The Benedictus of Zacharias

And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant.

(Luke 1:69, NASB)

One of the four great hymns of the birth narratives in the Book of Luke is the blessing of Zacharias celebrating the birth of John and the foreshadowing work of the soon-coming Messiah (Luke 1:68–79). Rooted in the covenants God made to Abraham and David, the saving work of Jesus Christ is anticipated in this great song of salvation.

A  “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, (68)

            B  and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant— (69)

                        C  as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— (70)

                                    D  salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; (71)

                                                E  to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, (72)

                                                E’  the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, (73)

                                    D’  to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
                                    might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. (74–75)

                        C’  And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; (76)

            B’  to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, (77)

A’  because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (78–79)

The poem is structured in five pairs of inverse parallel statements echoing five significant  themes: the intervention of God in human history to bring peace through redemption; the experience of forgiveness through a personal knowledge of a Savior from the royal line of David; the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and the prophetic preparation of John the Forerunner; a deliverance from enemies that allows for a lifetime of service in freedom and holiness; and finally, all of this comes about in fulfillment of God’s faithfulness to remember and keep the covenant and oath He made to Abraham. This song of Zacharias ought to motivate all of our songs of worship this Christmas!