The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death…
I. THE DARKNESS reigning in the world beforehand was to be traced even in the land of Judaea itself. At the period of Christ's nativity, there was the darkness of types, the shadows and mere secondary images of Divine truth. Some few only were partially enlightened to believe and understand the truth, and these exulted in the coming light, e.g., Simeon and Anna. But if some few in Jerusalem looked for redemption, what was the state of the heathen world! They, indeed, by all their wisdom, knew not God; they were immersed in the darkest idolatries and most cruel superstitions. There was, in all this mass of external darkness, something congenial to the inner corruption, the shadow of death, resting on our common sinful nature: never could the one have existed or taken effect without the other. We must look within our own hearts for that guilty ignorance, that wilful blindness and hardened indifference to God and His truth, which was the source Mike of Jewish perversions and heathen abominations.
II. Christ was THE LIGHT spoken of by the prophet. To the Jews, how well calculated was His appearance to clear up the obscurities of their own Mosaic ritual and prophetic declarations! To the Gentiles, no less did the coming of Christ present a religion able, for the first time, to resolve all their doubts, to satisfy all their wants, and unite the whole family of man under one great Head of all.
1. It was a sudden light; unexpected by most, and undeserved by all, the Sun of Righteousness, Jesus Christ, rose upon a benighted world.
2. It was a great light.
3. This was verily the true light. "It shines with a ray which," saith St. John, "lighteneth every man that cometh into the world." It is that which is adapted to man as man, beaming with an evidence only to be resisted by wilful blindness, and convincing all with a force which leaves the wanderer without excuse, who perishes in his sin.
4. It is a Divine light; one shining as if from the very throne of God Himself.
(C. J. Hoare, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
WEB: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who lived in the land of the shadow of death, on them the light has shined.