“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 4 v 17
Every so often I come across a bible verse that is so wonderful I can’t help but smile and the above verse is one of them. It comes at the end of Zephaniah, in the previous chapters there has been pronouncements of judgement on Israel for their rebellion and sin but in the last chapter a new theme is taken up and this theme is the love of God for his people.
Read the verse again and think on it for a few minutes. The first thing I noticed was that God is in the midst of his people. He’s not far away, hard to reach, a step removed from us. No, he’s right there in our midst and with us through all the ups and downs of life. And then there’s the reminder that God is the Mighty Warrior who will save and he has saved us, bought us with the blood of Jesus Christ and forgiven us for our sin. He has saved us and adopted us into his family so that we are his children.
“He will rejoice over you with gladness.” It’s not as though God reluctantly loves us, it’s not as though he makes do, it’s not as though his love is half hearted, forced upon him by the sacrifice of Christ, oh no, God loves the fact that he loves us. He rejoices over us with gladness, he is glad to rejoice over us, he delights in his delight in us. It is amazing enough that God rejoice is us; indeed when we see our weakness and sin it becomes a marvel we have to submit to as true. When we look at our life and see nothing of value, nothing of worth and everything of sin and weakness and pride then take heart for God rejoices over you and he does so with gladness. Warm your empty heart with the fullness and richness of the love of God and content yourself with knowing that while there may be nothing to love in you God loves you still because such is his boundless delight.
“In his love he will no longer rebuke you.” This surely reminds us that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8v1) Jesus has taken the wrath of God and so we can approach him with freedom and confidence knowing that Christ bore the punishment we deserved. Such was the love of God that he was willing to send his Son to die for a rebellious and ungrateful people. We find in this line that our guilt falls away for Christ died for all our sins and infinite is the ocean of his grace and unfathomable is the deepness of his forgiveness and there is no sin that puts us beyond the reach of Jesus and the salvation he offers.
And then we come to the line: “but will rejoice over you with singing.” Let us pause together and consider the picture this paints of the Lord God Almighty, the Most High who inhabits eternity, the Beginning and the End, the all powerful Creator who raises kings and brings them down and brought all things into being by the word of his mouth, the God who is all this and so much more singing with joy over his church. It almost seems too human for God to say it about himself. Is it even possible to imagine what the song of God over his people would sound like? It shows as well the humility and goodness of God as he condescends to describe himself in such terms and present his vast love in a way we can understand.
God loves his people. He loves to love his people. He sings with joy over his church. Warm your heart with these truths. Rest in them, delight in them, rejoice in them and know that God delights and rejoices in you more. Thank God that his love is so overflowing as to be described in such terms. Allow yourself to be wooed afresh by the incomparable love of God.