The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)That verse dumbfounds me. Perhaps my mother sang over me when I was a small child, but I don’t remember. Maybe a young girl’s boyfriend would do it, or a romantic husband with a singing voice, but God? Singing over me? With joy in His heart?
The idea is astonishing, but as I think about the delight of God, I also have to remember that He says a broken and contrite heart also please Him.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart — these, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16–17)I’m humbled to realize that I cannot do any good deeds or nice things to warrant God rejoicing over me with singing. I’m saved by grace, not works (Ephesians 2:8–9). He sings over me because He loves His creation and sent Jesus to die for us. If there is anything in me that makes Him happy, it is not me — it is His Son who lives in my heart.
I’m also humbled to realize that Christlike obedience pleases Him, but also one other thing I can do that gives Him joy — I can respond to His Spirit when He shows me my sin. I can embrace the sense of being exposed and crushed. I can let Him break my stubborn will and produce in me a contriteness of heart. I can say yes to conviction and respond to it with repentance.
These things delight God, not in themselves for it never delights a parent to inflict painful discipline on a rebellious child, but He is delighted because discipline “yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
God finds pleasure in His own righteousness, and so He should. However, He also finds pleasure when He sees that righteousness reproduced in His twice-born children. It makes Him sing! But first comes brokenness and a contrite heart — which He also does not despise.