The Song I Long to Hear Most of AllDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
"For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
The prophetic writings of the Old Testament look forward to a time in the future when God will redeem and restore his people. He will forgive their sin and renew them in his love. This picture of the future is often filled with celebration, as in Isaiah 35:10: "Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and sighing will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness." In this passage, and throughout the Old Testament, joy is often expressed through singing.
The same is true in Zephaniah 3:17, but with a most startling reversal. In this text, the Lord is the one who rejoices by singing: "For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." The Hebrew word translated here as "joyful songs" (rinna) is exactly the same word found in Isaiah 35:10, where the people enter Jerusalem with joyful "singing." In the day of God's salvation, there will be singing, both by those who have been redeemed and by the Redeemer.
Even more amazing than the picture of God's jubilant singing is the subject of his songs: you! In context, "you" refers to the Israelites who finally experience God's long-awaited deliverance. Yet when, through Christ, we become God's beloved children, when we experience his deliverance from sin and death, then we are caught up in the stirring image of Zephaniah 3:17. God doesn't just save us and forgive us. He doesn't just accept us and welcome us. He also delights in us, even rejoicing over us with a joyful song. Now that's the song I would like to hear most of all! I expect that someday, when we are in the Lord's presence, we will hear his song of joy over us. What a moment that will be!
In the season of Advent, we get in touch with our hope for the future. We yearn for the time when God makes all things right, when he wipes away every tear, and when we experience his love and joy in an unprecedented way. For the most part, Advent is a serious season of waiting and expectancy. Yet, the third weekend of Advent encourages us to rejoice as we taste a bit of the joy of the future. Perhaps, as we sing the glad songs of this season, we might even get to hear a whisper of God singing over us.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever thought of God as rejoicing over you? How does the image of Zephaniah 3:17 affect you? What difference would it make in your life if you really believed that God delights in you?
PRAYER: Lord, every time I read Zephaniah 3:17, I am stunned . . . and deeply moved. What an amazing picture of your delight in your people!
Thank you, dear Lord, that we have begun to experience the salvation of the future through Christ.
Thank you for living among us by your Spirit.
Thank you for being our mighty savior, for breaking the power of sin and death and offering us new life.
Thank you for calming us with your love, a love that casts out all fear.
Thank you for delighting over us with gladness, even rejoicing over us with joyful songs.
May I live today, and tomorrow, and the next day, in the assurance of your love and in the warmth of your delight. Amen.