Bible Insights

Praising God through Scripture

Mary’s Psalm of Praise

Luke 1:49–55

“Holy is his name.” (Luke 1:49)

Mary’s psalm of praise continues by commending God for who he is. Her recitation of his attributes builds on Old Testament truths, quotes, and allusions, presenting an informed scriptural understanding of how God has been at work.

She starts by declaring that he has done great things, which is supported by Psalm 71:19. And his name is holy (Psalm 111:9). Also, consider Isaiah’s vision where he sees seraphim praising God as “Holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3).

Next, she affirms that God offers mercy to those who fear him generation after generation. This comes from God, through Moses, in what we call the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:5–6).

Mary continues praising God for the mighty deeds he has performed (Psalm 98:1) through the strength of his arm (Isaiah 40:10). In doing so he scatters the proud (Genesis 11:8).

God removes kings from their thrones (Daniel 4:31) and lifts the humble (2 Samuel 22:28, Psalm 18:27, and Psalm 147:6).

God also feeds the hungry and gives them what is good (Psalm 107:9).

In addition, God helps his servant Israel (that is, God’s chosen people) and shows them his mercy by providing salvation (Psalm 89:3) to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised (Exodus 32:13 and Deuteronomy 7:8).

This passage in Luke shows Mary’s deep knowledge of Scripture and her ability to weave disparate passages effectively into her psalm of praise. She has surely hidden his word in her heart (Psalm 119:11).

Though Mary’s song looks back to what God has done, it’s also a hopeful confidence in what he will do through Jesus, the child that she will soon bear. It looks forward to the salvation he will offer to all future generations.

As such, Mary’s prayer emerges as a timeless testimony to the Almighty Lord.

How well do we know God’s Holy Word?

How can we give it back to him as a song of praise in reverent worship, just like Mary did?

Prayer: Father God, may we read, learn, and meditate on your Word. Holy Spirit, speak to us and give us greater understanding of what the Bible says. Jesus, thank you for coming to save us from our sins.

[Mary’s Song in Luke 1:46–55 is also called the Song of Mary, the Canticle of Mary, or the Magnificat (Mary’s Magnificat), as in “My soul magnifies the Lord.” This song of praise reads like a psalm. Learn more about other psalms scattered throughout Scripture in the book Beyond Psalm 150: Discover More Sacred Songs of Praise, Petition, and Lament throughout the Bible.]

[This devotional is taken from the December 13 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.