Soul Magnifies the Lord"
It has been said that
the word "hallelujah" is the one word that means the same thing in every
language. "Hallelujah" simply means "Praise God." There have probably been
numerous times in our lives when we just want to stop and shout the one
word "Hallelujah". At other times we have probably wanted to stop and reiterate
with many words what God has done for us.
Samuel Morse invented
the first telegraph. When the first transmission was made more than a century
ago, the message Morse declared was "What hath God wrought". Someone has
suggested if the event were to occur in our times the message would most
likely say, "What man can do!" There has been a tremendous change in the
attitude of the average individual on the street. We are a generation that's
turned from praising God to praising ourselves. Generally speaking, there
was a time when the Lord was given due recognition. His power was respected
and mankind's attainments were credited to the abilities he received from
A well known author
was speaking at a Christian writer's seminar. He has written over seventy
books. He made a statement that his ability was a gift from God. He indicated
that it had taken him a long time to say his abilities as a writer was
a gift of God. He understood that many say it is a gift from God when actually
it isn't. It's just human effort and human desires. It took him a long
time to admit his abilities was a gift from God. Out of respect for God,
he refused to say what he was doing as a writer was a special gift from
God. He indicated that even a gift of God takes a lot of toil and sweat
The trouble with most
of us is, when we put forth the toil and sweat we begin to focus on what
we have done rather than the ability God has given us. As we begin to
take pride in the work of our own hands we lose sight of God. In many ways
we are too reluctant to admit the abilities God has given us. We had rather
attribute it to our ingenuity. When Morse said, "What hath God wrought,"
he was giving credit to God. He was giving the glory to God. This seems
to be better than saying, "Look at what I have done." After all God has
given us dominion over the earth, we shouldn't be surprised at what he
has enabled us to accomplish.
This attitude infects
the church's worship. People come to worship to be recognized and made
to feel good rather than recognize God as creator, sustainer and giver
of all blessings. If we don't receive the praise and recognition we are
looking for, we become bored. R. C. Sproul said, "If people find
worship boring and irrelevant, it can only mean they have no sense of the
presence of God in it. It is impossible to be bored in the presence of
God if you know that He is there." True biblical worship so satisfies our
total personality that we don't have to shop around for man-made substitutes.
After attending church
one Sunday morning, a little boy knelt at his bedside that night and prayed,
"Dear God, we had a good time at church today--but I wish you had been
To worship and praise
God is to recognize his worth or worthiness; to look God-ward, and to acknowledge
in all appropriate ways the value of what we see. The Bible calls this
activity "glorifying God" or "giving glory to God," and views it as the
ultimate end, and from one point of view, the whole duty of man.
My soul magnifies God when
I begin to focus on what the Lord has done and is doing for me. Praise
must begin with what God has made possible for each of us. This may sound
sort of self-centered, but keep in mind that we are focused on what God
has done or is doing. The focus is on what God is doing. Until we see what
the Lord has done for us, there is no cause to burst out in praise.
to the LORD, O mighty ones, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe
to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of
his holiness. (NIV)
and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. (NIV)
you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (NIV)
"The Mighty One has
done great things for me . . . "
When Mary conceived
the Christ child she visited the mother of John the Baptist, who was now
six months into her pregnancy. Elizabeth helped her see what God was doing
and how blessed she was above all women. In a loud voice Elizabeth proclaimed:
When Mary begins to realize
the impact of it all she burst out in praise.
are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am
I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as
the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped
for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to
her will be accomplished!" (NIV)
said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty
One has done great things for me-- holy is his name. His mercy
extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed
mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their
inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has
lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has
sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering
to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said
to our fathers." (NIV)
Mary's praise proclaims,
"The Mighty One has done great things for me . . . " It is a personal focus,
but Mary does not lose sight of God. To rediscover the worship of praise
we must rediscover the mighty things God has done for us personally. We
find Mary rejoicing because the Lord has been mindful of her. Here we find
Mary the mother of Jesus bursting out in a "Hallelujah" chorus in praise
of what God is doing in her life.
when we stand in awe of what God is doing for us personally. Mary stood
and sung, "My soul magnifies the Lord . . . " There can never really be
true worship of God until we understand what God has done for us personally.
It is one thing to come to the Lord's table and see what God has done for
the salvation of the world, it is quite another to see what God is doing
for me personally. It is one thing to stand with the saints and shout songs
of praise to God, but to sing praise for what God is doing in my life,
well that is real praise.
Whether times are good
or bad this is where praise begins. In the book 450 Stories for Life, Gust
Anderson tells about visiting a church in a farming community of eastern
Alberta, Canada, where there had been 8 years of drought. The farmers were
deep in debt, and their economic situation looked hopeless. In spite of
their poverty, however, many of them continued to meet together to worship
and praise God. Anderson was especially impressed by the testimony of one
of these farmers. Dressed in overalls and an old coat--the best clothes
he had- -the man stood up and quoted Habakkuk 3:17-18. With deep meaning
he said, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit
be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall
yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall
be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in
the God of my salvation." Anderson thought, that dear saint has found the
secret of joyful praise!
Mary exclaimed "
. . . the Mighty One has done great things for me . . . "
"He has regarded
my lowly state . . . "
Hannah praised God when
she conceived a son she prayed earnestly for.
said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on
all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great
things for me-- holy is his name.
the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats
them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations
of the earth are the LORD's; upon them he has set the world. (NIV)
God gave Nathan
the prophet a message for David. It was actually a reminder of what God
had done for David and a revelation of what he was going to do for him.
"Now then, tell my servant David, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says:
I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over
my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have
cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great,
like the names of the greatest men of the earth . . . " (2 Samuel 7:8-9
Notice the response
of David after God has given him so much.
King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, O Sovereign
LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as
if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign LORD, you have also
spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual
way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD? (NIV)
As we read these
verses, we may continue to believe that these promises are to virgins and
men after God's own heart. Yet, these promises are to every person. In
Mary's song of praise, she says, " . . . His mercy extends to those who
fear him, from generation to generation . . . " God leaves no one out.
That was the point of him coming to the humble and lowly. He specifically
says so in the following verses.
was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the
mother who gave you birth and nursed you." He replied, "Blessed rather
are those who hear the word of God and obey it." (NIV)
up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;
That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of
children. Praise ye the LORD. (KJV)
We all know what
dung is; it doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out what a dunghill
is. You have heard someone say about a person: "He or she could fall into
a sewer and come out smelling like a rose." This usually referred to a
person's luck. It meant that the person was so lucky that nothing ever
went wrong. But the Psalmist says God lifts the needy out of the dunghill
and actually gives them the Rose of Sharon. It has nothing to do with luck,
but rather what the Mighty One has done for us.
"He has scattered
those who are proud . . . "
As Mary focuses on
what God is doing for her personally, she begins to see the bigger picture.
She begins to comprehend what God is doing in the world to exalt her life.
Mary says, "He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered
those who are proud in their inmost thoughts." (Luke 1:51) He scatters
the proud. It is impossible to fathom the depth of the destructive forces
of pride. We know what it is to deal with proud people. A proud person
lifts self above others to get a nasal view of the world. They imagine
themselves to be above the fray of life. A proud person believes that rules
are for everyone but self. We know the trouble they cause. As Mary walked
among a proud troubled world, she sees God exalting her as he scatters
the proud. It is amazing, how God hurls the insults of the proud upon their
As men were building
the tower of Babel, they were trying to make a name for themselves. God
made each of them speak in a different language and scattered them over
the face of the earth. Mary envisions God scattering the proud to make
a straight path for her personal life.
The citizens of Feldkirch,
Austria, didn't know what to do. Napoleon's massive army was preparing
to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights above the little town,
which was situated on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily
summoned to decide whether they should try to defend themselves or display
the white flag of surrender. It happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people
had gathered in the local church. The preacher rose and said, "Friends,
we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently that has failed.
As this is the day of our Lord's resurrection, let us just ring the bells,
have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know
only our weakness, and not the power of God to defend us." The council
accepted his plan and the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden
peal, concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to
defend the town. Before the service ended, the enemy broke camp and left.
the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from
afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you
stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand
you save me. (NIV)
those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith
the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of
a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (KJV)
men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you,
clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes
the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore,
under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all
your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV)
"He has brought
down rulers . . . "
Mary's song of praise
says, "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up
the humble." (Luke 2:52)
rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets
on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He thwarts the plans
of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise
in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness
comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He
saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches
of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.
"Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline
of the Almighty. (NIV)
stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like
other men-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers-- or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector
stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his
breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this
man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone
who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be
"He has filled
the hungry with good things . . . "
Mary's praise continues.
"He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty."
my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of
the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those
who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are
exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?
Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom
you belong? (NIV)
Hannah prayed and said: "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. "There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no
one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. "Do not keep talking so
proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who
knows, and by him deeds are weighed. "The bows of the warriors are
broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. Those who
were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry hunger
no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had
many sons pines away. "The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings
down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts
the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit
a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; upon
them he has set the world. (NIV)