The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
– Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)
The Scripture is God’s self-revelation to mankind. In it, the Lord discloses everything we need to know about His nature, character, and activity. By discovering who He is, we then discover who we are… and how we can be saved.
Zephaniah gave an urgent message to the people of God. They desperately needed to return to Him in repentance and faith. From the first chapter of the book, he spoke harshly against Judah and pleaded with them to avoid the impending judgment from God over their sin.
But as is the case with all of the calls for repentance, it is inside of the context regarding God’s character. He is not an ogre in the dark caves just waiting to club you. Nor is He the juvenile Zeus of Greek mythology hoping you will mess up so a lightening bolt can zap in your direction. He also not the angry cosmic cop we have playing through our minds that is just trying to keep everyone moving along in life; handing out the periodic ticket to sinners. The one true God is completely different from those mythologies in our minds.
Zephaniah gives us a portraits of God in this one verse that are both expected and unexpected.
Warrior. We expect that God is a warrior. He is the “mighty one” who saves us from the enemy. God has immense power. In fact, He holds all power. And, we understand from the whole of the Bible that His desire is to save us. God is not a neutral party to the spiritual war that holds us captive. Nor is He satisfied to see us align with the enemy and battle against His reign. He is the warrior that takes to the battlefield for the heart, soul, and mind of those He loves — you and me.
Comforter. God is happy. I don’t think about Him in that way often enough. My mind always goes to a solemn image of God with a neutral kind of face; never smiling and occasionally frowning. But when it comes to His people and their deliverance, God rejoices. It is the subject of rejoicing that is shockingly wonderful. He is happy over us. Like a father who enjoys his children and how they are growing. In this work, He comforts us. The verse says that “he will quiet you by his love.” The HCSB translates it as “He will bring quietness to you with His love.” God’s comfort settles us and renews us. He is the warrior father for the battle-scarred POW child.
Singer. We don’t expect this aspect of God. Singing is something that we do in His direction. We gather for worship and sing songs that declare God’s wonderful nature and satisfying salvation. But the people of Judah, while in their sin, they needed to understand that God delights to sing over them with a loud voice. God, in some eternally mysterious way, gains great joy in us. So much so, that He sings about it.
I want you to see it clearly. God sings a song of joy over your life. It is beyond amazing and wonderful. It is too much to describe. God is the singing-father-warrior who delights in you. Take it in. Meditate on God’s Word. Go out and carry this truth to a hurting, sad, and dying world that needs our Father’s love.