Although the New Testament was written in Greek, it was written by and to people with a deeply embedded Jewish imagination. The way they read, think, and process is Eastern. In the Eastern mindset, it was common to weave into their literature a few callbacks to Old Testament texts. It was meant to remind the reader of the context and emotions of the Old Testament texts while reading the New Testament texts.
In the first chapter of Luke, he embeds numerous references to the OT. Today, I wanted to focus on the Benedictus, which is Zechariah’s prophecy that he spoke at the moment of his son’s (John the Baptist) birth (vv. 68-79).
This poem is split into two sections. The first part (vv.68-75) focuses on the excitement of the coming Messiah. The second part (vv.76-79) is directed at the role his son will play in this story.
Throughout this section there are many callbacks (ex. Ps. 18, 98; Mic. 7; Mal. 3; Is. 60; Nu. 24, etc.) However, there is one section of the OT that keeps popping up - Psalm 106. Luke obviously wanted his readers to keep this Psalm in his/her heart as the Benedictus was being read.
So, what is Ps. 106 about? It is about Israel’s persistent disobedience which led to heartbreaks, both on God’s part and theirs. As a result, God gave them over to “the nations” (the barbarians who invaded them). It was a plea from Israel to God to not give up loving on Israel.
If you read the Benedictus with that in mind, you will begin to see that the coming of Jesus (and John before Him) is being celebrated with a heart of brokenness and humility. In essence, Luke is stating, “We’ve messed up. We understand if God wants to turn His back on us. But, because His love endures forever, He will not give up on us.”