The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
The above is another verse that is often quoted out of context and applied without discernment. However, it is also an amazingly sweet verse that we should consider.
In the context of Zephaniah’s prophecy, we find that God is promising some radical judgment for the people of Judah for their rebellion against him. These people call on the name of the Lord and then turn and bow to Baal. They break the covenant that they made with God on a regular basis. So it is no surprise that God will promise them judgment.
What is a surprise, to those who do not know God, is that God would follow the promise of judgment with promises of mercy. God warned people to repent in order that they might be spared his wrath. Then, as we see in 3:17 above, God promises more than mere forgiveness for his people who will turn to him and repent of their sins. God promises a rescue that will lead to him singing for joy over his beloved people.
Now, I’m not going to suggest that every Christian put this verse on a t-shirt and make it a common symbol of our faith. Sadly, such sloganizing cheapens the meaning behind such a beautiful promise of God. In the verse above, God told rebellious Judah that, if they would repent, he would not only forgive them, he would effusively love them. In a similar way, we who are believers can see the gospel.
The good news is that, though we all rebelled against God just like Judah and earned his wrath, God has offered mercy in Jesus. All who come to know Jesus by grace through faith are forgiven children of God. As John points out in John 1:12, those who put their trust in Jesus are more than forgiven, they are given the right to become children of God. God loves his children. He effusively loves his children. So, just as Zephaniah promised the people of Judah that God would sing for joy over the remnant that he rescued, so too we can rejoice that our God rejoices over us as his children if we are in Christ.