What Would Happen If God Sang?


The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love [literally: be silent in his love]
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

John Piper:

From this amazing verse I get the title of this morning’s message: “The Pleasure of God in the Good of His People.” God does not do you good out of some constraint or coercion. He is free! And in his freedom he overflows in joy to do you good. He exults over you with loud singing.

What Would Happen If God Sang?

Can you imagine what it would be like if you could hear God singing? Remember that it was merely a spoken word that brought the universe into existence. What would happen if God lifted up his voice and not only spoke but sang! Perhaps a new heaven and a new earth would be created. God says something almost just to that effect in Isaiah 65:17–18,

Behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth . . . I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

When God spoke at the beginning, the heavens and the earth were created; perhaps at the end, the new heavens and the new earth will be created when God exults over his people with loud singing.

When I think of the voice of God singing, I hear the booming of Niagara Falls mingled with the trickle of a mossy mountain stream. I hear the blast of Mt. St. Helens mingled with a kitten’s purr. I hear the power of an East Coast hurricane and the barely audible puff of a night snow in the woods. And I hear the unimaginable roar of the sun 865,000 miles thick, one million three hundred thousand times bigger than the earth, and nothing but fire, 1,000,000 degrees centigrade, on the cooler surface of the corona. But I hear this unimaginable roar mingled with the tender, warm crackling of the living room logs on a cozy winter’s night.

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 (cf. Jeremiah 32:41)!

Can You Feel the Wonder of This?

Can you feel the wonder of this today? That God is rejoicing over you with loud singing?

“I Am Too Guilty”

“No,” you say, “I can’t, because I am too guilty that God should rejoice over me.”

But will you not believe verse 15: “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you!”

Can you not, then, feel the wonder that the Lord exults over you with loud singing today?

“I Am Surrounded by Enemies”

“No,” you say, “I can’t because I am surrounded by enemies, and obstacles beset me on every side.”

But will you not believe verse 17: “The Lord is a warrior who gives victory”; and verse 19: “Behold, at that time I will deal with your oppressors”; and verse 15: “He has cast out your enemies”?

Can you not, then, feel the wonder that the Lord exults over you with loud singing?

“God Feels Too Far Away from Me”

“No,” you say, “Still I can’t because he is a great a holy God and I feel like he is far away from me.”

But will you not believe verse 15: “The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst”; and verse 17: “The Lord, your God, is in your midst”? He is not far from you.

Can you not, then, feel the wonder that the Lord exults over you with loud singing?

“I Am Enslaved to Shame”

Still you say, “No, because I am enslaved to shame. I have been endlessly belittled by my parents (cf. 2:8, 10). I have been scoffed at and threatened and manipulated and slandered. Inside this cocoon of shame even the singing of God sounds faint and far away and indecipherable.”

But again I ask, Will you not believe the promise at the end of verse 19: “I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth”?

Can you not, then, feel the wonder that the Lord exults over you with loud singing?

“How Can God’s Joy in His Own Name Apply to Me?”

And now you say, “Almost I can let go and feel this unspeakable wonder that God exults over me—even me with loud singing. But there remains one obstacle. You have said that God loves his own glory above all things. You have said that God takes pleasure in his own name. How then am I to imagine that he should be interested in me? How does the joy that God has in his own name apply to me?

If that is your last obstacle, then make ready to sing! For the answer is given clearly in verse 12. If you knew that God delights in his name above all things, and if you wanted to be folded into that joy and be a part of the pleasure of God yourself, where would you go? Where would you seek refuge?

Verse 12 gives the answer: The Lord says “For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord.” Here is the connection between God’s delight in his name and his delight in you. When you take refuge in his name, he exults over you with loud singing.

If you seek your own glory among men, truly you have your reward on the earth. If you exalt your own name among men, truly you have your reward on the earth. If you bank on your own righteousness, truly you have your reward on the earth.

But if you humble yourself and seek the glory of God above all things, and if you hide your name in the name of God, and if you clothe yourself with the righteousness of his Son, then your heavenly Father who loves his name above all things will reward you beyond all imaginings and exult over you with loud singing.

So put aside all pride and boasting in self today. Take refuge in the name of God. Bank your hope on the righteousness of Christ and not your own. And let yourself awaken to the wonder that the Lord, the King of kings, rejoices over you with gladness and exults over you with loud singing.

(For further study see Micah 7:18; Psalm 35:27; 149:4; Jeremiah 32:37–42; Deuteronomy 30:9; Isaiah 62:5; 65:19.)