How should we respond to God when He has blessed us? Mary gives us a great model, in what has traditionally been called, “The Magnificat.” This title comes from the Latin for the phrase My soul magnifies the Lord (below translated as my soul glorifies the Lord.)
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, (Psalm 35:9) for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, (Gen 30:13) for the Mighty One has done great things for me— (Psalm 24:8) holy is his name. (Psalm 99:3) His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. (Psalm 103:17) He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; (Psalm 89:13) he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. (Proverbs 16:5) He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. (1 Samuel 2:4) He has filled the hungry with good things (Psalm 107:9) but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, (Isaiah 41:14) remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Micah 7:20) – Luke 1:46-55
This is a beautiful piece of poetry. The Bible doesn’t say that Mary spoke this immediately. She likely took time to craft it- either on her journey to Elizabeth’s house or sometime during her stay there.
Mary crafted a beautiful poem that can serve as a model of praise and thanksgiving.
- The Magnificat is specific. I know that I should praise God, so I do. But often, I do it lazily. I speak in general words that do not take reflection on my part. Mary is thanking God that she gets to be the mother of the Messiah. But she does not only thank God for that fact, she thanks God for the repercussions of that fact. She takes time to reflect on how what God is doing will affect her life and the lives of others.
- The Magnificat is based on Scripture. When I pray, I default to free flowing thoughts from my heart. Though there is a place for that, there is also a place for something more thought out. In this poem, Mary parallels several Old Testament passages. (They are referenced after the lines above, in case you want to do a little study. It is also very closely tied to 1 Samuel 2:1-10). Mary knows God’s Word. She sees how God has acted in history and uses that as the reference for what God is doing now. Using Scripture affirms the consistency of God throughout time.
- The Magnificat recognizes varying aspects of God’s character. Sometimes, I get stuck on praising God for His love. Though God is love, He is also more than love. This song recognizes both God’s mighty power and His loving mercy. It praises God not only for these characteristics, but for how these seemingly opposite traits actually work in beautiful harmony with one another.
- The Magnificat is about more than just Mary’s life. I find it much easier to recognize what God is doing in my life than what God is doing in the world. Without realizing it, my prayers, both requests and thanksgivings, become self-centered. I thank God for how He has blessed me, not how He has blessed others. Mary praises God not just for how He is interacting with her human life, but for how He is interacting with humanity.
Here is a start…
I am grateful for the gift You give me, Lord. A gift with a greater cost than money With the purchase price of Your own precious Son. You give me the gift of adoption. Through Your Son, I have become Your daughter. Daddy, thank you for giving such a beautiful gift. A box filled with salvation, wrapped with purpose, and tied with community.
Hopefully, I can expand on this over time. Just like Mary, I want to reflect and respond.
The advent of the Messiah should cause us to praise the Lord.