Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Zephaniah 3:17

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save - What can He then not do for thee, since He is Almighty? What will He not do for thee, since “He will save?” whom then should we fear? “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. But then was He especially “in the midst of” us, when God “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld His Glory, the Glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and Truth” John 1:14. Thenceforth He ever is in the midst of His own. He with the Father and the Holy Spirit “come unto them and make Their abode with them” John 14:23, so that they are “the temple of God. He will save,” as He saith, “My Father is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father‘s hand. I and My Father are One” John 10:29-30. Of the same time of the Christ, Isaiah saith almost in the same words; “Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees, Say to them that are of a feeble heart, Be strong, fear not, behold your God will come, He will come and save you” Isaiah 35:3-4; and of the Holy Trinity, “He will save us” Isaiah 33:22.

He will rejoice, over thee with joy - Love, joy, peace in man are shadows of that which is in God, by whom they are created in man. Only in God they exist undivided, uncreated. Hence, God speaks after the manner of men, of that which truly is in God. God joyeth “with an uncreated joy” over the works of His Hands or the objects of His Love, as man joyeth over the object of “his” love. So Isaiah saith, “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee” Isaiah 62:5. As with uncreated love the Father resteth in good pleasure in His well-beloved Son, so “God is well-pleased with the sacrifices of loving deeds” Hebrews 13:16. and, “the Lord delighteth in thee” Isaiah 62:4; and, “I will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in My people” Isaiah 65:19; and, “the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good” Deuteronomy 30:9. And so in a two-fold way God meeteth the longing of the heart of man.

The soul, until it hath found God, is evermore seeking some love to fill it, and can find none, since the love of God Alone can content it. Then too it longeth to be loved, even as it loveth. God tells it, that every feeling and expression of human love may be found in Him, whom if any love, he only “loveth Him, because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19. Every inward and outward expression or token of love are heaped together, to express the love of Him who broodeth and as it were yearneth “over” (it is twice repeated) His own whom He loveth. Then too He loveth thee as He biddeth thee to love Him; and since the love of man cannot be like the love of the Infinite God, He here pictures His own love in the words of man‘s love, to convey to his soul the oneness wherewith love unites her unto God. He here echoes in a manner the joy of the Church, to which He had called her 1 John 4:14, in words the self-same or meaning the same.

We have “joy” here for “joy” there; “singing” or the unuttered unutterable jubilee of the heart, which cannot utter in words its joy and love, and joys and loves the more in its inmost depths because it cannot utter it. A shadow of the unutterable, because Infinite Love of God, and this repeated thrice; as being the eternal love of the Everblessed Trinity. This love and joy the prophet speaks of, as an exuberant joy, one which boundeth within the inmost self, and again is wholly “silent in His love,” as the deepest, tenderest, most yearning love broods over the object of its love, yet is held still in silence by the very depth of its love; and then, again, breaks forth in outward motion, and leaps for joy, and uttereth what it cannot form in words, for truly the love of God in its unspeakable love and joy is past belief, past utterance, past thought. Rup.: “Truly that joy wherewith ‹He will be silent in His love,‘ that exultation wherewith ‹He will joy over thee with singing, ‹Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man‘ 1 Corinthians 2:9.”

The Hebrew word also contains the meaning, “He in His love shall make no mention of past sins, He shall not bring them up against thee, shall not upbraid thee, yea, shall not remember them” Jeremiah 31:34; Jeremiah 33:8; Micah 7:18. It also may express the still, unvarying love of the Unchangeable God. And again trow the very silence of God, when He seemeth not to hear, as He did not seem to hear Paul, is a very fruit of His love. Yet that entire forgiveness of sins, and that seeming absence are but ways of showing His love. Hence, God speaks of His very love itself, “He will be silent in His love,” as, before and after, “He will rejoice, He will joy over thee.”

In the next few verses Zephaniah 3:18-21 still continuing the number “three,” the prophecy closes with the final reversal of all which, in this imperfect state of things, seems turned upside down, when those who now mourn shall be comforted, they who now bear reproach and shame shall have glory, and those who now afflict the people of God shall be undone.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
After the promises of taking away sin, follow promises of taking away trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. What makes a people holy, will make them happy. The precious promises made to the purified people, were to have full accomplishment in the gospel. These verses appear chiefly to relate to the future conversion and restoration of Israel, and the glorious times which are to follow. They show the abundant peace, comfort, and prosperity of the church, in the happy times yet to come. He will save; he will be Jesus; he will answer the name, for he will save his people from their sins. Before the glorious times foretold, believers would be sorrowful, and objects of reproach. But the Lord will save the weakest believer, and cause true Christians to be greatly honoured where they had been treated with contempt. One act of mercy and grace shall serve, both to gather Israel out of their dispersions and to lead them to their own land. Then will God's Israel be made a name and a praise to eternity. The events alone can fully answer the language of this prophecy. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but they may rejoice in God's love. Surely our hearts should honour the Lord, and rejoice in him, when we hear such words of condescension and grace. If now kept from his ordinances, it is our trial and grief; but in due time we shall be gathered into his temple above. The glory and happiness of the believer will be perfect, unchangeable, and eternal, when he is freed from earthly sorrows, and brought to heavenly bliss.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The Lord thy God - אלהיך יהוה Yehovah Eloheycha, "The self-existent and eternal Being, who is in covenant with you;" the character of God in reference to the Jews when standing in the nearest relation to them.

Is mighty - גבור gibbor, is the prevailing One, the all-conquering Hero. The character which is given to Christ, Isaiah 9:6; : "His name shall be called גבור אל El gibbor, the prevailing Almighty God."

He will save - Deliver thee from all the power from all the guilt, and from all the pollution of thy sins; and when thus saved "he will rejoice over thee with joy," with peculiar gladness. "He will rest in his love," - he will renew his love. He will show the same love to you that he did of old to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

He will joy over thee with singing - The conversion of the Jews will be a subject of peculiar delight and exultation to God himself! There will be a more than ordinary joy in heaven, when the Jews return to God through Christ. This event cannot be at a great distance; they are as wretched and as ungodly as they can well be. The arms of Christians are open to receive them; and all things are now ready!

Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 63

In the words we speak to the people and in the prayers we offer, God desires us to give unmistakable evidence that we have spiritual life. We do not enjoy the fullness of blessing which the Lord has prepared for us, because we do not ask in faith. If we would exercise faith in the word of the living God we should have the richest blessings. We dishonor God by our lack of faith; therefore we can not impart life to others by bearing a living, uplifting testimony. We cannot give that which we do not possess. 6T 63.1

If we will walk humbly with God, if we will work in the spirit of Christ, none of us will carry heavy burdens. We shall lay them upon the great Burden Bearer. Then we may expect triumphs in the presence of God, in the communion of His love. From the beginning to the end every camp meeting may be a love feast, because God's presence is with His people. 6T 63.2

All heaven is interested in our salvation. The angels of God, thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, are commissioned to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. They guard us against evil and press back the powers of darkness that are seeking our destruction. Have we not reason to be thankful every moment, thankful even when there are apparent difficulties in our pathway? 6T 63.3

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 480

In our periodicals we are not to exalt the work and characters of men in positions of influence, constantly keeping human beings before the people. But as much as you please you may uplift Christ our Saviour. “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory [from character to character], even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Those who love and serve God are to be the light of the world, shining amid moral darkness. But in the places which have been given the greatest light, where the gospel has been preached the most, the people—fathers, mothers, and children—have been moved by a power from beneath to unite their interests with worldly projects and enterprises. FE 480.1

Great blindness is upon the churches, and the Lord says to His people, “What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” FE 480.2

The condition of being received into the Lord's family is coming out from the world, separating from all its contaminating influences. The people of God are to have no connection with idolatry in any of its forms. They are to reach a higher standard. We are to be distinguished from the world, and then God says, “I will receive you as members of My royal family, children of the heavenly King.” As believers in the truth we are to be distinct in practice from sin and sinners. Our citizenship is in heaven. FE 481.1

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Ellen G. White
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 103

To know what constitutes purity of mind, soul, and body is an important part of education. Paul summed up the attainments possible for Timothy by saying, “Keep thyself pure.” 1 Timothy 5:22. Impurity of thought, word, or action will not be indulged by the child of God. Every encouragement and the richest blessings are held up before the overcomers of evil practices, but the most fearful penalties are laid upon those who profane the body and defile the soul. CT 103.1

Teachers, blessed are the pure in heart—now; not, Blessed will be the pure in heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. Yes, as did Moses, they shall endure the seeing of Him who is invisible. They have the assurance of the richest blessings, both in this life and in the life that is to come. CT 103.2

Students, if you will watch and pray, and make earnest efforts in the right direction, you will be thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Christ. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Romans 13:14. Be determined that you will make the school a success. If you will heed the instruction given in the word of God you may go forth with a development of intellectual and moral power that will cause even angels to rejoice, and God will joy over you with singing. Under such discipline you will secure the fullest development of your faculties. Let not the buoyancy and the lust of youth through manifold temptations make your day of opportunity and privilege a failure. Day by day put on Christ, and in the brief season of your test and trial here below maintain your dignity in the strength of God, as co-workers with the highest agencies of heaven. CT 103.3

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 207

“As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” Isaiah 62:5. “He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17. And heaven and earth shall unite in the Father's song of rejoicing: “For this My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” COL 207.1

Thus far in the Saviour's parable there is no discordant note to jar the harmony of the scene of joy; but now Christ introduces another element. When the prodigal came home, the elder son “was in the field; and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in.” This elder brother has not been sharing in his father's anxiety and watching for the one that was lost. He shares not, therefore, in the father's joy at the wanderer's return. The sounds of rejoicing kindle no gladness in his heart. He inquires of a servant the reason of the festivity, and the answer excites his jealousy. He will not go in to welcome his lost brother. The favor shown the prodigal he regards as an insult to himself. COL 207.2

When the father comes out to remonstrate with him, the pride and malignity of his nature are revealed. He dwells upon his own life in his father's house as a round of unrequited service, and then places in mean contrast the favor shown to the son just returned. He makes it plain that his own service has been that of a servant rather than a son. When he should have found an abiding joy in his father's presence, his mind has rested upon the profit to accrue from his circumspect life. His words show that it is for this he has foregone the pleasures of sin. Now if this brother is to share in the father's gifts, the elder son counts that he himself has been wronged. He grudges his brother the favor shown him. He plainly shows that had he been in the father's place, he would not have received the prodigal. He does not even acknowledge him as a brother, but coldly speaks of him as “thy son.” COL 207.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 151

In both the Old and the New Testament, the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people. To the mind of Jesus the gladness of the wedding festivities pointed forward to the rejoicing of that day when He shall bring home His bride to the Father's house, and the redeemed with the Redeemer shall sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb. He says, “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; ... but thou shalt be called My Delight; ... for the Lord delighteth in thee.” “He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.” Isaiah 62:5, 4, margin; Zephaniah 3:17. When the vision of heavenly things was granted to John the apostle, he wrote: “I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.” “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:6, 7, 9. DA 151.1

Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts. He often repaired to the mountains for solitary prayer, but this was a preparation for His labor among men in active life. From these seasons He came forth to relieve the sick, to instruct the ignorant, and to break the chains from the captives of Satan. DA 151.2

It was by personal contact and association that Jesus trained His disciples. Sometimes He taught them, sitting among them on the mountainside; sometimes beside the sea, or walking with them by the way, He revealed the mysteries of the kingdom of God. He did not sermonize as men do today. Wherever hearts were open to receive the divine message, He unfolded the truths of the way of salvation. He did not command His disciples to do this or that, but said, “Follow Me.” On His journeys through country and cities He took them with Him, that they might see how He taught the people. He linked their interest with His, and they united with Him in the work. DA 152.1

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