The thermometer must have reached 110 that Kansas day, but inside of the garage it felt even hotter. I set my glass of iced tea down on the table, and began organizing my in-love’s (ok they are my in-laws-but it is more love that binds us all together than law) possessions for the garage sale that would take place the next day. It was fun looking through old aprons that Grandma McCoy had worn, leftover fabric from Marcie’s sewing room, old straw hats, mason jars, crocks and some antique tools. Taking a sip of tea, I reached for some plates and found one that had been obviously decoupaged with a napkin. As I read the verse, “He will rejoice over you with singing” I was amazed!
I had been looking for this verse for over a year, even searching for it on http://www.blueletterbible.org and in various concordances and topical Bibles with no success. I’d heard it first in a Beth Moore Bible Study I had done in Maryland, but after we moved to New York, I couldn’t find the journal I was sure I’d written it down in. Now, today, I’d found it. I hadn’t imagined that this verse had been in my Bible: it was really there! JOY!
Zephaniah, a prophet during the reign of King Josiah of Judah, descended from King Hezekiah (4 generations removed) and like his contemporary Jeremiah, preached of a coming judgment on the “Day of the Lord” (Zephaniah 1:7, 8, 10). According to John MacArthur, Zephaniah would have prophesied from around 635 to 625 B.C (Introduction to” The Book of Zephaniah” The MacArthur Study Bible). The book of the Law was discovered in the temple in 628 B.C. and Josiah’s reforms began. You can read about that story in 2 Chronicles 34 and 35. Jehoiachin becomes King of Judah and in 597, Judah is taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar.
The first chapter of Zephaniah records God’s coming judgement on his people for their many sins, but mainly idolatry (1:4). Then God calls for repentance and tells of a remnant of Israel (3:12) that will be left as a “meek and humble people, [who] shall trust in the name of the LORD.” Then God reminds them that if they will just repent (2:1-3) they will be part of the remnant whom He will save.
What has struck me about this passage, as well as the prophesies of Jeremiah, is the Lord’s mercy. In His great mercy, and in His righteous anger, He waits for the Israelites’ repentance and then warns His people of the coming consequences for their unwavering sin. He gives them time to do so and then acts. But before He acts He gives them a “future and a hope” by telling them that their captivity would only last 70 years and that after that time they would live in their own home again in prosperity (Jeremiah 29:11).
So the lesson I’ve learned through all my struggles? That God is Ever-Faithful, Long-Suffering and merciful. To this sinner who doesn’t deserve His mercy or grace He whispers the words of Zephaniah 3:17 and reminds me of His deep love for His sinful daughter. He tells me that like Israel, He delights over me with singing. No matter what you’ve done or suffered through, He loves you like that too.