57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” 62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
As I read this passage I am arrested by the fact that as soon as Zechariah could speak again, he was praising God. I wonder how I would have behaved in a similar situation? If I had been struck dumb a year previously, what would have been the first words out of my mouth? Would I have wanted to take the first opportunity to explain to everyone around me what had happened to me? Would I have wanted to complain about the fact that I hadn’t been able to speak for a year or so? Would I have wanted to tell everyone the destiny of my son that had been foretold by an angelic visitation? I wonder what my first words would have been?
Zechariah’s first words are praises towards God. I imagine some of that is relief at being able to speak again. However, I do believe that Zechariah has had some time to think about Gabriel’s visit and about how everything that had been foretold so far had come true. I think Zechariah would have been experiencing a profound sense of awe and excitement over seeing the rest of the prophecy fulfilled in the life of his son.
“Lord, regardless of my situation, whether good or bad or indifferent, may my first words be ones of praise towards you.”
Written by Jen Irving