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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 3

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-19



Verses 1-19:

Verse 1 begins an ode or devotional address to God, by Habakkuk, called "prayer"; v. 2 begins the direct appeal to the Lord. All devotional addresses to God are called "prayers," Psalms 72:20. The phrase "upon Shiginoth" is a musical phrase, regarding mournful odes, odes sung in confession and regret for grievous sins and wrongs, 1 Samuel 26:21. The phrase is singular, regarding David, Psalms 7 "Shiggaion of David." The phrase also joins the mournful odes with Divine praise.

Verse 2 testifies that Habakkuk has heard (understood or comprehended) the communication from the Lord, concerning judgment, and is in reverential awe and fear, v. 16. He then appeals to the Lord to revive, renew, or re-vitalize His work in the midst of the years of Israel’s calamity, Psalms 80:19. He calls upon God to remember mercy, in the midst of His judgment, Isaiah 43:1; Psalms 85:6; Psalms 65:9; Psalms 90:16-17; Isaiah 51:9-10.

Verse 3 declares that God came (of His own accord and will) from Teman, south of Judea, also called Seir and Edom. He is described as the Holy One (Heb singular "Eloah"), from mount Paran, the only time used by a minor prophet, though used by Isaiah, Daniel, Job, and Moses in Deuteronomy. This refers to God’s revealing Himself in radiant glory, to Israel, in the Paran desert area of Sinai, when He gave the Law to Moses, for Israel, Deuteronomy 33:2; Exodus 34:33; 2 Corinthians 4:7-11; Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2. Selah is a musical or poetic pause, at the end of a strophe, or stanza of an Hebrew poem.

Verse 4 describes the radiant glory, of the one true God, when He gave the law on mount Sinai (from Teman). His brightness was as the noonday sun, with horns coming out of his hands (a symbol of might and power). And there was an hiding or "veiling" of His power. See Job 37:21; Proverbs 4:18; Exodus 34:29-30; Exodus 34:35; Psalms 18:8; Psalms 104:2; Exodus 24:17. See also Psalms 31:20; Psalms 18:11.

Verse 5 describes God’s going before Israel upon her entrance into Palestine, from Egypt, as He sent a pestilence of emerods upon the Philistines, to weaken them, so that Israel conquered them, as described 1 Samuel 5:9-11. Judgment went before Israel, against their foes, like burning coals or searing heat, a pestilence from God to overcome her enemies, as she entered her covenant land, Deuteronomy 32:24; Psalms 18:8; Judges 4:10.

Verse 6 relates the acts of God, before and on behalf of Israel, often in the past. He had "stood", like a warrior, and "measured," like a just judge, to parcel out land, for the tribes of Israel, while driving out their enemies from before them, Micah 2:4. The mountains and hills had remained reverent and in submission before Him, as the everlasting Creator and their sustainer. In His character and ways, as the everlasting and unchangeable God, He is good and just, and follows His own people, Hebrews 13:8; Job 22:15.

Verse 7 affirms that Habakkuk had seen, or observed in a vision, the tents (dwellings of) Cushan or Ethiopia in their impoverished afflictions, and the curtains or tents of Midian, as the people trembled under oppression. There was an area east of the Arabian Gulf called Cush or Ethiopia, where God laid affliction on Midian, (where Moses got his wife) because of their wrongs against His people, Numbers 12:1; Numbers 25:17-18. The nations had trembled as they saw the affliction of God upon the oppressors of His people.

Verse 8 rhetorically asks, wasn’t God’s displeasure against the Egyptian oppressors of His people, and the Philistine oppressors to the extent that He rolled back, stayed the waters of both the Red Sea and the Jordan river and her tributaries, in providing escape of His people from oppression, to lead them into His promised land of rest for them? The idea is He did, Psalms 104:3; Psalms 104:5. As a white horse rider to victory, to bring and announce salvation or liberation, God is presented Psalms 18:11; Psalms 68:4; See also Deuteronomy 33:26-27.

Verse 9 affirms that God had followed Israel, (the twelve tribes) to preserve the integrity of His oath or pledge to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their direct lineage, Genesis 12:1-3; Psalms 68:11; Psalms 78:8; Luke 1:73; Luke 1:73; Nakedness of the bow suggested His continual intent to defend the people of His oath-pledge, Deuteronomy 32:40-42. The cleaving of the rivers and earth refers to His use of His creation, both to protect His people in times of conflict, as in the opening of the Red Sea and the Jordan for their passage, and to His cattle, Exodus ch. 14, 15, Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:10-11 See also Joshua 3:14-17.

Verse 10 attributes obedience of nature to the voice of God, for the help of His people, with whose welfare He was still concerned. Mountains shake, tremble, or writhe, and waves become tranquil at His voice. Since nature obeys the voice of her master, why should not His people? From the height of mountains, to the depth of rivers and the sea, reverent obedience and awe are given to the Master of the universe, Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:18; Judges 5:4-5; Psalms 68:8; Psalms 77:18; Psalms 114:4; Exodus 14:22; Joshua 3:16.

Verse 11 asserts that the planets, the sun and the moon, responded to the bidding of God, in times of both war and peace; All these were created and Divinely directed for the protection or chastening of men and nations, to the glory of God, whom Israel was called to serve, Joshua 10:12-13; Job 37:15; Joshua 10:10-11; Isaiah 10:17.

Verse 12 describes acts of Divine judgment, connected with the protection and salvation of Israel. God marched through the enemy line with solemn and majestic indignation, and threshed them in His anger, for His people, Israel’s sake, v. 8; Psalms 77:19; Psalms 78:8; Judges 5:4: Micah 4:13.

Verse 13 recounts and certifies that God went forth for the salvation, liberation, or deliverance of His people, even for deliverance in close association or affinity with His anointed leaders, Moses, Joshua, and David. These men, as anointed leaders and liberators, were foreshadows of the Great Deliverer, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Psalms 89:19-20; Psalms 89:38; Isaiah 63:11; Lamentations 4:20. Habakkuk then asserts that the Lord wounds the head of the house of the wicked, the prince or leader, even from the foundation-prince or ruler up to the neck, who opposed Him and oppressed His people, Psalms 110:6; Joshua 11:10; Judges 4:2-3; Judges 4:13; See also Isaiah 8:8; Isaiah 30:28; Joshua 10:24; Joshua 11:8; Joshua 11:12. The necks of conquered princes were put under the foot of Israel’s leaders, and the first-born of Egypt were cut off.

Verse 14 continues an account of God’s past actions toward His enemies. Warlike nations meet the like fate of royal houses in bitter times of war. God used His enemies’ own staves or swords in village battles, confusing and causing the enemy to turn and attack one another, to their own destruction, 1 Samuel 14:20; 2 Chronicles 20:23-24. The enemy came violently, like a fierce moving wind, to destroy God’s people, the poor of Israel especially, secretly, Psalms 109 : Like a lion, they sought to pounce upon Israel, as their prey, Psalms 17:12.

Verse 15 reminds that the Lord from olden times walked or marched through the sea with His horses. No obstacle on sea or land could restrain His conquest in battle, as He went before His people, from Egypt, through the Red Sea, the wilderness journey, the floods of the Jordan, and into the cities of the Philistines, Psalms 65:7. He led them, as a Shepherd goes before his flock, standing between them and danger, meeting and providing their every need, Psalms 77:19.

Verse 16 describes Habakkuk’s emotions of despond when he saw a vision of God’s coming judgment on Judea, inflicted by the Chaldeans. His belly trembled, as the belly was considered by many of the Jews to be the center of emotions, yearnings, and compassions, Jeremiah 31:20; His lips also quivered at the judgment vision of God’s full purpose of punishment, first by the Chaldeans upon Israel, then of the judgment that should be turned upon Chaldea from other foes. The feelings of alarm went through Habakkuk’s body, belly and bones, from head to feet, then he, though trembling at the calamity, asserted that he would find rest in God, Isaiah 26:3. The king of Chaldea was to invade Judea with his troops, to take her captive soon, yet Habakkuk had had a vision, told the vision, and rested in the Lord, to be protected in it. as Daniel was told to do, Daniel 12:8-10.

Verse 17 admits the prophet’s acceptance from God, that Israel’s fig trees, olives, fields, herds, flocks and stalls shall not prosper, when judgment falls upon them from the Chaldeans. Yet, he would exult in the Lord that His people were not cut off forever, Isaiah 58:11; Job 13:15; Psalms 4:7; Psalms 43:3; Psalms 43:5.

Verse 18 rings out with the prophets’ rejoicing in the Lord, and purpose to continue rejoicing, because he had beheld in the vision, that certain hour of victory and deliverance for himself and his people, Isaiah 41:16; Isaiah 61:10, as Paul also expressed 1 Corinthians 15:58; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:4; John 14:13; 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Verse 19 recounts Habakkuk’s complete trust in and casting himself upon the Lord God for all his then present and future needs and hopes. The Lord’s strength was "his" strength, to walk and to climb upon every high place of responsibility, to God and his fellowman, Psalms 27:1; His feet would be made swift as the hind’s, to escape his enemies, as he was Divinely sustained to ascend high places of eminence and safety, 2 Samuel 22:34; Psalms 18:33; Deuteronomy 32:13; Deuteronomy 33:29. The verse (or ode) ends on a note of victory and joy, Isaiah 38:20.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Habakkuk 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/habakkuk-3.html. 1985.
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