God delights in you! But too many Christians project their own feelings onto God, as if God thought and felt the same way they do.
What I mean is, when we feel good, successful, healthy, and loved, we believe that God loves us. But when we feel down, a failure, when our health is broken, and when we feel the rejection of others, then we believe that God has abandoned us.
So, how does God really feel about you? Zephaniah 3:17 tells you the truth,
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs (Zeph. 3:17, NLT.)
God delights in you! But many people have a very flawed way of thinking about God. This faulty thinking is the reason why there are many people who have rejected Christianity, and it is also why there are many followers of God who don’t lead happy or fulfilling lives at all. It is the idea that we have to earn God’s favour.
It comes very naturally to us to think, “I read my Bible, so God must love me.” Or, “Things aren’t going so well, so it must be because I’m not doing it right.”
We Often Have a Warped View of God
When you understand the context of this passage in Zephaniah, it can help us overcome this faulty kind of thinking. This isn’t God speaking to someone who was perfectly doing what was right. It is actually God’s promise to his rebellious and unrepentant people.
God is telling them that he is still with them. He is “living among them.” And he is there as their Saviour. God sings and rejoices over them.
The metaphor that God uses here is actually that of a mother singing over her children to calm them when they are distressed. It reminds me of the maternal image used by Jesus later, as he wept over Jerusalem, when he said,
…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing (Matt. 23:27.)
If such is the tender love of God for those who are in rebellion against him, then how much must he delight in those who seek him?
What does it mean that God delights in you? The very fact that God says this of a rebellious people should give you a clue.
God Sings Joyful Songs Over You
We often have a very warped view of God. We think of him as sternly watching us to catch us out if we stumble, and then punishing us to force us into the right path.
The images that the Bible uses in this contact are those of a parent and a child. If you have been or are a parent of a small child and that was how you related to them, then I wouldn’t be surprised if you caused some serious psychological damage to your child!
Instead, when your little child stumbled while learning to walk, you caught them in your arms and laughed with them to encourage them. You knew that it was part of their development. You didn’t scold them for falling!
And when they had done something wrong that was a little more serious, you would still go in at night and tell them stories and sing over them, so that they would feel loved and safe. At least I hope you did!
That’s what God is like. He is quick to forgive. He is ready to forget. He delights in your successes and is still there for you in your failures. He leads you gently through life. God sings joyful songs over you.
He delights in you.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.
Feature image: Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash