God Sings Over You! (Ros' Blog)
Out for my early morning walk yesterday, I observed a very amusing sight. It was funny because it had a happy ending, but it included a heart-stopping moment. I was walking through the woods and there were 2 male blackbirds on the path in front of me. They stayed there until I got quite close and then, in a moment of panic, flew up about fifteen feet into the air, crashed into each other, got their wings tangled up together and came tumbling back down to land smack on the ground at my feet. They scrabbled furiously to untangle themselves and then both flew up into a tree to recover from the shock and nurse their headaches!
The day before, I had been reading and meditating on Zephaniah 3.17. In the version I was reading (New American Standard Bible) it reads like this: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will rejoice over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” My husband had simultaneously been reading it in the New Living Translation, which renders that last bit, “With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
I noted the differences between the two versions, and I decided to look it up in some other translations, and I found the differences growing wider. Some said, “In his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Or, “In his love he will no longer punish you. Instead, he will sing for joy because of you.” And in the King James Version it’s, “He will rest in His love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
Obviously the gist of it is similar in all the versions, but there is some difference in emphasis and interpretation. I have never studied Hebrew, but I decided to look up a Hebrew-English interlinear translation and see how it translates literally from the Hebrew. The first thing I noticed was the opening line: “Yahweh Elohim is within-of-you.” Or, as we would say, “within yours”. In other words, everything that is yours, everything that pertains to you – the Lord is within it. What a wonderful thought. There’s nothing of our lives from which God is absent. Our homes, our circle of influence, our circumstances. God is present. When life is hard, maybe through people misunderstanding or rejecting us because of disability, or maybe because we live with pain or fatigue or discrimination, God is present. When we miss our families because of lockdown, when we experience loneliness, God is present.
And not only present with us, but His heart is for us! The Hebrew-English interlinear translation continues, “Masterful, He will save.” God is the Master over all our circumstances, and He is in them to save us. It gets even better. “He shall be elated over you.” That’s an amazing thought.
When I came across those two blackbirds I was pretty elated to see them sitting there, apparently so tame, right on the path a couple of feet away from me. I had no intention of harming them. Had they stayed there, I would have stopped still to avoid frightening them. And that brings me to the next part of the verse. In the Hebrew-English interlinear version it reads, “In rejoicing He shall be silent in his love.” What a wonderful thought. Just as I was silently rejoicing in the delightful sight of those two birds, God is silently rejoicing over us.
If those two little birds had known that, they might not have had their mid-air collision and got themselves into such a pickle. And even then, when they came crashing down at my feet, I stood completely still so as not to alarm them. I certainly wouldn’t have hurt them in any way, and their fear of me was unfounded, and yet they were frantic in their attempts to untangle themselves and fly away from me. So often we pick up the vibes from the world around us and project them onto God. Those who experience disability discrimination in a world that doubts their worth (like the shocking discussion in which Lord Sumption told a woman with cancer that her life was of less value than other people’s) may begin to fear that God sees them in that way, too. This verse assures us that we need have no fear on that score.
Finally, the interlinear translation of the verse ends, “He shall exult over you in jubilation.” Far from being dissatisfied with us, God is elated and exults over us. Just as I went home with a spring in my step because I had enjoyed my encounter with the little birds, so God experiences a surge of joy every time you turn to Him and spend time focussing on Him. And you can be sure you have nothing to fear from him. So don’t be like those blackbirds, crashing into something in your frightened attempt to escape from Him. Instead, rest along with Him and enjoy the sound of His joyful singing over you. “He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.”