Introduction – Habakkuk’s response to the revelation that God gave him of his intent for
I. A Prayer – Habakkuk already has been addressing God, hearing a response and continuing the dialogue. Why is this portion now referred to as a “Prayer?” The rest of the chapter should answer this.
II. An Address to God – verse 2
A. It appears now that his mood of challenge and questioning the ways of God is past and he is ready to make requests based on a submission to his goodness.
B. “the report of you” – from the rest of the chapter we learn that Habakkuk is reflecting on the recorded history of
C. He has developed a reverence (‘fear”) for God in his work and now sees God’s glory far beyond the actual events. For how intrinsic the “fear of the Lord” is to real worship, remember that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), turning away from the fear of the Lord is self-destructive (Proverbs 1:29-32), the fear of the Lord is the culmination of a deep desire to know the ways of God (Proverbs 2:1-5), the fear of the Lord arises when one abandons self-conceit (Proverbs 3:5-8), the fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil (Proverbs 8:13), and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, which is equated with “knowledge of the Holy One” (Proverbs 9:10).
D. Based on what he now senses about God’s purpose with his people, and how he has shown his faithfulness in the past, he prays for a revival of that same kind of powerful and purposeful intervention in light of the coming disaster. “In the midst of the years” seems to imply that he desires to see these things happen before the culmination of the ages; God’s manifestation of his glory now, before the rolling up of all things at the final conflagration, is at the heart of Habakkuk’s prayer.
E. He knows that wrath is the proper response to evil, injustice, and idolatry; but mercy is a surprising display of wisdom and power and gives a marvelous symmetry to the revelation that God gives of Himself in this age. “In wrath remember mercy.” He follows this request with examples of how the Lord has done exactly that in
III. A Meditation about God – Verses 3-6
A. Verses 3 and 4 – Teman refers to the power and earthly glory of the descendants of Esau who had established a kingdom of
1. God had appeared in great glory in the giving of the Law at Sinai (Exodus 19; Deuteronomy 33). The people of
B. Verse 5 – Habakkuk is reminded of the release from
C. Verse 6 – Here Habakkuk envisions God measuring out the land that he would give to
IV. Habakkuk revisits
A. Verse 7 – The tents of Cushan, or
B. Verse 8, 9 – This vivid poetry shows that the forces of nature are used as servants, even weapons of God.
1. The Nile turned to blood in partial recompense for the drowning of Hebrew males in that river; the Red sea parted and then engulfed the army of Pharaoh in a massive destruction of Israel’s foes; the Jordan parted under the leadership of Joshua for the purpose that he stated,: “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, etc . Behold the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the
2. The “chariot of salvation” refers immediately to God’s power in delivering the nation and securing it in the land promised to Abraham. That particular operation, however, subserves a much greater salvation, the eternal salvation from sin and condemnation that would come through the promised Messiah.
3. All of God’s power and the perfection of his purpose in pursuit of his eternal and absolute determination to glorify Himself in the work of redemption went to work for the nation of
4. Verses 10-15 ; This series of vivid descriptions of God’s actions for the effecting of his glorious purpose of redemption and judgment employs the imagery of nature and of military weapons and strategy. The overall impression is that God has all means at his disposal, whether the forces of brute nature or the manifestation of shrewd, well planned, well prepared, and perfectly executed strategy. Some notable features may be referenced.
Within the references to nature, it is possible that the Lord’s appearance to Elijah in a still small voice after the wind and the earthquake inform some of the imagery. Also the reality that the date of the oral prophecy of Amos was located by the written version as “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1).Seemingly, verse 11 and 12 refer to God’s sustaining Joshua in his conquest of the land including the marvel of the sun’s being arrested in its course across the sky through the prayer of Joshua and the power of God (Joshua 10:12, 13). Surely Habakkuk has in mind such amazing events as recorded in Joshua: “The Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them ,. . . There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of
God’s marching and threshing is certainly reminiscent of such language as “For the Lord God of
Note also the analogy to God’s working salvation for sinners by his own will and power in the person of the Messiah (verse 13). God’s relentless actions against the enemies of Israel prefigures His utter defeat of Satan, (“crushed the head of the house of the wicked”) using Satan’s own craftiness and murderous hostility as the means by which God would set forth his own Son as a propitiation in order to bring down the entire fabric of Satan’s rebellion (13b, 14 cf. John 12:31; 13:27; 14:30; 16:11).
V. Verses 16-19 – Habakkuk’s resignation and joy – Proverbs 1:33 says, “But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” These are traits of those that have not rejected the fear of the Lord.
A. Verse 16 – Habakkuk has achieved, by God’s grace, a level of understanding and of resignation that should be normal in the life of the Christian (Philippians 1:20, 21; 4:11-13). Earthly circumstances can bring about a sense of dread and the true feeling of being overwhelmed with the prospect of distress, physically and emotionally. Nevertheless, though the emotions affect us deeply, the standard of truth hangs bright before our eyes giving confidence and sustaining power even amidst the apparent uncertainties of our temporal journey. Habakkuk trusted God, and had a newly given understanding of the great mystery, but the infallible certainty, of his providence; thus he anticipated worldly trouble with a spirit of quietness.
B. Verses 17, 18 – If all blessings that give pleasure and security to the mere worldling are removed, the reality of God’s promise, his redemptive grace, and the prospect of seeing his beauty and dwelling in his presence overcome the loss, making it less than nothing, of all that thrills the mind of the pleasure-seeker that has no hope beyond this age. Salvation, in all its progress in the life of the believer, the one that is justified by faith (see 2:4), and in all its unparalleled dimensions more clearly sustains the trusting one than any amount of earthly security (Compare Hebrews 11:24-26; Philippians 3:7, 8).
C. Verse 19 – Displacing all the distress about the ways of God and the apparent injustice and startling defense of God’s treatment of