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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 3

Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the BibleBox on Selected Books


Waiting Patiently On The Lord

Habakkuk Three

Habakkuk is a dialog between the prophet and God. There are five brief exchanges recorded in the book. Habakkuk saw the wickedness of the people and he asked God where He was and why He was not doing something about the situation. In the second part God told the prophet that He was raising up the Chaldeans that would conquer the Jews. In the third part of the book Habakkuk asked God how He could use a nation more wicked than the Jews to bring punishment on His own people. In the fourth exchange God assured Habakkuk that all the wicked will be judged, including the Chaldeans. God pronounced five woes upon them for their evil. The book closes with the fifth discourse as Habakkuk responded to God's assertion of coming judgment.

Habakkuk stood before God in deep devotion. He asked the Lord's to revive His work among the people and punish the wicked Chaldeans. The prayer of the prophet was that which should be the prayer of us all, a prayer for mercy. Troubles will come. When they do it is good to remember how God has helped you and blessed you in the past. If Jehovah delivered in the past He will use His power to help today. The very course of nature was changed as God worked to the salvation of His people. God has done many wonders but nothing compares with what took place as Jesus died on the cross for our sin. God has always been concerned about His people.

Habakkuk trembled at the punishment that would come upon the Jews. However, he willingly accepted God's will with complete trust. "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments." ( Hab_3:18-19 ) Let us all keep our focus on the heavenly, not upon what may or may not happen with worldly thing. We must come to understand the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man to our great Creator. God will not forsake you when troubles come.

Verses 1-2

Habakkuk's prayer for mercy -- Hab_3:1-2 : The chapter begins "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth." ( Hab_3:1 ) This prayer is "according to Shigionoth." The Amplified Bible translates it, "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, set to wild, enthusiastic, and triumphal music.” The Jerusalem Bible translates it exactly the opposite, "a lamentation, slow, solemn, or mournful." We really do not know what "Shigionoth" means. It seems to be some musical term as this chapter begins with the word "Shigionoth" and ends "To the chief singer on my stringed instruments." ( Hab_3:19 ) Another musical term "Selah" is found three times in this chapter. ( Hab_3:3 , Hab_3:9 , Hab_3:13 ) This is a term for a pause or a crescendo. It is used 74 times in the book of Psalms and only these three other times in the entire Bible. Likely this chapter is Habakkuk's "Psalm of Hope."

The prayer from Habakkuk was for God to "Revive" His work or to preserve alive His people. Habakkuk understood that the Lord must punish the wicked but he asked that God temper the punishment with mercy. Habakkuk prayed, "In wrath remember mercy." Habakkuk knew that Judah was soon to be conquered by the Chaldeans yet he prayed, "O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy." Our times have many similarities to Habakkuk's days. There is sin, violence and all kinds of evil everywhere in our nation. God, the Bible, salvation and the one true church are largely ignored. We very much need revival in our day also.

Verses 3-7

God helps you through difficulties -- Hab_3:3-7 : Habakkuk sees the difficulty that the nation will face but more than that he sees God, who He is and His great power. Habakkuk knew that God would reign supreme over all the earth. He spoke of the presence of God saying, "God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah." These thoughts are among the many abused Bible statements. These were places where God had revealed Himself to His people and helped them during their wilderness journey. There are likely to be associated with God revealing Himself to Moses and the giving of the Law. Habakkuk remembered when, "His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise."

Habakkuk used the expression "horns" to show the power of God. He also referred to an event recorded in Exodus to show the hiding of God's power. "And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen." ( Exo_33:22-23 ) Habakkuk remembered God's power as he thought of Him controlling pestilences during the time of the ten plagues that were brought during the exodus. Habakkuk gave the picture of God as a warrior standing and surveying the earth before the battle. God will stand victorious and all that oppose Him will be crumbled to ruin.

Verses 8-15

God's power and wrath were demonstrated -- Hab_3:8-15 : God was not disturbed over disobedience of the rivers or the seas. His concern was over a rebellious people. His horses and chariots were prepared. He was at war against evil! Habakkuk described the power of God as His wrath is poured out upon evil. His bow was made ready against the Chaldeans. When His people had received sufficient punishment He would protect and restore the nation. Just a mention of the massive river systems of the world demonstrates the might of the God of heaven. We observe that the God of the universe is all-wise and all-powerful.

Even the inanimate things of creation are said to praise the Lord. "The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high." ( Hab_3:10 ) God controls nature and uses it when He goes to war with a people. Even "The sun and moon stood still in their habitation." This is a reference to Joshua’s great victory at Gibeon. ( Jos_10:12-13 ) The picture that is given is that of God marching through the land of the enemy to free His people. God brought His people out of Egypt and He would likewise deal with the Chaldeans. Habakkuk saw God as giving victory for His people. When troubles come focus on God and pray to Him for mercy.

Verses 16-19

Habakkuk's Response to God's Message -- Hab_3:16-19 : When Habakkuk heard God's message he responded in fear. He knew that destruction was coming upon his nation. He also knew that later God would destroy the Chaldeans. The prophet could remember how God had brought destruction upon evil nations and now God would bring chastisements upon Judah through the Chaldeans. "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls." ( Hab_3:17 ) This kind of misfortune was brought upon nations as punishment for the sins of its people. Habakkuk was anticipating a time when he and his people would struggle even to survive. Yet in such a time his resolve was to worship and serve God.

Habakkuk's hope was in the Lord God. He said, "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk was convinced that things would get bad, but he was committed to serving God regardless. It was easy for the people to promise to do right. In Exo_24:3 we read, "All the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do." These same people soon turned to idolatry. We know not what became of Habakkuk but we do know of his commitment to the Lord. He said, "The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments." ( Hab_3:19 ) Habakkuk knew as we should know that all strength and success comes from God. Trust in God is the way of escape from trials. Habakkuk three closes with the words, "To the chief singer on my stringed instruments." This is likely instructions to sing these words of Habakkuk as a psalm.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Habakkuk 3". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/habakkuk-3.html. 2014.
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