Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God 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.”
I learned a different translation of this verse set to music many years ago, but had no memory of where it was found. The image of God delighting over/in His people is not unique to Zephaniah. Jesus famously said that the Father delights to give us the kingdom. (Luke 12:32) The Westminster Creed says that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” but the Bible says the enjoyment is to be mutual. After all, why would God create mankind if He couldn’t enjoy us? It is significant that the Westminster Creed says that, particularly because it comes out of the Calvinist tradition that is famous for long faces. Even a cursory Bible study on the terms “joy” and “enjoy” will keep you going for a long time. God created us for His delight, and He wants us to delight in Him. That’s why the devil tries so hard to get us to delight in other things and ignore God. That’s also why Jesus told us to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) As long as we are fixated on material things, to enjoy and delight in them, we will never be satisfied for long. It is only when we focus fully on God that we find full and eternal joy and satisfaction.
There are many things that delight me. I delight in cameras and computers, and find any good tool remarkably satisfying. I love a good book, and there are many foods that please me a great deal. For 49 years I have delighted in my wife, and she adds a level of meaning to my life that nothing else can touch. However, all of these things are secondary to, and predicated on, the One who created me, saved me, commissioned me, and called me to Himself. The minute I delight in something other than God over and ahead of Him, I am guilty of idolatry. That is exactly what the devil tries to get me to do. Every once in a while he succeeds, so I’ve got to be on my guard and keep my repentance up to date. This isn’t slavish legalism; that is the opposite of genuine delight. I need to understand, on the deepest level, that God is greater and better than everything else put together, and order my life accordingly. As a pastor, I seek to bring others to that position as well, with varying success. The devil is very good at distractions! He doesn’t care if they are pleasant things or unpleasant thing, so long as they take our focus off of God. I can’t force anyone to focus on God any more than someone could have forced me to do so years ago, but I can encourage and model and speak the truth in love, so that the Holy Spirit may draw people as only He can.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for choosing to delight in me. Help me always choose to delight in You, demonstrating my love for You with full obedience, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!