October 14, 2012: 19th Sunday after Trinity


TEXT: Zephaniah 3:17 “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.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

The Lutheran Church has always been known as “the singing church.” This dates back to the time of the Reformation and Dr. Martin Luther. Unlike today, churches at that time had no sign out front identifying them. But, if you arrived in a small town on a Sunday morning and heard boisterous singing emanating from church A and quiet coming from church B—you immediately knew church A was a Lutheran congregation. Today on this “Song Sunday” we’re giving you a little flavor of that truth.

Singing in God’s temple, or church, dates way back into the Old Testament, continues on into the New Testament era, and that river of music engulfs us today. The Psalms were originally sung by worshipers and pilgrims traveling to and fro from Jerusalem and the temple. The synagogues of Christ’s time sang the psalms as well. It’s interesting to speculate on Jesus singing, isn’t it? Was He a tenor or a bass? No doubt, He had perfect pitch!

I did a quick word study of the Hebrew Old Testament for “singing.” It’s worth noting that the Hebrews used about 20 different words for singing in the OT. One of those words is also employed in our text. But, the most fascinating thing about this text is that it is the only reference in the Bible to God Almighty singing over us! And His singing is identified very specifically as the “rejoicing” type! I find this amazing.

When children are very small, they respond to their parents singing to them. Lullabys put them to sleep. Quiet singing calms them. Singing is an expression of the human heart. Sometimes it is in the form of a sad lament. Think Lamentations here, “by the rivers of Babylon we sat down, and hung our harps on the trees” because they grieved over their plight. At other times, singing stems from a joyous heart on a joyous occasion. In either case, singing reveals what is inside a person and their emotional state at that point in time.

The context for our lesson is well known to all of you. When you hear the words: “Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!” What do you think of? Doesn’t Palm Sunday come to mind? Doesn’t the joyous entrance into God’s city by His Son stand out? Doesn’t the whole idea of grace, forgiveness, and Jesus’ triumph over the grave burst into your consciousness? So, it is with our lesson. It is a Messianic prophesy about the coming of Jesus in Whom God “has taken away your punishment”—vs. 15. Yes, it is in and through Jesus that eternal deliverance, peace of soul, and a clean conscience becomes ours.—Thus vs. 17a: “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.” Don’t you hear echoes of St. Paul in Romans 8 there? “Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Yes, in Christ God truly does “quiet you with his love.”—All that because Christ’s forgiving blood has obliterated fear!

It is in view of all this and because of all this that “God will rejoice over you with singing.” I wonder what God is singing about right now? I wonder what tune He is using? I wonder what the angelic accompaniment sounds like? In any case, doesn’t all this give impetus to respond in song back to Him—just as we’re doing today? So sing on. If there is anything in creation worth singing about, surely it is God’s love for you and me in Christ! Amen