Last year I taught a course at Daystar University- Music and worship in the church. For one of the classes, I had a visiting lecturer teach the students about African music. In talking about the diversity and richness of African music, she used an example from her community- Dholuo, to describe how music in that context is expressive and jubilant. In her example, she posited that music in Africa is rarely quiet; even lullabies are often sung loudly.
This amused me. Having baby sat a number of times, I could not imagine singing loudly to an irate, drowsy child.
We find a similar example in the bible. Judah has been living in sin and Zephaniah prophesies impending destruction through the Chaldeans if Judah does not repent. Previous kings had led the people of Judah into idol worship, divination, child sacrifice and magic. To say that Judah practiced wickedness would be an understatement.
In the midst of sin, however, there were a few individuals who were repentant and there was hope for their deliverance. As is the heart of the Father, God continued to dwell amongst His chosen people, appealing to them to turn from their wickedness and to be saved.
The last chapter in Zephaniah is full of promises of hope. What particularly struck me is verse 17 which depicts a beautiful word picture of a singing God:
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.
It is interesting to note that the word singing here comes from the Hebrew word rinnah [rin-naw’] meaning to shout, proclaim, rejoice. I had previously read this portion of scripture imagining a child being nursed at the bosom of its parent, being quietly lulled to sleep. However, like the cultural example from the visiting lecturer, God is shouting over you with gladness. He is proclaiming deliverance and victory over your life.
But who is God singing over?
- To those who have lost their way
Maybe like the people of Judah, you find yourself living in sin. You love the Lord and desire to honor Him with your life. However, you may have made certain decisions that are negatively affecting you. The consequences of your actions are destroying your life and relationships, and you think it’s too late to turn around.
No matter how far gone you think you are, God is actively in the business of redemption: “But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain estranged from him” [2nd Samuel 14:14b]. He is eager to forgive and heal you [Joel 2:13] and to restore to you what your lifestyle may have stolen from you [Joel 2:25].
- To the tired and weary
There is an invitation to rest for all who are tired and weary [Matthew 11:28]. For those who have been in long drawn battles and are at the end of their rope. These battles could be in the form of spiritual warfare, relational turmoil, financial trouble or even health issues.
You may have waited on God for many years with no relief. Sometimes those around you may even seem to be blessed with what you have been praying for. Today, hear your Father saying: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended” [Isaiah 40:1-2a]
Your Father God is not absent, He is not aloof. He loves you deeply and desires to lavish you with good gifts [James 1:17]. He desires to both quiet you with His love and jubilantly shout with gladness over you. Wherever you find yourself today, in whatever situation, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” [Isaiah 60:1].