Luke 1:51-56

Last time, we began studying the Song of Mary traditionally called “The Magnificat.” Before we continue studying the individual verses that make up this beautiful song, let’s take another look at this beautiful poem in its entirety.
Luke 1:46-55
46And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
Now let’s continue our verse-by-verse study of this “Song of Mary.”
Luke 1:51
51He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Of course, God is Spirit, and doesn’t really have an arm in the sense that we do. Yet it helps us to relate to Him by thinking of His power and might as a strong arm, just as we envision our reliance upon His protection and provision as sheltering beneath “His wings” just as chicks shelter in the nest under the wings of parent birds. Indeed, God does show His power and majesty among His creation, not just in the miracles related in His Word, but in our day-to-day lives. All of us can cast our minds back on our lives and recall the mighty works He has done healing the sick and injured, restoring the lost to Himself, protecting the powerless, providing for the destitute, etc.
Indeed, as Gabriel said to Mary…
Luke 1:37
For with God nothing will be impossible.
Indeed, with God all things are possible, but without Him all of our own abilities are just an illusion.
John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
But in order for God to work in our lives, He must break our pride. If we really look closely, we find that pride lies at the root of all sin. Indeed, it was pride that caused Lucifer to fall. God tells us that He hates pride.
Proverbs 6:16-19
16These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.
This is why, God scatters the proud as Mary proclaims here in Luke 1:51. He gives them over to vain schemes which they imagine, but will never come to fruition.
Psalm 2
1Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
2The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
4He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
5Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
7“I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.'”
10Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
12Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
_____________________________
Luke 1:52
52He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
God will restore His determined order in the universe, broken by the rebellion of Lucifer and the fall of man.
Isaiah 14:12-15
12“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.
Ezekiel 21:25-27
25Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end, 26thus says the Lord GOD:
“Remove the turban, and take off the crown;
Nothing shall remain the same.
Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted.
27Overthrown, overthrown,
I will make it overthrown!
It shall be no longer,
Until He comes whose right it is,
And I will give it to Him.”‘
1 Peter 5:5-7
5Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Jesus returns time and again to this theme throughout His ministry.
Luke 18:9-14
9Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Matthew 5:3-12
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
_____________________________
Luke 1:53
53He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
The blessings and abundance of this world, generous as God has been in bestowing them, can never satisfy us. Those with great riches continue to feel empty, because God has built into all of us a desire to know Him, and a hunger for His fellowship which can’t be filled by anything else. Sadly, in our pride, rebellion, and vanity we kick against His goads and seek our fulfillment elsewhere. Many – if not most – never find the true fulfillment found only in knowing Jesus. This seems tragic, yet this is what God has ordained. Who are we to question Him in it?
Ecclesiastes 5:10-15
10He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.
This also is vanity.
11When goods increase,
They increase who eat them;
So what profit have the owners
Except to see them with their eyes?
12The sleep of a laboring man is sweet,
Whether he eats little or much;
But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
13There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
Riches kept for their owner to his hurt.
14But those riches perish through misfortune;
When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand.
15As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return,
To go as he came;
And he shall take nothing from his labor
Which he may carry away in his hand.
Jesus exhorts us…
Matthew 6:19-21
19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:31-34
31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
_____________________________
Luke 1:54
54He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
God speaks of His special provision for and anointing of the children of Israel throughout His Word, beginning with His calling of Abram the Chaldean who became the first to be called a Hebrew. God has chosen Israel not because of their obedience, but despite their rebellion. At the dedication of the temple, King Solomon prayed that God would hear and answer the prayers of Israel both within their temple, and directed toward it.
2 Chronicles 7:12-14
12Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
God already knew, of course, that the people would, indeed, rebel. God has chastised them many times, before and since, to draw them back to Him. This people has suffered greatly at the hands of various oppressors. Many in Israel today profess atheism, because they say if God truly exists, He would not have allowed the German Nazis to perpetrate the holocaust. Even when God had just led the people out from captivity in Egypt, and miraculously preserved them by the parting of the Red Sea for them to walk safely through it, and the subsequent inundation of Pharaoh’s pursuing army by it, the people began to complain against Him almost immediately. Despite having been blessed by the Lord in the conquest of the Promised Land, the people disobeyed His commandment to fully annihilate the conquered people, and almost immediately fell into idolatry with the false gods of the people they failed eradicate from the land. The history of the people is rife with disobedience of God, and rebellion against His law.
Nevertheless, God continued, and still continues to maintain Israel as His special, chosen people. In fact, He chose them as His people even knowing that they would turn from Him, and follow after other Gods. Finally, when Jesus came in the flesh to His chosen people almost all of them rejected His message of salvation, and chose instead to call for His crucifixion by their gentile rulers. We can actually take great encouragement in this.
2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
God has used the history of Israel, declared in His Word, not to their glorification, but to show them and everyone that He is infinitely merciful and longsuffering for those He loves. God has always had a faithful remnant among the children of Israel, and when all is said and done, all Israel (remaining) will be saved. Paul sums up the special place that Israel holds in writing to the Gentile believers.
Romans 11:25-32
25For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
7For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
28Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
_____________________________
Luke 1:55
55As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
We have the advantage over Christian theologians throughout most of the history of the church. In 70 AD, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed (just as Jesus prophesied to His disciples that it would be), and virtually all the children of Israel were driven from the land. Almost immediately, early church fathers began to promote a false doctrine called supersessionism, or replacement theology which held that God had scattered and virtually destroyed the Jewish people because they had called for the crucifixion of Jesus, and that the Christian church had replaced the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people. This view was adopted by the Roman Catholic church throughout most of its history, and was carried by Martin Luther into the Protestant Reformed church as well. Then, in the middle of the 20thcentury, the German Nazis under Adolf Hitler wiped out millions of the remaining Jews in Europe.
It was very difficult to see how God could fulfill the promise He had made to Abraham…
Genesis 17:1-8
1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Yet God reiterates throughout His Word, this promise He made to Abraham. Perhaps the most well-known example is found in…
Ezekiel 37:1-14
1The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.” 4Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.” ’ ”
7So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
9Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ” 10So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’12Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.’ ”
This verse here in the Song of Mary is yet another proclamation of the promise of God made to Abraham over 3,000 years ago. God is faithful to His promises, as He has shown over and over again. We who are alive in this generation have a privilege that our church forbears did not have, we have witnessed the return of God’s people into the land, just as he proclaimed through Ezekiel.
Of course, God has also made other promises…
John 14:1-3
1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
We hold fast to our hope in Christ Jesus, despite all worldly appearances to the contrary…
2 Peter 3:1-9
1Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
We know that God will fulfill the promised blessing He made so long ago to Abraham, and the blessing He promises to all who believe on the Name of Jesus. But we also know that God will fulfill the curse He pronounced to Abraham as well…
Genesis 12:2-3
2I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Our blessing, and the blessing of our people and nation in Christ is inextricably tied together with the blessing of God’s people – Israel. Most of our people, even those in the body of Christ, are ignorant of this connection. We need to proclaim it loudly and frequently to any who will hear. God remembers His promise to Abraham. We must do so, too.
_____________________________
Luke 1:46-55
46And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
_____________________________
Luke 1:56
56And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

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