One of the most beautiful aspects of the gospel is sometimes the hardest to grasp and easiest to forget; that we cannot and do not save ourselves. Salvation flows from God’s mercy. At no point in the text of Zephaniah 3:9-17 are God’s people commended for their righteousness. Rather, this passage is a promise of God’s merciful deliverance and pardon. It is a proclamation of God’s mercy upon them despite their rebellion (verse 11). Mercy, by its very nature, is something undeserved. Were God’s people perfectly righteous, then salvation would be an equitable transaction. As it stands, salvation is a forgiving act of our Mighty Warrior saving the day. Here are some points from the Scripture of this session to think over in the coming week of preparation:
- God declares that He will restore pure speech in verse 9. A reference to 1 Timothy 4:12 works well at this point.
- That God’s people are to serve God with a single purpose (verse 9) speaks to a sense of unity in the church and across denominational lines.
- God is asking for a dispersed (scattered) people to bring Him an offering. We worship God in the midst of trial (verse 10).
- Verse 11’s prophecy that God will remove the arrogant facilitates a reference to Proverbs 3:34.
- Verse 12’s prophecy that the humble and meek will take refuge in Yahweh facilitates a reference to Psalm 34:17-22
- The wording of verse 13 is strikingly similar to that of Psalm 23 in which God is our Shepherd.
- Verse 17 shows how God feels about His people.
Here is a link to an interlinear study of the text beginning in verse 9. This resource shows a breakdown of the text in its original language complete with Strong’s Concordance reference numbers that allow you to see where each word appears at other points in Scripture and provides a pronunciation guide should you choose to do a word study in your session. God bless you and your ministry!