Zephaniah 3:14
Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
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Zephaniah 3:14
, Zephaniah 3:17.

What a wonderful rush of exuberant gladness there is in these words! The swift, short clauses, the triple invocation in the former verse, the triple promise in the latter, the heaped together synonyms, all help the impression. The very words seem to dance with joy. But more remarkable than this is the parallelism between the two verses. Zion is called to rejoice in God because God rejoices in her. She is to shout for joy and sing because God’s joy too has a voice, and breaks out into singing. For every throb of joy in man’s heart, there is a wave of gladness in God’s. The notes of our praise are at once the echoes and the occasions of His. We are to be glad because He is glad: He is glad because we are so. We sing for joy, and He joys over us with singing because we do.

I. God’s joy over Zion.

It is to be noticed that the former verse of our text is followed by the assurance: ‘The Lord is in the midst of thee’; and that the latter verse is preceded by the same assurance. So, then, intimate fellowship and communion between God and Israel lies at the root both of God’s joy in man and man’s joy in God.

We are solemnly warned by ‘profound thinkers’ of letting the shadow of our emotions fall upon God. No doubt there is a real danger there; but there is a worse danger, that of conceiving of a God who has no life and heart; and it is better to hold fast by this-that in Him is that which corresponds to what in us is gladness. We are often told, too, that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is a stern and repellent God, and the religion of the Old Testament is gloomy and servile. But such a misconception is hard to maintain in the face of such words as these. Zephaniah, of whom we know little, and whose words are mainly forecasts of judgments and woes pronounced against Zion that was rebellious and polluted, ends his prophecy with these companion pictures, like a gleam of sunshine which often streams out at the close of a dark winter’s day. To him the judgments which he prophesied were no contradiction of the love and gladness of God. The thought of a glad God might be a very awful thought; such an insight as this prophet had gives a blessed meaning to it. We may think of the joy that belongs to the divine nature as coming from the completeness of His being, which is raised far above all that makes of sorrow. But it is not in Himself alone that He is glad; but it is because He loves. The exercise of love is ever blessedness. His joy is in self-impartation; His delights are in the sons of men: ‘As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.’ His gladness is in His children when they let Him love them, and do not throw back His love on itself. As in man’s physical frame it is pain to have secretions dammed up, so when God’s love is forced back upon itself and prevented from flowing out in blessing, some shadow of suffering cannot but pass across that calm sky. He is glad when His face is mirrored in ours, and the rays from Him are reflected from us.

But there is another wonderfully bold and beautiful thought in this representation of the gladness of God. Note the double form which it assumes: ‘He will rest’-literally, be silent-’in His love; He will joy over thee with singing.’ As to the former, loving hearts on earth know that the deepest love knows no utterance, and can find none. A heart full of love rests as having attained its desire and accomplished its purpose. It keeps a perpetual Sabbath, and is content to be silent.

But side by side with this picture of the repose of God’s joy is set with great poetic insight the precisely opposite image of a love which delights in expression, and rejoices over its object with singing. The combination of the two helps to express the depth and intensity of the one love, which like a song-bird rises with quivering delight and pours out as it rises an ever louder and more joyous note, and then drops, composed and still, to its nest upon the dewy ground.

II. Zion’s joy in God.

To the Prophet, the fact that ‘the Lord is in the midst of thee’ was the guarantee for the confident assurance ‘Thou shalt not fear any more’; and this assurance was to be the occasion of exuberant gladness, which ripples over in the very words of our first text. That great thought of ‘God dwelling in the midst’ is rightly a pain and a terror to rebellious wills and alienated hearts. It needs some preparation of mind and spirit to be glad because God is near; and they who find their satisfaction in earthly sources, and those who seek for it in these, see no word of good news, but rather a ‘fearful looking for of judgment’ in the thought that God is in their midst. The word rendered ‘rejoices’ in the first verse of our text is not the same as that so translated in the second. The latter means literally, to move in a circle; while the former literally means, to leap for joy. Thus the gladness of God is thought of as expressing itself in dignified, calm movements, whilst Zion’s joy is likened in its expression to the more violent movements of the dance. True human joy is like God’s, in that He delights in us and we in Him, and in that both He and we delight in the exercise of love. But we are never to forget that the differences are real as the resemblances, and that it is reserved for the higher form of our experiences in a future life to ‘enter into the joy of the Lord.’

It becomes us to see to it that our religion is a religion of joy. Our text is an authoritative command as well as a joyful exhortation, and we do not fairly represent the facts of Christian faith if we do not ‘rejoice in the Lord always.’ In all the sadness and troubles which necessarily accompany us, as they do all men, we ought by the effort of faith to set the Lord always before us that we be not moved. The secret of stable and perpetual joy still lies where Zephaniah found it-in the assurance that the Lord is with us, and in the vision of His love resting upon us, and rejoicing over us with singing. If thus our love clasps His, and His joy finds its way into our hearts, it will remain with us that our ‘joy may be full’; and being guarded by Him whilst still there is fear of stumbling, He will set us at last ‘before the presence of His glory without blemish in exceeding joy.

Zephaniah 3:14-15. Sing, O daughter of Zion — At that time, O daughter of Zion, thou shalt break forth into loud and joyful praises to Jehovah, for his goodness toward thee; and thou mayest even now do it, for thou shalt certainly enjoy this prosperous state. The injunction here to Zion, to be thankful and joyful, is trebled, sing, shout, and rejoice, as it is elsewhere in both Testaments; and it is a sin for the people of God not to rejoice, as well as not to repent. Thus, after the promises to take away sin, here follow promises of the taking away of trouble; for when the cause is removed, the effect will cease. What makes a people holy, will make them happy of course. But the precious promises here made to God’s purified people, although in some measure fulfilled to the Jews at their return from captivity, yet, in their full propriety of meaning, belong to the times of the gospel, and have their full accomplishment only in the comforts and joyful hopes of future felicity, which are the portion of the true disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments — That is, thy punishments. The prophet speaks of what was future, as though it were already past; of what God certainly would do, as if it were done already. He hath cast out thine enemy — Hath taken away the power of hurting thee from those who were before injurious to thee; or, hath removed thine enemies, who were the instruments of his vengeance. The King of Israel, &c., is in the midst of thee — He is returned to redeem and save thee, and gives manifest tokens of his presence in thee, and protection over thee. Thou shalt not see evil any more — While thy conduct is as becomes my presence with thee, thou shalt neither feel, nor have cause to fear, such evils as thou hast formerly suffered.

3:14-20 After the promises of taking away sin, follow promises of taking away trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. What makes a people holy, will make them happy. The precious promises made to the purified people, were to have full accomplishment in the gospel. These verses appear chiefly to relate to the future conversion and restoration of Israel, and the glorious times which are to follow. They show the abundant peace, comfort, and prosperity of the church, in the happy times yet to come. He will save; he will be Jesus; he will answer the name, for he will save his people from their sins. Before the glorious times foretold, believers would be sorrowful, and objects of reproach. But the Lord will save the weakest believer, and cause true Christians to be greatly honoured where they had been treated with contempt. One act of mercy and grace shall serve, both to gather Israel out of their dispersions and to lead them to their own land. Then will God's Israel be made a name and a praise to eternity. The events alone can fully answer the language of this prophecy. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but they may rejoice in God's love. Surely our hearts should honour the Lord, and rejoice in him, when we hear such words of condescension and grace. If now kept from his ordinances, it is our trial and grief; but in due time we shall be gathered into his temple above. The glory and happiness of the believer will be perfect, unchangeable, and eternal, when he is freed from earthly sorrows, and brought to heavenly bliss.Sing, O daughter of Sion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem - Very remarkable throughout all these verses is the use of the sacred number three, secretly conveying to the thoughtful soul the thought of Him, Father Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy and Undivided Trinity by whose operation these things shall be. Threefold is the description of their being freed from sins:

(1) they shall "not do iniquity,"

(2) "nor speak lies,"

(3) "neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth."

Threefold their blessedness; They shall:

(1) "feed,"

(2) "lie down,"

(3) "none make them afraid."

Threefold the exhortation to joy here. (Rup.): "Sing to God the Father; 'shout' to God the Son; 'be glad and rejoice' in God the Holy Spirit, which Holy Trinity is One God, from whom thou hast received it that thou art:

(1) 'the daughter of Zion'

(2) 'Israel'

(3) 'the daughter of Jerusalem'

The daughter of Zion' by faith, 'Israel' by hope, 'Jerusalem' by charity." And this hidden teaching of that holy mystery is continued; "The Lord," God the Father, "hath taken away thy judgments; He God" the Son, "hath cast out (cleared quite away) thine enemy; the king of Israel, the Lord," the Holy Spirit, "is in the midst of thee!" Zephaniah 3:15. The promise is threefold:

(1) "thou shalt not see evil anymore"


14. The prophet in mental vision sees the joyful day of Zion present, and bids her rejoice at it. For all these mercies the church is enjoined to be thankful, and to rejoice, and it is trebled,

Sing, shout, and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, Israel, and daughter of Jerusalem: the same persons, the same duty, but differently expressed, but the whole heart required in all.

Sing, O daughter of Zion,.... The congregation of Zion, as the Targum; the church of Christ in Gospel times, which has great reason to sing and rejoice, because of the coming of Christ, redemption by him, and all other benefits and blessings of grace; because of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, and the numbers of souls converted, both among Jews and Gentiles; especially the church in the latter day is here called upon to sing for joy, when the Jews will be converted; to which these words and what follow relate:

shout, O Israel; the ten tribes, as Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it; which shall now return, and all Israel shall be saved, Romans 11:26 and therefore just cause of shouting, and of keeping a jubilee on that account:

be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem; the metropolis of the two tribes; for now the children of Israel and of Judah shall be together, and seek the Lord their God, and the true Messiah, and find him; and shall embrace him, profess and serve him; which will be matter of great joy; and this will be sincere and hearty, and devoid of all hypocrisy. Several terms are used, describing the people of the Jews, to comprehend them all; and several words to express their joy, in order to set forth the greatness of it, as their happy case would require; as follows:

Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
14. Sing, O daughter of Zion] Isaiah 54:1.

14–20. The Joy of the Redeemed People in the Lord’s Presence among them

The prophet looks forward to the time when all Zion’s afflictions shall be over, when she shall be redeemed and all her captive children restored, when the end contemplated by the Covenant, and towards which her history has been moving, even the Lord’s full presence in the midst of her, shall have been reached. In those days Zion shall sing and shout for joy, for her name shall be The Lord is there (Ezekiel 48:35).

Verse 14. - in view of the coming blessing, the prophet bursts forth in exultation, yet with a vein of prophecy running through all the canticle. After the late denunciation of woe and judgment, he soothes the faithful with the promise of the grace and peace which the time of Messiah shall bring. Sing, O daughter of Zion (Isaiah 1:8; Zechariah 2:14; 9:9). He calls on the restored remnant of Judah to show its joy by outward tokens. O Israel. All the tribes are to unite in praising God. This is one of the passages where "Israel" is supposed to have been written by mistake for "Jerusalem." So Jeremiah 23:6. The LXX. gives, θύγατερ Ἱερουσαλήμ, "daughter of Jerusalem" (see note on Zechariah 1:19). The prophet enjoins a triple note of exultation in order to confirm the universal joy. (On the use of the number "three" in this passage, see Dr. Pusey's note, p. 480.) Zephaniah 3:14"Exult, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! rejoice and exult with all the heart, O daughter Jerusalem. Zephaniah 3:15. Jehovah has removed thy judgments, cleared away thine enemy; the King of Israel, Jehovah, is in the midst of thee: thou wilt see evil no more. Zephaniah 3:16. In that day will men say to Jerusalem, Fear not, O Zion; let not thy hands drop. Zephaniah 3:17. Jehovah thy God is in the midst of thee, a hero who helps: He rejoices over thee in delight, He is silent in His love, exults over thee with rejoicing." The daughter Zion, i.e., the reassembled remnant of Israel, is to exult and shout at the fulness of the salvation prepared for it. The fulness is indicated in the heaping up of words for exulting and rejoicing. The greater the exultation, the greater must the object be over which men exult. הריעוּ, to break out into a cry of joy, is a plural, because the Israel addressed is a plurality. The re-establishment of the covenant of grace assigns the reason for the exultation. God has removed the judgments, and cleared away the enemies, who served as the executors of His judgments. Pinnâh, piel, to put in order (sc., a house), by clearing away what is lying about in disorder (Genesis 24:31; Leviticus 14:36), hence to sweep away or remove. 'Oyēbh: with indefinite generality, every enemy. Now is Jehovah once more in the midst of the daughter Zion as King of Israel, whereas, so long as Israel was given up to the power of the enemy, He had ceased to be its King. Yehōvâh is in apposition to melekj Yisrâ'ēl, which is placed first for the sake of emphasis, and not a predicate. The predicate is merely בּקרבּך (in the midst of thee). The accent lies upon the fact that Jehovah is in the midst of His congregation as King of Israel (cf. Zephaniah 3:17). Because this is the case, she will no more see, i.e., experience, evil (ראה as in Jeremiah 5:12; Isaiah 44:16, etc.), and need not therefore any longer fear and despair. This is stated in Zephaniah 3:16 : They will say to Jerusalem, Fear not. She will have so little fear, that men will be able to call her the fearless one. ציּון is a vocative of address. It is simpler to assume this than to supply ל from the previous clause. The falling of the hands is a sign of despair through alarm and anxiety (cf. Isaiah 13:7). This thought is still further explained in Zephaniah 3:17. Jehovah, the God of Zion, is within her, and is a hero who helps or saves; He has inward joy in His rescued and blessed people (cf. Isaiah 62:5; Isaiah 65:19). יחרישׁ בּאחבתו appears unsuitable, since we cannot think of it as indicating silence as to sins that may occur (cf. Psalm 50:21; Isaiah 22:14), inasmuch as, according to Zephaniah 3:13, the remnant of Israel commits no sin. Ewald and Hitzig would therefore read yachădı̄sh; and Ewald renders it "he will grow young again," which Hitzig rejects as at variance with the language, because we should then have יתחדּשׁ. He therefore takes yachădı̄sh as synonymous with יעשׂה חדשׁות, he will do a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). But this rendering cannot be justified by the usage of the language, and does not even yield a thought in harmony with the context. Silence in His love is an expression used to denote love deeply felt, which is absorbed in its object with thoughtfulness and admiration,

(Note: "He assumes the person of a mortal man, because, unless He stammers in this manner, He cannot sufficiently show how much He loves us. Thy God will therefore be quiet in His love, i.e., this will be the greatest delight of thy God, this His chief pleasure, when He shall cherish thee. As a man caresses his dearest wife, so will God then quietly repose in thy love." - Calvin.)

and forms the correlate to rejoicing with exultation, i.e., to the loud demonstration of one's love. The two clauses contain simply a description, drawn from man's mode of showing love, and transferred to God, to set forth the great satisfaction which the Lord has in His redeemed people, and are merely a poetical filling up of the expression, "He will rejoice over thee with joy." This joy of His love will the Lord extend to all who are troubled and pine in misery.

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