The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you.
At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honour in every land where they were put to shame.
At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honour and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes, says the LORD.
Zephaniah 3: 17-20 (NIV)
We are on the home straight! We’ve now moved to our final theme of love – as Paul says, the greatest of all virtues.
The first verse (v3) in today’s passage is a very significant one for me. God has spoken to me through this verse a few times.
This passage from Zephaniah speaks of the tenderness of our God:
He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
A man singing to a child is not an image that is familiar to many of us. My friend Richard wrote an interesting blog post about Zechariah, the father of John the baptist and how he sings over his baby when he is born with a song we say or sing in services now as the Benedictus.
Take this beautiful image and then realise that Zephaniah is saying that this is what God does over us – he sings a joyful song over us. He quiets us with his love. There have been a few occasions in my life when I have completely been quieted by God – to the point of being mute for a period of time. Those of you who know me well will know that this has to have been something supernatural!
There was great singing and joy of course when Jesus was born. The quiet joy of Mary and Joseph (maybe they sang songs together to Jesus the baby?) was echoed by the sound of the whole heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.
God’s love came down at Christmas in the form of a baby. God sings over us with his love.
Here is a beautiful choral piece written imagining the heavenly host singing:
Lux, calida gravisque pura velut aurum et canunt angeli molliter modo natum.
Light, warm and heavy as pure gold and the angels sing softly to the new-born baby. – Edward Esch