“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV).
God the Father fills the void of all human father failure and heals the hurt of every human father wound. Zephaniah 3:17 gives us glimpses of how He does it.
For an abusive father wound, Father God gives His own, healing presence. “He will quiet you by his love.” What will the Father do? He will quiet you. In the Hebrew, there’s no word for “you,” though it’s clearly implied. It actually reads, “He will quiet with his love.” With His presence, He will quiet you, and He will also quiet Himself.
“In His grace, God sets His love upon you.”
When you’re hurting, the worst support is the person who rushes in with a thousand things to say, like “I know how you feel.” What damaging words we speak to each other. People say so much, yet the One who could say everything says nothing at first. No judgment. No condemnation. No questioning. No pressure for you to explain. Just there, present with you. Silent.
He will quiet Himself, and He will quiet you. He will quiet your mind that reviews, reviews, reviews. He will quiet your heart that hurts, hurts, hurts. He will quiet your mouth that might lash out in pain to hurt others.
How does He quiet you? With His love. When He breaks the silence, He will be singing over you a song. The song is about the Father’s love—His immense, unchanging, unrelenting, undeserved, all-forgiving, all-knowing, all-penetrating, all-healing love for you.
And for a passive father wound, Father God gives unchanging reality. His love is a certainty. God’s enduring, unassailable, unimpeachable, unqualified, unconditional love for His children is your reality. His love never changes. It doesn’t grow with your success; it doesn’t diminish with your failure. This verse settles the issue: He “will save,” “will rejoice,” “will quiet,” “will exult.” Knowing what God will do gives you confidence in Him. Not your mom. Not your dad. Not your past. Not your regrets. God’s love to you in Christ is your reality. You don’t deserve it. You didn’t earn it. It doesn’t come with good behavior, nor is it forfeited with bad behavior, because it’s not from you. It’s from God, who needs nothing. In His grace, He sets His love upon you.
And celebration is coming. “He will exult over you with loud singing.” God exults over you. This is your reality. Not what your boss says. Not your past. Not your problems. God is delighting in you this moment, singing a love song over you.
Human words can never capture God’s love. This song might be the closest we can get. The words of the third stanza of “The Love of God,” by F. M. Lehman, were written by a Jewish rabbi, circa 1050 AD.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
This is our reality: the infinite love of God. Whatever your earthly father wasn’t, you have a Father in heaven who loves you immensely.
Father, so many of us are the walking wounded. And You, our perfect heavenly Father, want to heal us. You give us Yourself—Your presence and the unchanging reality of Your love. I can’t begin to grasp how much You love me. Give me faith to believe You are singing over me the Father’s song of love. In Jesus’ name, amen.