My Soul Magnifies the Lord
I love the story of Mary. When I was a teenager I read a popular book by Marjorie Holmes, “Two from Galilee.”
Though it involves some imagination, this historical novel gave me a glimpse of what Mary’s life would have
been like. I’ve studied and taught on the passages that include Mary. Each time, I am drawn to the song of
Mary where her heart sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:46).
Nevertheless, this year in preparation for the season, when I read and reread the birth narrative, I was struck by
something new. “Highly favored one . . . you have found favor” (Luke 1:28;30). These words popped off the
page at me. I have read this story many times, as I am sure you have. But for some reason the word “favor”
stuck with me.
Since the Almighty is holy in everything He does, then everything He does, He does in a perfect way. He loves
in a perfect way, He disciplines in a prefect way, and He favors in a perfect way. Therefore, He didn’t favor
Mary like a teacher’s pet. He doesn’t play favorites, giving one an unfair advantage over another (Luke 20:21).
Mary simply “found favor in His eyes,” a Hebrew expression still used in Israel today, but found often in the
Bible (Motze chen b’enav). Having used this expression myself, I’ll explain it as “notice to the point of
delight.” So, what qualities attract the Father’s attention and please Him?
Since we always interpret scripture with scripture, to understand this, I looked to see what The Word had to
say about finding favor. Proverbs 3 is explicit in describing characteristics that find favor in God’s eyes.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let loving kindness and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. (literally: find grace and good favor in the eyes of God and man)… Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor “(Proverbs 3:1-4; 34)
From what we know of Mary, these qualities sure sound like her! She was teachable and obedient (Luke 1:34;
Luke2:21-24). She pondered truth in her heart (Luke 2:19). Mary was faithful even to the end (She was with
Jesus at the cross and waited in the upper room, per his instruction. See John 19:25; Act 1:13-15). In accepting
this glorious yet daunting task, at risk to her pure reputation, she complied humbly, “I am the Lord’s servant… May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). And so, Mary found favor in the eyes of God.
The Word tells us of others who found favor with God. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time. He
walked with God (Genesis 6:8-9). Moses met with God face to face as one meets with a friend (Exodus 33:11-
12). And Samuel obeyed God’s voice from an early age (1 Samuel 2:26).
From the Proverbs passage, we learn that finding favor with God, includes obedience to his word, loving
kindness, faithfulness and humility. One must also embrace truth and inscribe it upon the heart. From the
examples of Noah, Moses and Samuel, the one desiring His favor should walk with Him faithfully, in a
manner that stands out among peers; spend time with Him like one does with a friend; and listen carefully to
all that He has to say.
Nonetheless, Mary is a wonderful example to us all! When given an overwhelming task, she humbly accepted
it. Mary recognized her life was not about her, but Christ in her. This is why Mary could sing, “My soul
magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”