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 3:17, NIV
This verse is part of a passage illustrating God’s promise to Israel about the future reign of her Messiah. It describes a literal time and place in history when Jesus Christ will return to establish his rule over the earth.
And while the literal reading certainly applies to this future event, much of Scripture can also have multiple applications. The imagery of God singing makes the verse a favorite with Christians, and they often apply it personally as a promise to all of those who are or will be part of God’s family.
Most of the time, it is we humans who sing to God, but in this verse it is God who sings to us. That can be a little hard for us to envision. From other verses where we read about shouting and trumpet blasting, we can readily imagine him bellowing out a loud sound, but the prospect of God singing? That is harder for us to picture.
The Hebrew word here is rinna, which can be translated as shout for joy, a creaking or shrill sound, cry, gladness, proclamation, shouting, singing, and triumph. Yes, this word can mean a shout or cry, but it can also literally mean singing, which I think is a good reason to believe that the verse actually does mean singing. So if that is true the next question would be, when God sings over us, what does he sing?
When my siblings and I were young, my Dad used to wake us up on Saturday mornings by coming into our rooms singing silly songs he made up. Now this was certainty not unique to our family. Parents often sing to their little ones, and those without children have been known to sing to their pets! It seems to be an inherent impulse we humans have, to serenade those we love with songs of endearment. These are silly songs, where the words and the tune are made up as we go along. They are also personal, often incorporating the child’s name in a happy melodious tune, full of words that don’t rhyme. These songs are sung within the family unit, as a private bonding activity that speaks of love and affection between parents and children.
As image-bearers of God, it seems natural that we’d imitate him. And if we do imitate him, does that mean he also sings over us in the same manner? It’s one thing to think about him shouting for joy over us, but what if he sings over his children the way we sing over ours? What if that verse means that the God of the universe sings silly happy unrhymed worded songs over us, because he is a father who is crazy in love with his kids?
Is that how God sings over us? I don’t know. But since our image is modeled after his, I wouldn’t doubt if he was making up silly songs long before we were!
On the journey toward Home,