"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."
In the context of Zephaniah, this verse is almost surprising. Except for a few scattered verses like Zephaniah 1:7 where the LORD has consecrated His guests, Zephaniah depicts the severity of God's judgment. Chapter one begins with, "'I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth, ' declares the LORD. 'I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the rubble of the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth,' declares the LORD." The phrase "day of the LORD" is the repeated theme of this book. Zephaniah 1:13 describes that day as "A day of wrath is that day."
In chapter two, the Lord calls for the people to repent. Verse three says, "Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD." Zephaniah goes on to say the LORD is mindful of the remnant of the house of Judah and He will restore their fortunes. Then He immediately returns to the judgment of Moab, the Ammonites, the Cushites, and Assyria.
Chapter three begins just as chapter two left off. It is sometimes easy to think judgment is God's final word, but starting in Zephaniah 3:9 we find that it is not. Grace and love are His last word, which is how Zephaniah ends. Verses nine through thirteen of chapter 3 describe God purifying a people for Himself. He will change their speech to call upon His name and serve Him in unity. These people will be the humble and lowly; those who seek refuge in His name.
Zephaniah 3:14-16 tells these purified people to sing, rejoice, and exult with all their heart because the LORD has taken His judgment away from them. He will dwell among them, so they have nothing to fear. Verse 17 says just as the people are to sing, rejoice, and exalt Him, "He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." The One who does this is "a mighty one who will save." Isaiah 9:6 describes the Messiah as, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." The "mighty one who will save" is the Mighty God of Isaiah 9:6; it is the same Hebrew word.
Do you think of Almighty God, creator of the universe, Lord of lords, King of kings rejoicing over you with gladness; singing over you with loud singing? Psalm 32:7 (NIV) says "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with the songs of deliverance." Isaiah 62:5 describes His joy like this, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you."
Zephaniah 3:17 will always be a precious and personal verse for Carol and me. Years ago, she was crying out to Jesus from John 10:26, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Carol's request was for Jesus to assure her it was His voice she was following and not her own, her parents, or the devils. The Holy Spirit uniquely used this verse to answer that prayer. [I will let her tell you the story since it was her gift.]
Mighty One, who is powerful to save, thank You for calling Your sheep with a voice we can hear. We desire to look for the "day of the LORD" with rejoicing and not fear. Lord Jesus, You have already taken our deserved judgment and punishment on the cross. Thank You for paying in full our debt. We rejoice and sing to You amazed that You would rejoice and sing over us.