The Dancing Warrior

We often sing, “You dance over me, while I am unaware; You sing all around, but I never hear the sound…” without understanding the beautiful theology contained within the lyrics of the song. While I am uncertain about the author’s source of inspiration, the lyrics reflect the words of the prophet Zephaniah:

“The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (3:17).

Zephaniah’s theme is the Day of the Lord. Yahweh, as the divine warrior, intends to raze the earth because of the indifference, apostasy, and rebellion of humanity. However, before the final act of ultimate destruction, Yahweh demonstrates divine grace and offers humanity an opportunity to approach God in humility and seek righteousness and justice. Those who are arrogant and “stagnant of spirit” suffer destruction under the warring hand of Yahweh. Yahweh is “in your midst” as judge and savior. The victory of Yahweh is demonstrated in the destruction of the arrogant and the deliverance of the humble. Those who have been delivered “shout in triumph” and “rejoice and exult” because “the Lord has taken away His judgments” (3:14-15). To “exult” means to celebrate, to leap for joy, and/or to dance about. Those who have been redeemed by the hand of Yahweh dance with joy! (Exodus 15).

The beauty of this message, however, is expressed in the image of Yahweh as the dancing warrior. With God’s enemies defeated and God’s people delivered Yahweh is overwhelmed with joy and dances and shouts over the redeemed creation.

This divine dance is reflected in Trinitarian theology.  As the early Greek theologians contemplated the mystery of the Trinity – one God who exists eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – they coined a term to describe the relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit.  Holy Trinity exists as perichoresis, which literally means “to dance around.”  God eternally exists as three “persons” who share one divine essence. Each person is distinct, but interpenetrates the others so as to be one.  The movement of this eternal interpenetration is the divine dance. Augustine explained the Holy Trinity as God the Father – the divine Lover; God the Son – the Beloved One; and the Holy Spirit as the flame of love that unites the three. God eternally and omnipresently expresses love and joy in this Trinitarian dance.

As the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dance eternally and omnipresently over creation, their shared love and joy overflows upon redeemed humanity and we are invited to join the divine dance! God has saved us from sin, death, and hell. We celebrate with jubilee! Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All creation celebrates with jubilee! The whole earth is filled with God’s glory. God celebrates with jubilee!

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