(Last update: Mar 16, 2014: This is one of my all-time favorite articles/sermons. I just felt that it needed some “front-page” attention again so I have re-published it. I believe it will be a blessing. – Ray)
When God Dances
I am embarrassed that in 40 years of dedicated Bible reading and study, I have often overlooked some of the most astounding Scriptures. One such Scripture is Zephaniah 3:17:
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) 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.
Leading up to this verse are some of the more depressing verses found in the Bible. The chapter starts out with a “Woe” and, since I don’t like “woes”, I probably have just “shut down my thinking” when I tried to read this chapter in the past.
However, this time, when I read the chapter, I realized that the woe is to the wicked people – not to God’s children!
Another powerful concept also came to my mind — Just read the first 13 verses and you may recognize that these verses describe our present world! This woe was written to warn the wicked people in OUR generation!
The good news is that those who are meek & humble and trust in the name of the Lord will escape the wrath of God at the end of this age. (Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:4,9)
- Instead of impending wrath, God said (vv.15-17) that “The LORD your God is with you.” The meaning of the original Hebrew word for “with” includes both a physical nearness and more. The word (Strong’s # <07130>) is often used in the Old Testament to describe the entrails of an animal sacrifice. And that is how close our Father wants be to us – He wants to IN us – to be an integral part of our life. And, when we allow God inside our lives, He says (v.17) that “he is mighty to save.” Regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves, we can take comfort in knowing that “the one who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
- Second, these verses tell us that God (when He is near) will calm all of our fears. Fear is a debilitating infuence in a person’s life. When fear reaches this stage, it is generally called a phobia (“An unreasonable sort of fear that can cause avoidance and panic.” Medicinenet.com) And the phobialist.com website lists over 600 named phobias! Zephaniah 3:16 tells us to “not let your hands hang limp.” In the KJV, the word is “slack.” In other words, do not stop working in the Kingdom of God because of fear! Rather than stop working, we are to stop fearing.
One of the primary reasons that I fail to do more in the Kingdom is the fact that I am uncertain. I am uncertain about what God wants me to do. I am uncertain about when to speak (or when to shut up); about where to go; about His plan for my life; etc, etc. In short, I am uncertain about all of the details of life. I probably will never know all the details surrounding life, but I am NOT uncertain about one thing — my Heavenly Father loves me! Not only that, according to verse 17, “He will take great delight in you” WOW! When I remember that, I have no reason to fear.
Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Hebrews 13:6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Again, look at verse 17, “he will quiet you with his love.” When He lives within us and we know that He takes delight in us, then we have nothing to fear. But when fear does try to raise its ugly head, our Father pulls us to His breast and comforts us with His awesome love for us!!
- The third – and most exciting – concept in this portion of Scripture is found in the phrase, “he will rejoice over you with singing.” I cannot fathom what the voice of God would sound like when He decided to sing, can you? But God takes such delight in us (as His children) that He has authored a song to tell our story. I believe that He goes around telling everyone, “Let me tell you about my son Ray. Ray is such a delight to me, that I wrote a song about him. Let me sing it for you!”
But our Father does not single me out for such a blessing – He takes great delight in all who are “meek and humble, who trust in the name of the Lord.” (v.12) So, while He is singing His song about me, He is also singing about you and the millions (billions?) of believers who trust in His name! Consequently, the “song” becomes a “symphony” of God’s voice(s) declaring His great delight in each of His children. We grandparents who want to tell everyone about our grandchildren have NOTHING on God! He is the proudest parent of all!!!
The thought that Almighty God has written a song about me is indeed “amazing.” But, knowing how He uses it is even more astounding! The word that the NIV editors translated to “rejoice” is the Hebrew word “gheel.” Strong’s gives it the number <01523> and defines it
Gheel: to spin round (under the influence of any violent emotion), i.e. usually rejoice, -be glad, joy, be joyful, rejoice.
This is the word used to describe the dancing and spinning that went on at the Hebrew festivals. It is the way they expressed, in the physical, what was in their emotions. God expresses his great delight in His children by spinning round & singing a song that He penned to tell our story!
Jared Anderson wrote the song “Amazed” and used this concept in the lyrics:
You dance over me
While I am unaware
You sing all around
But I never hear the sound
Lord I’m amazed by You
Lord I’m amazed by You
Lord I’m amazed by You
How You love me
Is Your love for me
Music and lyrics by Jared Anderson
© 2004 Vertical Worship Songs
My favorite performance of this song is done by Exalt Worship on their album “There is a Place” but I could not find a video that used that so here is one using some clips from “The Passion” and the Desperation Band singing the song. I hope you enjoy it…
If you want to download my sermon notes, click here.