Many people seem to believe God is like a grumpy old man who has to get his way. And when he doesn’t, he will shame, guilt, and scare people in order to get them to fall into line.
When we open the Bible, however, we encounter a very different God. The God who delights. The God who sings. The God who saves.
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
First, the Lord saves. While most of us tend to focus on what we are saved from, this verse emphasizes what we are saved for.
According to Zephaniah 3, not only are we saved from judgment, we are also saved for joy—God’s joy.
The threefold declaration of Zephaniah 3:17—that God delights in us, that he will no longer rebuke us, and that he will rejoice over us—is one of the most beautiful pronouncements of God’s grace and love in all of the Bible. God’s people are not a mistake that God is stuck with.
God doesn’t give out his mercy begrudgingly, like Ebenezer Scrooge before the visit of the three ghosts of Christmas.
Scripture says God delights in showing mercy (Micah 7:18). The Lord is not a reluctant giver, as if he has a limited amount of grace and has to give it out sparingly.
God is “abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). He is literally overflowing with love for us. God does not tolerate his people; he delights in us.
Secondly, the Lord cares. “God will no longer rebuke you.”
We are no longer under his judgment; instead, we are under his care (Zeph. 3:15). It’s a declaration rooted not in shifting emotions but in an unchanging, lasting covenant.
Thirdly, the Lord sings. The Lord is the God who sings. Only a God who is creative and beautiful adds rhythm and cadence when mere words are not enough. The God of the Bible sings. Zephaniah is reminding us that God is our Father who sings over us and holds us close in his arms.
Think of an earthly parent who nurses and cares for a child.
This is a wonderful picture of God.