For the Lord your God is living among you. . . . He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. – Zephaniah 3:17

Some people think of God as a kind of celestial traffic cop, lying in wait for us to mess up. Others envision him as a critical teacher who loves to hand out bad grades. But in this passage, the prophet Zephaniah gives us a completely different picture of God.

Zephaniah begins by reminding us that God is living among and in us—not somewhere far away in the sky. Then he asserts three powerful positive images of how God sees us.

First, God takes delight in us. He enjoys us the way a loving grandfather delights in his grandchildren.

Second, God calms our fears. The apostle John says that love is the opposite of fear and that God loves us perfectly (1 John 4:18).

But Zephaniah’s best description is the last one: God rejoices over us “with joyful songs.”

What an incredible image! Picture it whenever you feel God is critical or distant. How can you help but feel cherished by a God who sings for you?

Ask Yourself
Do you struggle at times with seeing God as the “cop in the sky” or the critical teacher? What are some other ways you envision him?

Is it hard for you to imagine God delighting in you or singing songs over you? What makes this difficult?

Ask God
Father, forgive me for the negative images I have of you—and my fear that I don’t bring joy to you. Help me today to realize you are with me, delighting in me and singing over me.

Taken from Take Your Life Back Day by Day copyright © 2016 by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.