Gospels / Luke

Luke 1:46-56

Mary’s Song

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.

***

While Mary is visiting Elizabeth she is so overcome with joy that she says (or sings) this psalm.  Elizabeth has just exclaimed her excitement over Mary’s inception through the Holy Spirit, and the two women must have been overcome with joyous anticipation at what lie ahead for both themselves and their unborn children.

Mary begins with her state of excitement, her inner most being presses outward to glorify God, and her own spirit rejoices in the knowledge of God, whom she exclaims as her Savior.  It is only by the revelation of God that she can call Him Savior, for it has been made known by the angel Gabriel what will soon take place.  She says God has been mindful of her because of her humility towards Him.  The Greek word used here for humility (low position) is also the one used in Luke 1:38 for servant. The most accurate translation is “bond servant,” in that it often indicates one who sells himself or herself into slavery to another, but as this is archaic, few today understand its force.  What Mary is saying is that she has given over herself to be used of God because He owns her.  She acknowledges her lowliness and thanks God for thinking to use her.  Mary is giving all the glory to God – taking none upon herself.

She knows that because of God’s work through her she will be forever called blessed by men, and again she exalts God for what He has done.  In verse 50 Mary speaks about God’s mercy.  He is merciful to those who fear Him.  This is a reverent fear, pertaining to someone who knows and believes God exists.  It is both a sense of being frightened and a sense of respect toward something greater, wanting to appease Him.  God’s mercy is for those who portray this trait, for all generations past and present.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts. – Psalm 103

Mary exclaims in verse 51 that by God’s power He scatters the proud.  This verse translated literally says: God, in His creationary forethought and power, separated the chaff – who consider themselves higher than others from the depths of their hearts – from the wheat, and cut them down – prepared for destruction.   How amazing to find this here, in the midst of Mary’s psalm!  Paul echoes this very thought in Romans 9:22-24.  Continuing, she says that God takes rulers from their thrones but lifts up the humble.  Over and over in scripture we see reference to the humbling of those who place themselves in power, as well as the exalting of those who seek no glory for themselves.  King Saul and David are excellent examples of this.

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12

She says that God fills the hungry but sends away the rich empty.  The translation here for hungry is in relation to righteousness as opposed to the rich which are full of self-righteousness (empty translated: one who boasts of his faith as a transcendent possession, yet is without the fruits of faith).  These hungry people are those that thirst for true righteousness, available only from God.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”.  It could be that Mary is speaking of the Jews of her time who outwardly claim to have a relationship and righteousness from God, but inwardly are full of pride.  She acknowledges in her song that she is thirsty – she knows she is not righteous in and of herself.

In verses 54-55 Mary talks of how God has remembered His promises to Abraham and his descendants.  All of the scripture has led to this time, where the Messiah would come.  Hidden in passages of future prophecies, and words that God spoke to His prophets was the foretelling and witnessing of what God was doing and what would eventually come: Christ.  In Genesis 12 God calls Abraham to follow Him, promising that by his faith he would be rewarded with descendants that numbered the stars.  Through Abraham’s son Isaac God promised a great nation.  Through Isaac’s son Jacob (also known as Israel) God promised the Messiah.  2000 years later, Mary sings about God’s remembrance to His chosen people, and the fulfillment that will soon take place.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5

Let us always be cognizant of the one who waits until just the right time to bring forth His plans.  We may not be able to see over the horizon of life and know what must come to pass, but God does.  Rest assured that if you belong to Him, all things will work for the best and most glorious outcome.  Mary knew that what was coming would be wonderful, and even though she was chosen for this great purpose, we will see as time goes on that she waivers, just like the rest of us.  She was used by God and served Him faithfully.  Let us look to her as an example, but not elevate her to a position higher than our Savior.

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One thought on “Luke 1:46-56

  1. Pingback: Mary’s Willing Heart – Luke 1:36-38, 46-55 | The Morning Thirst

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