Quieted in God’s Love
Have you ever needed to quiet someone? That isn’t yelling at your kids to shut up for a while, or telling someone to get over their issues already. To quiet someone is to hear them out and then respond to their concerns.
Picture a loving husband doing that for his wife. She is bothered by something and she’s crying. She is worried and stressed, so a husband will quiet her and speak to her in her trouble.
This is a good image for Judah’s hope for healing in Zephaniah 3. Despite their horrific sins and the deserved judgment, the LORD embraces his people and shows kindness. To his people who suffer, who feel the effects of their sin and expect a severe penalty, God declares his unfading affection.
Of the LORD’s attitude toward his people, the prophet Zephaniah says: “He will quiet you with his love” (3:17).
Let us unpack what this means. The LORD God, as our Saviour in Christ, imparts to us a true quietness and peace. This is not just about taking away the anxieties we have or dispelling the fears that keep us up at night. This kind of peace means that God addresses the very worst issue of all: our sin, and the way it ruins everything else. God says this central crisis can be laid to rest, and He tells us that it is going to be all right.
For God can make it right! The LORD affirms that the broken bond has been healed. He assures us that our unfaithfulness—as bad as it is, as repulsive, as chronic as it is—that all this has been covered in his sight. God declares that between him and his bride, things have been made whole. It is his promise: “I will quiet you with my love.” Through his Word and Spirit, God whispers in our ear, “Between us, all again is well.”
How good it is to hear these words! Earlier in the book of Zephaniah there was a whole lot of noise. In chapter 1 you can hear the sirens of destruction and terrible cries of agony. Jerusalem has been filled with the upheaval of violence and war: “The noise on the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out” (1:16).
In a similar manner today, sin and its effects always make a terrible racket. For instance, we can be troubled by the loud and persuasive shouting of temptation all around us, every day: “Why not try this? You deserve it! Click here. Buy me. Drink deeply. Don’t hold back! Because you’ll be happier.”
Or every day your conscience might be yelling its shrill accusations: “You’re guilty. You’re worthless. You’re hopeless. Why would God even bother with you?”
Or there may be voices of doubt that ring in our heads, “Did God really say that He loved you? Did God really give his Word to you? Is it really worth it to follow Christ?”
The world in which we live adds to the racket with all its distractions and diversions. There is so much information to consider, so many conflicting opinions to weigh, so much noise and commotion and unrest. We can get overwhelmed by everything that’s going on, all the time.
But if you’re listening, God quiets you with his love. God puts our hearts at ease and He calms our fears. God listens to us in prayer and He responds to our prayers.
And for all the answers that God can give us, if you condensed every one, it would amount to this: God answers us by pointing us to himself. He points us to his faithfulness. He points us to his goodness, his mercy and power.
Instead of noise, now there is quiet. Instead of the shouting of warfare, or the accusations of guilt, or the confusion of false teaching, we can have peace. We don’t have to listen to Satan’s lies or give ear to the whispers of doubt. For the LORD quiets us with his love in Christ. If you have ears to hear, this is his message: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).
It is striking that this is what God does in Hosea 2 as well. After humbling his adulterous wife Israel for all of her terrible unfaithfulness, notice the way in which God brings her back: “I will allure her, I will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her” (v. 14). Just when you thought they were headed for divorce court, God enfolds her in his arms. He brings his people to a quiet place, speaks tenderly, lets us know that He loves us. This is the beauty of God’s great love, that He is ever faithful despite our sin.
And what is our response to all this affection and care? It is like in a marriage: the love cannot 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! Admire his beauty! Yearn for him as the One who can satisfy.
Surely it happens to each of us that we stop delighting in God, saying or showing that we love and adore him. Our relationship with God can lose its spark. Does God still excite us? Does He 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, from morning ‘til evening? Or do we take God for granted?
Think of what Jesus says to one of the churches in the book of Revelation. He calls this 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). It is a warning for all of us not to forsake our first love.
Perhaps you began to love God and trust God already as a child, as a young person, or when you went through a period of hardship and loss. You began with God, now continue. Keep alive your love for him!
Speak with him.
Spend time with him.
Be still enough that you can hear his words to you in his Word, for He wants to quiet you with his love.