And Mary said, “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; 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; 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. 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 1:46-55)
What does it look like to magnify the Lord? This beautiful hymn of praise(commonly referred to as “the Magnificat,” from the Latin word for magnify) is a great treasure for at least two reasons. One, it records the thoughts and heart response of one of God’s great servants in the days following a decision to trust and obey the Lord. This alone makes it sweet! But second, this is a passage to be treasured because it follows a biblical pattern of praise that can be an example for us on how to magnify the Lord. Here’s what Mary does:
She begins with a personal focus – she praises God for being her God. Mary humbles herself and clearly identifies God as the one who has done great things for her (not the other way around, as some have chosen to believe). She meditates on His faithfulness to her and she reveres His Name.
Then Mary magnifies God by remembering His faithfulness toward Israel. She relates to God not only as an individual, but also a member of His flock. She meditates on His collective faithfulness to Israel and she exalts His name.
She chooses praise in the midst of anticipated adversity – knowing that many will mock, scorn and misunderstand her as she walks in obedience to her God. Anticipated adversity is often worse than adversity itself because we imagine such adversity apart from the grace God would provide.
This is a hymn to be treasured and a pattern to be followed. Today as we prepare our hearts to celebrate our Savior’s birth, let us remind ourselves of His personal faithfulness to each of us, as well as His faithfulness to us as His Church. And as we prepare to welcome the arrival of a new year, let us remember that God’s faithfulness is already there. Know that some sort of adversity awaits you in 2013. But know also that God’s grace abounds. I pray that in all things we will say along with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord!”
Discipleship Challenge: Following Mary’s pattern above, write your own Magnificat. Be honest and vulnerable. Pray through it on your own and consider sharing it with others who may be blessed by it.
Kim Seville, wife of Downline’s Director of Resources Jason Seville, holds a Masters degree in Biblical Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary. Jason and Kim live in Memphis, TN with their two daughters, Sydney and Sophia.