How do you praise God? What do you do? Some people like to be quiet. Some people are loud. Some people like to sing. Some people like to pray. Some people like to raise their hands in praise.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the type of woman who had to move to praise God. When the angel told her she would give birth to Jesus, she submissively said, “Lord, your will be done.” But immediately she “hurried” to share the news with her relative Elizabeth and find out what God was doing in her life. The trip from Nazareth to the hills of Judea is probably 50-75 miles – a major trip for a young woman alone and on foot. But nothing would stop Mary.

The Joy of Elizabeth.

“Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Luke 1:42)

Elizabeth didn’t say Mary was blessed “above” women but “among” women, and certainly this is true. The thing that Elizabeth emphasized was Mary’s faith: “Blessed is she that believed (v. 45). Because Mary believed the Word of God, she experienced the power of God.

The Joy of the Unborn Son.

“…as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:44)

The visit from Mary no doubt came as a surprise but the Holy Spirit made Elizabeth suddenly aware of both Mary’s pregnancy and the identity of Mary’s baby. The baby inside Elizabeth leaped in her womb. Even before he was born, John the Baptist expressed joy as a response to the presence of Jesus. This story also reminds us that the unborn are able to respond to what is going on outside the womb. They experience emotions like joy and are able to praise God.

The Joy of Mary.

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (Luke 1:46-47)

Mary’s praise (Luke 1:46-55) is called the “Magnificat” because it is the first word in the Latin translation of this passage. In English the Greek word is “magnifies.” Mary praised God for 3 things:

Mary praised God what He did for her. If Mary’s hymn of praise tells us anything, it’s that she did not consider herself exalted, but rather a woman very much like the rest of humanity: a sinner in need of a Savior. Mary’s blessing came not from who she was or would become. Mary’s blessing came from the holy baby whom she carried in her womb. Mary was blessed because she believed that what God had said to her would be accomplished. The exaltation of Mary has been a major dividing line between Protestants and Catholics. Catholics are bewildered at Protestants’ cold shoulder to such a wonderful biblical character. Protestants see Jesus’ role treated when Mary is idolized. The Bible helps us here. Jesus is the Savior of the world and no one else. Mary is the blessed mother of Jesus, and her unique blessing was a gift from God.

Mary praised God for what He did for the lowly, like her. Mary named 3 specific groups of people to whom God has been merciful: the helpless (51), the humble (52), the hungry (53).

Mary praised God for what He did for Israel. Mary praises the Lord for his deliverance of the Israelites past and future. She praised God for showing mercy to His people.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months. During these 3 months, Mary surely discussed with Elizabeth how to handle what would be an extremely difficult social predicament. She would have to return home and explain her pregnancy to her family and her finance. Hopefully, when Mary went back to her own home, three months pregnant, she was even more strengthened in her faith by Elizabeth’s faith, ready to face all that the future would hold. 

 We can learn some lessons about praise from this story of these two women praising God. What should we praise God for?

Praise God for Who He is. 

Jesus was at the center of their praise. Simply the presence of Jesus stirred praise even in an unborn baby. Praise is the appropriate response when we think of who Jesus is.

Praise God for what He has done. 

Elizabeth praised God for what He had done through Mary. Mary praised God for what He had done for her and other lowly people, like the helpless, humble and hungry. We can praise God for what He has done and will do for us.

Praise God for each other. 

Praise increases when we praise together. There is something contagious when we praise together. This encourages us to join together to praise God and to praise God for each other. Thank God for others who encourage you in your walk with Jesus. Praise God for others who help you realize the need and opportunity to praise God.

Can you take some time just to praise God for Who He is. for what He has done for you, and for each other? Most of us get so wrapped up in our own worries that we overlook God and His relationship with us. Today is a good day to simply praise God.

“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord‘s name is to be praised.” (Psalm 113:3)