Have you ever needed to quiet someone? That’s not yelling at your kids to shut up for a while or telling someone to get over their problems already.
To quiet someone is to hear them out, then gently respond to their concerns. Picture a loving husband doing this for his wife. She’s bothered by something, worried and stressed, and she’s crying. So a husband will quiet her and speak to her in her trouble.
That’s a good image for the hope God gives to Judah in the time of Zephaniah. The people had suffered many deprivations and indignities from the nations. This was God’s just judgment on their sin, and more judgment was looming, even a lifetime in Babylonian exile.
But despite everything, the LORD embraces his people and declares his unfading affection. God says in 3:17,
He will quiet you with his love.
What a relief to hear these words of calm after all the noise of Zephaniah’s earlier chapters. Judah has been hearing the warning sirens of destruction, and her peace had been shattered by violence: “The noise on the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out” (Zeph 1:16). There was no peace.
This is always the nature of sin and its effects: it is a cacophony of alarm and restlessness. For instance, all around us and every day we hear the shouting of temptation: “Try this! You deserve it! Click here. Buy me. Drink to the fullest. Don’t hold back! Because I promise you’ll be happier.”
Or you hear your conscience yelling its shrill accusations: “You’re guilty. You’re worthless. You’re hopeless. Why would God even bother with you?”
Or voices of doubt ring in our heads, “Did God really say that He loved you? Did God really give his Word? Is it actually worth it to follow Christ?”
The godless world just adds to the uproar with its distractions and diversions. So much information, so many conflicting opinions, so much noise and commotion—we can get overwhelmed by everything that’s going on, all the time.
But if you’re listening, God quiets you with his love. This isn’t just about taking away the anxieties that Judah had about the future, or alleviating the fears that keep us up at night. This peace means God addresses the worst issue of all: our sin, and the way it ruins everything else. He says that this central and ongoing crisis can be resolved, for He can make it right.
God assures us that our unfaithfulness—as bad as it is, as reprehensible, as chronic as it is—that this has been covered in his sight.
For Jesus’s sake, God declares that between him and his bride, things have been made whole. It’s his promise: “I will quiet you with my love.” Through his Word and his Spirit, God whispers in our ear, “Between us, all again is well.”
And if you distilled every reassurance God gives, brought it down to its essence, it would be this: God gives us himself. He points us to his faithfulness, his goodness and strength, his lovingkindness in Christ. Through the words of Psalm 46, God says,
Be still and know that I am God.
Instead of noise, God gives quiet. Instead of the hostile shouting of spiritual warfare, the accusations of guilt, or the confusion of false teaching, we can have his peace. No need to listen to Satan’s lies. No need to give ear to the whispers of doubt. God quiets us with his love in Christ; he brings us to a quiet place, speaks tenderly to us, and says that He loves us.
What is our response to God’s affection and care? It’s like in a marriage: the love can’t flow in just one direction only. You can’t receive and receive and take, and never answer with any affection of your own. Love is built on a true communion of spirit.
So as love comes to us from God, it must also go from us to God. Love him! Be with him! And we love God more as we find delight in him, as we admire his beauty, as we enjoy the safety of his peace.
Yet somehow it can happen that we stop delighting in God. Does God still excite us? Does Jesus still amaze us? Like when a young man or a young woman has swept us off our feet, does God often return to our thoughts, morning ‘til night? Or do we take God for granted?
Think of what Jesus says to one of the churches in Revelation. He calls the church to keep alive the spark: “I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent, and do the things you did at first” (Rev 2:4-5).
Don’t forsake your first love.
You began to love and trust God, even as a child, as a young person, or you drew near to God during a period of trial. You began with God, so continue. Keep alive your love for him. Listen to him again. Speak with him again. Spend time with him again.
Be quiet enough that you can hear God’s loving words to you in his Word. Take time to admire God’s greatness and to glorify Christ as Saviour. Then He will surely quiet you, and you will enjoy his peace.