God’s Mighty Arm
Mary said, “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.” Luke 1:51
The skinny little kid, beaten by bigger kids, limped home, then returned with his father. The six-foot-four man wore a sleeveless macho shirt baring his bulging muscles. He didn’t say a word, but the belittled bullies ran away screaming.
Mary remembered many instances where God showed His mighty arm and scattered His enemies. She knew God’s Word—what we call the Old Testament. Perhaps she thought of the exodus when God delivered His people from bondage. Or maybe she thought of David’s psalms where he sang of God’s victories over his enemies, “for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him” (98:1).
The expression “arm of God“ is anthropomorphic; that is, it describes God as having human form or attributes. But God doesn’t have a physical body—He’s spirit. In Scripture, His arm is symbolic of the strength and power He displays on earth when He delivers from bondage, saves from sin, and judges His enemies.
Mary knew that those who had reason to be proud of their accomplishments, those with arrogant “inmost thoughts,” but no knowledge of God and His revelation of Himself would be scattered—they’d vanish.
Mary also may have been thinking of another psalm: “Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!’” (Psalm 118:15). Soon joyous shouts of victory would resound, not from great palaces, but from a humble place where a young couple who had few earthly possessions gazed in wonder at a miraculous baby.
The prophets had said that someday a virgin would conceive and bear a son (Isaiah 7:14). Mary’s child would one day display His mighty arm in miracles and victory over death. He would resurrect from the dead. Now He sits at the right hand (arm) of God, near His ear, and intercedes for the people of God (Hebrews 7:23-25).
Like Mary, can you sing of mighty deeds God has performed with power and deliverance in your life?
Read Psalm 98:1-9. Many songs in Psalms were about what God had done in the past, especially in helping Israel. Can you rewrite the lyrics of this song, explaining what God had sent His Son to do on earth?
Besides strength and power, what picture does Isaiah 40:9-11 give of the work of God’s arm?
To what does Jesus attribute His ability to cast out demons in Luke 11:14-22?
What is the answer to Isaiah’s question in 53:1, that is, to whom is the arm of God revealed according to John 12:37-43? What must you have in order to see the mighty power of God?
Nancy J. Baker