Sing the New Old Song

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Zephaniah 3:14–20 (NIV)

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.

CONSIDER THIS

He will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.

Have you ever wondered what he is singing? I want it to be something like, “We Are the Champions” or, “The Eye of the Tiger,” or some epically triumphant theme song from a movie yet to be made. What does he sing over me? In this new year, might it be time for a new song, or at least an old song made new?

At the epicenter of all that exists, a song is playing. Can you hear it? At the heart of the Bible, literally in the middle of the book, is a short book called the Song of Songs. Isn’t that something? In the middle of sixty-six books we get a song, and it’s not just any song. It’s the song of all songs. At the core of this song of all songs is a simple chorus of five words. It is the glad song of the Beloved. It is the exultant song of the Bridegroom. It is the expectant song of the future. It is the theme song of the Warrior God of Peace. It has only five primal Hebrew words: “My Beloved Mine; I His.”

This is the song of the Holy Spirit, the song of the Father to the Son as the whole of creation was breathed into being by the breath of his Word. This is the song of the Son to the Father as his broken body breathed his last breath of love. This is the song of the Bride back to the Bridegroom as the skies will one day roll back like a scroll: “My Beloved Mine; I His.” It is the soundtrack of the future that plays in the present for all with ears to hear. Noted missiologist Peter Kuzmich once said, “Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future. Faith is having the courage to dance to that song today.”

This song of all songs—My Beloved Mine; I His—brings the whole picture into crystal-clear focus. The core of the core message of the gospel of God, the message on every page of Scripture, can be brought down to a single term: bonded attachment. The central and really only commandment of God is to love God, love others, and love ourselves (see Matthew 22:36–40). It naturally follows: the true meaning of life is found in bonded attachments to God, others, and self. It begins, middles, and ends in our progressive ability to believe, hear, and sing along in this song of our own belovedness: “My Beloved Mine; I His.”

For the first five hundred years of the church, this tiny allegorical book, the Song of Songs, was all the theologians wanted to talk about. So much more than a description of marital passion, the Song of Songs is a mysterious analogy of the love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They were enthralled with the bonded attachments of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and how we, the image-bearers of God, were made for these same bonded attachments with God, others, and ourselves. Some years ago I found myself dwelling deep in the mystery of this text. As I was ruminating on these five words, a simple melody emerged. I shared the melody with a songwriter, worship leader, friend of mine. He added a powerful chorus, a bold choir, and recorded it. It’s a little-known song by a well-known singer, and I would like you to hear it today. Google “My Beloved” by Chris Tomlin, and you will find it.

He will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.

THE PRAYER

Our Father in heaven, nearer than my breath, thank you for these days of Advent and this new year in Christ. You will indeed fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. I confess my cynical outlook; I have allowed the low-bar discourse of this world and its news to lower the tide of your good news in my soul. Open my mind and heart to more of your Word, to more of you. Come, Holy Spirit, wake me up, and make all of this fiercely practical in these days of Advent. In the name of Jesus Messiah—the one who has come, is here, and is coming again—for his glory and our good, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

Where do you think your weakest sense of bonded attachment is in your life? With God? Others? Self? Why do you think this is so?