52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
1901 ASV Translation:
52 He hath put down princes from their thrones, And hath exalted them of low degree.
53 The hungry he hath filled with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away.
There are no textual variants between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
Mary's focus upon God's activities is upon the contrast between God's dealings with her as a representative of those who "fear" Him (characterized predominately as 'the humble') and God's dealings with an unnamed 'other' who is a representative of those who are "proud". She exults in His mighty actions, which consist almost entirely of soul/spirit issues for the believers in His promises.
I. In verses 52-53 Mary speaks in an ABBA form which emphasizes God's approval of those who are humble and hungry and His disdain for those who are powerful and wealthy.
A. First is the humiliation of the powerful and the uplifting of the "low".
B. Then is the filling of the hungry and the emptiness of the wealthy.
II. The issues involved...
A. There is an automatic antagonism in Mary's words toward those who have much and exercisepower.
1. The historical evidence is that God removes those who exercise power from their "thrones" (the foundations of their authority).
2. Similarly, God sends the wealthy away "empty"...as a forced-proof that their money cannot buy them the "fulness" they seek after.
3. At the root, the antagonism is not toward power and wealth; it is toward the attitude that most of those who have power and wealth have taken in their dismissal of God from the details of life.
a. It is almost inevitable that those who practice diligence and discipline will become wealthy in our cultural setting.
1) We must understand that "power" and "wealth" are both very elastic concepts that defy most people's attempts to place themselves with reference to the definitions (power and wealth are very relative terms).
2) In any free market system, those who are diligent, honest, and disciplined will accumulate wealth if they are moderately intelligent, healthy and spared catastrophic physical damages.
b. The Bible says that fallen men, as they accumulate wealth and power, will naturally gravitate toward a shift in dependence from Another to their wealth and power.
1) The anti-god in the Bible is money.
2) The American-god in our culture is "personal freedom" (i.e. "power").
c. There is no virtue to being powerless and poverty stricken; but, these characteristics have the positive impact of forcing a dependence upon others, and, if that "force" identifies the object of dependence as God, there is a huge dividend in terms of life.
B. There is a deliberate presentation of the linkage between what people are seeking after and how they plan to obtain it.
1. The "humble" are not "less interested" in "fulness" than the "proud"; nor are the "hungry" less interested than the "wealthy".
2. The difference consists in the way they decide to pursue the "fulness".
a. With few exceptions, the "proud/wealthy" use their resources to obtain their objectives with little/no regard for others, or for God.
b. By the same token, the "humble/hungry" have none of these resources, but they "fear" God as their Sustainer (in Mary's earlier description, "God my Savior").
C. The key issue of the text is this: of what does the "fulness" consist?
1. What does "God sent the rich away empty" mean?
a. Defining the "emptiness" will help define the "fulness".
b. The text makes it significantly "obvious" that whatever the "fulness" is, the wealthy cannot obtain it by their resources.
c. The text also makes it significantly "obvious" that the "powerful" are "dethroned" in a parallel sense of the "wealthy" being sent away "empty"...the implication being that God has taken away their power-base.
2) Were they able, by their power, to obtain the "fulness" so that God had to take away their power in order to "send them away empty"?
a) No, their power was never going to provide them with "fulness" as it cannot.
b) But, in their insistence that their power provide them with what it cannot provide them, the powerful were consistently abusive of others as they wielded their power in the misguided attempt to obtain their objectives.
3) Thus, God took away their thrones by reason of their abuse of others--not to take away their "fulness" (since they never had that at all), but to put a stop to the abusive use of that power.
a) Those in "power" almost always see their position as the root of their "life" and, even though it never is that root, when they are "dethroned" what "life" they had is taken away.
b) This consistently shows up when people suffer the loss of material wealth...the crying and emotional upheaval is a tacit admission that they clearly believe that their lives consist in the abundance of the things they possess.
d. This clears the way for us to understand what "fulness" is: it consists of exactly what Mary was experiencing.
1) Her soul was in a "state" of a continual restfulness in light of what was going on in her circumstances.
2) Her soul was in a position to appreciate true significance: being useful to God in a relationship of love.