Luke 1:46-56 (ESV)

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Luke records Mary’s words after Elizabeth greeted her. When Mary and Elizabeth got together, they enjoyed rich conversation. Now, there was most likely someone else around the house during the months Mary stayed with Elizabeth, but he wasn’t able to join in verbal praise to God. Remember, Zechariah was made mute while he awaited the birth of John, because he didn’t trust the message from Gabriel. Mary, on the other hand, believed the same angel’s announcement and was ready for whatever God called her to do. Mary and Elizabeth glorified God with their words, but Zechariah was temporarily “benched.” Zechariah was an old man and a religious leader in Israel. Mary was a teenage girl. It would seem their responses should have been the other way around. Even though Mary was poor, uneducated, and young, she knew the Scripture. The beautiful praise she gave to God is loaded with Old Testament quotations and references. Mary glorified God for what he appointed her to, and she drew attention to his character, pointing out that God is mighty, holy, strong, just, kind, and merciful. Mary recalled what God did for Israel in the past, and she gave thanks to him for providing for his people through the Child she carried. Mary’s “magnification of God” (v. 46) revealed her hope wasn’t driven by her faithfulness, but instead resulted from her exemplary confidence in God’s faithfulness.

In verse 50, we see Mary’s maturity as she declares, “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” She knew that those who fear God enjoy his mercy. The word Luke uses for “mercy” in Greek is equivalent to the Hebrew word that describes the steadfast and committed love of God for his people. She also recognized that one who fears God is willing to do what he says. Because of her reverential awe of God, she was wise. The Proverbs declare that wisdom results from a healthy fear of God. We may think, “Fear the Lord? No! I want to love him, but not fear him!” We can forget that both are necessary for the Christian. In fact, many of our problems result from our failure to fear God. The more we fear God, the more we become liberated from the fear of man. Ask God to grant you mercy and help you grow in wisdom today, increasing your fear of him.