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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 3

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

Verses 1-19

Habakkuk 3

(Chapter 3: 1). Having stood upon his watch-tower, and heard the answer of the LORD to his appeal, the prophet now takes to his knees in prayer. In the midst of all his exercises and trials, he avails himself of the unfailing resource we have in the LORD Who is in His holy temple. He draws near to the throne of grace to find help in the time of need.

(V. 2). The prophet had seen the failure of the people of God and the work of the enemy in their midst. Now, with the holy fear of God in his heart, he prays that the LORD would work. He can say, "O LORD, revive Thy work." He does not pray for a great public revival among the people of God, that might bring them into prominence, but he longs to see the LORD working in the midst of their trials, - to see the LORD acting in mercy towards those who by their failure have brought upon themselves the chastening of the LORD.

(Vv. 3-6). Then in sublime language he recalls the different ways in which God had acted, in the past, for His own glory and the blessing of His people. He refers to Teman and Paran where there had been the most striking manifestations of divine power and glory, as we know from Deu_33:2 . "Before Him" the enemies of His people were driven asunder and scattered, and every opposing power brought low.

(Vv. 7-12). The dwellings of the heathen were in affliction, and their lands trembled when, at the word of the LORD "the rods of discipline" fell upon the nations (verse 9, N. Tr.). All the powers of nature - the rivers, the mountains, the sun and moon, were of no avail to stay the work of the LORD in judgment when He marched through the land in indignation, to thresh the nations in anger.

(Vv. 13-15). In thus acting the LORD was not only dealing with the wickedness of nations, but working for the salvation of His people - His anointed. To this end the leaders in wickedness, that came as a whirlwind to scatter and devour the afflicted, were overthrown by the mighty power of God.

(V. 16). This solemn dealing of God in judgment with the nations in the past, may, indeed, make the prophet realise the weakness and poverty of God's people, and thus tremble in the presence of divine manifestations; nevertheless, it would lead the prophet to "rest in the day of trouble when their invader shall come up against the people" (N. Tr.).

(Vv. 17-19). The outcome of the experiences of the prophet are summed up in the sublime burst of praise with which his prophecy closes. He had learned the ways of God in government, set forth in chastening His people, and in judging their enemies. He had seen a vision that told him all God's works in chastening and judgment, would lead to the everlasting salvation of Es people, and, above all, to the earth being filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD. He may have to wait for the fulfilment of the vision, but, living by faith, it this glorious future and the One Who will bring it to pass, he is prepared to face all the trials by the way. Want may stare him in the face; for the fruits of the earth may fail, the fields may yield no bread, and the flocks no meat. Nevertheless the LORD is in His holy temple, and in the LORD he will rejoice, and joy in the God of his salvation. Weak in himself, he would find in the LORD God his strength, Who would enable him to walk in high places far above the distractions and sorrows of earth.

How encouraging to trace the way in which this God-fearing man is led from being on his face in anguish of soul before God because of the failure of God's people, to take his stand on the watch-tower, to hear the words of the LORD. Then, having learned the mind of the LORD, to see him on his knees in prayer with the result that finally he walks on high places with joy in his heart and praise on his lips.

We live in the difficult times of the last closing days when, the Church having failed in its responsibility to witness for Christ, judgment commences at the house of God: when the world, having failed in its responsibility to govern, is filled with violence and corruption, and while passing on to the judgments of the day of the LORD, even now has to reap in sorrow what it has sown in wickedness. In such a day, when the end of all things is at hand, it surely becomes us to learn the lessons of Habakkuk, and be " sober, and watch and pray " ( 1Pe_4:7 ). It is not for believers, in this day of grace, to call down judgment on their enemies, but, as with the prophet of old, in all the sorrows we may have to face, whether amongst the people of God, or in the world around, we have an unfailing resource, "The LORD is in His holy temple." Christ remains, the Same yesterday and today. and for ever. He has gone "into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us" ( Heb_9:24 ). Like the prophet of old, we can pour out the exercises of our souls before Him; we can watch to see His hand at work; we can express all our needs to Him in prayer; and, even now, be led in spirit into high places above all the storms to rejoice in the LORD, and joy in the God of our salvation.

May we then, in due season be on our faces in confession; on the watch-tower to learn the mind of the LORD, on our knees in prayer; and on the high places in praise.

H. S.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Habakkuk 3". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/habakkuk-3.html. 1832.
 
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