Mary's poetic outburst echoes Old Testament language with a perspective that sees the present in light of God's consistent activity throughout time. Her praise is personal—her soul and spirit offer praise. She glorifies the Lord, which means her words acknowledge his goodness and bring attention to him like a huge neon light shining out from a building (Ps 34:3; 69:30). She makes his name great. She approaches him recognizing her humble state as his servant and thus acknowledging him as sovereign Master (see also v. 38; 2 Kings 14:26; Ps 9:11-14; 25:16-18). Yet though she addresses God as the Mighty One (Deut 10:21; 34:11; Ps 44:4-8; 89:8-10; 111:2, 9; Zeph 3:17), she knows that she has nothing to fear from his power, because he also is her Savior (Ps 25:5-6; Is 12:2; Mic 7:7). All these titles serve to show Mary's humble spirit. Her humble perspective forms the basis of her gratitude. The exemplary character of Mary grows out of her understanding of God's character. God owes her nothing; she owes God everything. All the good things that come from his hand are acts of grace.
Despite her humble position, she will be honored by all generations. Here is the reason for both her honor and her praise—God the Almighty has done great things on her behalf. Generations will see her as an example of a simple human touched by divine power and presence. But it is God who is unique, as her declaration of his holiness makes clear. He is the one "set apart" who is worthy of praise. For her, his name is wonderful because his character is true.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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