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September 10, 2012

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines. Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food. Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.  The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

HABAKKUK 3 COMMENTARY – A PRAYER, A PSALM, A SONG – Habakkuk (whose name means “embracer”) “embraces” one of the greatest revelations of God which leads him to proclaim one of the greatest confessions of faith found anywhere in Scripture. Habakkuk had just recorded that “the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.” (Hab 2:20) And against this backdrop he boldly breaks silence praying “LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear (I am in reverential awe). O LORD, REVIVE Your work in the midst of the years. In the midst of the years make it known; In WRATH REMEMBER MERCY.” (Hab 3:2)

God answers Habakkuk with an incomparable manifestation of His presence and His power and His plan in Hab 3:3-15, undoubtedly one of the greatest visions of God in all of Scripture. Habakkuk seems to grasp for words to express his incomparable revelation of the Coming of the Holy One Whose “splendor covers the heavens and the earth is full of His praise” (3:3), Whose “radiance is like the sunlight” with “rays flashing from His hand” (3:4), Who coming brings pestilence and plague, startling the Nations, shattering the mountains, collapsing the ancient hills. Whose “ways are everlasting,” (3:5-6), Whose coming causes distress and trembling to the tribes  (3:7), Who rides on “chariots of salvation (3:8), Who makes His bow bare, Who cleaves the earth with rivers (3:9), Who causes the mountains to quake (3:10), Who causes the sun and moon to stand still (3:11), Who marches through the earth with righteous indignation, trampling the nations (3:12), Who goes “forth for the salvation of His people” and “His anointed,” (3:13). Who pierces the enemy with their own weapons (3:14), Who treads on the sea (3:15). Indeed, in light of so great a revelation, and so great a salvation (Heb 2:3-note), “brethern beloved by God” (1Th 1:4-note)…


From the New Testament we know that a song on one’s lips is a sign of the Spirit filling one’s heart (Eph 5:18-note, Eph 5:19-note). While Habakkuk does not mention the Holy Spirit, there is no doubt that the Spirit was inspiring and infilling the prophet to record one of the most magnificent descriptions of Jehovah in the entire Word of God. We too would do well to submit to the Spirit’s filling and “sing” this great psalm frequently, especially when we find ourselves in a “Habakkuk-like hole” so to speak, when we find ourselves seemingly overwhelmed by the circumstances (real or imagined), unable to find rest and peace in our own strength. In that state, instead of looking inward, we do well to imitate Habakkuk, looking back to remember the great and mighty works of our great God, and then looking forward and upward, confident of the future fulfillment of every one of His great promises which are “yea, and in Him (Christ) Amen.” (1Cor 1:20KJV) Only then can our “desolation” be supernaturally transformed into “jubilation!”

Sing for joy to God our STRENGTH.
Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.
(Psalm 81:1-Spurgeon’s Note)

G Campbell Morgan writes

Our joy is in proportion to our trust. Our trust is in proportion to our knowledge of God. To know Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to triumph and excel. May we be led into fuller knowledge and so find fuller faith and so enter the fuller joy. (Jubilation in Desolation-recommended read if you need encouragement! But be sure to read Habakkuk 3 FIRST!)

Exult in the LORD…rejoice in the God of my salvation Exult means literally to “jump for joy” while rejoice means to “spin around with delight.” How is this possible? The source and sphere of our joy is forever found only in the Lord. As G Campbell Morgan says…

“I will rejoice in the Lord.” “I will joy in the God of my salvation,” not in circumstances but over them, not in the part that is seen, but in the whole that faith alone can comprehend. Not in circumstances can I rejoice oftentimes, but if I have this clear vision of God it is given to me to rejoice over them; if I simply look at them my heart will be depressed, filled with a sense of sorrow; but if I see the whole, the ultimate, the unveiling of the purpose of God; if I really believe that the bud may have a bitter taste but sweet will be the fruit; if I have seen God and know that His purpose is a purpose of great love, then surely I may triumph over circumstances, not in self, but in God.

As Corrie Ten Boom said…

If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.
If you look within, you’ll be depressed.
If you look at God you’ll be at rest.

Spurgeon adds that “Joy in God is the happiest of all joys.” In fact, joy ceases to be joy when it ceases to be “in the Lord.”

The Lord God is my strength – There is actually no verb in the original Hebrew so the literal rendering is even better – “Jehovah the Lord, my Strength!” It is not that the Lord God had lent Habakkuk strength, but that God Himself was his strength (cp Php 4:13-note) The corollary is “I am not my strength.” Habakkuk had come to understand that he needed God’s strength to be on his high place and so do we as His beloved children (cp 2Ti 2:1-note, 2Cor 12:9-note, “when I am weak, then I am strong” = 2Cor 12:10-note).

Corrie Ten Boom has several quotes which nicely summarize the book of Habakkuk…

The Prophet Worrying
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow,
it empties today of its strength.

Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength-
carrying two days at once.
It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time.

Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow,
it empties today of its strength.

Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts
whirling around a center of fear.

The Prophet Trusting
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
to a known God.

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog —
the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.

It is not my ability,
but my response to God’s ability, that counts.

The Prophet Worshiping
This is what the past is for!
Every experience God gives us,
every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation
for the future that only He can see.

You can never learn that Christ is all you need,
until Christ is all you have.

Warren Wiersbe sums up Habakkuk…

Habakkuk teaches us to face our doubts and questions honestly, take them humbly to the Lord, wait for His Word to teach us, and then worship Him no matter how we feel or what we see. God doesn’t always change the circumstances, but He can change us to meet the circumstances. That’s what it means to live by faith.


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