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54

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,


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54. He hath lifted up his servant Israel In this last clause the general statements are applied by Mary to the present occasion. The meaning is, God has now granted the salvation which he had formerly promised to the holy fathers. And first, the verb ἀντιλαμζάνεσθαι, to lift up, contains an elegant metaphor:6161     ᾿Αντιλαμβάνεσθαι, denotes properly to lay hold of any thing, or person, by the hand, in order to support it when it is likely to fall; but the for the state of the nation was so fallen, that its entire restoration could not be expected on ordinary principles. And then God is said to have lifted up Israel, because he stretched out his hand, and lifted him up when lying prostrate. Religion had been polluted in innumerable ways. The public instruction retained almost nothing pure. The government of the Church was in the greatest confusion, and breathed nothing but shocking barbarity. The order of civil society no longer subsisted. The great body of the people were torn like wild beasts by the Romans and Herod. So much the more glorious was the restoration, which a state of affairs so desperate did not allow them to expect. Παιδὸς may here be taken either for child or for servant: but the latter signification is more appropriate. Israel is called, in this as in many other places, the servant of God, because he had been received into the family of God.

So as to be mindful Mary assigns the reason why the nation, when verging to ruin, was received by God; or rather, why God lifted it up when already fallen. It was to give an illustration of his mercy in its preservation. She expressly mentions that God had remembered his mercy, which he might appear in some sort to have forgotten, when he permitted his people to be so fearfully distressed and afflicted. It is customary to ascribe affections to God, as men conclude from the event itself, that he is offended with them, or that he is reconciled. Now, as the human mind forms no conception of the divine mercy, except so far as it is presented and declared in his own word, Mary directs her own attention and that of others to the promises,6262     “Marie se propose les promesses, et nous ramene tous a la consideration d'icelles.” — “Mary presents to herself the promises, and leads us all to the consideration of them.” and shows that, in the accomplishment of them, God has been true and faithful. In this sense, Scripture makes frequent mention of God’s mercy and truth, (Micah 7:20;) because we shall never be convinced of his fatherly kindness toward us, unless his word, by which he hath bound himself to us, be present to our recollection, and unless it occupy, as it were, an interterm is here, as at Acts 20:35, and often in the classical writers, used metaphorically in the sense of to protect, support.” — Bloomfield. mediate position between us, to link the goodness of God with our own individual salvation. By these words Mary shows, that the covenant which God had made with the fathers was of free grace; for she traces the salvation promised in it to the fountain of unmixed mercy Hence too we infer, that she was well acquainted with the doctrine of Scripture. The expectation of the Messiah was at that time, indeed, very general, but few had their faith established on so pure a knowledge of Scripture.




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