Luke 1:68
(68) Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.--The whole hymn is, like the Magnificat, pre-eminently Hebrew in character, almost every phrase having its counterpart in Psalm or Prophet; and, like it, has come to take a prominent place in the devotions of the western Churches. Its first appearance, as so used, is in Gaul, under Caesarius of Aries.

Visited.--Better, looked upon, regarded. The four centuries that had passed since the last of the prophets are thought of as a time during which the "face of the Lord" had been turned away from Israel. Now He looked on it again, not to visit them (as we more commonly use the word) for their offences, but to deliver.

Redeemed his people.--Better, wrought redemption for His people. The noun is formed from that which is translated "ransom" in Matthew 20:28, where see Note. Its occurrence here is noticeable as showing how large an element the thought of deliverance through a ransom was in all the Messianic expectations of the time. (Comp. Luke 2:38.) The past tense (in the Greek the aorist) is used by Zacharias as, in the joy of prophetic foresight, seeing the end of what had been begun. The next verse shows that he looked for this redemption as coming not through the child that had been born to him, but through the Son, as yet unborn, of Mary.

Verses 68, 69. - He hath visited and redeemed,... and hath raised up. The tenses of the verbs used in these expressions show that in Zacharias's mind, when he uttered the words of his hymn, the Incarnation, and the glorious deliverance commenced in that stupendous act of mercy, belonged to the past. He hath visited; that is, after some four hundred years of silence and absence, the Holy One of Israel had again come to his people. About four centuries had passed since the voice of Malachi, the last of the prophets, had been heard. An horn of salvation. A metaphor not unknown in classical writings (see Ovid, 'Art. Am.,' 1:239; Her., 'Od.,' 3. 21. 18), and a much-used figure in Hebrew literature (see, among other passages, Ezekiel 29:2l; Lamentations 2:3; Psalm 132:17; 1 Samuel 2:10). The reference is not to the horns of the altar, on which criminals seeking sanctuary used to lay hold; nor to the horns with which warriors used to adorn their helmets; but to the horns of a bull - in which the chief power of this animal resides. This was a figure especially familiar among an agricultural folk like the Israelites. "A rabbinic writer says that there are ten horns - those of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the horn of the Law, of the priesthood, of the temple, and of Israel, and some add of the Messiah. They were all placed on the heads of the Israelites till they sinned, and then they were cut off' and given to the Gentiles" (Schottgen, 'Hor. Hebr.,' quoted by Dr. Farrar). In the house of his servant David. Clearly Zacharias looked on Mary, as the angel had done (verse 32), as belonging to the royal house of 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.Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,.... This was a form of blessing of long standing, Psalm 72:18 and very likely was in use, more or less, ever since Israel was distinguished from other nations, became a body politic, and were settled in the land of Canaan, in the enjoyment of peculiar privileges, both civil and religious; see other forms before it in Genesis 9:26 and now, this was very near being antiquated, and out of date; for upon the birth of Christ, the Son of God manifest in the flesh, the New Testament form of blessing runs, as in 2 Corinthians 1:3 The reason of its being now made use of might be, because the Messiah, the principal subject of this song, was peculiarly promised unto Israel, was raised up for them, and sent unto them. To bless God, is not to invoke a blessing on him; for there is none greater than he to ask one of; nor does he stand in need of any, being the Creator, who is blessed for ever in himself, and is the fountain of blessedness to his creatures: and therefore, also, cannot signify to confer a blessing on him, but to praise and glorify him, on account of the perfections of his nature, and the works of his hands; and to give thanks unto him for all mercies, spiritual and temporal; and especially for Jesus Christ, his mission, incarnation, and salvation by him, which are the things the God of Israel is blessed for in this song:

for he hath visited, and redeemed his people; as he did Israel of old, Exodus 3:16 when the Lord looked upon them, and delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt, and which was a type and resemblance of redemption by Christ; and to which reference here seems to be had. The "people" here said to be visited, and redeemed, design all the elect of God, not only among the Jews, but Gentiles also; all those whom God has chosen to be his people, and has in his covenant taken and declared to be such; whom he has given to Christ, as his people and portion; for whose sins he was stricken, and made reconciliation, and whom he saves from their sins. The act of "visiting" them, as previous to redemption, may include God's look of love upon them from everlasting; his choice of them in Christ unto salvation; the appointment and provision of a Saviour for them; the covenant of grace made with them in Christ, the foundation and security of their salvation; and particularly the mission of Christ in human nature, in consequence of the council, covenant, and promise of God: or it designs his incarnation, for he was now actually conceived in the womb of the virgin: so that God had visited, and looked upon his people, and remembered his love and mercy, his covenant and promise to them: and the "redemption" of them, which was now said to be made, or done, because Christ was now sent to do it, and because it was as sure, as if it was done, intends the spiritual and eternal redemption of them by the price of his blood, from the slavery of sin, the bondage of the law, and curse of it, and the captivity of Satan, and a deliverance out of the hands of every enemy; a redemption which reaches both to soul and body, and secures from all condemnation and wrath to come; and includes every blessing in it, as justification, forgiveness of sins, adoption, sanctification, and eternal life; and is a plenteous, full, complete, and everlasting one.

Luke 1:67
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