Wednesday

3 August 2022

Zephaniah 3:14-20

He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (v. 17)

Psalm 22:19-31

Background

Zephaniah was a prophet and all we know about him is here in these three chapters in the book of the Bible named after him. Approximately 300 years earlier, after the death of Solomon, Israel split into two: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Judah contained two of the 12 tribes of Israel and its capital was Jerusalem, which is where Zephaniah probably lived.

In the book of Zephaniah, he prophesies a coming judgement on Judah in which God will punish all those who were ‘complacent’ and who ‘who fill their master’s house with violence and fraud' (1:9); the coming of the great day of the Lord (1:14-18); judgment on Israel’s enemies (2:1-15); the wickedness of Jerusalem (3:1-7); the punishment and conversion of the nations (3:8-13); and finally a Song of Joy (3:14-20). 

Reading this today we know that Zephaniah is prophesying about Judah’s coming exile to Babylon and that eventually the exiles would be freed and able to return to Jerusalem.

The verses that we are focusing on today are the concluding verses of chapter 3. They are different from the rest of the book, because they foresee a time when God will redeem God's people from exile so they can return to Jerusalem.

God is promising the restoration of the people and the fulfilment of God's promises to them. God’s promises to save are steadfast. This is a stunning passage that reveals how God will use his might and power to redeem Israel and will bring judgement upon everyone who has oppressed them. But the redemption of Israel is not something that God is promising to do reluctantly while still holding their sins against them. In fact: "He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (v. 17)

This image of God singing over the people is not how we  usually perceive God. We know how often we fail, stray and wander away from God, giving in to our own selfish desires and we read in the Bible how often God’s people strayed. But these verses show how much God desires all to be in right relationship with God. It's beautiful to think that God sings in rejoicing over the people.

To Ponder:

  • How can you live today with joy and gratitude for how God has redeemed you?
  • Do you ever assume that God is annoyed or irritated with you? Do these verses make you reconsider?
  • Can you imagine God singing? What do you think that would sound like?

Prayer

Loving God, I am not worthy to be in your presence and yet you show your love for me in everything. Lord, who am I that you would delight in me and rejoice over me with singing? My precious saviour, thank you for loving me so much. In Jesus' name, Amen.

 


Bible notes author

Beth Davies

Beth is the Conservative parliamentary intern for the Joint Public Issues Team. She loves reading, hiking and listening to podcasts.

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