Zechariah’s song (known as the Benedictus) doesn’t get nearly the attention as Mary’s (the Magnificat) earlier in the chapter, but it is the first recorded prophetic word since the Book of Malachi some 400 years earlier.
Its outpouring of praise culminates a long life of both piety and disappointment. After years of waiting and hoping, Zechariah, an aging priest, drew the lot for the once-in-a-lifetime assignment of burning incense in the temple. The angel Gabriel appeared to him and said his prayer was answered.
Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were childless, but one would hardly expect a pious priest to use an occasion of such great honor to pray for personal needs.… Read the rest
I used to have a lot of trouble dealing with praise in the psalms. So much of it seemed to consist of telling others to praise God, and perhaps the louder the better, but just what is praise? Going around shouting “Praise the Lord” just doesn’t cut it. The first three verses of Psalm 66 demonstrate both my problem and what I eventually learned about praise.
The first verse says, “Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth.” In other words, the throng of people gathered at the temple for worship are not content to offer their own praise. They invite all people anywhere on earth to join them.… Read the rest
What does the Bible say to do when something wonderful happens? Praise God. That’s obvious enough. What does the Bible say to do when something awful happens? When life is so awful that we wonder if God cares at all? Praise God. Now that’s just not fair!
But it works. When we’re suffering and feel like God doesn’t care, that’s all it is: just a feeling. In reality, he does care, but not necessarily the way we’d find most comfortable. We want to get out of our troubles as quickly as possible. He wants to give us long-term joy and conform us to the image of Christ.… Read the rest