Mary's hymn is one of three major hymnic pieces in the infancy material (the others are known as the Benedictus, Lk 1:67-79, and Nunc Dimittis, Lk 2:28-32). The Latin names come from the phrases that begin the hymns. Mary's hymn expresses praise to God for his treatment of her, but then extends her praise to how God has treated the righteous throughout the ages and how he will vindicate them fully in the future. Understanding what God is doing, Mary possesses a mood of joy. She speaks for herself and for her community, the people of God throughout time. God is worthy of praise for what he will do in taking care of his own. Understanding God's blessing moves the believer to joy and appreciation, since the Almighty cares personally for us and acts on our behalf.
Mary is exemplary of the humble, faithful disciple. That a woman provides such an example is significant, since first-century culture often relegated women to a secondary status. Such examples exist in the Old Testament as well (Miriam in Ex 15:21; Hannah in 1 Sam 2:1-10; Deborah in Judg 5). One of the beauties of Luke's infancy material is that different sorts of people all experience joy at the arrival of Jesus. This reveals Jesus' universal appeal.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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