September 2022 | Jesus, the Door

The Songs of the Aged: The Inspiration for the Coming Generation

The Songs of the Aged: The Inspiration for the Coming Generation

Pr. Mathew V. S.

We are living in a society where old people are ignored by the youngsters. God can use anyone who are obedient to Him irrespective of caste, colour, gender and age. God used many old people to bless and inspire younger generation. Bible has such stories. In the gospel of Luke there are six songs. They are the song of Mary (1:39-45), the song of Elizabeth (1:46-55), the song of Zacharias (1:67-79), the song of angels (2:13-14), the praise of Simeon (2:28-32), the praises of Anna. The interesting thing is that most of those singers are old in age. Some of them are even women. All these songs are incorporated in the infancy narratives. In this article we are exploring only four songs.

The song of Elizabeth (1:46-55)

When Mary realized that her relative Elizabeth was pregnant she goes immediately to her house. She had been told of Elizabeth’s condition and now travels to see God’s sign. Mary comes to Zechariah’s home and greets Elizabeth.  Elizabeth’s response is mentioned in 1:41-45. Mary’s greeting made a big effect. The baby that was in Elizabeth's womb leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Here the Greek term used for leaping is 'skirtao'.This term occurs in Gen 25:22 of fetal movement and in Ps. 114:4 of mountains leaping like rams. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and functions as a prophetess. Here she reveals God’s plan. It was the Holy Spirit enabled her to prophesying. Holy Spirit can use any person as his instrument. Elizabeth

reveals two things of Mary and her baby, Jesus. She recognizes that Mary is blessed because of the greatness of the child that bears and also of her firm faith in the Lord. Here Mary and Elizabeth are good role models of Christians today. Anyone who believes that the Lord keeps his promise will be blessed. God enabled Elizabeth to bless and encourage Mary. This was a great encouragement for Mary.

Zachariah’s Praise (1:67-79)

This hymn is known as Benedictus. This hymn starts with God’s activity in raising up the Davidic horn for the nation. Then it narrows to discuss the child and the one who follows him. It is divided as follows: Praise for messianic deliverance (1:68-75) and the prophecy about Jesus and John (76-79). Zachariah’s praise begins by focussing God’s visitation in messianic redemption. He is praising God for both political and spiritual deliverance of Israelites. He says, God rescued the people of God from the hand of the enemies (v 74). He also highlighted the redeeming aspect of God (V 68). Moreover the covenant mercy of Yahweh is also highlighted.

Now Zachariah turns to his son John. Here John the Baptist is addressed as the prophet of the most high God (v: 76). His mission is also dealt with in the same verse that is to prepare the way for the Son of God.

He concludes the hymn and describes the mission of Jesus Christ, guiding the lost, those dwelling in darkness into God’s way. In short Zachariah is a model for us. He was aware of the future mission of his son. In the present society many parents are unnecessarily worried of their children, what should happen to them in the future?. But Zachariah becomes an inspiration to his generation. As a responsible father he blesses his son. Are we able to sense God’s plan for our generation?

The Song of Simeon (2:25-35)

This is another song. Simeon was righteous and devout. He was neither a priest but a layman.  He was waiting for the consolation of Israel. What does it mean?  This expression was a term for the restoration of the people and fulfilment of God’s redemption. The Greek word for 'Consolation' is 'parakletos'. This term comes from Isainaic passages (Is 40:1-2; 51:3; 52:9). Here the consolation of Israel signifies messianic era. In those days majority were waiting for a political kingdom.  Their expectation was confined only to a political messiah. But Simeon went beyond that. He was waiting for a messiah who would deliver people from their sins. It had been revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen Lord’s Christ.  What is the significance of messianic era? It brings joy, salvation. It is a time of restoration.  For Simeon, the birth of Jesus was the fulfilment of Lord’s promises. We do not how long he waited. But God did not disappoint him. Here we can see Lord’s response to human devotion. He was serving God faithfully. He was righteous and upright. Here God honours him. If we are faithful to him he will never despise us. 

When Mary and Joseph  brought the infant Jesus to be dedicated in the temple, then Simeon moved by the Holy Spirit went into the temple courts.He took him in his arms and blessed God, saying. Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace (V.29). Here we can see the fulfilment of the god given promises. 

Finally, Simeon gives a blessing to parents and then gives a special word to Mary.  It is not encouraging. This child is destined to cause the falling   and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be spoken against (v: 34).  Jesus’ ministry is summarized in two images. He is the one who is set for the falling and rising of many in Israel.  This  image is drawn from the passages in Isaiah where God is portrayed as setting up of a stone of stumbling over which some fall (Isa 8:14-15), a precious corner stone that will not disappoint  those who trust  in it(Isa 28:13-16). Due to His ministry many will be raised to the light, but tragically others fall in judgement having missed the promise.

The praises of Anna (2:36-38)

There was a prophetess named Anna in Jerusalem. She was also there in the temple when Mary and Joseph for dedicating infant Jesus. She was the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She was very old. Scholars are of different opinions regarding of her age. Some say that her age is 84, where as others opine that she has reached the age of 105 (married at age 14 + 7 years of marriage + 84 years as a widow). This term means 'grace'. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. It is believed that Herod’s temple was quite large and included rooms for various uses and Anna may have been allowed to live in one of them.

Unlike Simeon who addresses the child’s parents, Anna approaches the parents and then turns to offer thanksgiving to God. Along with her praise, Anna addressed the crowd concerning Israel’s redemption. Here the old lady is sharing good news with others. Moreover, she is a widow. God had helped Anna to witness even in her old age. Anna becomes a role model to the old women and ladies. Her life itself is a strong message to all who think that they are weak vessels and despised in the society.

As conclusion we can say that there are six songs can be found in the gospel of Luke. Most of the singers are old. Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simenon and Anna are advanced in years. Among them, Zechariah was a priest, Simeon was a lay man. Elizabeth and Anna, women. It conveys a message that God can use any person who is submissive to Him irrespective of caste colour and gender. Gender, 

social, racial discrimination is broken in Christ. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. It is the Holy Spirit that enabled them to sing for God. All these songs highlight God’s faithfulness and salvation through Jesus Christ. There fore the elderly can do different services to the society. They can mentor the youngsters. The spirit filled veterans are the need of this hour. May our God help us to pray for those older loved ones. 

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