12. DIVINE JOY
"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
The Lord your God in the midst of you is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph. 3:17
Wondrous 'thought of God!'—God resting in His love—His love not for unsinning angels, but for fallen, redeemed man! The idea is, the joy and satisfaction of one reposing after the completion of some arduous work. God rested at creation—He rejoiced with joy over a new-born world. But this was a feeble type of His complacent rest and rejoicing over the new-born ransomed soul.
There is a beautiful sequence in the verse. It rises to a climax. First, God "saves." Then He "rejoices." Then He "rests," (the contemplative rest of joy.) Then, as if this were not enough, He rejoices over His people "with singing." Like an earthly warrior—first, the victory; then, the shout of joy; then the calm survey of the field of conquest; then the hymn of triumph.
He "rests in His love!" With God, love is a disposition. People may, from impulse, perform an act of love. Momentary feeling and emotion, even in the case of a naturally unloving heart, may prompt to some deed of generosity and kindness. But God's nature and His name being love, with Him there can be nothing fitful, arbitrary, capricious. His love is no wayward, inconstant stream; but a deep, quiet, everflowing, overflowing river.
A word or a look, may alienate and estrange your best earthly friend. But the Friend of friends is immutable. Oh, how intense must that love be for the guilty and the lost which is thus spoken of by the lips of Divine filial love—"therefore," says Jesus, "does My Father love Me, because I lay down My life for the sheep."
"He will rejoice over you with singing." "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you." The returning prodigal is met, not only with the tear and the grasp of parental forgiveness; but high festival is kept within these paternal halls—"It is fit that we should make merry and be glad." The gladdest countenance in that scene of joy is not that of the haggard wanderer, but that of the rejoicing father, exulting over his "lost and found."
"There is joy in heaven among the angels of God over one sinner that repents"—but it is a joy which, though spreading through the concentric ranks, and reaching to the very circumference of glory, is deepest in the center. It begins at the throne—the keynote of that song is struck by God Himself! So also in the parable of the lost sheep. See how Christ speaks, as if He had all the joy to Himself of that wanderer's return; "He lays it on his shoulders rejoicing," and says, "Rejoice with me!" The joy of His people is part of His own—"These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
"God is in the midst of you;" "He is mighty;" "He will save." What more does any poor sinner need than this—a present God, a mighty God, a Savior God? Able to save, willing to save—no, more—delighting to save. "The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him."
Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you. Isaiah 43:4