I wonder, if you are a parent, did you ever sit with one of your children and “sing over them”? Maybe, it was as you were trying to calm them down and encourage them to sleep, or singing to them during times of illness to seek to comfort them. Or just maybe, it was singing over them as you rejoiced in them as God’s good gift to you.
A key word in this Psalm of praise is “sing”. The psalmist exhorts us as God’s people to Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name. (v. 1-2)
So what is it about singing and music that is so integral to most human beings of many cultures worldwide? Why do we find music and singing so easy and enjoyable for us? Why is it that, as some say, “life is better with music”? Maybe, it is because we are the creation of the “God who sings”!
Yes, the prophet Zephaniah tells us that God Himself sings! He says:
“The Lord is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
When I looked up this reference in Zephaniah, I was surprised that these words above would be found in a book which was basically about judgement not only of the idol worshiping nations surrounding Israel, but also judgement upon Israel themselves for their unfaithfulness to God.
But, the message of Zephaniah does move from judgement to a promise of restoration of God’s wayward people. In fact, God says of them:
Sing, O daughter of Zion [there is that word again]; Shout aloud, O Israel. Be glad and rejoice with all your heart… The Lord has taken away your punishment… The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. (Zephaniah 3:14-16) Then what follows are those remarkable words quoted above concerning the God who actually rejoices over them with singing!
I don’t know about you, but one time I did not feel like singing over my children was after they had been particularly difficult for some reason. And yet, despite their rebellion, because of God’s mercy and grace in restoring them to himself, this is the very time we read in Zephaniah that God says that He will rejoice over [them] with singing.
So, does the Lord still sing over his people today? I checked the NT to see if I could find verses with a similar sentiment to the verses in Zephaniah and came up with some of the teaching of Jesus.
In Matthew 15 we read of Jesus teaching using parables, and on this occasion, they were concerning “the lost”. He began with the parable of the “lost sheep” and tells of the shepherd (referring to Himself), who, having found the lost sheep (referring to you and me), joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. He then says to his neighbours, Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. Jesus then says: I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents…” (15:3-7)
Jesus continues then with another parable. This time concerning a “lost coin”. Again, the owner rejoices over finding the lost coin, and Jesus ends with the words: In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (15:8-10)
Just in case his listeners still haven’t got the message, next comes the story of the Prodigal (lost) son. When this wayward son returns to his father, we read, Let’s have a feast and celebrate… So they began to celebrate… [and there was] music and dancing.” (15:11-32)
Sounds very similar to the words in Zephaniah when God rejoices over his restored people with singing!
Our God is the God who sings and he encourages us to also sing… a new song … to the Lord … [with words and music that] praise His name. Why? Because great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; … [and for] his salvation … [and for] his marvellous deeds among all peoples. (v. 4,3,2)
So, today, do you know the One who is with you. The One who is mighty to save. He [who] will take great delight in you. He [who] will quiet you with his love. He [who] will rejoice over you with singing? (Zephaniah 3:17) If not, read Luke 15 and ask Jesus to reveal himself to you.