In this magnificent song, Mary proclaims the blessing that God has given her. But she also declares that God’s blessing does not end with her: His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation (v. 50). Our Bible study often discusses what it means to fear God. We know the fear of God does not invoke the terror that victims feel at the hands of their abductor. We ask what happens to those who do not fear God, and if God’s mercy extends to them.
Throughout Scripture, “be not afraid” often precedes a message from God. Mary hears this instruction herself earlier in this chapter. So what does it mean to fear God, but not be afraid of God?
Mary sings of the mercy that God bestows on the humble who know the difference between who they are and who God is. Those who confuse their power with the Almighty’s will be scattered and brought down. Those who revere God will be filled and lifted up. Fear rooted in reverence draws us closer to the Creator for whom we were made.
God has indeed blessed me. As an immigrant to the United States, I had to overcome so many obstacles to acclimatize myself to a different country and culture. The unwavering knowledge that I was in the palm of God’s hand made it possible for me to drive all fear and despair from my life. Nothing with God is impossible. God has been the lodestar and the light of my life.
Fear that makes us run from God comes from a place of nonbelief. Because I trust the God who has given me life, I have no need to be afraid. The fear of the Lord has made me fearless. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” Proverbs 9:10 reminds us. I, therefore, hope to grow wiser each day.
What form of fear makes you run from God? When has fear rooted in reverence drawn you closer to God?
God, help us see your desire for a relationship with us. Remove whatever fears keep us from you and fill us with reverence that draws us closer. Amen.