The Magnificat (taken from the word “magnifies”) is Mary’s song of praise to the Lord in response to Gabriel’s announcement and the confirmation she has received from Elizabeth. It’s one of the most cherished hymns in the history of the church as the woman chosen to give birth to the Messiah praises God for her unique role but also for the fulfillment of the promised Messiah. In this moment Mary models for us prayer, adoration, and a deep familiarity with the Scriptures.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
Why does Mary sing this song? Because God has noticed her. God looked down with his eternal gaze and chose her. She’s a teenager from Nazareth, the face in the crowd no one would notice. But God looked down and chose her to be the mother of Christ. She has recognition unlike anyone else. Recognition from man fades, God’s election is eternal and secure. In addition to God’s recognition she’s recognized as the most blessed women ever.
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts
She also praises God for those powerful works of redemption and deliverance all summed up with the image of God’s arm. It’s the image taken from the Psalms where they speak of God’s mighty arm that cannot be resisted and surely accomplishes his will. This sovereign power of God has accomplished his will yet it has been done mercifully towards those who fear him. God’s power is tempered by his mercy. So God’s power is sufficient to accomplish all that he wills yet precise to be exact in its execution.
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty
In first century context, the political rulers and high class were easily recognized. All the regalia that would communicate power and authority were worn. Here Mary is prophesying what God will do in the future through the Messiah. That as he crumbled kingdoms in the past he will do it in the future.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.
Lastly, Mary sees God’s faithfulness to his covenant people. The birth of Jesus is not without context, it is in fulfillment to all the promises God has spoken to his people through the ages. The anticipated Messiah is arriving, it’s the dawning of a new age. All of history that preceded this moment was for this moment. The promises made to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Issac and Jacob were not forgotten. As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, remember God is faithful and will do what he promises.