Posted by: jmark | December 23, 2004

Relishing the Love of God

Greg Louganis one of the world’s top divers from the 80’s and 90’s was asked how he coped with the stress of international diving competition. He replied that as he climbs to the board, takes a deep breath, and thinks, “Even if I blow this dive, my mother will still love me.” Then he goes for excellence.

It great to have people to love us in spite of our failures and imperfections. Zephaniah 3:17 is a magical verse that assures us of the deep passionate love of God for us. We need to take this verse and grasp it with both hands. We need to breathe it in and savour it like we would the smell of a Sunday roast. We need to let it roll round the taste buds of our minds.

But before we can get to the verse we need to make sure it is written for us.

Make sure this verse applies to you

Zephaniah gives us three characteristics of those to whom our verse applies:

v9 – If you are calling on him and seeking to serve him

v11,12 – If your pride has been broken and you have come to him humbly seeking forgiveness

v13 – If you are growing in holiness by obeying his commands

All three go together, collectively these form a description of those who will enjoy the hope and encouragement held out in the verse we are about to look at.

Now we can look at the verse itself

Make sure you grasp the richness of God’s love

We come now through the narrow doorway and before us lies a sparkling array of the most amazing riches, overflowing, spilling over the floor.

So having made sure that we have a right to be in this treasure room, we must not stand with our eyes closed. We had better take time to appreciate what exactly God has for us. Listen to it:

The LORD your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will be quiet in his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing.

Each line of this verse deserves our attention.



A great presence


The Lord your God is with you. Or, “The Lord your God is in your midst.”

The NLT has it “For the LORD your God has arrived to live among you.”

How that should cheer our hearts when we feel alone, when we feel abandoned – God has arrived to live with us. He is here with us in all the details, all the frustrations, all the disappointments of everyday life. He is there. How comforting it is to know that – when I am doing something practical – like plumbing in a washing machine, I miss my father. It is comforting to have him around, to know that he is there if I need him, that he can see what I’m doing, and if I go to make a complete mess of it, he will be there to intervene, or to help tidy up. His tools, his strength, his wisdom. He has a great presence. In a much more powerful and comforting way, God is with us, in the midst of us.

When Satan comes to us, often we feel alone, unprotected. And if only we could see with heavenly eyes the great host that surrounds us, and the great presence with us we would be so much more comforted.



A Victorious Warrior


We are approaching this great description of God’s love for his people, but lest we think that God’s love is some sort of soft, sentimental emotion that has no strength to act, all words and no action, we are introduced here to a mighty warrior.

This is our God – the word used is the same as that for David’s mighty men. He is a mighty hero. He is the defender of the weak and the fatherless. And the express purpose of this mighty warrior is to save his people.

We see it clearly on the cross – the mighty warrior taking on sin on our behalf to provide protection. We see the depths, the lengths to which he will go.

There is no doubt about the outcome – this is a warrior who triumphs. Our God is a mighty warrior who overpowers his enemies. He is in the midst of his people fighting for them and with them, casting his arms around them like a shield.

Does he have power to show us his love? Does his being with us have any effect? He is mighty to save, the warrior who gives victory.

An overjoyed father

Now we get to the bit that utterly blows me away. Here is a picture that is beyond belief. Here is mighty God, in all his holiness regarding me, and how is it he feels?

He will take great delight in you,

he will be quiet in his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing.

  • Delighted

Here is a picture of a husband looking at his wife or a father looking at his newborn child. One moment he is overcome with joy and rapturous delight, the next minute holds her quietly, somehow lost for words, the next minute feeling his heart will burst as he sings his way down the hospital corridor and out into the car park.

This is the picture the Bible paints of God as he looks at us. He takes delight, or he rejoices over you with gladness. Almighty God looks at you and his heart is made glad as he looks at you. Never once does he regret the price he paid.

  • Silent

We see God’s love from another angle here – he will quiet you with his love, not a good translation – he will be silent in his love – is better. Here is a picture of perfect contentment – the mother holding her new born baby close to her, as the baby lies sleeping with its velvet soft skin pressed against hers. She is silent in her love. Wordless adoration. The husband who looks into his wife’s eyes and is lost for words – no words seem adequate. He will be quiet with love.

Can you grasp it? The almighty God looking at you and me, with a look of perfect contentment on his face? We’re not perfect yet – we know that, he knows that, but he is not bounded by time – he can see in us the unfinished image of his son, finished in all its glory and as he looks he is quiet in his contented love for us.

He looks with that look of love that he has had from the beginning of time.

The word used here for love is a word that speaks of a fathers intense fondness for his son, like Jacob to Joseph; it speaks of the deep heartfelt bond between David and Jonathan, where one would die for the other; it speaks of a passionate love, like the love between Jacob and Rachel. The love God has for us is the love that never fails, despite our failings, and it is also the passionate longing of his heart, an intense desire for us, deep and heartfelt.

Amazing – how could the holy, righteous God ever feel like that towards us?

  • Singing

And then, we read, the silent contentment doesn’t last for long – it cannot be contained, as he burst forth in jubilant singing.

Can you imagine God singing? So ecstatically happy that he cannot contain himself! He bursts into elated singing! Can you hear the voice that said “Let there be light”, reverberating around the heavens in triumphant song? Why? Because we are his.

And when I hear this singing I stand dumbfounded, staggered, speechless that he is singing over me. He is rejoicing over my good with all his heart and with all his soul

Can you feel the wonder that the Lord exults over you with loud singing?

Grasp it, revel in, relish it – for it is true of all who trust in Christ. Almighty God finds you a delight, a joy, a source of unending happiness and heart bursting elation. Here is the deep inner joy and personal satisfaction of God himself in you and me. Grasp this – we have a God who loves us, with a deep passionate heart bursting love.

All this because of Christ. This is what it is to be in Christ.

Implications

We cannot be the recipients of such great love and let it leave our lives unaffected. As Christians it is our responsibility to showcase this treasure to the world. We will do that by three things.

  • We should live confidently in the unfailing love of God

Other religions have you serving God with a constant worrying thought – “is he happy yet?” Not ours. We’re never good enough, but he still loves us. It is not an arrogance to be quietly confident. God has told us here in the most startling of terms how he feels towards his people.

  • We should be spurred on in faithful obedience

This verse does not minimise our sin and shortcomings, but it reminds us that our God is not standing there with a big stick to batter us, but when we fail and know we have failed and come to him – we find love and delight in us. Greg Louganis said:

“Even if I blow this dive, my mother will still love me.” Then he goes for excellence.

At the beginning of each day, how good it would be for each of us to take a deep breath, say, “Even if I blow it today, my God will still love me,” and then, assured of grace, go into the day seeking a perfect 10!

  • We should be displaying this great love to others

A young man falls in love. She is far beyond what he could ever have imagined – each new day reveals yet more qualities and gifts, and depths to her love.

Does he keep quiet? It spills out of him with joyful enthusiasm. He can’t help speaking. And even when he is quiet you can tell he’s happy.

Shouldn’t it be the same for us? We stand in this great treasure room. We need to keep reminding ourselves of God’s great love so that we will have something of this enthusiasm for ourselves.

The LORD your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will be silent in his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing.

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Responses

  1. What a wonderful meditation to read in this Father-love season. Thank you!

  2. “We come now through the narrow doorway and before us lies a sparkling array of the most amazing riches, overflowing, spilling over the floor.”

    The starlight of Eternity…

  3. “We come now through the narrow doorway and before us lies a sparkling array of the most amazing riches, overflowing, spilling over the floor.”

    The starlight of Eternity…


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