What does God think about when He thinks about you? When God meditates on you in His heart, what does He feel? When God focuses His eye on your soul, what does He see? When God opens His mouth to speak of you, what does He Say?
Unless I’m totally deluded, I suspect that many of you would answer those questions the same way Susan did when I asked her: “He thinks badly of me, He feels repelled by me, He sees all my ugliness, and He says ‘Yuk!’”
Nothing could be farther from the truth! Notwithstanding what you have been told in the past, notwithstanding what you may feel in the present, when God thinks about you, feels for you, and sees you, He opens His mouth and with joy inexpressible He sings! God’s love for you is so infinitely intense that He quite literally sings for joy. Such is the depth of His affection that mere words prove paltry and inadequate. So profoundly intimate is God’s devotion to you that He bursts forth in sacred song.
I’m not talking about all the other people reading this. I’m talking about you. That’s right, you. I’m talking about each and every one of you who is convinced that no matter how many times I say it, God surely has someone else in mind. No, if you are a child of God by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, He has you in mind. “But Sam, you don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. You don’t know how ugly I am. You’ve never been around when I’ve failed, asked forgiveness, and then failed again, ten seconds later. You don’t know how poor of a wife (husband) I’ve been to my husband (wife). You’ve never seen me blow it with my kinds, losing my temper, breaking their spirit.”
But I don’t need to know you. I only need to know God! The issue here isn’t one of who you are or what you’ve done. It’s strictly a matter of the character of God and His determination to love you as revealed in the immeasurable sacrifice that He made on your behalf when He sent His only begotten Son to suffer in your place on the cross. Nothing else matters. I’ll come back to this later on, but for now all I ask is that you hold open the possibility that when I say God loves you so much He sings, it just might be true.
Look again at Zephaniah 3:17. Observe how it has been translated.
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. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. —KJV
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. —NIV
The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. —NAS
After careful study of this verse I’ve come up with my own paraphrase. It’s not a word-for-word translation but a free and expanded rendering of what I think the original author had in mind. The original Hebrew text isn’t as clear-cut as we might hope, and others may differ with my interpretation. But I feel confident that my version will stand up to the scrutiny of study. Here, then, is my paraphrase of Zephaniah 3:17.
The Lord your God is with you all the time. He is a powerful and mighty warrior who saves you. When He thinks of you He exults in festive pleasure and with great delight. At other times He becomes quiet as He reflects on His deep affection for you. He celebrates who you are with joyful singing.
Any way you read it, the words are stunning. Its force is unmistakable. If ever there were a Scripture verse worth committing to memory, this is it. It has rightly been called the
John 3:16 of the Old Testament.
-The Singing God