Magnify the Lord with Mary

Rejoicing Women - Sixth in a Series

Luke, the beloved physician (Col 4:14), who wrote more pages of the New Testament than any other of its authors, found out just what Mary said or sang about her pregnancy.

A gentile who accompanied Paul on journeys, he was a literary type who used his special gifts — inquisitiveness, empathy, wisdom, and writing, to garner and present a beautiful, behind-the-scenes account of the Christ's nativity.

As a doctor, perhaps he had heard expectant mothers cry out with great joy and agony. Mary's words, however, were inspired. They did not simply reflect a woman's heart, but expressed the hope of nations, the sure deliverance of Israel, and the nature and character of God. As well, we see she was knowledgeable of Scripture in that her words echo those of Hannah:

My soul magnifies 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.
Luke 1:46-55

Mary rejoiced because

  1. She knew her God as her Savior
  2. He chose her, an unimportant person
  3. She would forever be known as blessed!
  4. God is holy and he is merciful to those who fear Him
  5. He is faithful across the centuries and generations
  6. His judgments overturn the proud of heart and lift up the lowly
  7. He remembers his promises to Abraham and to his seed forever.

Her reasons for rejoicing can be ours too!

A wonderful deliverance

Rejoicing Women - Fifth in a Series

continued from previous post

After Hannah fulfilled her vow to dedicate Samuel to God's service, her heart was filled with praise and rejoicing, Mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. (1 Sam 2:1)

An interesting footnote is found in Robert Jamieson's commentary regarding the horn:

mine horn is exalted in the Lord — Allusion is here made to a peculiarity in the dress of Eastern women about Lebanon, which seems to have obtained anciently among the Israelite women, that of wearing a tin or silver horn on the forehead, on which their veil is suspended. Wives, who have no children, wear it projecting in an oblique direction, while those who become mothers forthwith raise it a few inches higher, inclining towards the perpendicular, and by this slight but observable change in their headdress, make known, wherever they go, the maternal character which they now bear.

To Hannah, her deliverance from infertility was salvation.

Have you ever desired a treasure so keenly that you exalted it above any other good? If you could not have it, you would die or never be at peace. Then, the Lord fulfilled your heart's desire and you knew only he could have answered your prayer. Exalting him in prayer and song, especially acknowledging his incomparable holiness and strength, would be a right response, There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. (1 Sam 2:2)

Such deliverances are performed today as they were in Bible times, but the mature know better than to set any desire above devotion to Christ. If another desire should take precedence, it is time to reorder priorities.

But was Hannah's desire for a child an affront to God, or outside of his will? No, it would honor him for she was created to be a mother, though the second wife somewhat deflated that mission.

In our deepest desires and prayers for these, if we know God approves of our request, we can trust he will be glorified in its attainment. Even more, if he does not answer in the affirmative, his "No" has greater blessing in store than we can ever imagine, if we will trust in his goodness.

It is in waiting that discouragements and confusion arise in the human heart. However, in waiting, good outcomes are fashioned, even as we blindly reach for help and at times consider ourselves forgotten or unreachable because of our own faults. God is at work. Events must be set in order. In Hannah's case, it was necessary for Eli to be instrumental in the answer to her prayer.

If we do not have human enemies to endure as we seek deliverance, the Adversary is pleased to provoke us to tears and cause us loss of appetite. Indeed, as you press into the Lord for help and answers, you will be opposed by seen and unseen foes. However, as Hannah's song celebrates:

  • Their attacks are well known by God and will be stopped (1 Sam 2:3, 4).
  • The Lord is a righteous judge who abases the proud and exalts the humbled soul (1 Sam 2:5).
  • His power to revive or desolate, to establish or destroy cannot be successfully challenged (1 Sam 2:6-8).
  • Those who belong to him will be guided carefully to eternal life, and in the contest of wills with those who despise him, he will win (1 Sam 2:9-10).

Hannah's song celebrates the Lord as a mighty deliverer who helps his children. The Lord is mindful of his own.

Power in Prayer and Benediction

Rejoicing Women - Fourth in a Series

There are mysteries hard to fathom in the story of Hannah, whose prayer of rejoicing is viewed as prophecy by Rabbis and Christian commentators alike, both who see the Messiah in view in 1 Samuel 2:10.

Why does God delay childbirth when he has a significant plan in store? Why did he honor Hannah's vow, not within earshot of her husband who could have overruled it — a vow that resulted in separating a child from his parents at too early an age? Would God ever accept a child as a barter?

These questions are mostly apart from our topic of Rejoicing Women except as they relate to her vow. If her words of rejoicing were prophetic, what of her words in prayer as she cried silently to God for a man child? She promised he would be a Nazarite, devoted to the Lord.

Yes, her agonized prayer was prophetic, for only God could achieve such a steady heart as Samuel had. No amount of upbringing, prayer or desire could ever create a Samuel; God authored Hannah's vow.

As her story opens in 1 Samuel 1, we find that her husband, Elkanah, a Levite by ancestry, had two wives, Peninnah, with many children, and barren Hannah. Annually they traveled to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord, where the ark was. It is early noted that Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, the priest, were there (1 Sam 1:3). Their behavior made it necessary to raise Samuel to serve in their place, for they were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord. (1 Sam 2:12)

Elkanah gave a double portion of meat for sacrifice to Hannah, so she could better entreat God for forgiveness and help. It angered Peninnah who would provoke her to tears. (1 Sam 1:7)

One year, Hannah was distressed beyond endurance, and made her prophetic vow, O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head. (1 Sam 1:11)

Her strenuous posture in prayer caused Eli to exhort her to stop drinking wine. She then explained, Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief. Eli then said, Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him. (1 Sam 1:16, 17)

God had closed Hannah's womb until his priest could be involved in benediction on her behalf, and not long after, she gave birth to Samuel. After weaning him she returned to fulfill her vow, stating to Eli, As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD. (1 Sam 1:26-28)

Eli worshipped in response, and Hannah rejoiced in prayer, My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. (1 Sam 1:2)

Hannah's song, which we will consider in the next post, celebrates the Lord as a deliverer.

Are you in need of a deliverance? Is there a problem in your life that has existed a long time, and you cannot find a way to resolve it? Have you given up on praying? Are you confused in your heart with your lack of certainty in matters that do require assurance?

In Hannah's song, may you gain new strength to seek once more for the help you need.

to be continued

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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