A Song of Mary: The Magnificat

Audio Recording Here

Luke 1:46-55 (ESV)

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.”

The first thing one should note about Mary is she was a student of the Scriptures. Of course, she knew that the Messiah is her Lord and her God (v. 47, John 2:5), but that was due to her knowing the many prophecies of the Messiah. No doubt she contemplated them (as was her style–Luke 2:19) on the way from Nazareth to see her cousin Elizabeth. I am sure that these words from the prophets were Mary’s only link to sanity, among the many trials that she faced for being pregnant outside of Marriage, much less for claiming that God had done this to her. But, given that perspective, notice Mary puts many Old Testament Prophecies and Scriptures into this Song.

There are 2 parts to her song. The first part is pure praise. The second section is Mary’s recounting the ancient words of Old Testament prophets regarding the Messiah.

The Magnificat

Part 1
(vv. 46-50) Mary gave praise because (v.48) God regarded (looked upon–gazed at with thoughtful favor) Mary. This is the same relational action God took with Elizabeth (v.25).
– Even though Mary was of “humble estate,” (i.e. a nobody from no where with nothing)
– Generations to come would call her blessed (“indwelt by God and fully satisfied as a result”–used only of Mary and the persecuted prophets, James 5:11*) God had done great things to her.
  1. God is mighty (all powerful) and holy (unique) —  (v. 49)
  2. God grants mercy to those who fear him [fear = awestruck and dependent reverence]. This is a timeless truth, “from generation to generation.”
Part 2
(vv. 51-55) When Mary was making this song, she starts prophesying, and the theme is this: God loves to use nobodies from nowhere with nothing to scatter the proud and the imagination of their hearts (see Ps. 2 — prophecy of the future reign of Christ; 1 Cor. 1:27).
  1. God, through the virgin birth of Christ, “showed strength with his arm” or “made bare his arm” — see Isaiah 52:10 — making good on his prophecy through Isaiah. God keeps his promises.
  2. God, through the virgin birth of Christ, put down [past tense] the rulers of the earth (Ps. 2, Gen. 6) from their seats and exalted those of low degree, so that the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5; 1 Pet. 5:6).
  3. God, through the virgin birth of Christ, filled the hungry with good things (Matthew 5:6; James 2:5) while sending the “rich” (John 9:41) away empty.
  4. God, through the virgin birth of Christ, helped Israel (^fig. “kept from falling in their purpose of bringing the Redeemer into the world;” lit. to mutually take hold of one another with the hand).
    • In remembering mercy
    • In fulfilling his promise to Abraham (Gen. 12, 15, 17)
    • In fulfilling his promise to Abraham’s “seed” forever (Gen. 3:15, Romans 4).


Life Applications of Mary’s Song:

  • Only those who humble themselves, only the meek, only those who see themselves as spiritually and morally bankrupt before God, only those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied. Only that kind of person can receive the true gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ. Our Lord humbled himself in order to provide your redemption. Reject your pride this Christmas, disregard what you think of as spiritual riches (“credentials” or “goodness”) and exchange it for receiving Jesus’ righteousness. God grants mercy only to those who fear him, and God says that the sacrifice of Jesus is the only acceptable offering for your guilt (Isaiah 53:10-11).
  • Like Mary, God gazes on you with favor. He regards you, especially in your “low estate.” He has sent you the greatest gift of all–Himself. Receive His favor with thanks and praise, just as Mary did!
  • Whom can you “regard” this Christmas? Look on someone with favor this season, give them your favor–your regards–and, also give them the story of what God has done for you through Jesus.
  • God delights in using nobodies from nowhere with nothing to accomplish his purposes. Take courage and let God change you into the likeness of Jesus Christ, who always believed and always did the will of God, the Father (John 4:34, 5:19, 8:29)!
  • God requires surrender to His will. Sometimes this means great humiliation and sacrifice and ridicule on our part. But, the reward is Jesus. Mary knew this truth very well. Will you commit to follow Jesus Christ, even if it costs you or leads to your ridicule, humiliation or even death? If you will, Jesus counts you among the “blessed,” just like the ancient prophets and Mary (Matt. 5;1-11).
  • Just as God “helped” Israel to fulfill their purpose, he can help you to fulfill yours. (i.e. your ‘calling in Christ Jesus:” Romans 8:29 and following, Eph. 4:1 and following; Jude 24)
  • Like Mary, strive to know the Bible and especially prophecies about Jesus.


*Spiros Zodhiates, Hebrew/Greek Key Word Study Bible, Lexical Aids to the New Testament, #3106
^ibid. #482
Evidence of Biblical Inspiration (prophecies) by CARM

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