[He] will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
A young father held his baby boy in his arms, singing to him and rocking him in soothing rhythm. The baby was hearing-impaired, unable to hear the melody or the words. Yet the father sang anyway, in a beautiful, tender act of love toward his son. And his efforts were rewarded with a delightful smile from his little boy.
The imagery of the father-son exchange bears a striking resemblance to the words of Zephaniah. The Old Testament prophet says that God will joyfully sing over His daughter, the people of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:17). God enjoys doing good things for His beloved people, such as taking away their punishment and turning back their enemies (v. 15). Zephaniah says they no longer have any reason for fear and instead have cause for rejoicing.
We, as God’s children redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, sometimes are hard of hearing—unable, or perhaps unwilling, to tune our ears to the exuberant love God sings over us. His adoration of us is like that of the young father, who lovingly sang to his son despite his inability to hear. He has taken away our punishment too, giving us further reason to rejoice. Perhaps we might try to listen more closely to hear the joy ringing loudly in His voice. Father, help us to hear Your loving melody and savor being held safely in Your arms.
What keeps you from hearing God? How can you tune your ears to hear His delight in you?
Thank You, God, for taking great delight in me. May I always listen to your voice as You joyfully sing over me.
To learn more about Zephaniah, visit ChristianUniversity.org/OT226.
Zephaniah 3:14–17 is written like a psalm of salvation (such as Psalm 98). The prophet commands praise (Zephaniah 3:14), not only for what God has done in the past and will do in the future, but for the very presence of Yahweh in the midst of Israel as the loving king who inspires confidence (vv. 15–17). As such, this “psalm” expresses the motif of God’s continued presence in Zion, the city of David (Jerusalem), as promised in the covenant in 2 Samuel 7 and echoed in Isaiah and in psalms such as Psalms 2 and 89. The Lord is Israel’s king (Zephaniah 3:15) and her mighty warrior of salvation (v. 17). But He also responds to Israel like an abandoned parent or jilted lover to whom his beloved has returned. He rejoices with vocal jubilation as well as stillness and quiet (v. 17).