After Zacharias’ tongue is loosed again, and after he has demonstrated his faith by obediently naming John what God had named him, Zacharias is filled with the Holy Spirit. And what does the Holy Spirit inspire Zacharias to do? To sing a hymn of praise to God with his newly loosened tongue.
Zacharias is a picture of how we are to respond to God and his mercy.
As we learned yesterday, with Zacharias and through him, it’s better to believe and obey God than to disbelieve and disobey Him. We’ve been trying to learn this lesson ever since Adam and Eve. God is the one in charge, and He is the one who has authority over names and their meanings, and lives and their meanings.
And so when God names something, we are to give the name that God has given. When God says that something is good we are required to say that it is good, and when God says something is a sin we are required to say that it is a sin. We are to faithfully repeat God’s Word and His truth, for this is the calling of every true prophet and the calling of every true Christian.
Our faithful response to the presence and authority of God in our lives takes other forms as well. Today, not only has Zacharias chosen to faithfully respond to God with belief and obedience but also with praise and singing. Singing is the water of earthly speech transformed into the wine of heaven.
One of the ways we repeat God’s truth back to Him is by singing. God sings His beautiful song of creation, and we sing it back to Him by being what He has created us to be. That’s why birds sing! God sings His even more beautiful song of redemption, and we sing it back to Him. And when God’s redemption comes through His Son, singing His most beautiful love song, we are to repeat it antiphonally in our own voice.
I think this is why God created music, because just talking about God or even to Him isn’t always sufficient. The beauty of God should be answered with beauty, and the glory of God with glory. We should respond to the faithfulness of God with faithfulness so that even our lives become a song of joyful response to being in the presence of God.
Zacharias’ Benedictus might be seen as a hymn to God’s grace and a meditation on the meaning of his son’s name, a renaming what God has first named (John means “God is gracious”). It is a song of mercy (closely related to grace) about what God has done for Israel (the people of God) as well as what God has done for Zacharias and Elizabeth themselves – and a song about what He has done for you.
Zacharias sings because God has had mercy in visiting and redeeming His people (verse 68).
Zacharias sings because God has had mercy in raising up a horn of salvation (verse 69).
Zacharias sings because God has performed His mercy promised towards our fathers (verse 72).
Zacharias sings because God has had mercy in delivering us out of the hand of our enemies (verse 74).
Zacharias sings because God has had mercy in remitting our sins (verse 77).
Zacharias sings because God has had mercy in visiting us with the dayspring from on high (verse 76).
Zacharias’s song is to continue, and we are now to sing it as well. It has been preserved by the Church as the Benedictus, and now it is our turn to sing it.
Blessed be the Lord God of the Church, for He has visited and redeemed His people.
We sing because God has saved us and done what He has promised to do in our lives.
We sing because God has delivered us from our enemies and is in the process of delivering us out of the hand of our enemies.
We sing because God has forgiven us our sins.
And we sing because God has had mercy on us in visiting us with the dayspring from on high.
So what God has spoken to Zacharias is what He has spoken to us: let our response be that of Zacharias. Sing about God’s mercy and blessing and give glory back to Him today!
Prayer: Blessed are You Lord God because You have visited and redeemed me. Blessed are You Lord God because you have saved me from my enemies. Blessed are You Lord God for You have brought me into the light of Your Son. Amen.
Points for Meditation: In what ways has God visited me recently for which I should give thanks and praise?
Resolution: I resolve to sing the Benedictus today, or some other appropriate hymn in praise to God for His mercy.
Zechariah naming John the Baptist by Fra Angelico – U. S. Public Domain