Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Zephaniah 3:14
Australia’s regent honeyeater bird is in trouble—it’s losing its song. Though once an abundant species, just three hundred birds now remain; and with so few others to learn from, the males are forgetting their unique song and failing to attract mates.
Thankfully, conservationists plan to rescue the honeyeaters by singing to them. Or, more precisely, play them recordings of other honeyeaters singing so they can relearn their heart song. As the males pick up the tune and attract females again, it’s hoped the species will flourish once more.
The prophet Zephaniah addressed a people in trouble. With so much corruption among them, he announced that God’s judgment was coming (Zephaniah 3:1–8). When this later came to pass through capture and exile, the people too lost their song (Psalm 137:4). But Zephaniah foresaw a time beyond judgment when God would come to this decimated people, forgive their sins, and sing to them: “He will take great delight in you, in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). As a result, the heart song of the people would be restored (v. 14).
Whether through our own disobedience or the trials of life, we too can lose our heart song of joy. But a Voice is singing over us songs of forgiveness and love. Let’s listen to His melody and sing along.
By Sheridan Voysey
REFLECT & PRAY
When do you find it hardest to retain your joy in God? What song, poem, or prayer can you give to God in response to His rejoicing over You?
Loving God, it’s amazing to imagine that You would sing songs of joy over me. I praise You and sing my own song of praise to You.
Zephaniah, whose name means “Yahweh hides,” is one of the twelve minor prophets. He ministered to Judah during the reign of Josiah (640–609 bc; Zephaniah 1:1), Judah’s reformist king (2 Kings 22–23; 2 Chronicles 34–35). As the great-great grandson of the godly king Hezekiah, Zephaniah was part of the royal family and probably a distant relative of the incumbent King Josiah. Like many of God’s prophets, Zephaniah prophesied of the future “day of the Lord” (Zephaniah 1:7), “a day of [God’s] wrath” (v. 15) when God will bring to a close human history “[sweeping] away everything from the face of the earth” (v. 2). Zephaniah proclaimed God as the sovereign Judge of history and nations (1:2–3, 7; 2:4–15; 3:6–8) and warned that He would punish Judah for her unfaithfulness (1:4–2:3; 3:1–7) while promising restoration for the faithful and purified remnant after the judgment (3:9–20).
K. T. Sim