A Christmas Song of Praise for the God of Scripture
What Mary can teach us about recognizing God and applying his promises
When we read Scripture in this way, we, like Mary, will be amazed by him. Like Mary, we will sing a song of praise for our Savior. Mary said,
“My heart praises the Lord;
my soul is glad because of God my Savior,
for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!
From now on all people will call me happy,
because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me.
His name is holy;
from one generation to another
he shows mercy to those who honor him.
He has stretched out his mighty arm
and scattered the proud with all their plans.
He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors, and has come to the help of his servant Israel.
He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham
and to all his descendants forever!”
In Mary’s famous song (Luke 1:39–56), she celebrates the announcement that she is carrying Jesus, the Savior of the world. The news that she was carrying God’s Son must have been daunting, yet Mary’s song shows us that she relied on Scripture to face her uncertainty and fear.
For many of us, Christmas can be a difficult season. All the festivity, family celebrations, and tinsel can hide unmet longings and deep fears. But like Mary, when life feels unsettled, we can rely on God’s Word to refresh us and remind us of a greater purpose. Mary’s song shows us how to draw on Scripture to see God at work in our circumstances—at Christmas and into the new year.
Mary recognizes God. She calls God “My savior” (1:47) and “Mighty” (1:49) and “Holy” (1:49). It’s as if she’s saying, “I know God. I know this God would not do anything wrong or unkind. I can trust him.”
When we read Scripture, we also recognize God. Pay attention to his character traits. Ask the question, if God is _______ [holy, loving, faithful, all-knowing, good], what does that mean for me?
Recall God’s Promises
Mary also recalls God’s promises. “He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors, and has come to the help of his servant Israel. He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham and to all his descendants forever!” (1:54–55). Mary is comforted that God keeps his word.
We apply God’s promises too. The apostle Paul writes that Jesus “is the ‘Yes’ to all of God’s promises” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Let that sink in! When you read the Bible, look for God’s promises and prayerfully consider how Jesus offers them to you.
Reflect on God’s Mercy
Throughout her song, Mary reflects on the mercy of God: “He shows mercy to those who honor him” (1:50). “He has filled the hungry with good things” (1:53). Mary’s belief in God’s mercy is founded in repeated exposure to God’s Word. She understands that the birth of her son is the ultimate demonstration of God’s mercy—the one that all the Scriptures pointed to.
We also reflect on God’s mercy as we read Scripture. God describes himself as “full of compassion and pity” (Exodus 34:6). After searching for examples of God’s mercy in Scripture, begin to look for examples in your own life. Keep a running list.
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