The Song (“The Magnificat”) of Mary (Luke 1:46-56)

The Song (“Magnificat”) of Mary
Luca 1.46-56
“Breath of Heaven”, a song by Amy Grant, pictures the thoughts and fears of Mary as she carries the Son of God in her womb… How does this song contrast with the Song of Mary recorded in Scripture? The lyrics are:

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen me now to carry Your Son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong, help me be, help me

For one thing, Mary’s song is almost entirely quotations from the Old Testament. “The song of Mary marks the transition from Old Testament to New Testament praise” (Pulpit Commentary, 17).

One purpose of worship is exalting God – Acts 10:46. When people repent, they magnify the name of God (Acts 19:17). We can even magnify God through our lives – Philip. 1:20.

“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” – Psalm 34:3.
“I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving” – Psalm 69:30.

Verse 47 parallels verse 46 – “my spirit has rejoiced” is the way in which “my soul exalts the Lord.”

“God my Savior” – most passages in the NT depict Jesus as the Savior but some, like this one, show God as Savior since the Godhead worked together to bring about our salvation. But while the idea of “God my Savior” is personal, Mary has in mind the salvation of her whole people.

Verse 48 begins with the conjunction “for”, signaling the reasons for Mary’s praise. One reason is found in verse 48 – “He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;” for which she explains: “for behold, this time on all generations will count me blessed.”

How was Mary blessed?
Her pregnancy was unique. Let us always look at God’s blessings on us as unique. While no child is as unique as Jesus Christ, every child is unique in his or her own way.
Her pregnancy filled her heart with joy. Not just a mother, but the mother of God’s Son – look at Gabriel’s message to Mary back in 1:28-33 but especially verses 32-33; 35-37.
Her pregnancy gave her a tremendous responsibility – to rear, to teach and to train that illustrious “Son of the Most High”, indeed, the “Son of God.”
Her pregnancy would give her an honorable immortality. “All generations will count her blessed.”
Her pregnancy will elevate her beyond her current state. Mary just considered herself a “bondslave” – verse 38 and 48. A slave. That’s all she considered herself. But that didn’t matter. God was going to treat her so much better.

Another reason Mary exalts God is found in verse 49: “for the Mighty One has done great things for me.”
The expression “great things” is a phrase from the OT that referred especially to the exodus from Egypt – Deuter. 10:21.

“Holy is His name” is an echo from Psalm 111:9 which, to Mary, shows that because God is distinct, what He does is unique.

In verse 50, Mary moves beyond herself. Perhaps she may not realize just what it meant for Jesus to be the “Savior” of the world but she knows this blessing on her is for other people as well.

Notice what type of people experience the “mercy” of God. – “Toward those who fear him.” God’s mercy is His faithfulness to His covenant with Israel. The word “fear” means “to cherish reverence and respect for Him – not to be afraid, but to honour [sic] Him lovingly by avoiding what is contrary to His will and by striving after what pleases Him” (Geldenhuys, 85).

Notice the anthropomorphic symbol of God’s power in verse 51 – His arm has done mighty deeds. With God’s mighty arm, He has done several things about which Mary sings:
Verse 51 – He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. Consider how God feels about the proud: Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5
Verse 52 – He has brought down rulers from their thrones. What does God do to the proud? James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6; Luke 18:14.
Verse 52 – He has exalted those who were humble.
Verse 53 – He has filled the hungry with good things and sent away the rich empty-handed. God provides. Eventually, God will even up the score. It may be lop-sided in this life but it will be settled one day. Because God rules. God rules over our hearts (1:51), over the powerful (1:52), over the poor (1:52), over the rich (1:53), over the faithful (1:54).

Mary associates her blessing with that of her people, Israel. “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy…” How?

Verse 55 – “As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.” So the promise to Abraham is being fulfilled now in the life of Mary. God keeps His promises.

Throughout these words of Mary, we see the power of God (vs 49, 51), divine holiness (ver. 49, 51-52), divine mercy (ver. 50), divine faithfulness (ver. 53-55) and we see all these fulfilled, brought to earth, in the coming of the Son of the Most High, the Son of God – Jesus Christ.

Finally, we see fulfilled in the prayer of Mary the words from Psalm 40:1-8.

Take home message: Embrace God’s plan for your life.

Start an evangelism conversation: “Most people in America say they believe in God. What does believing in God mean to you?”


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