46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home” (Luke 1:46-56).
To set the stage for our examination of Mary’s song of praise, let us consider the commentary by Dr. John MacArthur. He writes, “Mary’s Magnificat (the first word in the Latin translation) is filled with OT allusions and quotations. It reveals that Mary’s heart and mind were saturated with the word of God. It contains repeated echoes of Hannah’s prayers, e.g., 1 Sam. 1:11 and 2:1–10. These verses also contain numerous allusions to the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets. The entire passage is a point-by-point reciting of the covenant promises of God.” Let us examine each point Mary recited of God’s covenant promises and character.
First, 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” (Luke 1:46-47). Mary echoed I Samuel 2:1-10 when she declared that her mind, emotions and will were magnifying or praising the greatness of God (Psalm 34:1-3; 69:30). Additionally, she possessed great gladness and joy in God her Savior (Psalm 35:9; Isaiah 61:10; Habakkuk 3:18). Mary acknowledged that she regarded the Lord as her Savior (Psalm 106:21). She recognized that she was a sinner in need of God’s grace and mercy.
Second, “For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). Mary’s words resembled the words of Hannah (I Samuel 1:11) and the psalmist David (Psalm 138:6). She praised the Lord for using such a person of low estate like her in which future generations would praise her as fortunate.
Third, “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49). Luke 1:49 is filled with Old Testament references for God regarding His might (Psalm 89:8; Zephaniah 3:17), His greatness (Psalm 71:19; 126:1-3), and His holy name (Psalm 99:3; 111:9; Isaiah 57:15).
Fourth, “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). God’s continuous pity and compassion (Deuteronomy 5:10; 7:1-9; Psalm 89:1-2; 103:17) are for those who reverence and worship Him.
Fifth, “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts” (Luke 1:51). The first phrase is taken from Psalm 89:10, 98:1, 118:16, and Isaiah 51:9. Mary spoke of God’s miraculous power. The second phrase cites Nebuchadnezzar’s words from Daniel 4:37. Not only will God choose to use the humble but will scatter or disperse the contemptuous and arrogant individual.
Sixth, “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:52). Mary’s next thought echoed Luke 1:51. Her following statement came from Job 5:11, Psalm 75:7, 107:40-41, 113:7-8, 147:6, and Ezekiel 21;26. Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “The principle that God exalts the humble and casts down the proud was common in the Old Testament (e.g., Prov. 3:34; Isaiah 2:11–12, 17).”
Seventh, “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Luke 1:53). The idea of filling the hungry comes from Psalm 34:10, and 107:9. The second statement proclaims judgment upon those who are filled with goods but are empty of God.
Eighth, “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:54-55). Mary rejoiced that God had kept His promises (Genesis 17:19; Isaiah 41:8-9; 44:21; 49:1-3; Psalm 98:3; 132:11; Micah 7:20).
Luke then inserted this epilogue statement. “And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.” It is logical to conclude, from the text, that Mary initially visited Elizabeth during the sixth month of her pregnancy and remained with her until she gave birth to her son John three months later. Mary then returned to Nazareth to await the birth of her own child.
It is an amazing blessing to see how saturated Mary’s soul was with the Old Testament Scriptures. This is even more amazing in light of the probability that she did not possess her own copy of the sacred text but rather heard it recited each Sabbath when she visited the local synagogue. How much more should we be filled with God’s Word.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!