The Happiest Verse in the Bible?

Posted on November 14, 2020


By David Ettinger

Unusual Location
The word “happy” is not one often associated with the Bible. Rather, Christians rightly prefer the word “joy.” Generally speaking, the Bible doesn’t so much teach about “happiness” as it does “joy.” But there is one verse that makes me happy, and it is found in an unusual location.

The Minor Prophets of the Old Testament is not the place one goes to feel good. The dire prophecies of the end times are sobering and disturbing. Among the Minor Prophets, the Book of Zephaniah is among the gloomiest. After all, the overwhelming theme of this small dynamo of a book is the Day of the Lord – that period of time when Jesus will return to Earth and judge His enemies. For the most part, the Book of Zephaniah is a composite of all the Old Testament doom-and-gloom revelations wrapped into three power-packed chapters.

Yet, standing tall and proud like a towering lighthouse above a storm-tossed sea is verse 17 of Chapter 3: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

The Context
The Book of Zephaniah is a prophetic fireball, one filled with images of death, destruction, and judgment. Chapter 1 outlines the punishment to be meted out on Israel’s “local” enemies, which foreshadows end-time judgment. Chapter 2 focuses on Jerusalem and her sinfulness during the days of Israel’s monarchy. God would not let her iniquities stand then, nor will He now. Chapter 3 concerns Jerusalem and the judgment which will befall her at the end of the age.

However, though God will punish Israel, He will also redeem and restore her: “On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from you your arrogant boasters” (v. 11). In the midst of God’s restoration promises to Israel He proclaims the soaring promise of verse 17: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Claiming This Promise
What does this verse have to do with you? Though I believe God’s promises to Israel are just that – promises to Israel – I also believe Christians today can claim a portion of these promises.

In “claiming” this verse, Zephaniah 3:17 has much to tell you. First, “The Lord your God is with you.” This indicates that no matter what life throws at you, even if much of it is bad, God’s intentions for you are good. How can they not be when He is with you?

God is also “the Mighty Warrior who saves.” Whenever you read in the Bible about God’s salvation, it is the soul that is in view, that God has reserved for you a place in Heaven. Knowing the glory which awaits should help you endure your earthly battles with peace and hope.

The Lord will also “take great delight in you.” Think about that. Can you believe the Creator of the universe is not only with you and saves you, but absolutely delights in little, old you? Think about those who regard you with hostility and venom; it doesn’t feel good, does it? But not God; He takes great joy in your very existence!

And then comes the kicker: God “will rejoice over you with singing.” Yes, this is hyperbole (exaggerated language), but don’t forget, it is God who wrote the Bible; He put this phrase in there. Whether or not God actually sings, He worded this phrase distinctly to give you something to visualize. This is God’s way of saying, “How much do I love you? So much so that whenever I think about you, I feel like singing!”

I don’t know what you have experienced in your life. Perhaps you have been the recipient of injustice, cruelty, violence, abuse, lovelessness, and as a result are filled with sadness. However, Zephaniah 3:17 has a message for you: God the Father loves you immensely!

Don’t believe it? When is the last time someone told you they rejoice over you with signing? Never? Well, God does, and that’s reason enough to be happy!