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My Soul Magnifies the Lord

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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September 12, 2021 12:01 am

My Soul Magnifies the Lord

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 12, 2021 12:01 am

With the incarnate Son of God within her womb, Mary sang a hymn of praise to the God who cares mightily for the lowest of His servants. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Luke by expounding on the rich truths found in Mary's Magnificat.

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When an angel appeared to Mary and said that she would soon be the mother of the Messiah, she responded with praise, a song we call the Magnificat. The babe will not only be Mary's son, but he will be Mary's Savior. No woman in the history of the world could sing that song, either before then or after that time, because only Mary was given the unspeakable privilege of being the mother of our Savior. It's difficult to imagine how Mary felt that day, but her song gives us some insight into her reaction, both her fear of the unknown and her faith in her sovereign God. Welcome to this Lord's Day edition of Renewing Your Mind and a sermon by Dr. R.C.

Sproul. If you're in a location where you can open your Bible, you'll want to turn to Luke chapter 1, where we see the wonder and awe that filled a teenage girl who wanted to magnify her Lord. My Scripture this morning is still from the first chapter of the gospel according to Saint Luke. I will be reading verse 46 through verse 56. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my Spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with His arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to His seed forever.

And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her house. This is Luke's record of this marvelous song of Mary known as the Magnificat, inspired by the Holy Ghost and given to us for our instruction and for our edification, for the moving of our souls to praise and adoration. And may you hear these words to that end.

Let's pray. One of the things that's clear from the reading of this text is that Mary, as a young Jewish girl, did something that most Jewish girls did in her day, and that is she memorized Scripture. We see strains of similarity between this song that she sings with the song of praise and thanksgiving that was rendered by Hannah in the Old Testament when she was told of the impending birth of her son Samuel. Also, if you look closely at this song, you will see that there are several references in the song to elements found in the Psalms.

And the more we ingest Scripture and hide it in our hearts, memorize it, become familiar with it, we will find that when we are praying again and again, we will turn to the language of the Word of God itself. And this is modeled for us in this marvelous hymn by Mary herself. And this hymn is modeled for us in this marvelous hymn by Mary herself. Again, she is singing this hymn under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and its content reveals much about Mary but also much about the character and the nature of God. She begins by saying, "'My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Savior.'"

One of the things that the Scripture warns about more than once is the danger, dear friends, of rendering to God mere lip service, going through the motions, rote worship where we say the words and we confess with our mouths while our hearts remain far from Him. But what is noteworthy about this hymn is that Mary is not simply giving lip service to God, but this song of praise and adoration is welling up out of the depths of her being. She says, "'My soul magnifies the Lord.'" Not that God could become any greater or enlarged than He already is, but what she says here when she says, "'My soul magnifies Him,'" is that she is saying that, "'My soul has been saturated by a sense of the divine and by His presence and by His mercy.

And so from the deepest part of my being, I want to exalt Him.'" That's what it means to magnify, to lift God up in exaltation. There's been much debate in recent years about the appropriate type of music that we use in worship, and we even have a new vocabulary where we talk about praise music. Well, indeed, music should be filled with praise for God. And if you want to see an example of pure praise music, an example not of the 7-Eleven, the same seven verses sung eleven times, but praise music that is deep and rich in content, whose focus is on the majesty of God, then here we have an example of Holy Spirit inspired praise music, where this young lady says, "'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'" Now, she's not making a distinction between her soul and her Spirit like some people would like to believe, but what we have here is a common Hebrew form of poetry, which is parallelism, and in this case, anonymous parallelism, where the first line and the second line mean essentially the same thing. She says, "'At once my soul magnifies the Lord.'" She says it again, "'My Spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'" Theologians have paid attention to the last couple of words of the second line, the words, "'My Savior.'" What does Mary mean by that? Saint Thomas Aquinas, for example, believed that Mary could not have been sinless because here she confessed in this hymn her need of a Savior. And that insight that Saint Thomas had may be correct, but it's not a necessary inference from the text because the word to save and the word salvation in the Bible can mean something other than the ultimate salvation that we have from the consequences of our sins. But any time God rescues His people and spares them from any calamity, expresses a kind of salvation. And so the salvation that Mary may have in view here is simply the rescue from the calamity of being humiliated, being a forgotten person, being a person of insignificance as she specifies in the next line the sense in which God has been merciful to her. However, though it's not necessarily so that she's referring to divine deliverance from sin, that idea is probably contained in the words that she's using here.

And if so, what does she say? Just as the child that is conceived in her womb will be called David's greater son, and not only David's son, but also David's Lord, so the babe will not only be Mary's son, but he will be Mary's Savior. No woman in the history of the world could sing that song, either before then or after that time. Because only Mary was given the unspeakable privilege of being the mother of our Savior. And she speaks initially of her being overwhelmed by the tenderness of God, for she says, for He has regarded the lowly state of His maids. In former Christmas seasons, I've preached on the Magnificat, and I've pointed out that in that line we have contained the original Cinderella story. The Cinderella story that was not a fairy tale, it was not a myth, but was sober reality and truth because God Himself looked at this lady in her low estate.

This is Mary's experience. He looked at me. He noticed me.

He sees me. And behold, henceforth, all the generations of human history will call me blessed. Because I am blessed, supremely blessed, like no woman in human history has ever been blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. Here in the Magnificat, Mary mentions specifically three attributes of God. He is mighty, He is holy, and He is merciful. The one who has recognized her is the Almighty One, the one who possesses all power on heaven and earth, the one who can create a universe by the sound of His voice, by the power of His command. Let there be, and there is, the power that the angel Gabriel mentioned to Mary when she was confounded by his announcement.

How can this be since I know not a man? Mary, it'll be because of the power of the Most High God. The Almighty will overshadow you.

For with Him all things are possible. He is the One who is mighty. Now, notice this in passing, that so often in our culture when people speak of God, they do so in really meaningless terms. People will speak about a power, a higher power, a force greater than yourself.

There's hardly any difference between that kind of language and the language of an animist practitioner who bows down and worships an idol made out of wood. You will never have to face the judgment of cosmic dust, but the God who is is the God who has a name. He's not simply a power, though He has all power. He is He. He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. Again, how beautiful is this description of the character of God. God, Mary is saying, is so holy, is so holy, so transcendentally majestic, that His very name is holy. That's who He is.

That's His identity. He's the Holy One of Israel, not just mighty, not just raw force, brute power. But it's a holy power, a holy might, holy strength, and His mercy is on those who fear Him.

Don't miss the impact of those words. The one from whom we receive mercy, beloved, is the Almighty One, the Omnipotent One, the Holy One. How else could we exist in the presence of the Holy One except by mercy? But that mercy is not infinite. We hear the hymns that speak of God's infinite mercy, infinite grace, and I think that that's just our giving ourselves over to hyperbole. We're so amazed at the wideness and the extent of God's mercy and kindness and grace that we say it's so wonderful, it's so great.

Why? It's infinite. Well, if it's infinite, it has no bounds. But God says, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. And He does not extend that mercy to everyone. Not everyone receives the mercy of a forgiving God. Some in the final analysis receive His justice without mercy. Well, who is it who receives the mercy of God?

Those who fear Him. Now here, it's not in the sense of fear of being frightened like you would be by a burglar, by a ghost, but it's fear in the sense of reverence, in the sense of awe, in the sense of adoration. This is why we're here on Sunday morning, to come here to worship God. And that's what worship is, is to show Him reverence, that we have this awe, this fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. It's the beginning of faith.

It's the beginning of everything. And without it, there is no mercy. And the godless are described in Scripture as people who have no fear of God. The world is filled with people who have no sense of reverence for God at all, no respect, no awe, no adoration. They could care less, in fact, they show their irreverence by how they use His name. How could somebody have any fear of God, any reverence for God whatsoever, and use His name as a curse word? But His mercy is on everyone who fears Him from generation to generation.

This is not something new. This is not something unique in the life of Mary. This is something that goes on and on from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Jacob to Isaac to David to Jeremiah to Peter to Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther Calvin, to you and to me.

Generations come and go. They pass, but throughout all the ages, one thing is constant, that the Lord is merciful to those who revere Him. It's interesting that she mentions this in the middle of a hymn that is filled with reverence and filled with adoration.

He has shown strength with His arm. Here we have an image of God in human form in which His arm is a symbol of His strength. I think the funniest chapter in the Bible is chapter 11 of the book of Numbers. You may remember that, as some of you who didn't memorize the Magnificat decided instead to memorize the eleventh chapter of Numbers. That's the occasion where Moses is very distraught because this multitude of people that he's led in the exodus are now complaining and bellyaching day after day. They want to go back to Egypt because now they miss their leeks and their garlic and their onions, and all they have to eat every day is this manna that God supernaturally provides for them from heaven.

I've said this before. They got sick and tired of the manna. They had manna for breakfast, manna for lunch, manna for dinner. If they wanted to have a midnight snack, they had manna and midnight snack. They had roast manna, fried manna, manna sautéed, popped manna.

Everything they could possibly do to alter the taste of this stuff, they tried, and they couldn't take it anymore. They said, let's go back to Egypt. Give us Pharaoh, at least under Pharaoh. Even when we were slaves, we had onions, garlic, leeks. And Moses wants to die. He said, did I give birth to these people?

Did I have to listen to this? They're crying in my tent, give us meat to eat. And God said, I've heard the cries of the people, and they shall have meat to eat, not for one day, not for a week, but for a whole month until it's coming out of their noses and becomes loathsome to them. Be careful what you ask for when you pray. And God says, you want meat?

I'll give you meat until it's coming out your nose, until you don't want to look at it ever again. And now Moses is really upset, and he said, God, how are you going to do that? Are all our herds going to be killed to supply meat for a month to all these people?

Are you going to dry up the sea with the fish so that we can feed them? This is even more than you can do it, and God answers a question with a question. He said, Moses has the arm of the Lord waxed short. Moses, who do you think you're talking to? Do you think I'm a god with a withered arm?

Do you think I'm a 97-pound weakling that bullies kick sand in my face? Has the arm of the Lord waxed short? Moses, you will see if what I say comes to pass. God is never weak, never in need. And in today's message from Dr. R.C. Sproul, we caught a glimpse of God's immense power through Mary's song of praise, the Magnificat.

Taking the time to concentrate on God's perfection is so important in our day-to-day life, and we're able to do that today here on Renewing Your Mind. Each Sunday, we return to Dr. Sproul's sermon series from the Gospel of Luke, a series that took him more than a year to complete. Our editorial team harvested the wisdom and insight from the entire sermon series and compiled it in a commentary. And when you contact us today with a donation of any amount, we will be glad to send you a digital download of this commentary from Luke's Gospel. With nearly 600 pages of readable, practical insight, I think you'll return to this resource for years to come, as I have. I'm looking back in my bookshelf now and seeing this commentary along with the others that Ligonier has put together. So contact us today with your donation, and we will send you this digital download.

You can find us online at Ligonier Ministries exist to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God to as many people as possible. When we understand God's character, we better understand who we are. And the only way to rightly understand God is to study His Word. Your financial gifts to this ministry make it possible for us to continue producing teaching resources like this, so we're grateful. Next week, Dr. Sproul will again turn to Luke chapter 1 to help us understand more of Mary's hymn, The Magnificat. I hope you'll make plans to join us next Sunday for Renewing Your Mind. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-23 15:07:38 / 2023-08-23 15:15:14 / 8

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