Project 119: Zephaniah 3:14-20

 |  Project 119  |  Ben Winder

"Our King Sings Over Us"

Advent and Christmas are seasons that remind us to have hope in our coming King, even while we find ourselves in seemingly hopeless situations. In Zephaniah’s short book, prior to our passage, he takes the reader on a journey to the coming day of the Lord. We are reminded it will not be pretty. We are reminded we have much for which we should repent and beg forgiveness. We are reminded that the King is coming, and all will be set right, even if it is a painful process. Frankly, the coming day of the Lord does not seem like altogether good news for God’s people or anyone else!

Finally, as his prophecy concludes, Zephaniah turns the corner, and this final passage brims with hopeful expectation and gleeful joy. The King’s coming is VERY good news! We should sing and shout, be glad and rejoice with all our hearts! The Lord—the King of Israel—is with us. When God is “God with Us,” Zephaniah reminds us, our punishment is taken away. When God is “God with Us,” our enemies are turned aside. When God is “God with Us,” our fear vanishes. When our King comes, Zephaniah tells us, the oppressed shall be set free, the lame rescued, the scattered gathered home, and the shamed restored. “On that day they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 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 3:16–17 NIV).

What should this hope do in us? Even now, because of our hope of what is to come, let us not have limp hands. Let us lift our hands in praise! Let us roll up our sleeves and get to work! For the Lord our God is with us, rejoicing over us with singing!

This Christmas, may our coming King sing over you a song of hope, and may you hear it! May the sweet melody of God’s song sung over you give you hope and call you to action. May you celebrate Emmanuel as you never have before. May you be not a person of limp, weak hands, but a person who even now, even while we wait, works to make God’s kingdom show up here on earth, even as it is in heaven.

Zephaniah 3:14-20 (ESV):

Israel’s Joy and Restoration

14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;

shout, O Israel!

Rejoice and exult with all your heart,

O daughter of Jerusalem!

15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you;

he has cleared away your enemies.

The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;

you shall never again fear evil.

16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:

“Fear not, O Zion;

let not your hands grow weak.

17 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.

18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,

so that you will no longer suffer reproach.

19 Behold, at that time I will deal

with all your oppressors.

And I will save the lame

and gather the outcast,

and I will change their shame into praise

and renown in all the earth.

20 At that time I will bring you in,

at the time when I gather you together;

for I will make you renowned and praised

among all the peoples of the earth,

when I restore your fortunes

before your eyes,” says the LORD.