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The Songs of Surrendered Hearts

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Luke 1:39–80

We rightly praise and thank God for wonderful things He has done in our lives. But the examples of two godly people show us we should be equally ready to praise and thank Him for what He has promised to do. That is just as certain as what He has already done.


The Songs of Surrendered Hearts

Luke 1:39-80


At the close of our last study, Mary, who was engaged to Joseph, had just heard from the angel Gabriel. He told her that although she was a virgin, she would conceive miraculously and bear the long-awaited Messiah.

Gabriel then informed Mary that her elderly relative Elizabeth was six months pregnant—and equally surprised by God’s plan. If anybody would understand Mary’s predicament, it would be Elizabeth.

So, Luke 1:39, tells us that Mary makes her way to the home of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah in the hill country, which was at least three days’ journey away. I have often wondered at this point in the drama, What did Mary tell her family? What did she tell Joseph? And, of course, we do not know.

Well, as soon as Mary arrives, Elizabeth’s unborn son leaps in her womb, verse 41 records. Elizabeth blesses Mary, and the two are able to enjoy the fellowship that only the mothers of two miraculous babies could enjoy.

Mary then begins to sing a song she must have been composing during her three-day journey. Let’s look at the ways she praises God in her song, which begins in verse 46.

Mary praises God for her salvation. Do not ever forget that like all of humanity, Mary needed the Lord’s salvation. She was not born without sin; she, too, is in need of a Savior. She sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (verses 46-47). 

Mary praises God for her unique testimony, saying in verse 48, “He has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” Mary is not saying all generations are going to pray to her or depend upon her. She is saying that people are going to realize for generations how blessed she was to be chosen for this unique assignment from the Lord.

Mary goes on to praise God for displaying His power in a number of different ways. She says He “has scattered the proud” (verse 51); “brought down the mighty from their thrones” (verse 52); “filled the hungry” (verse 53); and “helped his servant Israel” (verse 54), just as He promised He would.

Beloved, if you study this hymn closely, you will find that almost all of it comes directly from the Old Testament Scriptures. Mary clearly had memorized many passages of the Old Testament she had been taught as a child. She had anchored her heart to the Word of God. Now she sings of God’s power to save those who come to Him in faith, trusting in Him alone.

Do not overlook the fact that this is not the easiest time in Mary’s life to be singing. Her life has suddenly changed course and will never be the same. You might have noticed that this song does not say anything about life back in Nazareth. It does not provide an immediate escape from the scandal she is going to live through and the confusion and pain she will bring to the heart of Joseph, who will soon make plans to leave her.

But what she is doing is what you might need to do, perhaps even today. Don’t focus on the suffering and difficulty; focus on God your Savior to whom you surrender your life, one day at a time.

Verse 56 tells us “Mary remained with [Elizabeth] about three months, and returned to her home.” I can just imagine the sweet fellowship Mary, Elizabeth, and the old priest Zechariah had together over the course of those three months.

Now, as Mary goes home, Elizabeth goes into labor and gives birth to her son. Verse 58 tells us Zechariah and Elizabeth and their baby boy are now neighborhood celebrities. In fact, when the time for naming the boy arrives—on the eighth day—the neighbors all gather to celebrate Zechariah’s namesake, since surely he will name the boy after himself—little Zechariah Jr. But Elizabeth insists he is to be named John, as the angel Gabriel had instructed Zechariah. Now remember, Zechariah has not been able to speak a word since he doubted the word of God from Gabriel.

So, Zechariah asks for a writing tablet and writes, “His name is John” (verse 63). And all the neighbors wonder what in the world is going on.

As soon as Zechariah writes these words, announcing the name, his mouth is opened, and he begins praising God. The poetic form here indicates he is now singing—or more likely chanting, as the priests did in that day. He has been working on the lyrics to this song for several months!

There are four stanzas to Zechariah’s song. The first stanza is about Israel’s salvation, and it covers verses 68 through 71. Zechariah sings:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” (verses 68-69)

The second stanza, verses 72 through 75, is about God’s sovereignty. God has sovereignly worked through the centuries to bring about in the coming Messiah the fulfillment of His promise, or “oath”—namely, His covenant with Abraham.

In the third stanza Zechariah turns and now starts singing to his newborn son:

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.” (verses 76-77)

Imagine this scene. There has not been an ordained prophet in Israel for 400 years. But now Zechariah is holding a prophet in his arms. John the Baptist, as he will be called one day, will call the nation of Israel to repentance and introduce the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

The closing stanza of Zechariah’s song is about the Savior. He sings, “The sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness” (verses 78-79).

Wow! What a great name for the Savior. He is the Sunrise! He is coming “to give light to those who sit in darkness.”

These truths Zechariah sings about will shape John’s life. Verse 80 records this:

And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Before we close, I want to tell you the meaning of the names of this little family. Zechariah means “God remembers.” Elizabeth means “the promise of God.” And John means “the grace of God.” If you put their names together, you have a pretty good summary of the gospel of Christ: God remembers His promise and delivers to mankind His amazing grace.

Beloved, God does not remember only His promises; He also remembers you. God has not become so busy in this twenty-first century that He is not aware of you. Oh, He knows where you are; He knows what His will means for your life; He hears every prayer request you make.

As Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and now little baby John will learn, the will of God is going to bring them joy, but also sorrow, difficulty, and pain. Maybe right now you need to whisper to the Lord in prayer:

“Lord, your will for my life is not easy—right now it’s hard. You haven’t given me all the answers yet, but You have given me salvation. Lord, You are indeed the Sunrise. You brought me out of darkness into the light of truth and forgiveness. So, help me to be a little more like Mary today, surrendering to Your will even though it might be difficult and even confusing at times. And help me to sing words of praise like Zechariah, a man who had doubted your word. Help me to sing of Your amazing grace.”

Let’s sing the songs of surrendered hearts today.


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