Monday, October 1, 2012

Preview - Luke 1:45-80

Preview – Luke 1:45-80
Pastor Shane Walker

My thoughts on the passage to be preached this Sunday
Luke chapter 1 is extremely long – it is the longest chapter in the New Testament.  No wonder we’ve broken it into two sermons at our church.  Last week we learned about the response of Mary and Zechariah when they were in the presence of Gabriel.  This week we see a more full response from both Mary and Zechariah and both of them are beautiful.

Mary’s Response – Mary’s response is similar to Psalms of thanksgiving.  Let’s look at some comparisons with Psalm 34:

Mary’s Song

My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant
(Luke Ch 1: 46b – 48a ESV)

David’s Psalm

My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
Let the humble hear and be glad
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together
(Psalm Ch 34: 2-4 ESV)

Notice the similarities! First, there is a reference to the soul.  This should be understood as the essence of being.  Mary and David both refer to the most deep and profound aspect of their existence in poetical form.  This is the language of one who truly loves God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  They will be describing something that is happening inside them – something that has impacted the depths of their soul.  Second, there is a reference to magnifying the Lord.  This is simply glorifying or praising God – it is consistent with the other words in Psalm 34 such as “exalt.”  Third, both songs refer to the humble.  Mary acknowledges her humility.  She is not a queen or the servant of a queen.  She’s just a “nobody.”  But David is the king.  In fact, David was the King of God’s chosen nation and was a pre-cursor to Christ.  It was David who even spoke the prophecy, used so incisively by Jesus against the Pharisees, “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalm 110:1 ESV) David is one of the most educated, attractive, talented, and powerful men of his day.  He was a king and a prophet. In speaking the prophecy noted above, he shows his understanding of things in the throne room of God where God the Father is telling Jesus Christ to sit at his right hand until his enemies are put under his feet.  David was promised that he would always have a son on the throne – in perpetuity.  Jesus is the fulfillment of this and how fitting that the Mother of Jesus would praise God using the same or similar words as their forefather David!

But don’t forget, David had his times of humility as well.  Psalm 34 was “Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.” This account is found in 1 Samuel chapter 21.  (Keep in mind that Abimelech is probably a title such as “Pharaoh,” or “Caesar” while Achish is the proper name of the king.)  David was scratching on doors and drooling down his beard – that’s gross.  This is a reference to humility not only as a moral attribute, but also as a reality from life circumstances.  Mary was poor with little prospects and David was in danger of being killed and acting like a crazy man.  These two found themselves in humble circumstances.  But look later in their songs:

Mary’s Song

For he who is mighty has done great things for me
And holy is his name
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation
He has filled the hungry with good things
And the rich he has sent away empty
 (Luke 1:49-50, 53 ESV)

David’s Psalm

I sought the LORD, and he answered me
And delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
And their faces shall never be ashamed
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles
(Psalm 34: 4-6 ESV)

Again – note the similarities.  There is deliverance from trouble and help for the poor and disregard for those who are rich in the things of this world.  Those who look to God and fear him are not put to shame and are given mercy.  This is very encouraging to us when we find ourselves in times of humility. God certainly does take the weak things of this world to put to shame the wise.

These could almost be the same song.  There are differences of course, Psalm 34 being an acrostic and with an emphasis on fearing the Lord and answering the cry of the needy, while Mary’s Song heavily emphasizes the covenant keeping acts of God and Abraham. Others might say Mary’s song has more in common with Psalm 103.  Certainly it can be said that there is continuity between the Song of Mary and certain Psalms.

Zechariah focuses more on the nation of Israel and also references God’s covenant with Abraham.  Verses 73 and 74 make me wonder if Zechariah may have been thinking more of an earthly deliverance.   He ends his song with a beautiful picture of a sunrise bringing light to those who are sitting in darkness to guide us into the way of peace.  Wow – again extremely beautiful.  There is much here that is deep and rich and touches on the great truths that we learn in our Old Testaments with God’s dealings with Abraham and Israel.

I reference both of these songs in an examination of how Christians should view music.  I will post that paper later.

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