Zephaniah 3


1 Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled!
2 She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD, she does not draw near to her God.
3 Her officials within her are roaring lions; her rulers are evening wolves, who leave nothing for the morning.
4 Her prophets are unprincipled; they are treacherous people. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law.
5 The LORD within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame.

Jerusalem Remains Unrepentant

6 “I have destroyed nations; their strongholds are demolished. I have left their streets deserted, with no one passing through. Their cities are laid waste; they are deserted and empty.
7 Of Jerusalem I thought, ‘Surely you will fear me and accept correction!’ Then her place of refuge[a] would not be destroyed, nor all my punishments come upon[b] her. But they were still eager to act corruptly in all they did.
8 Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD, “for the day I will stand up to testify.[c]I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out my wrath on them— all my fierce anger. The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.

Restoration of Israel’s Remnant

9 “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORDand serve him shoulder to shoulder.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush[d] my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings.
11 On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from you your arrogant boasters. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill.
12 But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the LORD.
13 They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.”
14 Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!
15 The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
18 “I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals, which is a burden and reproach for you.
19 At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame.
20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes[e]before your very eyes,” says the LORD..

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Zephaniah 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

Further reproofs for sin. (1-7) Encouragement to look for mercy. (8-13) Promises of future favour and prosperity. (14-20)

Verses 1-7 The holy God hates sin most in those nearest to him. A sinful state is, and will be, a woful state. Yet they had the tokens of God's presence, and all the advantages of knowing his will, with the strongest reasons to do it; still they persisted in disobedience. Alas, that men often are more active in doing wickedness than believers are in doing good.

Verses 8-13 The preaching of the gospel is predicted, when vengeance would be executed on the Jewish nation. The purifying doctrines of the gospel, or the pure language of the grace of the Lord, would teach men to use the language of humility, repentance, and faith. Purity and piety in common conversation is good. The pure and happy state of the church in the latter days seems intended. The Lord will shut out boasting, and leave men nothing to glory in, save the Lord Jesus, as made of God to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Humiliation for sin, and obligations to the Redeemer, will make true believers upright and sincere, whatever may be the case among mere professors.

Verses 14-20 After the promises of taking away sin, follow promises of taking away trouble. When the cause is removed, the effect will cease. What makes a people holy, will make them happy. The precious promises made to the purified people, were to have full accomplishment in the gospel. These verses appear chiefly to relate to the future conversion and restoration of Israel, and the glorious times which are to follow. They show the abundant peace, comfort, and prosperity of the church, in the happy times yet to come. He will save; he will be Jesus; he will answer the name, for he will save his people from their sins. Before the glorious times foretold, believers would be sorrowful, and objects of reproach. But the Lord will save the weakest believer, and cause true Christians to be greatly honoured where they had been treated with contempt. One act of mercy and grace shall serve, both to gather Israel out of their dispersions and to lead them to their own land. Then will God's Israel be made a name and a praise to eternity. The events alone can fully answer the language of this prophecy. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but they may rejoice in God's love. Surely our hearts should honour the Lord, and rejoice in him, when we hear such words of condescension and grace. If now kept from his ordinances, it is our trial and grief; but in due time we shall be gathered into his temple above. The glory and happiness of the believer will be perfect, unchangeable, and eternal, when he is freed from earthly sorrows, and brought to heavenly bliss.

Cross References 61

  • 1. S Jeremiah 6:6
  • 2. S Deuteronomy 21:18
  • 3. S Ezekiel 23:30
  • 4. S Jeremiah 22:21
  • 5. S Leviticus 26:23; S Jeremiah 7:28
  • 6. S Deuteronomy 1:32
  • 7. S Psalms 73:28; Jeremiah 5:3
  • 8. S Psalms 22:13
  • 9. S Genesis 49:27; Ezekiel 22:27
  • 10. S Micah 3:3
  • 11. S Psalms 25:3; S Isaiah 48:8; Jeremiah 3:20; Jeremiah 9:4; Malachi 2:10
  • 12. S Jeremiah 23:11; S Ezekiel 22:26
  • 13. S Ezra 9:15
  • 14. Deuteronomy 32:4
  • 15. S Psalms 5:3
  • 16. S Lamentations 3:23
  • 17. S Jeremiah 3:3; S Ezekiel 18:25
  • 18. S Leviticus 26:31
  • 19. S Jeremiah 7:28
  • 20. S Hosea 9:9
  • 21. S Psalms 27:14
  • 22. S Joel 3:11
  • 23. S Isaiah 2:3; Joel 3:2
  • 24. Psalms 79:6; Revelation 16:1
  • 25. S Jeremiah 10:25; S Lamentations 4:11
  • 26. S Zephaniah 1:18
  • 27. S Zephaniah 2:11
  • 28. S Genesis 4:26
  • 29. S Isaiah 19:18
  • 30. S Genesis 10:6; S Psalms 68:31
  • 31. S 2 Chronicles 32:23; S Isaiah 60:7
  • 32. S Isaiah 29:22; S Joel 2:26-27
  • 33. S Genesis 50:15
  • 34. S Psalms 59:12
  • 35. S Exodus 15:17; S Leviticus 26:19
  • 36. Isaiah 14:32
  • 37. S Jeremiah 29:12; Nahum 1:7
  • 38. S Isaiah 10:21; Micah 4:7
  • 39. Psalms 119:3; S Isaiah 4:3
  • 40. S Jeremiah 33:16; Revelation 14:5
  • 41. S Job 16:17
  • 42. Ezekiel 34:15; Zephaniah 2:7
  • 43. S Leviticus 26:6; S Ezekiel 34:25-28
  • 44. S Psalms 9:14; Zechariah 2:10
  • 45. S Psalms 95:1; Isaiah 12:6; Zechariah 2:10
  • 46. S Psalms 9:2; S Isaiah 51:11
  • 47. Ezekiel 37:26-28
  • 48. S Isaiah 54:14
  • 49. Zechariah 9:9
  • 50. S 2 Kings 19:26; S Job 4:3; Isaiah 35:3-4; Hebrews 12:12
  • 51. S Isaiah 63:1; S Joel 2:21
  • 52. S Deuteronomy 28:63; S Isaiah 62:4
  • 53. S Hosea 14:4
  • 54. S Isaiah 40:1
  • 55. S Isaiah 14:2
  • 56. S Ezekiel 34:16; S Micah 4:6
  • 57. Isaiah 60:18
  • 58. S Jeremiah 29:14; S Ezekiel 37:12
  • 59. Isaiah 56:5; Isaiah 66:22
  • 60. S Deuteronomy 26:19; S Isaiah 60:18
  • 61. S Joel 3:1

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or "her sanctuary"
  • [b]. Or "all those I appointed over"
  • [c]. Septuagint and Syriac; Hebrew "will rise up to plunder"
  • [d]. That is, the upper Nile region
  • [e]. Or "I bring back your captives"

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, Zep 3:1,2 and of the principal persons of it in particular, its princes, judges, prophets, and priests, Zep 3:3,4. 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, Zep 3:5 nor received instruction, nor took warning by the judgments of God on other nations, Zep 3:6,7 wherefore the followers of God are called upon to wait his time, who would gather many people together, and destroy the whole land of Judea, Zep 3:8 at which time he would send his Gospel among the Gentiles, who should thereby be brought to the true worship and service of God, Zep 3:9,10 though there should be a remnant among the Jews, according to the election of grace, that should be saved from that general calamity, Zep 3:11-13 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, Zep 3:14-20.

Zephaniah 3 Commentaries