The Gospel According to Luke: Part 4 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

An Exposition

Luke 1:39-56: “Mary’s Song of Praise”

“Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country to a city of Judah and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. It came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How has it happened to me that the mother of my LORD should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoke to her by the LORD.’

“And Mary said, ‘My soul exalts the LORD, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave. For behold, from this time on all generations shall call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is His name. His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm. He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent away the rich empty handed. He has given help to Israel His servant in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever.’

“Then Mary stayed with her about three months and then returned to her home” (Luke 1:39-56, NASB).

Mary’s declaration of praise to the LORD shows her gratitude and amazement that she would be given the honor of being the vessel by through whom the Savior would come. Mary’s words are a song of pure devotion to the LORD for His mercy, grace, and protection. Words of praise and worship are not uncommon to God’s people in times of joy and distress. In His graciousness, God will impress upon us Scriptures or hymns that we have put to memory that we can turn to when the circumstances of life are often burdensome. As believers, we have the awesome honor to come before the throne of God and talk with Him as we would a dear and cherished friend or relation (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Mary begins her time of praise by referring to the joy of salvation she has found in the LORD (vv.46, 47). This declaration of praise shows her reliance on the promises of God to deliver her from her sins. Mary was a flesh and blood human born with a sin nature, as all of us are. She was a vessel used for the service of the LORD, but she knew she needed a Savior like everyone else. She is not now, nor ever has been, anyone worthy of worship. She is NOT a perpetual virgin, as presented in the last study. She does NOT grant favors from heaven and is NOT a co-redeemer.

None of the Roman Catholic accolades placed upon her by either tradition, church law, or papal decree have any Scriptural foundation. She is NOT to be worshipped or placed above the Lord Jesus Christ. She has NEVER provided salvation for anyone; and after the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles where she is mentioned as being in the Upper Room among the 120 followers of Jesus, her name is never found in the Scriptures again. She served her purpose and relied on Jesus Christ to be her Lord and Savior just as much as anyone does today. She was blessed, not deified. Her mission was to be the instrument of what is referred to as the Incarnation, the divine arrival of Christ on Earth.

Mary continues her song of praise by declaring God’s greatness, holiness, and mercy (vv.49, 50). The Scriptures declare the mercy of God, eternal in scope (Psalm 105:17; 106:11), without bounds (Psalm 108:4; 115:1), prolongs life (Lamentations 3:22-23), it encourages the necessity of penitence (Joel 2:13), is able to render forgiveness for sin (Micah 7:18; Ephesians 2:4), and is able to save (Titus 3:5). She goes on to state that God’s strength is always present and that we are weak (vv.51, 52). God is the One to scatter the proud and weaken those who believe they are mighty. We are nothing without Him, and He is worthy of all our worship and praise.  She sings of those who rely on the LORD and downplays the wealth and self-interests of sinful men (v. 53).

It is the LORD who gives His children true spiritual fullness and contentment. He tells us to open our mouths for Him to fill it (Psalm 81:10). He prepares a table for us in times of distress (Psalm 23:5). He feeds and satisfies us (Isaiah 66:11), and provides the good pasture for His sheep (Ezekiel 34:14), and is ready to pour out blessings upon those who are seeking His forgiveness and restoration of a true relationship with Him (Malachi 3:10).

The conclusion of Mary’s song reminds us to remember God’s provision upon His people, along with His mercy, direction, grace, and rebuttal, all for the purpose of preparing them and the world for the arrival of the Messiah. Nowhere in these verses do we see any hint of self-importance or ego from Mary. She is totally devoted to the service of the LORD, and her song should be a model for us to follow in terms of submission and obedience to his will.

Elizabeth has blessed her, and the unborn John has leaped for joy, showing that life begins at conception and that the LORD allows us to be born for a purpose (Psalm 139). Now, after three months, Mary returns to Nazareth, obviously pregnant, and prepares herself for the next chapter in the redemptive drama, that being the arrival of her Child and the praise that would come from heaven afterward.