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daily wants; the rich come not that their necessities should be supplied, but that their riches may be increased. God not unfrequently withholds what they ask, takes their riches away by fire or flood, or disappointments, and sends them away empty, Prov. xxiii. 5. It is better to be poor, and go to God for our daily bread, than to be rich, and forget our dependence on him.

54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

'Hath holpen.' Hath helped or assisted. The word rendered 'holpen' means, properly, to take hold of one, to help him up when he is in danger of falling, and means that God had succoured his people when they were feeble, and were in danger of falling, or being overthrown. His servant Israel.' His people, the Israelites, or those who truly feared him and kept his commandments. See Isa. xli. 8, 9. Hos. xi. 1.

55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

That is, he has dealt mercifully with the children of Israel, according as he promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, &c. The promise here particularly referred to, is that respecting the Messiah, which was now about to be fulfilled. See Gen. xxii. 17, 18. 'For ever. These words are to be referred to the preceding verse, in remembrance of his mercy for ever, as he spoke,' &c. They denote that the mercy of God manifested to his people, should be nad in everlasting remembrance.

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There is a striking similarity between this song of praise by Mary, and that spoken by Hannah, 1 Sam. ii. 1-10. It is the language of a humble, thankful, pious heart, praising God.

56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. 57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. 59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

'On the eighth day.' This was the day on which it was required to circumcise children, Gen. xxi. 4. 'And they called him Zacharias. The name commonly given to the eldest son was that of the father.

60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

This was the name which the angel had said should be given to him.

61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing-table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

'He asked. That is, by signs. 'A writing table.' The table, denoted by this word, was made of wood, and covered with wax, and was small, perhaps as large as a sheet of paper. The ancients used to write on such tables, as they had not the use of paper. The instrument used for writing was an iron pen or stile, by which they marked on the wax, which covered the table. Sometimes the writing-table was made of lead.

64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

'His mouth was opened. That is, he was enabled to speak. For nine months he had been dumb. For one act of unbelief, all this calamity had come upon him, and it had not come without effect. With true gratitude, he offered praise to God, for the birth of a son, and for his restoration to the blessings of speech.

65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill-country of Judea.

The word 'fear' often denotes religious reverence. The remarkable circumstances attending the birth of John, filled their minds with awe and veneration.

66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

'What manner of child.' They apprehended he would be distinguished as a prophet, or that great events would result from his life. The hand of the Lord was with him.' We stretch out the hand to aid those whom we wish to help: the expression means that God aided him, or showed him favour,

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

Filled with the Holy Ghost.' See ver. 15. And prophesied.' The word prophesy means, 1. To foretell future events. 2. To celebrate the praises of God. This song of Zacharias is

principally employed in the praises of God, but it also predicts the future character and preaching of John.

68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

'Blessed.' See note Matt. v. 3. Hath visited.' The word here rendered visited' means properly to visit for the purpose of aiding those who need aid, or alleviating misery. Compare Matt. xxv. 43. God looked upon the world; he saw it miserable; he came to relieve it, and brought salvation. And redeemed.' That is, was about to redeem, or had given the pledge that He would redeem. This was spoken under the belief that the Messiah, the Redeemer, was about to appear, and would certainly accomplish his work. Men are sinners. The law is holy, and God, as a just governor, must see that the law is honoured, and the wicked punished. But if any thing can be done which will have the same good effect as the punishment of the sinner, or will be an equivalent for it, God may consistently release him. Whatever will accomplish this, is called a ransom, because it is in the eye of God a sufficient reason why the sinner should not be punished; it is an equivalent for his sufferings, and God is satisfied. The blood of Jesus, that is, his death in the place of sinners, constitutes such a ransom. It is in their stead. It is for them. It is equivalent to their punishment. It is not itself a punishment, for that always supposes personal crime, but it is what God is pleased to accept in the place of eternal sufferings of the sinner. See Matt. xx. 28. Mark x. 45. Titus ii. 14. Heb. ix. 12.

69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

A horn is a symbol of strength. When the sacred writers therefore speak of great strength they often use the word horn, Ps. cxlviii. 14. Deut. xxxiii. 17. Dan. vii. 7, 8; viii. 21. The word 'salvation,' connected here with the word 'horn,' means that this strength, or this mighty Redeemer, was able to save. the house.' In the family, or among the descendants of David.


70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.

All the prophets are said to have alluded to the Messiah from the beginning of the world. The most striking of these were Jacob, Gen. xlix. 10. Moses, Deut. xviii. 15. Isaiah ix. 6, 7; liii. &c. Since the world began.' This is a general expression, designed to denote that all the prophets had predicted the coming of the Messiah.

71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

The enemies of man are his sins, and the great adversary, Satan and his angels, that continually seek to destroy him. From these the Messiah came to save us. Compare Gen. iii. 15. Matt. i. 21. The hand.' The power.

72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

'To perform the mercy. The expression in the original is 'to make mercy with our fathers,' that is, to show kindness to our fathers. Blessing the children was blessing the nation, was fulfilling the promises made to the fathers, and showing that God regarded them in mercy. 'His holy covenant.' The word 'covenant' means compact, or agreement. When the word covenant 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, or the old and new covenants. In the place before us it means the promise made to Abraham, as the following verses clearly show.

73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, This oath is recorded, Gen. xxii. 16, 17. The promise was now to be entirely fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah.

74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

Might obey, honour, and worship him. This was what was promised. And for this Zacharias praised God. Without fear.' In the sure hope of God's eternal favour beyond the grave.

75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

In piety and strict justice. Before him.' In the presence of God. The holiness was not to be merely external, but spiritual, internal, pure, such as God would see and approve. "All the days of our life.' To death. True religion increases and expands till death.

76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;

Zacharias predicts in this and the following verses, the dignity, the employment, and the success of John. Prophet of the Highest.' Prophet of God; a prophet appointed by God to declare his will, and to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. The face of the Lord.' To go before the face of one, is the same as to go immediately before one, or to be immediately

followed by another. To prepare his ways.' This is taken from Isa. xl. 3. See note in Matt. iii. 3.

77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,


Knowledge of the way of salvation. By the remission of their sins. The word remission means pardon, forgiveness, a treatment of the sinner, as if he had not committed the sin. This implies that the salvation about to be offered, was connected with the pardon of sin. There can be no other. God cannot treat men as his friends unless they come to him by repentance and obtain forgiveness.

78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us,

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The word day-spring means the morning light, the rising of the sun. It is called the day-spring from on high,' because the light of the gospel shines forth from heaven. See Isa. lx. 1, 2. Compare also Rev. xxii. 16.

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.

To give light,' &c. See note, Matt. iv. 16. To guide our feet,' &c. The figure in these verses is taken from travellers who being overtaken by night know not what to do, and who wait patiently for the rising of the sun, 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.

80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.

'Waxed strong in spirit. That is, in courage, understanding, and purposes of good, fitting him for his future work. The word 'wax' means to increase, to grow: from an old Saxon word. 'In the deserts." In Hebron, and in the hill country where his father resided. He dwelt in obscurity, and was not known publicly by the people. Until the day of his showing. Until he entered on his public ministry, as recorded in Matt. iii. That is, probably, until he was about thirty years of age. See Luke iii.

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