God speaks; we listen and respond. But how do we listen and respond? Mary heard God’s message through the angel Gabriel and received affirmation of its truthfulness through her relative Elizabeth. Our text is her considered response to both. As is often noted, Mary’s words can be compared to those of Hannah, which she spoke about her son Samuel when she presented him for the Lord’s service (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Perhaps another time, we might compare the two. What we want to see is that Mary had thought about God’s word and through her words worshiped the Lord. This is a model for us: listen to the word of the Lord and then worship appropriately. How did Mary worship?
She exalted the Lord from her inner person (1:46-47). Her focus was on God. Though her heart was filled and thrilled with many wonderful thoughts, she sought to lift up her Lord first of all. Her words were the overflow of a heart (Matthew 12:34) devoted to the Lord. She took pleasure in glorifying God. She was glad in her Savior or Rescuer, as she saw God’s purpose of the salvation of her and her people begin to happen. Mary rejoiced!
She spoke about the reasons for her joy (1:48-49). She traced both back to God. The first is that God cared about her. Recognizing that God cares about us (1 Peter 5:7) is part of our ongoing personal relationship with God. God, who is high and exalted, truly cares for the lowly. He stoops to lift us up to the enjoyment of his glory. The second is that the Lord God acted in her life. He said not merely words of care, but he acted because he cared. By making Mary the mother of the Anointed One, the Mighty One did something far beyond her ability. A virgin could never conceive a child on her own. This led Mary to declare the special greatness of who and what God is: His name is holy, set apart above all others.
The mention of God’s acts for her caused Mary to praise God for his goodness to all his people (1:50-55). A torrent of observations of God’s might acts rushed forth from her soul:
- God is merciful to those who fear or reverence him (1:50). This is the usual way of God through all generations of mankind. In her own family line, God was merciful to women like Sarah, Tamar, Naomi, Ruth, and Bathsheba, to mention only a few. A thousand years after David, Mary personally knew God’s mercy to her.
- God acts by his mighty power (1:51). She knew that the Lord’s arm was never shortened (Isaiah 59:1). The Sovereign Lord is able to help his people; he is also able to scatter those who in their pride oppose him and his people.
- The Lord reverses human expectations (1:52-53). Rulers are taken down, the humble are raised. Those poor and hungry eat and are filled, while those rich in this world starve. Power and wealth are supposed to solve everything on earth, but Mary sees the superiority of the Lord over earthly delusions. Consider how many powerful men have fallen in the last two months of this year.
- The Lord is faithful to his covenant people. (1:54-55). Mary’s faith is strong. As she feels new life inside her, she is confident that the Lord who was sending his Son through her would fulfill the plans of God through him. The Seed of Abraham would come to fruition, and he would accomplish God’s covenant promises.
Do we think and meditate on God’s word when we hear it? As we do, our hearts ought to worship, because we also are the recipients of God’s covenant promises in Christ, and in him, they are always “Yes”. We ought to say a strong “Amen” in response (2 Corinthians 1:20). Can anyone reading say “Amen”?
Grace and peace, David