Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Reader: “His mercy is for those who fear him.”
Response: “ . . . from generation to generation.”
Scripture: Luke 1:46-55
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
The Magnificat, (based on the first word of this text in Latin), is one of the great songs of Scripture. It is filled with Old Testament quotations from the Psalms, Isaiah, Job, I Samuel, among others. Like Elizabeth, there was a woman in the Old Testament who dealt with barrenness, a cultural stigma in the Jewish society of that day. The woman’s name was Hannah. After infertile years of prayer, the Lord granted Hannah’s request, and she gave birth to Samuel, the first great prophet/priest of Israel, whom she dedicated to the Lord. It was Samuel who anointed Israel’s first king Saul and the great king David. In I Samuel, chapter two, Hannah sang a song of rejoicing to which Mary’s Magnificat is strikingly similar. As a little Jewish girl growing up, Mary would certainly have been very familiar with Hannah’s song. In Mary’s day, Jews were very familiar with the entire First Testament so it is not at all surprising that Mary’s song had a similar structure and some common themes with Hannah’s song. (I Samuel 2:1-10)
Like Hannah’s, Mary’s song can be broken into four similar sections: 1) praising God for what he has done in her life; 2) she sings of God’s power and judgment; 3) God acts on behalf of the poor and humbles the rich; 4) and finally, God has helped and been merciful to Israel.
It is interesting to me to consider that Hannah sang her song in gratitude to God and kept her vow, giving her son to God for ministry in the Temple. Elizabeth,who had been in the same situation until she conceived John, likewise gave her son to serve God as the forerunner of the Messiah. Like Hannah, Zechariah sang a song (Lk 1:68-79) similar in theme to that of Hannah’s and Mary’s. While both Hannah and Elizabeth had most remarkable human conceptions, Mary’s was truly a miracle. God set aside each of the three boys for his specific purposes. Samuel, Israel’s first prophet and priest, would anoint both Israel’s first king, Saul, and its greatest king, David. John would announce the coming of the King of Israel. And Jesus would be the summation of the other two boys entering the world as the Son of God and Son of Man, the eternal King.
Music: “Magnificat” J S Bach Nikolaus Harnoncourt
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YML7uc9sdl8 3:15 for the first movement, you can listen to more!
Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach; help me chastely to flee it, and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be thine alone.
Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in thee.
Give me a deeper knowledge of thyself as Savior, Master, Lord, and King.
Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth.
Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from thee.
I have no master but thee,
no law by thy will,
no delight but thyself,
no wealth but that thou givest,
no good but that thou blessest,
no peace but that thou bestowest.
I am nothing but that thou makest me,
I have nothing but that I receive from thee,
I can be nothing but that grace adorns me.
Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water. In the name of Jesus, Amen. ―from Valley of Vision, p.75