Luke 1:50,51 - The Magnificat

And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He
hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the
imagination of their hearts.
Luke 1:50,51 (KJV)

This hymn of praise is known as the Magnificat because in the Latin Vulgate
translation the opening word is  which means "glorifies." [NIV

Mary's song of praise is called "The Magnificat" (from the Latin word for
"magnify"). [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]

There are 15 discernible quotations from the OT in this poem, showing how
much the OT was known and loved in the home in which Jesus was reared.
[Ryrie SB]

Mary knew the Scriptures, for there are at least fifteen OT quotations or
allusions in her song. [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]

Mary's song, called the Magnificat, makes free use of the Song of Hannah (1
Sam. 2:1-10) [Believer's SB]

In Mary's song, as in Hannah's song, these holy women were filled with
wonder to see that "the proud, the mighty, the rich" were not chosen to
usher in the greatest events, but the lowly. They sang of this as no
capricious movement, but as a great principle of God by which he delights to
put down the mighty from their seats and to exalt them of low degree. In
both songs the ultimate focus is on Christ. In Hannah's song, he is
"Jehovah's King"; in Mary's song, he is my Saviour. [Jamieson, Fausset, And
Brown Commentary]

     Some have questioned whether a young girl, probably in her early teens
at the time, could have spontaneously produced a poem of such depth and
so filled with biblical allusion. Yet there are at least two things to
remember. The Jews in the first century remained at heart a theocratic
community. It was their relationship with God that gave them not only
their identity as a people, but also was the foundation of their hope
for the future. These were truly a people of the Book, and biblical
phrases and images were woven into daily speech, memorized and sung,
and discussed in the synagogue every Sabbath.
     The second thing to remember, of course, is that Mary was a young woman
of deep faith and spiritual insight. She was truly an exceptional
person, as we quickly learn as we see her response to the announcement
by the Angel Gabriel (1:38). Not every young woman in first-century
Galilee could have composed the Magnificat. But as Mary traveled to
visit her cousin Elizabeth in Judah's hill country, a journey of some
three to four days on foot, Mary pondered her experience and Mary did
compose these wonderful words of praise.
     What a challenge to us in our day. If we expect to be used by God, we
need not be great in the eyes of the world. But we must saturate
ourselves with the Scriptures, till the thoughts and concepts revealed
by God become an integral part of our hearts and minds too. [Victor
Bible Background Commentary]

     It has been said that religion is the opiate of the people; but, as
Stanley Jones said, "the Magnificat is the most revolutionary document
in the world."
     It speaks of three of the revolutions of God.
     (i) He scatters the proud in the plans of their hearts. That is a moral
revolution. Christianity is the death of pride. Why? Because if a man
sets his life beside that of Christ it tears the last vestiges of pride
from him.
     Sometimes something happens to a man which with a vivid, revealing
light shames him. O. Henry has a short story about a lad who was
brought up in a village. In school he used to sit beside a girl and
they were fond of each other. He went to the city and fell into evil
ways. He became a pickpocket and a petty thief. One day he snatched an
old lady's purse. It was clever work and he was pleased. And then he
saw coming down the street the girl whom he used to know, still sweet
with the radiance of innocence. Suddenly he saw himself for the cheap,
vile thing he really was. Burning with shame, he leaned his head
against the cool iron of a lamp standard. "God," he said, "I wish I
could die." He saw himself.
     Christ enables a man to see himself. It is the deathblow to pride. The
moral revolution has begun.
     (ii) He casts down the mighty--he exalts the humble. That is a social
revolution. Christianity puts an end to the world's labels and
     Muretus was a wandering scholar of the middle ages. He was poor. In an
Italian town he took ill and was taken to a hospital for waifs and
strays. The doctors were discussing his case in Latin, never dreaming
he could understand. They suggested that since he was such a worthless
wanderer they might use him for medical experiments. He looked up and
answered them in their own learned tongue, "Call no man worthless for
whom Christ died!"
     When we have realized what Christ did for all men, it is no longer
possible to speak about a common man. The social grades are gone.
     (iii) He has filled those who are hungry ... those who are rich he has
sent empty away. That is an economic revolution. A non-Christian
society is an acquisitive society where each man is out to amass as
much as he can get. A Christian society is a society where no man dares
to have too much while others have too little, where every man must get
only to give away.
     There is loveliness in the Magnificat but in that loveliness there is
dynamite. Christianity begets a revolution in each man and revolution
in the world. [Barclay Commentary]

Pride is the essence of sin. It was pride in the heart of Lucifer that
occasioned rebellion in heaven (see Isa. 14:12-14). A false sense of pride
leaves its possessor, for the time being, beyond the reach of help that God
might bring to him. Nothing is more offensive to God than pride, which
consists essentially in self-exaltation and a corresponding depreciation of
others. [SDA Commentary]

Those who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousness and
life in him, he fills with good things, with the best things; and they are
abundantly satisfied with the blessings he gives. He will satisfy the
desires of the poor in spirit who long for spiritual blessings, while the
self-sufficient shall be sent empty away. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

It is a certain truth that God has mercy in store, mercy in reserve, for all
that have a reverence for his majesty, and a due regard to his sovereignty
and authority. But never did this appear so as in sending his Son into the
world to save us (v. 50): His mercy is on them that fear him; it has always
been so; he has ever looked upon them with an eye of peculiar favour who
have looked up to him with and eye of filial fear. But he hath manifested
this mercy, so as never before, in sending his Son to bring in an
everlasting righteousness, and work out an everlasting salvation, for them
that fear him, and this from generation to generation; for there are gospel
privileges transmitted by entail, and intended for perpetuity. Those that
fear God, as their Creator and Judge, are encouraged to hope for mercy in
him, through their Mediator and Advocate; and in him mercy is settled upon
all that fear God, pardoning mercy, healing mercy, accepting mercy, crowning
mercy, from generation to generation, while the world stands. In Christ he
keepeth mercy for thousands. (Matthew Henry's Commentary)

In every generation His mercy and graciousness have been with those who wish
to honor Him, and it will always be that way. Look what He has done mightily
in the past, how He scattered the proud when they became rebellious. Luke
1:50,51 (CWB)