The Telescope of Greatness and the Microscope of Grace

He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. (Psalm 113:9, NASB)

There is a Christmas connection that threads from Hannah and her hymn over the miraculous birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 2) to the Magnificat of Mary when she learns she will be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1). Central to the songs of their mothers, the miraculous births of Samuel and Jesus are linked together by the theology expressed in Psalm 113. According to Psalm 113, God is to be praised because of the greatness of His glory (113:4–5) and the goodness of His grace (113:6–9).

We get a telescopic perspective of God’s greatness as the psalmist writes as if looking into space, “The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high” (113:4–5). And then, as if one could get behind God and look down and see what He sees, the psalmist penned, “Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?” (113:6). It is as if God has to look through a microscope just to see heaven, not to mention to find us! This reflects God’s grace.

Then the psalmist illustrates such grace. “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people. He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!’” (113:7–9). What Hannah, the psalmist, and Mary have in common is the experience of God reaching and redeeming the neediest of people.

The psalmist uses two illustrations that show God’s grace to both men and women. The first emphasizes rescue and adoption; the second shows God’s life-giving power and acceptance. Hannah and Mary share the experience of children given by God who play significant roles by their inclusion in God’s plans for Israel and the world. Because God is great and glorious, He has the power to give both physical and eternal life. Because He is good and gracious, He demonstrates love when He reaches and rescues the neediest of people—and that means all of us.