The open book in Nicolas Poussin’s 1857 painting of the Annunciation intrigues me and causes me to wonder about this moment. What Scripture passages are on the pages of the book? Consider Mary’s response again to the angel’s visitation:
And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bonds leave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
and holy is His name.
“And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
“He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud
in the thoughts of their heart.
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
“He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
“He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”
~Luke 1:46-55 (NASB)
Above all else, is Mary overwhelmed by how holy is His name. So perhaps the book is opened to these words from the prophet Isaiah:
In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
~Isaiah 6:1-3 (NASB)
Or perhaps Mary is reflecting on these verses the Psalmist wrote:
The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble;
He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!
The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is exalted above all the peoples.
Let them praise Your great and awesome name;
Holy is He.
The strength of the King loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the Lord our God
And worship at His footstool;
Holy is He.
~Psalm 99:1-5 (NASB)
In these final days of Advent as we prepare our hearts to worship our newborn King, may you and I take a few moments to consider the wonder of just how holy is His name.