Following the announcement of the angel Gabriel about the birth of Jesus to Mary, she made a journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth. By the time Mary arrived, the impact of the angel’s words had penetrated deep into her heart. Upon her arrival, the Holy Spirit caused the six-month-old fetus of Elizabeth to leap in the womb. Then Elizabeth declared that Mary was the mother of the Messiah, after which Mary spontaneously delivered her beautiful song.
Mary’s song shares a biblical truth that clearly states how God deals with people. Here is the principle:
“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble” (Luke 1:51-52).
Perhaps the most notorious example of the arrogant was Nebuchadnezzar who was unbelievably proud. He so fits Mary’s description. He was so self-absorbed that he may have possibly been the world’s greatest narcissist. Even though he had been warned to humble himself, he refused. Twelve months later as the king was walking on the roof of his palace, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Dan 4:29-30).
Scripture records that the king’s mind snapped and he began to act like a wild animal. He cast aside his royal robes due to his insanity and was found among the wild animals of the field. He remained in this state for seven years. When he came to his senses, here are his words: “I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?... And those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Dan 4:34-37).
God is able to scatter the proud, as Mary clearly states and Nebuchadnezzar testifies “No one can hold back his hand.” Peter says that it is much more advisable to humble yourself than to have God humble you, " Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).
Jesus’ life was the complete opposite of Nebuchadnezzar. He humbled himself through his incarnation, life and death on the cross. As a result “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-11).
There is enormous pressure from our sinful nature and the influence of culture to be like Nebuchadnezzar in how we live and treat people. Mary warns us that we will be humbled if we choose to live that way. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us to live humbly so that in due time God can exalt us.