When you think of God, what human analogies pop up in your mind? A Father with His children? A Painter with a canvas? A… singer? In Zephaniah, the Bible gives us this image of a God who sings over us. Let’s explore the meaning of this beautiful imagery.

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

Before tackling the above verse, let’s rewind a bit to get some context.

2:1-3:8 | Sin and Suffering

This world can appear to be operating in moral freefall. Injustice is so pervasive, evil so far-reaching, cruelty so common—and judgment so delayed.

But it will not always be so. Throughout Zephaniah 2, God assures His people that He will right all wrongs. One of the great themes of the Bible is that every victim will be vindicated, every oppression reversed. One side of the grace and goodness of God is this judgment against all evil. God’s ultimate judgment against evil is a matter of great comfort to believers, freeing us to respond with grace rather than judgment when we are wronged. God will judge in due time.

But of course, we are not only the offended; we are also the offenders. We are not only victims, we are also perpetrators. Indeed, this is where Zephaniah’s prophecy goes in 3:1–8, as God turns from indicting Israel’s enemies to indicting Israel herself (cf. Rom. 2:1ff.). The people of God are in the same awful predicament as the rest of humanity: sinful and helpless, needing a deliverance they cannot generate out of their own resources. And this is precisely what God has provided in Jesus Christ. “The anger of the LORD” prophesied in Zephaniah 2:2 did indeed come rushing down from heaven—yet not on the ones deserving it but on His own Son, so that whoever takes refuge in him, Jew or Gentile, is safe forever, delivered from the wrath of God, knowing only God’s fatherly love.

3:9-20 | Who is God?

This is the question beneath all questions in Scripture. Is He a God who loves tepidly but punishes earnestly, or a God who punishes reluctantly but loves tenaciously? The Christian life is a process of growing out of the former understanding of God and into the latter. His deepest heart, His bottom-line impulse, who He actually is for sinners and sufferers that embrace His grace, reveals itself to us in verse 17: “He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” Despite Israel’s own waywardness, this is how God has determined to treat His people. In Christ, who died to clear away any reason for God not to treat us in this way, God’s purpose of love is proven and ensured.

Before such a God who rejoices over sinful children, all small thoughts of His love die away. When Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, heaven was trumpeting the news to sinners: “The LORD has taken away the judgments against you” (v. 15). United to this Christ, you are rinsed clean from sin’s deepest stains. Your verdict is in and your death sentence has been removed. Sin, death, and hell are vanquished. You have been walked by grace into the green pastures and still waters of restored fellowship with God, who does not simply put up with you but in fact sings over you.

He is singing over YOU!

Where in the world do we see a person singing over someone? I like to imagine a mother soothing her infant with a lullaby. Maybe you squirm, kick, and resist, but God sings. The next time you sit with Him in prayer, take a second to quiet your soul and listen for His song. God’s love for you is ravenous and unending. My mind also goes to singing songs in church. When we sing to God, we are reflecting the image of our Creator, the God who sings over us.

Find Gospel Truths in Every Part of the Bible.

ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible sing

The above is an excerpt from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. This special study tool revolves around the idea that all the Bible is about Jesus. Even though it was written across hundreds of years, the Bible functions as a cohesive story of God’s love. If you want to read the Bible from this perspective, get your copy of this Study Bible today!

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