by remembering his sacred covenant
the covenant he swore with an oath
    to our ancestor Abraham.

Luke 1:72-73 NLT

The covenant with Abraham was an everlasting covenant with four elements – the descendants, the land, a nation, and blessings. Zechariah points to this covenant as the covenant of salvation and grace. Jesus is the ultimate descendant of Abraham, who comes to establish His kingdom, and bless His people with redemption.

Notice in verses 71, 74, 75 from whom they had been rescued:

Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.

We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.

Luke 1:71, 74-75 NLT

Maybe Zechariah was looking for God to rescue His people from Roman rule. We know even the disciples saw Jesus as potentially their political redeemer until His death. Zechariah knew Israel’s history well. He could be recalling the exodus from Egypt and God’s mighty salvation of His people crossing the Red Sea. He could also look back at how God conquered Israel’s enemies as the people moved into the promised land. Even in later years, God brought His people out of exile and rebuilt the temple. But since that time, Israel had been under foreign rule.

Looking back now, we realize that being saved from our enemies is not about the physical world but the spiritual world. We are saved from our ultimate enemy, Satan, whose only goal is to steal and kill and destroy.

Zechariah uses beautiful word pictures to describe this rescuer!

And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David–

Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us–

Luke 1:69, 78 NKJV

Zechariah was a Levite, a priest, and so knew the scriptures well. He was looking for the one that would come from the house of David to rescue His people. And the pictures he uses to describe the rescuer were standard Messianic references in the Old Testament.

The horns on the altar in the temple represented a place of refuge. But since this passage references one horn as David did in 2 Samuel 22:3 or Psalm 18:2, it is more likely a reference to this rescuer’s might, strength, and power.

The Dayspring refers to dawn, the rising of the sun, the bursting forth a great light that will shine in the darkness. This reference is reminiscent of Isaiah 9:2 — The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. It also reminds me of the Psalmist who says in Psalm 18:28, “You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness!”

Last, Zechariah is clear about WHY we are rescued!

We have been rescued … so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

… to guide us to the path of peace.

Luke 1:74, 75, 79

We are rescued for a life of service! And notice the qualifiers – in holiness, righteousness, and peace! The cry of our heart should express the desire to serve God and serve Him alone! Our redemption is not about a “ticket to heaven,” although that is included. Instead, we have been rescued to “unleash heaven on earth” by being the images we were created to be, to so fill the earth with the image of God that others would be gobsmacked and want to know Him!

 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:16 NLT

To wrap up – what song of praise are you singing today!??

Lord, speak to me that I may speak
In living echoes of your tone.
As you have sought, so let me seek
Your erring children, lost and lone.

Oh, lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wandering and the wavering feet.
Oh, feed me, Lord, that I may feed
Your hungry ones with manna sweet.

Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious truths which you impart.
And wing my words that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.

Oh, fill me with your fullness, Lord,
Until my very hearts overflows
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Your love to tell, your praise to show.

Oh, use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as you will, and when, and where
Until your blessed face I see,
Your rest, your joy, your glory share.

 Frances R. Havergal (1872)

*Follow the sermon series on Christ Church Cedar Park website.

**Blog posts from this series:
Luke 1:39-56 Mary’s Song of Praise
Luke 1:26-38 Mary Meets Gabriel
Luke 1:5-25 He Takes Away Our Disgrace
Luke 1:1-4 Luke-The Preface

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