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 song. ~Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)
God delights in his people.
Let that thought sink in. It is sometimes a struggle we have when we think of God: How does God think of us? This struggle is especially real when we ponder the perfect holiness, righteousness, and goodness of God. How could we ever measure up? How could we ever be anything in his eyes other than a disappointment?
Yet there it is, as we see in Zephaniah—God delights in his people.
Still, the reality is that we are all sinful rebels who fall well short of God’s glory and goodness (Romans 3:23). God delighting in his people does not overlook or ignore this reality. Instead, by his grace, he deals with this reality. In our sin, we are not worthy to be objects of his delight. Rather we are objects of his wrath.
To deal with our sin and satisfy his wrath, God sent Jesus. In the perfect obedience of God the Son living on this earth, the Father spoke from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, 17:5). When we realize our sinfulness and our need for a savior outside of ourselves, and we turn to Jesus in faith, he takes our sin with God’s wrath poured upon it at the cross and we gain his righteousness, obedience, and goodness (2 Corinthians 5:21). This instantly gives us a new identity through Jesus—no longer children of wrath, but beloved sons and daughters with whom God is well pleased.
Being, then, objects of God’s delight, he does not leave us as we were. His grace not only saves us but also trains us to live lives that honor him (Titus 2:11-14). Or as God says through Zephaniah:
“Then I will purify the speech of all people so that everyone can worship the Lord together…. On that day you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against me. I will remove all the proud and arrogant people from among you. There will be no more haughtiness on my holy mountain. Those who are left will be the lowly and humble, for it is they who trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will never tell lies or deceive one another. They will eat and sleep in safety, and no one will make them afraid” (3:9-11).
Here are the magnificent wonders of God: Through no merit of our own, God chooses to delight in us and make us people worthy of his delight. If we belong to Jesus, then, let us sing aloud in joyful praise to God for his marvelous grace.
This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.