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46. And Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.
47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
50. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
51. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54. He hath holpen (helped) his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
55. As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”
These verses are referred to as the “Magnificat of Mary.” It is that moment when she is moved upon by the unction and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to give a great prophetic praise to God who has dealt with her. And in that great praise, she magnifies God in several different ways. And one of the main reasons I want to use this passage is because the passage can be divided into four different sections around four great ideas; the Holiness of God, the Mercy of God, the Might and Power of God and the Faithfulness of God. I think this passage sets forth a tremendous pattern for us to follow when we want to glorify God and magnify Him. So, that’s what I’m going to be talking about tonight, “Magnifying the Lord,” following the pattern and the words of Mary as she gives this beautiful prophetic utterance after the Lord has visited her.
This beautiful passage comes to us from the young woman that God chose looking down in Israel and chose a particular young woman to become the mother, the earthly mother, of the Son of God. In recent days, I have been hearing a song about Jesus in His youth and growing up and when He was in the temple at twelve, and so on. And they have Him to say things like, when they asked Him how old He was, He said ‘Well, on my mother’s side, I’m twelve years old. But on my Father’s side, I am alpha and omega.”
Well, here is a beautiful passage that shows us that God looked down in Israel and picked out a handmaiden who evidently had honor for God and love in her heart and knew something about the Word of God and God chose her to perform one of the most mysterious and miraculous kinds of visitations that anyone in this world could ever receive. And so here she is rejoicing because she has met with Elisabeth. Elisabeth and even the unborn child, John the Baptist, in the womb of Elisabeth has given great witness to the fact that Mary is going to be the earthly mother of the Son of God. And when this happens, the Spirit of God comes upon Mary and she begins, first of all with her own personal testimony of what God has done.
Really, I think that’s where magnifying and glorifying God should begin. It should begin with our personal testimony of what God has done and that should be repeated and refreshed in our hearts over and over and over and over again in our prayers and in our praise and in our songs and I, for one, love the songs of testimony that tell about what God has done. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Testimonies of praise that come through singing and music and every way we can think of. I miss what I saw as a child in the old churches, and that was the testimony service when the power of God fell and people were just eager to express out of their hearts what God had done for them; His salvation, the prayers He had answered and magnifying and glorifying and worshipping began with personal testimony
And she said, “My soul magnifies the Lord. My Spirit - and it is a matter of worship and magnifying God is a matter of the entire self, the entire soul, the entire person – and the Spirit, the spiritual person as well reaching up to magnify and glorify God. And she says, “My whole soul and self and mind and understanding, everything I know anything about myself or whatever I can imagine, it reaches up toward God to give Him glory and honor and to magnify Him because of what He has done. And my spirit rejoices.” I think that magnifying God should begin, not only with testimony and praise, but with rejoicing. I know sometimes we come to God with great burdens, and it seems we want to get right on to our petitions right away, and I guess surely that’s alright because God certainly understands, but it’s a wonderful thing when you can enter in to worship with rejoicing, looking toward Him, magnifying God from your whole, entire being.
Then she says, “This God who is so holy, this one who is so high, this one who is so great and so powerful and I look up to Him now in honor, He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.” I don’t think I can ever understand this. I can’t understand the glorious Lord God Almighty and all of His holiness and might and divine attributes being concerned to look down on people of low estate, individual by individual and know them. It doesn’t matter their name, where they’re from, but He knows and He understands. And she says, “He has regarded – He has looked down upon my low estate.” Hallelujah!
I don’t know how to explain what Mary really meant there. But we can be sure that as far as her ugly life, she was a poor girl, a poor young woman. You see, as we talked at other times, God did not visit the palace. He did not go to a king’s house, but He went to a woman of low estate. He didn’t pick out some queen, so to speak. I sort of think that God, always, when He gets ready to do something great, and do something really big that will be a worldwide influence, that He reaches down to touch the humble and the people who are of low estate and who will humble themselves before Him.
The Bible says and it’s a divine rule written in this book – the Bible – that He resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. If you want to run against God and have the mighty power of God resisting you in your life, just have self- exaltation and pride and that is what you will get. You’ll run right against His divine power. But if you want to be exalted and be blessed, then He lifts up the humble and gives grace to the humble. And she is magnifying God because He has reached down to her, the one who was of such low estate.
I have on the wall of my study a plain drawing, pencil drawing sketch of the picture of a young man, 14 years old or so, kneeling down at the handles of an old cold planter. I used to run one just like it when I was a boy planting cotton and corn and such. Kneeling at those handles and the planter still hitched to the mule and the mule is looking back at this boy on his knees, and every time I go in there I can say to myself, ‘Well, Joe, that’s you, and that’s where you came from. From plowing the fields in the hill country of Mississippi.’ God looks down upon us all and regardless of what our estate may be, and He touches even though He is the High and Holy God.
And she says, because this…not because of my name or who I am or my family or anything like that, but because of what God has done for me and is going to do through me, all generations will remember me. Here she begins to think in terms of what her life will actually be, how she will be somehow – people will rise up and call her blessed because God has worked through her life.
And after all friends, isn’t that what life is really all about? Sometimes we may worry about not being able to leave our children a certain kind of inheritance. After working in the Dakotas for a couple of years, I found out that those old pioneer people, especially the older generation, had their hearts set on leaving a good estate to their children. They themselves would sacrifice and they would go without. I had one man member of the church who was a millionaire and he wore the same old black suit to church til it split open and he couldn’t repair it and him a millionaire, so that he could build up an estate for his children. Sometimes we may worry about going through this world and being so poor, not being able to leave anything at all.
But, oh! What a heritage that people would remember this woman because she yielded herself in faith and allowed God to work through her. The only lasting thing and heritage we can give and even that the church can give is the kind of faith that grows in the hearts of people when they see that God has worked through our lives.
It’s the fact that God has moved in our lives and used us for His glory. And she said, ‘All generations shall call me blessed because of what God has done through me.” I wish I knew how to express what I’m feeling in my heart right now because I think if we could get a grip on this, we could leave here rejoicing in the fact that whatever good we leave behind us, it is because God has touched us and remembered us and regarded us in our low estate and has exalted us by His grace. When I think of the people all over this world that I know that have been lifted and exalted because God came into their lives, people who were of low estate. I’ve seen drunkards and others at the bottom, but now they are remembered. Some of them are great preachers who are remembered because God lifted them right out of there and worked through them and generations will keep them in honor and respect.
She continues to magnify God, not only because of His holiness and what He has done and the fact that even in His great holiness He has reached down to her, but it goes on in verse 50 to talk about His mercy. This is part of magnifying God, not only giving the testimony and talking about what God has done for us and through us, but also remembering His mercy. When we magnify the Lord, we talk in regard to His divine mercy.
When she gets here, she begins to quote from one of the great Psalms. The Word of God comes flooding into her heart. I like this because we have seen people numbers and numbers and numbers of times in the New Testament, where the people under the influence of divine unction and inspiration and prophetic spirit and so on, weave in to their prophetic utterance the Scripture. And it gives us a good Scriptural pattern to include the Words of inspiration that have already been penned by somebody else, and include them in our praise and our prayers. And all this adds might and weight and power and force to whatever we’re doing. If we’re praying and we bring in the Word of God, it adds force. If we’re magnifying God, and we bring in the songs of Zion from the Old Testament and add to our adoration, it brings power and force. And she’s quoting from Psalm 103. You know it begins “Bless the Lord, oh my soul and all that is within me. Bless His holy name.” And it goes on to talk about all His benefits and way down in that Psalm, verse 17 reads like this, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him and His righteousness unto children’s children.” Mary now is remembering the mercy of the Lord and she says, “And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation.” And it literally means ‘from everlasting to everlasting.’
Now notice what is taught in that verse, mercy is on them that fear Him in all generations. The holiness of God should incite in our hearts Godly reverence and fear. This certainly ought to teach us humility because if we want mercy, we must have Godly reverence. Because He gives mercy, not to the haughty and the independent and the proud and those who say ‘I don’t need God and I don’t want God.’ Oh no, mercy doesn’t come there. Not in the sense I’m talking. Sure, I know God is merciful, even on the wicked. Some of the writers of Scripture have been troubled with that. Some of them said ‘Why? Wherefore does the wicked live?’ And it’s a simple answer. God has given them some time to get right and to humble themselves, to repent, sure. So mercy comes, but there is a special visitation of His mercy and His love upon people who honor Him and magnify Him and glorify Him and who give Him the glory and who say ‘Lord, we cannot do it without You, so we give You all the glory.’
I want to tell you this; you can agree or not, but I believe that God moves in the midst of His people in direct proportion to the way they give Him glory. I think He comes to us in our personal lives in direct proportion to the way we give Him honor and reverence and glory. Oh, what a powerful teaching in this magnifying of the Lord that Mary gives us in this passage.
And then she starts to talk about His great might and His mighty power. Verses 51 and 52 “God has shown the strength of His arm.” This is a little bit odd in a way, but sometimes the Bible talks about He has laid bare His right arm. I guess the Psalmist was right handed, I don’t know if David was left-handed or right-handed, but whoever wrote that was probably right-handed. And anyhow, it’s always been understood by most people that when you talk about the right hand that means the strongest ones, except for all you left-handed folks, no offense meant toward you. But anyhow, when God lays bare His mighty arm, He is about to shake things up. That’s the idea from the Scripture. The point I’m trying to make is if God reaches out with His mighty hand and His mighty arm, He is about to shake things up. Yes! And she says “He has shown strength of His arm scattering the proud”, the ones who are so proud in the imaginations of their hearts, their thought life and all, they’re filled with such pride, God just takes His mighty arm and just scatters them.
Now Mary has a long history of the Jews that she could look back on to prove what she just said because that is exactly what happened to Israel…scattered among the nations when they were exalted in their own pride, rebelling against God, disobeying God. I’ve already preached on the prophets and their message concerning the integrity of ministry and every time I even start to talk about the prophets, something happens to me in my heart because it is such a powerful subject. And when you look back and see them preaching to a backsliding Israel and then God moves His mighty hand and they are sown like grains of wheat among the nations – scattered. Most of the time, many times, when God needs to do something great in the end, He takes hold of somebody and just sows them and scatters them. Sometimes we remit about it, because somebody is going here or yonder, but God is doing the scattering. He is doing the sowing.
But here, she says “He scattered the people who were lifted up in pride, who were haughty in their hearts.” And He said He put down the mighty from their seats, or their thrones. The Hebrew word there really refers to the thrones of these mighty people. You know, we just keep getting surprised every day when we see nations topple and big dictators falling and all of a sudden nations are crumbling. My goodness, I saw somebody on television the other day talking about the hard time the map makers are having now to try to keep up with the way things are going and as well, all the maps are out of date now. You couldn’t even teach in school exactly what’s going on. You can’t keep up with it. God’s just putting more on nations and high and lofty people just scattering them and bringing them down from their thrones and the Bible teaches us that this divine sovereign God determines the bounds of their habitations even beforehand. It’s in His hands. The whole world is in His hand. Hallelujah! Because God is great and He has great power and He brings people off their thrones and they think they are so great and so big. One of the great leaders of Russia pounded a table and said ‘We’ll bury you.’ And look who’s about to be buried.
Mary had seen it. She knew about it. And He said ‘Then He has exalted them of low degree, lifted up the humble.’ Hallelujah! This is a divine principle that this world doesn’t even any more understand than I understand how to fly one of the big jets or how to be an astronaut. They don’t understand God at work in the world, bringing the high down and exalting people of low degree. No wonder Mary says ‘I am overwhelmed. I’m amazed that the high and holy God would touch me and regard and look at me in my low estate.’ There is a divine principle running all the way through the Bible that the way up to Glory is found in humility. He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
And then finally, she talks about His faithfulness. She said ‘Down through the years God has moved in. He has filled the hungry with good things.’ I don’t know how God can bring it about. There is a lot of hunger in this world, but God has the ability to change things and fill the hungry with good things. And He says ‘the rich He has sent away empty.’ The implication here is the rich who have gotten rich by making other people poor, that’s the implication behind that. And God turned the tables. In the Gospel of John especially, there are so many cases where God turns the tables, where the Lord turns the tables. I like it when that happens, don’t you, when people find out that they can’t trial with the divine will of God. In His faithfulness, He has remembered the poor and the hungry, and He has helped His servant Israel. Down through the ages, Mary perhaps understands that God has remembered Israel, His servant, with mercy.
Mary begins with holiness, but ends with mercy. Mary talks about power and might, but ends with God’s faithfulness and His mercy. Can you put all this in perspective? We magnify God when we remember His holiness and who He is and humble ourselves. We magnify Him when we remember His mercy and His great power that has been manifested. These are days we need to call to remembrance what God has done, and not focus so much on what God is not doing, so to speak. But overshadowing it all is the mercy of God at work. He is a merciful God. And that becomes very personal because I think that each time I pray, I probably begin, not by worshipping Him and remembering the high and holy God, but thinking of His mercy.
I would like for us to stand tonight and using this passage as a pattern, let us magnify and glorify our Lord, remembering His holiness and who He is and what He is. Remembering His mercy and His might. Could you praise Him for His might and His mighty power that preserves you or did some outstanding thing for you? And remember His faithfulness down through the years. Would you lift your heart and magnify Him tonight in all these different ways?
“Our Father, we glorify you tonight. We magnify Your Name. We glorify You. We praise You. Oh, thank you for Your mercy. Thank you for Your grace. Thank you for Your power and might. Thank You for Your presence. Thank You, Lord, that you are the exalted One, high and holy. Thank You, Lord. Oh, hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”
It is that moment when Mary is moved upon by the unction and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to give a great prophetic praise to God who has dealt with her.
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