President Richard Nixon kept an infamous “enemies list,” detailed in a memo from former advisor Charles Colson. Nixon’s enemies were in fact people that he didn’t like—and this is probably true of many of the people we would consider to be our enemies today. They are either those we don’t like or those who don’t like us. For many Christians in countries around the world today, however, enemies are people who want to take their lives.
Divine protection is one of the blessings that Zechariah celebrates in his hymn of praise in today’s text. This song is often referred to as the Benedictus, a title that comes from the Latin translation of Zechariah’s first word, which is blessed.
Zechariah’s song is the counterpart to Mary’s hymn of praise in Luke 1:46–56 and expresses similar themes. The song begins with praise and then makes predictions about the life and ministry of Jesus and John the Baptist. Prior to this, Zechariah had been struck dumb for questioning God’s promise that he and his wife would have a son in their old age (see vv. 16–20). Zechariah’s song was more than a poetic composition. It was a prophetic utterance.
The hymn declares that God has provided “salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” (v. 71). This was a tribute to God’s faithfulness to the covenant He made with Abraham “to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (vv. 74–75). John’s part in this ministry of deliverance would be to serve as a prophet of the Most High God, to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry, and to preach salvation through Christ (vv. 76–77).