Praise for God's Acts for His People, Israel (1:54-56)
God is acting for his people, Israel. God's actions reflect his mercy. He committed himself to such loyalty and compassion when he made promises to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). One of the lessons of the infancy section is that God keeps his word, including the promises made to the nation of Israel. Mary knows that the promises of God abide, and this is evident in her praise. God's loyal love is central to the hope and assurance of those to whom God has made himself known.
Israel is called his servant. This reference recalls a major motif from Isaiah (Is 41:8-9; 42:1, 2, 21; 45:4; 48:20; 49:3). Later Luke will describe Jesus in terms that picture the Servant (Lk 22:37; Acts 8:32-33). Even later in Acts, Paul and Barnabas recall this calling to serve as "light for the Gentiles" (Acts 13:47). The various points of connection to the Servant concept mark this as a pattern prophecy: the role God had designed for Israel is fulfilled in the regal representative of the nation and in those who are identified with him.
Though Luke will develop the concept of God's constant care for Israel according to covenant promise, his portrayal of Mary here shows a woman confident that God will care for a remnant in his nation. They, like she, will see the Lord's powerful hand move on their behalf. God's loyal love and the truthfulness of his holy character make such assurance and hope possible. Even more amazing is what the progress of Luke's story reveals. Others who were not originally included in the promise, namely Gentiles, will come to share in this hope and will benefit from the vindication described here. In fact, it is quite likely that Theophilus himself is one of these additional beneficiaries, along with many others after him who have come to fear the Lord.
In fact, the two points of assurance are linked. Since God remembers the loyal love promised in covenant to Israel, Theophilus can rest assured that God will remember his promises to this Gentile believer. God's care for one promise reinforces the other. The basic teaching implied here is very similar to Paul's argument for the hope of Israel in Romans 9—11.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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