Luke 1:51
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
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(51) He hath shewed strength.—Literally, He wrought strength. Here the parallelism with 1Samuel 2:3 becomes very close. Of whom the speaker thought as among the “proud,” we cannot know. They may have been the potentates of the world in which she lived, Herod and the Emperor of Rome. They may have been the men of Jerusalem, who despised Galilee; or those of the other towns and villages of Galilee, who despised Nazareth; or, though less probably, those of Nazareth itself, who despised the carpenter and his betrothed.

1:39-56 It is very good for those who have the work of grace begun in their souls, to communicate one to another. On Mary's arrival, Elisabeth was conscious of the approach of her who was to be the mother of the great Redeemer. At the same time she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and under his influence declared that Mary and her expected child were most blessed and happy, as peculiarly honoured of and dear to the Most High God. Mary, animated by Elisabeth's address, and being also under the influence of the Holy Ghost, broke out into joy, admiration, and gratitude. She knew herself to be a sinner who needed a Saviour, and that she could no otherwise rejoice in God than as interested in his salvation through the promised Messiah. Those who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousness and life in him, he fills with good things, with the best things; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings he gives. He will satisfy the desires of the poor in spirit who long for spiritual blessings, while the self-sufficient shall be sent empty away.Hath showed strength with his arm - The "arm" is the symbol of strength. The expression in this and the subsequent verses has no particular reference to his mercy to Mary. From a contemplation of His goodness to her, she enlarges her views to a contemplation of His goodness and power in general, and to a celebration of the praises of God for all that he has done to all people. This is the nature of true piety. It does not terminate in thinking of God's mercy toward ourselves. It thinks of others, and praises God that others also are made partakers of His mercy, and that His goodness is manifested to all His works.

He scattereth the proud - He hath often done it in time of battle and war. When the proud Assyrian, Egyptian, or Babylonian had come against the people of God, He had often scattered them and driven away their armies.

In the imagination of their hearts - Those who were lifted up or exalted in their own view. Those who "thought themselves" to be superior to other men.

47. my Saviour—Mary, poor heart, never dreamt, we see, of her own "immaculate conception"—in the offensive language of the Romanists—any more than of her own immaculate life.Ver. 51,52. In these verses the virgin celebrates both the power and justice of God, as she before had done his holiness, and his mercy and goodness. The strength of a man is much seen in the effects of his arm; hence God, who hath no such parts as we have, is yet spoken of as if he had an arm, by which no more is signified than a mighty power, by which he bringeth things to pass; Exodus 15:16 Psalm 89:13 98:1 Isaiah 40:10: so in many other texts.

He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. Jethro, Exodus 18:11, knew that the Lord was above all gods, because in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.

The proud in Scripture often signifies wicked men, as the humble signifies good and holy men; but proud, in a strict sense, signifieth men that have a high opinion of themselves: now there is nothing that a proud man dealeth more proudly in, than in following the imaginations of his own heart. There (saith Mary) God scattereth them, turning their counsels into folly, and confounding them in their own imaginations.

He hath put down the mighty from their seats: thus he did by Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, &c.: he pulls down some, and sets up others. Promotion is not from the east, nor from the west.

And exalted them of low degree: this is God’s way; thus he exalted Moses, Joseph, Jacob, David. God thus showeth his mighty power and superintendency upon men’s affairs. He doth what he pleaseth with men, yet what he doth is infinitely wise, just, and good.

He hath showed strength with his arm,.... Of almighty power, in the business of the incarnation, and in working out salvation for his people; which is done by his own arm, he being mighty to save, and travelling in the greatness of his strength; see Isaiah 63:1.

He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts; whom he always resists, and both in providence and grace, takes such methods, as tend to humble and confound them: here particularly, it may regard the proud and haughty Jews; who imagined nothing less, than that the Messiah would be born of one of the rich and noble families in Judea; that he would appear as a temporal prince, and set up a temporal kingdom in great state and splendour, and make them a free and flourishing people: when instead of this, he was to be born of a poor virgin, of whom they disdainfully say, is not his mother called Mary? who was of Nazareth in Galilee, of which it is said, shall Christ come out of Galilee? or any good thing out of Nazareth? A virgin betrothed to a carpenter, and her son of that business also, with which both were flouted; and because of this meanness, the Messiah was rejected by them; and thus were they scattered and confounded in their imaginations.

He hath shewed strength with his {t} arm; he hath {u} scattered the proud in the {x} imagination of their hearts.

(t) Here many more words than necessary are used, which the Hebrews use very much: and arm here is taken for strength.

(u) Even as the wind does to the chaff.

(x) He has scattered them, and the imagination of their hearts; or, by and through the imagination of their own hearts; so that their wicked counsel turned to their own destruction.

Luke 1:51 ff. Mary now sees the Messianic catastrophe, which God will bring about by means of her son, and she announces it prophetically as having already happened; for she bears in fact the accomplisher of it already in her womb, and thus the work of God, which He is to execute, is before her enlightened gaze already as good as completed; in that way she sees and describes it.

The catastrophe itself is the restoration of the state of things to the divine rightful order, the overthrow of the Gentiles and the exaltation of the deeply-oppressed theocratic people (comp. Luke 1:68; Luke 1:71; Luke 1:74); the former are set forth by the words ὑπερηφάνους, δυνάστας, πλουτοῦντας; the latter, by ταπεινούς and πεινῶντας. This intended concrete application of the general expressions is put beyond doubt by ἀντελάβετο Ἰσραὴλ κ.τ.λ., Luke 1:54 f.

ὑπερηφάνους] such as are arrogant in the thoughts of their heart; διανοίᾳ is the dative of more precise definition; and on the notion (thinking and willing as directed outwards), comp. Beck, Seelenl. p. 58; on καρδία as the centre of the spiritual and psychic life, Delitzsch, bibl. Psychol. p. 248 ff.; finally, in διεσκόρπ. the haughty are conceived of as congregated and keeping together; comp. Matthew 26:31; Acts 5:37; Psalm 89:10. “That through Christianity the proud were humbled” (de Wette), is not the thought expressed by Mary, but a generalization of it, as is also the “confusio diabolicae superbiae” (Calovius and others), and the like. Comp. Sir 10:14 ff.

Luke 1:52. He has cast down rulers from thrones, does not apply to the demons and Pharisees (Theophylact), but to the Gentile holders of power. Comp. on the idea of the overthrow of thrones in the times of the Messiah, Wis 5:23; Enoch xxxviii. 4, and Dillmann thereon.

Luke 1:53. ἀγαθῶν] not merely means of subsistence (Valckenaer, Bornemann, de Wette), but earthly possessions in general, among which the means of subsistence are included. Comp. Luke 12:18 f. De Wette, moreover, is in error in saying (comp. Olshausen) that it is spiritual hunger and spiritual satisfying that are to be thought of, and that the rich are a type of the wise men of this world. The whole is to be taken literally; the idealizing is not warranted according to the context. Comp. Psalm 34:11.

ἐξαπέστ. κενούς] So that they retain nothing of their possessions, and have received nothing from the Messiah. On the expression, comp. Luke 20:10 f.; Job 22:9; Jdt 10:11; Hom. Il. ii. 298, Od. xiii. 214.

For descriptions of the divine inversion of relations from the classical writers, see Wetstein and Bornemann.

51. with his arm] “Thou hast a mighty arm,” Psalm 89:13. The nearest parallel to the remainder of the verse is Job 5:12.

Luke 1:51. Ἐποίησε κράτοςἐξαπέστειλε κενοὺς, He hath showed strength—He hath sent empty away) God designed to do all these things through the Messiah, and the mother of the Latter was receiving an experimental proof of the fact in her own self.—ὑπερηφάνους, the proud) both those visible and those invisible [Satan, etc.] of this character.

Verses 51-53. - He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath soattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. From adoration, Mary's hymn proceeds to celebrate the mighty results effected by the Divine pity. As so often in thee prophetic strains, the speaker or writer speaks or writes as though the future had become the past; so Mary here describes the Messianic reversal of man's conception of what is great and little, as though the unborn Babe had already lived and done his strange mighty work in the world. The "glorious arm" which, in old days, had wrought such mighty things for Israel, she recognized as belonging to the coming Deliverer (verse 51). His chosen instruments would be those of whom the world thought little, like herself. The proud and mighty would be put down; the men of low degree, and poor and humble, would be exalted. The hungry would be filled; and they who were rich only in this world's goods would have no share in the new kingdom - they would be sent empty away. How strangely had the virgin of Nazareth caught the thought, almost the very words, of the famous sermon her Divine Son, some thirty years later, preached on the mountain-side near Gennesaret! Luke 1:51Shewed strength (ἐποίησεν)

Lit., made strength. So Wyc., made might. A Hebrew form of expression. Compare Psalm 118:15, Sept.: "The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly" (ἐποίησε δύναμιν, made strength).

In the imagination (διανοίᾳ)

The faculty of thought, understanding, especially moral understanding. Wyc. refers the word here to God: with mind of his heart. Some prefer to render "by the imagination," thus making the proud the instrument of their own destruction. Compare 2 Corinthians 10:5.

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