Worship VIII Day 5 How Great Thou Art: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Today is 2-for-1 Friday!
Check out How Great Thou Art!

The Questions

1) Why is this passage traditionally referred to as the “Magnificat”?

2) What is the backstory for Mary’s Magnificat?

3) What did God do for Mary, Israel, and all people who choose to trust Christ as their Savior?

Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 because he has looked with favor
on the humble condition of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
49 because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and his name is holy.
50 His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear him.
51 He has done a mighty deed with his arm;
he has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he spoke to our ancestors.

Original Intent

1) Why is this passage traditionally referred to as the “Magnificat”?
Magnificat is a general term meaning canticle or song, especially in praise. Specific to this passage, Mary’s Magnificat is given this title because it is her “song of praise to God.” The poem praises Him for His blessing to Mary and His faithfulness to Israel. The Holman Bible Dictionary tells us that Magnificat (mag-nif’-i-kat) means “to magnify”, which gives us greater insight into why church historians have affixed the label “Magnificat” to this passage. The Greek word is used in the first line of Mary’s song, “My soul magnifies the Lord”. This hymn is much like the song of another young woman in Israel’s history, Hannah, (1 Samuel 2) where we find her praising God for blessing her with a child. She continues pouring out her song of worship to God for His faithfulness to the people, Israel. Hannah’s poem of praise also begins, “My heart exults in the Lord…” [Study Light] Both women begin by magnifying the Lord and then listing the wonderful deeds of our God; not just the blessings on themselves but all blessings God has given since the beginning of time. King David also does the same thing in the Psalms. One of my favorites is Psalm 136. 

2) What is the backstory for Mary’s Magnificat?
Mary declares this beautiful praise to God while visiting her cousin Elizabeth. She had already been visited by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-37) and told that she would bear God’s Son, her Savior. She responded by humbly submitting her life to the will of the Father. Gabriel shared that Elizabeth was also expecting a son (Luke 1:36) who would be the forerunner of Christ, telling the people the Messiah (Mary’s baby, Jesus) had indeed arrived on earth. Knowing this special information, Mary went forthwith to visit her cousin. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s incredible story, “the baby in my (Elizabeth’s) womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:44) Elizabeth encouraged Mary for her faith in God’s work, “…blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45) Perhaps, as Elizabeth saw Mary’s faith strong and living, she thought of her own husband, Zechariah, who responded in unbelief when the angel spoke to him. (Wesley Notes) I would imagine that Mary’s arrival, and her faith story, encouraged Elizabeth, confirming in her heart that she was indeed expecting this forerunner to the Messiah.

3) What did God do for Mary, Israel, and all people who choose to trust Christ as their Savior?
CHOSEN (verses 46-49) What a blessing to be chosen by God! Mary, the nation of Israel and, yes, even people like us who have recognized our desperate need for Jesus as our Rescuer from our sin, were chosen before the foundation of the earth. God saw our lowly state and foreknew our response to Him. He chose us to be His people set apart for His purposes. (John 15:16) GRACE AND MERCY (verses 50-53) God graciously chooses the weak to accomplish His plans (2 Corinthians 12:9). He shows mercy to all who love Him and keep His commandments. (Exodus 20:5-6) God chooses the lowly because we have nothing to offer, knowing it’s His strength that will shine through our brokenness. COVENANT (verses 50, 54-55) Sending the Messiah wasn’t God’s new plan after centuries of failed attempts to bring His people back. He knew before time began that mankind would refuse to follow Him. Sending Jesus was always His plan. His covenant was first spoken in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:15) where He promised One would come who would crush the enemy’s head. He later established His covenant with Abraham through his son, Isaac, and grandson, Jacob, the father of the Israelite nation. He kept His covenant promise through the ages, finally revealing Jesus as Mary’s son. The Messiah fulfilled His covenant for all who would surrender themselves to Him. Praise God His offer of forgiveness and redemption extends to you and me! BLESSED (Luke 1:45) Mary’s song declares her faith. She knew the covenant promises of God because she knew Scripture. Therefore, she could trust Gabriel’s message and respond with faith.

Everyday Application

1) Why is this passage traditionally referred to as the “Magnificat”?
The famous Magnificat was Mary’s response to her amazing situation. As we study the great hymn of faith, How Great Thou Art, we learn this poem-turned-hymn was Mr. Carl Boburg’s “Magnificat”. Likewise, the psalmist implores us to “magnify the Lord with me. Let us exult His name together.” (Psalm 34:3, KJV). The Scriptures implore us many times to magnify the Lord. I love it when we begin our corporate worship time together at church by reciting a psalm or singing hymns that praise God for Who He is. These types of calls to worship cause us to come together with singing and adoration for our great God. Indeed, our worship services could be called a Magnificat, of sorts, where we come exulting the Lord together. However, this type of praise isn’t intended just as a Sunday kind of thing. I hope I find myself praising God aloud whenever He blesses my life with good things; indeed, even bursting into song over how much He does for this undeserving woman. Yet, even if He never did another thing for me, I want to still choose to magnify His Name for what He did at Calvary by taking my shame and punishment for my sin upon Himself for me!

2) What is the backstory for Mary’s Magnificat?
God’s people had been told for centuries that a Messiah would come to be their Rescuer, Shepherd, and Savior. Mary and Elizabeth had both heard all the promises of a Messiah from childhood. The promises from God were centuries old, but no one had heard a single word from God in 400 years. Surely, they wondered if they should keep on believing; yet, now, the promise was really happening! The Messiah WAS coming! Oh, the joy that must have filled both their hearts. The waiting was finally over! Mr. Carl Boberg, the writer of the hymn How Great Thou Art, also had a backstory to his profound Magnificat. According to the website, All About God, Boberg was a Swedish pastor, editor, and member of the Swedish parliament. “Mr. Boberg was enjoying a nice walk when a thunderstorm suddenly appeared out of nowhere. After the storm was over, Mr. Boberg looked out over the clear bay and heard a church bell in the distance. And the words to How Great Thou Art began to form in his heart – ‘O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder. . .’” Think of the peace he must have felt after that fierce storm to pen these beautiful words that still show us the glory of God today. We, too, have a backstory to our own “magnificat”. Let’s take the challenge and write our own magnificat. Magnify the Lord with me! Place your praises in the comments section below or in the Facebook group. Try using Psalm 136 as a template for your song of praise. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 34:3, American Standard Version)

3) What did God do for Mary, Israel, and all people who choose to trust Christ as their Savior?
Pastor Steven Wedgeworth of Christ Church states that “the reason ‘all generations’ will call Mary ‘blessed’ is that we all are the object of Divine Redemption. Not because she is necessarily so great, but because ‘He who is mighty had done great things.’” Carl Boburg was amazed at the blessings of God and he responded with faith-filled worship. God’s creation made expressly for us held Boburg in awe of our great God. Because God held his rapt attention, his Magnificat sang of Jesus’ unfathomable act of love for us when He died for us to rescue us from the death sentence we deserve because of our sin. God’s lavish goodness toward us doesn’t end with a pardon of our sin, but continues by giving us the promise of our home in Heaven where we can dwell with God forever. May our response be one of humble surrender and deepening faith as we sing, “How Great Thou Art!” Let’s begin practicing magnifying Our Great God right now in this ordinary, everyday moment. Let’s magnify the Lord for He has done great things for us!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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