When I read Mary’s song of Christmas praise known as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56), I am amazed and challenge by how well she knew the Scriptures. Her knowledge of the Holy Word is truly magnificent!
Mary’s song reads a lot like Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Do you remember Hannah’s story in the Old Testament? In her barrenness, Hannah cried out to the Lord. Feeling the scorn of childlessness, she prayed earnestly that God would give her a child. Eventually God opened her womb and she gave birth to a baby boy named Samuel. Hannah was so full of praise and thanksgiving in her heart that she burst out in song, exalting the Lord who answered her long and impassioned plea.
Mary’s song has many expressions and themes that parallel Hannah’s. For instance, Mary begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:46). Hannah, likewise, sings, “My heart exalts in the Lord; I rejoice in thy salvation” (1 Sam. 2:1). Mary sings, “Holy is his name” (v. 49). Hannah sings, “There is none holy like the Lord” (v. 2). And there are many more similarities.
The parallels are not word for word because neither Luke nor Mary is quoting from the Old Testament. I believe the reason Mary’s song is so similar to Hannah’s is because Mary knew the Scriptures well. She had so saturated her heart and mind with the word of God that when she broke out into spontaneous praise, she sang the words most familiar to her from Scripture ... and Mary was only a teenager!
Mary’s commitment to Scripture is a powerful example to all of us. The words that should flow most naturally from our lips should be God’s own words. The only way for that to happen is to know God’s word well. Read it. Study it. Meditate upon it. Memorize it. Live it. Just like Mary, prayer and praise in our lives should be the overflow of God’s word that is deeply planted in our own hearts.