The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm… 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)
Although there were traumas related to the birth and early days of both of our children, what I remember most are the sweet moments of tender attachment and rejoicing during the “babymoon.” As I gazed at our son and then our daughter, I felt deep springs of love pouring out. Amazingly, I didn’t even mind the sleeplessness, for it was a joy to provide for these helpless babes. I started to understand more deeply the Lord’s delight in his people; his love and rejoicing with singing.
We don’t have to be a parent to experience these feelings of great delight. Perhaps we find them through a mentoring relationship. Or through the love we lavish on our nieces and nephews, “adopted” or biological. Or through a close friendship, forged over many years. This nurturing is all rooted in God, and can be seen in his promises made through the prophet Zephaniah during the reign of King Josiah around 600 BC.
Twice Zephaniah says that “the Lord is with you,” and the Hebrew word used here radiates a sense of nearness. Though the Israelites have turned from God, he has redeemed them, forgiven their sins and welcomes them to return to him. He longs to be near them.
This big story of redemption continues, of course, through Jesus. God came near to his people through the incarnation, when his son became man, and again through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He continues to be ever near to his children through Christ’s presence living in them.
May we experience God’s nearness as he rejoices over us with singing.
Prayer: Lord God, in your tender mercy you gave Jesus to shine on those living in darkness and to guide our feet into the path of peace. Come near, we pray (after Luke 1:78–79).