Songs of the Nativity - Simeons Song

Before refrigeration, people used ice to help preserve their foods and ice was stored in thick-walled icehouses. During the winter months ice was harvested from lakes, rivers or streams and hauled to these icehouses where it was packed in sawdust. Ice might last in these ice-houses well into the summer. James Hamilton tells this story in Directions. "One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He search diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn't find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.
"Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. 'I closed the door,' the boy replied, 'lay down in the sawdust and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.'"

We live in a busy, noisy world and Advent season can especially be that way. The song we will look at this week comes from the soul of an old man, Simeon. Not only is there much to ponder from his short song, but there is much to learn from his life. Simeon is a fascinating character. He listened for and heard the voice of God, and God uniquely blessed him. So as you take up this meditation find a quiet place and a quiet time to be still before the Lord and ask Him to speak to you.

The picture is Rembrandt's depiction of Simeon in the Temple of Jerusalem at the presentation of Jesus. It was a favorite subject of his, and this was his second painting of Luke's story about Simeon. It is somewhat ironic that in this picture Simeon is saying, "Lord, you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word," and this may well have been Rembrandt's last painting. It was found unfinished in his workshop the day after he died. The woman in the background was most likely added.  

This is the fourth of the songs of the Nativity in Luke's Gospel. Read Luke 2:22-35 and use the questions below to help you meditate on this part of Luke's account of Jesus' birth.
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1.    Let's get a feel for the context. There are some Old Testament texts that we need to review in order understand the setting. Read Exodus 13:1, 13; Numbers 18:15-16 and Leviticus 12.
*    In light of what you have read, what was going on in Luke 2:22-24? When does this take place and what were Mary and Joseph doing?  
*    What clue does Luke give us about the economic status of joseph and Mary? 
2.    What does Luke tell us about Simeon in verse 25?
3.    How would you describe a person who was righteous and devout (v.25)?
4.    What do you think it means for someone to be "waiting for the consolation of Israel"? What does "consolation" mean?
5.    What do you think it meant for the Holy Spirit to be upon Simeon?  
*    Here is a thought/research question:  What do you know about how a believer's relationship with the Holy Spirit was different before Pentecost?
6.    Summarize the kind of man you see in Luke's description of Simeon. What stands out to you about him?
7.    How did God bless Simeon (vv. 26-29)? 
8.    What are the key elements in Simeon's song?  What lessons might you take from his song?
*    Why does Simeon say, "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel"? Why the difference between the two and what does he mean by that? 
9.    How does Simeon describe the 'career' of Jesus in verses 34-35?  
*    What do you think all this means?
10.    What one thing do you think the Lord wants you to take away from this song of the Nativity?  How will this help you prepare for the celebration of Christmas?

God be with you, and I hope to see you on Sunday!

Dan