If I commissioned any of you to write a song of praise to the Lord, the finished product would likely demonstrate your knowledge of Scripture and the readiness of mind to quote relevant phrases. If you were to write such a work of adoration about some event in your life where God supplied a need at just the right time, likely you would include phrases like “all things work together for good,” or, “God will supply all your needs according to his riches,” or, “they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.”
So it is with this Song of Mary, often called The Magnificat. Her broad understanding of Scripture is astounding, as no less than 12 quotes or inferences to Old Testament passages are included.
One cannot read this without thinking back to another amazing mother of 1,000 years earlier. And that is Hannah, the mother of Samuel. She too would be blessed with a child who would serve the Lord mightily, being dedicated to God and his service under the tutelage of Eli. Hannah’s song of praise is very similar in construction. (It is in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.)
Each begins with a personal reflection upon God’s goodness in honoring them. For Mary, it was the profound realization that out of all women, she would be the one to bear the promised Messiah and Savior of the world.
The songs go on to speak praise to God for his great character and deeds, particularly for his justice in being merciful to those who trust him, while rendering judgment on those who rebel.
And finally, there is the acknowledgement of God’s providence and the outworking of his plan of the ages. This gives clarity to the past, perspective for the present, and hope and peace for the future.
These three steps inform us as to how to pray and relate with God. We begin with thanksgiving for his love and care for us, praise for his loving and sovereign attributes, and prayers of acknowledgement for the outworking of his plan in our day and in the days to come.
The passage today concludes with a single note that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months before returning home. Was John the Baptist born during this time? Or did Mary leave before that? We don’t know. But in any event, imagine the conversations between these two great women of faith.
Luke 1:46 – And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.