The Word of the Lord to Zephaniah

Chapter 3

A sharp reproof of Jerusalem for various sins, 1-7. An exhortation to wait for the restoration of Israel, 8-13, and to rejoice for their salvation by God, 14-20.

Woe to her who is filthy and polluted,/
to the oppressing city!

She did not obey the voice./
She did not receive correction./
She did not trust in the LORD./
She did not draw near to her God.

Her princes within her are roaring lions./
Her judges are evening wolves./
They do not gnaw the bones until the next day.

Her prophets are unstable and treacherous persons./
Her priests have polluted what is holy./
They have done violence to the law.

The just LORD is in the midst of her./
He will not do iniquity./
Every morning he brings his judgment to light./
He does not fail./
But the unjust knows no shame.

"I have cut off the nations./
Their towers are desolate./
I made their streets waste/
so that no one passes by./
Their cities are destroyed/
so that there is no man,/
so that there is no inhabitant.

I said, 'Surely you will fear me and receive instruction./
And her dwelling place shall not be destroyed/
on account of everything in which I have visited her.'/
But they rose early and corrupted all their doings.

Therefore, wait for me,"

says the LORD,

"until the day that I rise up to the prey./
For my determination is to gather the nations,/
so that I may assemble the kingdoms/
to pour upon them my indignation,/
even all my fierce anger,/
for all the earth shall be devoured/
with the fire of my jealousy.

For then I will restore to the people/
a pure language,/
so that they may all call upon the name of the LORD/
to serve him with one consent.

10 From beyond the rivers of Cush my suppliants,/
even the daughter of my dispersed,/
shall bring my offering.

11 In that day you shall not be ashamed for all your doings/
in which you have transgressed against me./
For then I will take away out of the midst of you/
those who rejoice in your pride,/
and you shall no longer be haughty/
because of my holy mountain.

12 I will also leave in the midst of you/
an afflicted and poor people,/
and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity,/
nor speak lies,/
neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth,/
for they shall feed and lie down,/
and no one shall make them afraid."

14 Sing, O daughter of Zion. Shout, O Israel./
Be glad and rejoice with all the heart,/
O daughter of Jerusalem.

15 The LORD has taken away your judgments./
He has cast out your enemy./
The King of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of you./
You shall not see evil anymore.

16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem,/
"Do not fear, O Zion./
Do not let your hands be slack.

17 The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty./
He will save./
He will rejoice over you with joy./
He will rest in his love./
He will joy over you with singing.

18 I will gather those among you/
who are sorrowful for the solemn assembly,/
to whom its reproach was a burden.

19 Behold, at that time/
I will deal with all who afflict you./
And I will save her who is lame/
and gather her who was driven out./
And I will get them praise and fame/
in every land where they have been put to shame.

20 At that time I will bring you back,/
even in the time that I gather you./
For I will make you a name and a praise/
among all people of the earth/
when I turn back your captivity before your eyes,"

says the LORD.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Zephaniah, Chapter 3[➚]


John Gill's Chapter Summary

In this chapter the character of the city of Jerusalem, and its inhabitants in general, is drawn, as it would be, and as it was, in the times of Christ and his apostles (verses 1-2), and of the principal persons of it in particular: its princes, judges, prophets, and priests (verses 3-4). The hardness, impenitence, and shamelessness of this people, are exposed and aggravated by the just Lord being among them; who, by his example and doctrine, taught them otherwise; yet they were not amended or made ashamed (verse 5), nor received instruction, nor took warning by the judgments of God on other nations (verses 6-7), therefore the followers of God are called upon to wait his time, who would gather many people together, and destroy the whole land of Judea (verse 8), at which time he would send his Gospel among the Gentiles, who should thereby be brought to the true worship and service of God (verses 9-10), though there should be a remnant among the Jews, according to the election of grace, that should be saved from that general calamity (verses 11-13), and the spiritual Israel are encouraged with promises of better times, when the Jews in general should be converted and gathered into the church of God, have the presence and protection of God with them, and deliverance from all their enemies, and be a praise among all people of the earth (verses 14-20).

[v.4a] - "unstable" - That is, "fanciful, and of a vain imagination, frothy and airy, and of a loose conversation, men of no consistency with themselves, in whom one can put no confidence" (Matthew Henry).

[v.4b] - "what is holy" - From the Pulpit Commentary: "Not the temple only, but all that has to do with God's service, worship, rites, sacrifices; they make no distinction between what is sacred and what is profane (Ezekiel 22:26)."

[v.9a] - "a pure language" - Literally, "a pure lip," which "is evidently not the language which God would adopt in addressing the nations, but the language they would adopt in addressing him. What is meant is a pure heart" (John Owen).

[v.9b] - "consent" - Literally, "shoulder." From John Calvin's Commentary: "That is, that they may unitedly submit to God in order to do him service; for to serve him with the shoulder is to unite together, so as to help one another. The metaphor seems to have been derived from those who carry a burden; for except each assists, one will be overpowered, and then the burden will fall to the ground. We are said then to serve God with one shoulder when we strive by mutual consent to assist one another."

[v.11] - "you shall no longer be haughty because of my holy mountain" - This may also be read as, "You shall no longer add to take pride in my holy mountain."

[v.15] - "You shall not see evil anymore" - This can also be read as, "You shall not fear evil anymore." Regarding these two readings, John Calvin said, "The meaning is the same: for the verb, to see, in Hebrew is, we know, often to be taken in the sense of finding or experiencing."

[v.19] - "shame" - Or, "reproach."