Hab. 3:1-6, 11-13, 16-19 - T. Constable Exposition
III. HABAKKUK'S HYMN IN PRAISE OF YAHWEH CH. 3
Having received the revelation that Yahweh would destroy Babylon, Habakkuk could understand that He was just in using that wicked nation to discipline Israel. Babylon would not go free but would perish for her sins. Israel's punishment, on the other hand, was only temporary (cf. 2 Samuel 7:16). This insight led Habakkuk to write the prayer of praise that concludes the book. It is "one of the most moving statements of faith and trust found in Scripture." [Note: Ibid.]
This hymn is similar in language and imagery to Deuteronomy 33, Psalms 18:4-19, and Psalms 68. Its structure is chiastic, as indicated by the headings below.
A. The introduction to the hymn 3:1
v. 1: A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. - Habakkuk's prayer is hymnic in form, like many of the psalms (cf. Psalms 16; Psalms 30; Psalms 45; Psalms 88; Psalms 102; Psalms 142), and it apparently stood apart from the rest of the book at one time, as this title verse suggests. "Shigionoth" may be the title of the tune that the prophet and later Israelites used to sing this song. But the Hebrew word is the plural form of the same word used in the title of Psalms 7, but nowhere else. "Shiggaion" evidently means a poem with intense feeling. So another view is that the Israelites were to sing it enthusiastically. The intense feeling, in both contexts where the word occurs, is a vehement cry for justice against sin.
B. The prayer for revival 3:2
v. 2: Lord, I have heard the report about You, and I was afraid. Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known. In anger remember mercy. - The prophet acknowledged that he had received the Lord's revelation (cf. Habakkuk 2:1). It was essentially a revelation of Yahweh, His justice, sovereignty, and power, and it had filled him with awe. Reception of divine revelation resulted in the fear of the Lord, as it always should.
▪ Habakkuk called on God to stir up the work that He said He would do in judging Babylon. He asked God to make it known to His people "in the midst of the years," namely, the years between Judah's judgment and Babylon's (cf. Habakkuk 2:6-20). God undoubtedly did this in part through the Book of Habakkuk. While God was preparing Babylon for His wrath, Habakkuk asked Him to remember Israel by extending mercy to her. This verse contains the only petitions in Habakkuk's prayer: that God would preserve life, provide understanding, and remember mercy. Some readers have seen it as an encapsulation of the book's message.
v. 3: God comes from Teman, And the Holy One from Mount Paran. His splendor covers the heavens, And the earth is full of His praise. - The prophet pictured Yahweh as rising over His people like the rising sun, appearing over Teman, a large town in Edom, and Mt. Paran, the mountain opposite Teman (cf. Deuteronomy 33:2-4). These locations were to the east of the Israelites as they exited Egypt.
▪ The name for God used here, "Elohim," is in the singular, "Eloah," perhaps stressing the essential unity of God who is the Holy One. "Selah" is another musical notation meaning "to lift up" (cf. Habakkuk 3:9; Habakkuk 3:13). It probably indicates a place where the singers of this song were to pause. This pause may have been to modulate the key upward, to increase the volume, to reflect on what was just said, to exalt the Lord in some other way, or to raise an instrumental fanfare. [Note: Blue, p. 1518.]
▪ The Strong One's splendor covered the heavens like the sun after sunrise. The self-manifestation of His glory filled the earth with His fame. "Glory" (Heb. hod) describes primarily kingly authority (e.g., Numbers 27:20; 1 Chronicles 29:25; et al.), and here it has particular reference to Yahweh's sovereignty over creation and history. This is evidently a description of the Lord's appearance on Mt. Sinai to the Israelites' forefathers. Moses used similar terms to describe His coming then (cf. Deuteronomy 33:2).
1. Yahweh's awesome appearance 3:3-7 & the vision of God 3:3-15
Habakkuk moved from petition to praise in his prayer. He recalled God's great power and pardon in bringing the Israelites from Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land. Since God had done this, Habakkuk was confident that He could and would deliver the Israelites from the Babylonians and reestablish them in the land.
v. 4: His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, And the hiding of His might is there.The radiance of the Holy One's glory was like the sunlight. - Power seemed to flash from His fingertips as rays (lit. horns) of light stretch from the rising sun (cf. Exodus 34:29-30; Exodus 34:35). In spite of this, most of His power remained concealed.
v. 5: Before Him goes plague, And plague comes forth after Him. - As God moves through the earth, like the sun, He burns up what is in front of Him and chars what He leaves behind. Pestilence (lit. burning heat) and plague (i.e., devastation) are the accompaniments, the results and evidences of His searing holiness.
"In the ancient Near East, important people were accustomed to being accompanied by attendants (cf. 1 Samuel 17:7; 2 Samuel 15:1)." [Note: Baker, p. 71.]
v. 6: He stood and caused the earth to shudder; He looked and caused the nations to jump. Yes, the everlasting mountains were shattered, The ancient hills collapsed. His paths are everlasting. - Standing like the sun at its zenith, God surveyed the whole earth. His downward look, like sunrays, caused the nations to tremble. His glance was enough to make the permanent mountains shatter and the ancient hills collapse. He always causes these reactions since His ways are eternal. What a contrast He is to lifeless idols (Hab 2:18-19).
v. 11: Sun and moon stood in their lofty places; They went away at the light of Your arrows, At the radiance of Your flashing spear. - T he sun and moon stood still at His word (cf. Joshua 10:12-13), and they paled when He sent forth flashes of lightning like arrows and shining spears (cf. Deuteronomy 32:23; Deuteronomy 32:42).
v. 12: In indignation You marched through the earth; In anger You trampled the nations. - The Lord had marched through the earth like a cosmic giant subduing Israel's enemies. He had trampled hostile nations as an ox does when it treads grain.
v. 13: You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation of Your anointed. You smashed the head of the house of evil To uncover him from foot to neck. - He had gone forth as a warrior to save His people and to deliver His anointed one. This may refer to Moses in his battles with Israel's enemies, or it may refer to a coming anointed one: Cyrus (Isa. 45:1) or Messiah (cf. Ps 2:2; Dan 9:26), or more than one of these.
▪ "The first half of the verse provides the key to understanding the relationship of this chapter to the rest of the book. Rather than ignoring wrongdoing (Habakkuk 1:2-4), or allowing oppression of his people to go unpunished (Habakkuk 1:12-17), God remembers his covenant and acts on their behalf. The whole purpose of the psalm and of God's theophany is to indicate the continued presence of gracious care coupled with divine judgment. Here we have God's answer to Habakkuk's complaints (Hab 1:12-17)-his people will be saved."
▪ The Lord had also smitten the leaders of many evil nations that opposed the Israelites, beginning with Pharaoh. He had disabled their nations as thoroughly as when someone slits a body open from bottom to top or tears a building off its foundation. Selah.
v. 16: I heard, and my inner parts trembled; At the sound, my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble; Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will attack us. - Habakkuk trembled all over as he waited for the day of Babylon's invasion of Judah, the day of her distress. He could do nothing but wait patiently for the Babylonians to grow stronger and for judgment to come on Israel. It is a terrible feeling to know that calamity is coming but that one can do nothing to prevent it. He could endure the prospect because he remembered that the omnipotent God of Israel had consistently defended her in the past and promised to do so in the future. Earlier when the prophet heard about the powerful Babylonians, he wanted to talk with God (Habakkuk 2:1). But now, having been reminded of the infinitely more powerful Yahweh, he had nothing more to say (cf. Job 42:1-6). God would handle the Babylonians. All Habakkuk had to do was wait.
▪ "Over the years, I've often leaned on three verses that have helped me wait patiently on the Lord. 'Stand still' (Exodus 14:13), 'Sit still' (Ruth 3:18), and 'Be still' (Psalms 46:10). Whenever we find ourselves getting 'churned up' within, we can be sure that we need to stop, pray, and wait on the Lord before we do some stupid thing." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 422.]
D. The commitment to faith 3:16-19a
vv. 17-18: Even if the fig tree does not blossom, And there is no fruit on the vines, If the yield of the olive fails, And the fields produce no food, Even if the flock disappears from the fold, And there are no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will triumph in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. - Even though everything would get worse in Judah, Habakkuk determined to praise Yahweh and to rejoice in the God who would save him (cf. Psalms 18:46; Psalms 25:5). The prophet pictured the worst of circumstances by using a variety of rural metaphors drawn from plant and animal life. Taken together they have the effect of saying that no matter what bad thing may happen, Habakkuk, and hopefully all Israel, would trust God. Even though the prophet felt weak physically, he was strong in faith spiritually. Thus he would live (cf. Habakkuk 2:4). Many of these bad conditions did mark Judah when the Babylonians overthrew the nation (cf. Lamentations 2:12; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:4; Lamentations 4:9-10; Lamentations 5:17-18).
▪ "It is right and proper to voice appreciation of God's goodness when he bestows all that is necessary for life, health, and prosperity. But when these things are lacking, to rejoice in God for his own sake is evidence of pure faith." [Note: Bruce, p. 893.]
E. The concluding musical notation 3:19b
v. 19a: The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like deer's feet, And has me walk on my high places. - T he final footnote to this book gives direction to the choir director who used this chapter as part of Israel's formal worship. Habakkuk specified the use of stringed instruments to accompany the singing undoubtedly because they set the proper mood.
▪ The book opened with a dialogue between Habakkuk and Yahweh in which the prophet vented his fears and the Lord responded in love (ch. 1). Then it proceeded to a dirge in which the Lord explained the wickedness of the instrument that He would use to judge Judah, the Babylonians, and promised their ultimate destruction (ch. 2). It closes with a doxology in which Habakkuk praised God and recommitted himself to faith in and faithfulness to Yahweh as he anticipated hard times to come (ch. 3).
▪ "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." [Wiersbe, p. 422.] This book can be a great help to people who are discouraged about their present circumstances and or can see nothing good coming in the future. It helps us adjust our attitude from one of pessimism and even despair to optimism and rejoicing. The crucial issue is whether we will listen to God and believe Him, namely, exercise faith.
ENDNOTE: The book opened with a dialogue between Habakkuk and Yahweh in which the prophet vented his fears and the Lord responded in love (ch. 1). Then it proceeded to a lament in which the Lord explained the wickedness of the instrument that He would use to judge Judah, the Babylonians, and promised their ultimate destruction (ch. 2). It closes with a doxology in which Habakkuk praised God and recommitted himself to faith in and faithfulness to Yahweh as he anticipated hard times to come (ch. 3).
▪ "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." [Wiersbe]. This book can be a great help to people who are discouraged about their present circumstances and or can see nothing good coming in the future. It helps us adjust our attitude from one of pessimism and even despair to optimism and rejoicing. The crucial issue is whether we will listen to God and believe Him, namely, exercise faith.
Habakkuk's Prayer of Praise (3:1-19) [Keathley - Bible.org - Use for application]
In chapter one Habakkuk was low. He was despairing because of the evil around him. In chapter two he goes up to the watchtower to wait for the second answer. Now, in chapter three, we see him praising God and the last phrase of the book is "and makes me walk on my high places." The book is Habakkuk's steady progression upwards (spiritually) towards God.
Habakkuk now understands and offers a prayer of praise because God is in control.
At the beginning of the book I mentioned that Habakkuk's name meant "embrace" or "wrestle." We've see him wrestle with the tough questions, but what is his final response? To embrace God and trust in Him.
(1) God sometimes seems to be inactive, but He is involved. 1:12 showed that the Babylonians were under God's control, and He was using them to achieve His purposes.
(2) God is holy. In 1:13 Habakkuk said that God could not approve evil. This should be a sobering thought to us as we struggle with temptations, sins, bad habits (which is a euphemism for sins), etc.
(3) God hears and answers prayers.
(4) God sometimes gives unexpected answers to our prayers. When we pray, we usually have in our minds the way we want God to answer. When He answers differently, we think He hasn't answered at all.
(5) God is Just and God is Good. He will judge the wicked and he is concerned for the righteous.
(6) The righteous live by faith and faithfulness. This means we really believe that God is Good and God is just.
And we live accordingly. What are some situations where you might need to do that?
In summary, I think the message of Habakkuk is very comforting to us because we live in a wicked society. We can look back at what Habakkuk wrote, see that it came true, that God really is in control, that God did protect the righteous even though they went to Babylon (eg. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego) and He eventually brought them back to the land. Therefore, my faith in God can be bolstered by the prophecy and
historical events that show God's word is true.
As I've said before, prophecy is not just gee whiz information designed to tell us what is going to happen in the future. It is good for my heart because it helps me see that God is in control and God is going to preserve His people. It brings comfort for now and hope for the future.
Hab. 3 - Extra Commentary
Habakkuk 3:1 "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth."
"A prayer": (Hebrew. Tepilah, "prayer" or "song of praise"): It was written to be used as a part of the public worship services of Israel. It was set to "Shigionoth," which refers to the kind of music with which the psalm was to be accompanied. The following song, a victory ode, was to be sung triumphantly and with great excitement.
"Shigionoth" means rambling poem. It possibly means the prayer was sung. Notice also, that Habakkuk is recognized, again, as a prophet.
Habakkuk 3:2 "O LORD, I have heard thy speech, [and] was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy."
"Thy speech": A reference (back to 1:5-11 and 2:2-20), where the Lord informed Habakkuk of His plans for judging Judah and the Chaldeans.
"Revive thy work: Knowledge of the severity of God's judgment struck Habakkuk with fear. As though God's power had not been used in a long time, the prophet asked the Lord to "revive" (literally "to quicken"), to repeat His mighty saving works on behalf of His people, Israel.
In the midst of the years": In the midst of His punishment of Judah at the hand of the Chaldeans, the prophet begged that God would remember mercy.
In chapter 2, God had answered the prayer of Habakkuk. Now, he recognizes the fact that God has answered his questions. The explanation of the punishment God will bring on the Jews, and then the total destruction of Babylon, has frightened Habakkuk. Habakkuk wants to go back to the time when God's blessings were upon the Jews.
Habakkuk wants God to be merciful, and not complete the wrath He had spoken of.
Verses 3-15: These verses contain two poems (verses 3-7 and 8-15), recounting God's deliverance of His people in the days of the Exodus. The poems emphasize His preservation in the wilderness and His triumphal leading into the Promised Land.
"Selah": This expression is thought to be equivalent to a musical rest, in which the reader or singer was instructed to stop and think about what he just read or sang.
Employing figures from God's past intervention on Israel's behalf, taken from the deliverance of His people from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, Habakkuk painted a picture of their future redemption. The Exodus from Egypt is often used as an analogy of the future redemption of Israel at the beginning of the Millennium (Isa. 11:16).
Verses 3-4: The Shekinah glory, which protected and led Israel from Egypt through the wilderness (Exodus 40:34-38), was the physical manifestation of His presence. Like the sun, He spread His radiance throughout the heavens and the earth.
Habakkuk 3:3 "God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise."
"Teman ... Mount Paran": Teman, named after a grandson of Esau, was an Edomite city (Amos 1:12; Obadiah 9). Mount Paran was located in the Sinai Peninsula. Both allude to the theater in which God displayed great power when He brought Israel into the land of Canaan (Deut. 33:2; Judges 5:4).
The statement "God came from Teman" is speaking of God coming to Mount Sinai to make covenant with the people. "Selah" (meaning pause and think about what you just heard), is an expression used many times in the Psalms. God, in the verse above, is Eloah, which means Deity.
This shows that God is Lord and Ruler of all the earth. Holy One is another way of speaking of God, who is all-powerful. The glory of God fills the heavens and the earth.
Deuteronomy 5:24 "And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth."
Deuteronomy 33:2 "And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand [went] a fiery law for them."
There is no other glory compared to the glory of God in the heavens.
Psalms 48:10 "According to thy name, O God, so [is] thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness."
Habakkuk 3:4 "And [his] brightness was as the light; he had horns [coming] out of his hand: and there [was] the hiding of his power."
"And his brightness was as the light": Of fire, of devouring fire on the top of the mount, to which the sight of his glory was like (Exod. 24:16), which Kimchi refers it. Aben Ezra thinks the pillar of fire is intended, in which the Lord went before his people in the wilderness (Exod. 13:21).
Or rather as the light of the sun shining in its full strength, Christ being the light of the world, and the sun of righteousness. And so may describe him as the brightness of his Father's glory. Or his glory, as the only begotten of the Father, seen by his own disciples in the days of his flesh, shining through his works and miracles.
Or as exhibited in the light of his glorious Gospel, which is the great light that shined on men. And in and by which they that sat in darkness saw light, and who were darkness itself were made light in the Lord. What a glory, luster, brightness, and light, did the Gospel spread in the world at the first publication of it!
And be understood of Christ, who has beams and rays of glory on all sides of him, all around him; he is all glory. He is crowned with glory and honor, and highly exalted at his Father's right hand, above all principalities and powers. And "horns" being an emblem of power and might, authority and dominion.
"And there was the hiding of his power": That is, in his hand; there his power, which before was hidden, was made manifest. And yet so little displayed, in comparison of what it is in itself, that it may be rather said to be hid than revealed.
Or there, in his hand, lies his power, with which he hides and covers his people in the day of battle. Especially his ministering servants, whom he holds in his right hand, and preserves amidst a thousand dangers and difficulties. And keeps them for further usefulness (see Acts 18:10).
God is the Light. He not only is as the Light, He is the Light. The "horns coming out of His hands" show the power of His work. "Horns" symbolize power and "hands" symbolize work. This could, also, mean that light was streaming from His hands.
The Light of God is like a garment God is clothed in to keep mortal man from seeing Him. Most who have an experience with God, see a bright Light, or a fire. The power of God is hidden in that Light.
1 John 1:5 "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
Revelation 21:23 "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof."
Habakkuk 3:5 "Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet."
"Pestilence ... burning coals": Recalling the judgment attending Israel's disobedience to the covenant given at Sinai (Exodus 5:3; Num. 14:12; Deut. 28:21-22; 32:24), Habakkuk accentuated the sovereign agency of God's judgments. Both were a part of the divine entourage.
The "burning coals at His feet" are compared to burnished brass. "Brass" symbolizes judgment. At His command, the pestilence moves. He sends the pestilence. He is also, the One who removes the pestilence.
Verses 6-7: The entire universe responds in fear at the approach of Almighty God (Exodus 15:14). As at the Creation (Isa. 40:12), the earth and its inhabitants are at His disposal.
Habakkuk 3:6 "He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways [are] everlasting."
"He stood and measured the earth": This alludes to the Ark of the Lord, the symbol of his presence, standing and abiding at Gilgal for the space of fourteen years, while the land of Canaan was subdued by Joshua. And then measured out by him, and divided by lot, as an inheritance to the children of Israel, according to the direction and appointment of the Lord (Joshua 13:1).
"He beheld, and drove asunder the nations": With a look of his he made them give way. He drove the Canaanites out of the land, and separated them from one another, and scattered them about, to make room for his people Israel (Psalm 78:55).
"And the everlasting mountains were scattered": Or, "were broken".
"The perpetual hills did bow": The mountains and hills that were from the beginning of the creation, that were settled upon their bases, and never moved, now trembled, shook, and bowed. As Sinai and others did, at the presence of the God of Israel (see Judges 5:5).
Or rather, figuratively, these may design the kingdoms and states, kings and princes, greater and lesser, belonging to the land of Canaan, which were shaken, moved, and taken by the Israelites, and brought into subjection to them. And in like manner kings and kingdoms, comparable to mountains and hills, through the preaching of the Gospel.
And the power of Christ attending it, were brought to yield unto him, at the downfall of Paganism in the Roman empire. This is signified by every mountain and island being moved out of their places. And kings and great men calling to the rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:14).
"His ways are everlasting": And what he has done in ages past he can do again. His power, his wisdom, and his grace, are unchangeably the same. And all he does in time, every step he takes, is according to his counsels, purposes, and decrees in eternity, which infallibly come to pass.
Nor can he be hindered and frustrated in the execution of them; as he has begun, he will go on. as he has set up his kingdom in the world, he will support and maintain it. And though there are many obstructions in the way of it, he will go on, and remove them, until he has thoroughly established it, and brought it to its highest glory, which he has designed.
All mountains and hills are nothing before him; he can soon make them a plain (see Rev. 11:15). Or, "the ways of the world are his"; the world is under his government, and all things in it subject to his providence. He can rule and overrule all things for his own glory, and the good of his interest, and he will do it.
Everything is subject to his control, and under his direction; not a step can be taken without his will. This the prophet observes along with the above things, to encourage the faith and expectation of the saints, that the work of the Lord will be revived, and his kingdom and interest promoted and established in the world. Though there may, and will, be many difficulties and distresses previous to it.
This measurement has to do with judgment. The mountains and the hills quake at His presence. They are His creation and are subject to Him as the people are.
Joel 2:10 "The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:"
He is Everlasting God.
Habakkuk 3:11 "The sun [and] moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, [and] at the shining of thy glittering spear."
"Sun and moon stood still in their habitation": As prominent symbols of God's created order, the sun and moon are subservient to His beckoning. The imagery is reminiscent of Israel's victory over the Amorites at Gibeon (Joshua 10:12-14).
All of this is explaining that God controls all of these things. It is He that commanded the light to shine. It is by
His command that it will stop shining. The shining of the spear, in this instance, could be speaking of lightning. God's presence is enough to cause all of the things we have read about, but His commands cause all the elements of nature to obey.
Habakkuk 3:12 "Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger."
"March": Literally "threshed," the term is often used to depict military invasions and the execution of judgment (Judges 8:7; 2 Kings 13:7; Isa. 21:10; 25:10; Dan. 7:23; Amos 1:3).
When the True God walks through the earth in indignation, the whole earth trembles. The threshing is like the farmer threshing the wheat. God fights for His own. He separates His family from the lost, as the wheat is separated from the chaff.
Habakkuk 3:13 "Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, [even] for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah."
"Salvation with thine anointed": Both the parallelism with verse 13a ("Your people"), and the numerous contextual allusions to the Exodus make this a likely reference to Moses and the chosen people of Israel. Who, as God's anointed, achieved victory over Pharaoh and the armies of Egypt (Psalm 105:15).
"Thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked": Not the princes of the families of the land of Canaan, as some; nor the first born of Pharaoh's family in Egypt, or him and his host at the Red sea, as others. Nor Goliath of Gath, smitten by David, as Burkius; nor Satan and his principalities and powers by Christ on the cross.
But Antichrist the man of sin, that wicked and lawless one, who is at the bead of a wicked house or family, the antichristian party. Who received a wound at the Reformation; and ere long the kings of the earth will hate the whore, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. And Christ, will utterly consume and destroy this wicked one with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming (Rev. 13:3; see Psalm 110:6).
Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret this of the head of the army of wicked Gog, the king of Magog, taking it to belong to future time. And so some render all those phrases, "thou wilt go forth, thou wilt wound".
"By discovering the foundation unto the neck": Or "razing the foundation" (as in Psalm 137:7). There seems to be a double metaphor in the words, expressing the utter ruin and destruction of antichrist and his party. Who, being compared to a building, will be demolished, and razed to the very foundation. That will be dug up, and laid bare, no trace of an edifice to be seen any more.
And, being compared to a human body, will be plunged into such distresses and calamities, as to be as it were up to the neck in them, from whence there is no escape and deliverance. Some understand this of the princes of this head, or of his friends, and those of his family that are nearest to him. As the neck is to the head; or of the whole body of the people under him, of which he will be deprived. And so be as a head without a body, and who cannot long survive them.
Ultimately, it foreshadows a subsequent, future deliverance in anticipation of the Messiah (Psalm 132:10-12), promised in the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:11-16).
God is the Savior of His people. He will save Judah from the Chaldeans. He will send His Son and save all the world who will believe and accept Him. The "Anointed One" is Christ. He comes as Savior. The head of the house of the wicked could be anything, from the Babylonian head to the head over Jerusalem, when Jesus comes.
We know the Babylonians were destroyed. We also know there will come a time when Jesus will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. This perhaps, means all of those times. God knows whether the foundation is built on the Rock, or on sinking sand.
Verses 16-19: The instructions in the postscript indicate that this psalm was used as a part of the temple liturgy. It is a great psalm expressing obedience and praise to God, and trust in Him.
Habakkuk ended the prophecy with renewed commitment and affirmation of faith, expressing unwavering confidence in God.
Habakkuk 3:16 "When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops."
"I might rest": The Lord had answered his prayer (verse 1); the Lord would vindicate His righteousness and ultimately restore a truly repentant people (2:4).
While the answer satisfied Habakkuk, the thought of a Chaldean invasion of his people has also left him physically exhausted and overwhelmed (Jer. 4:19). Nevertheless, the prophet could "wait quietly for the day of distress" because he knew the Lord would judge righteously.
This was possibly, intended for Judah then, but is also for all generations who face their own shortcomings. Judah was to feel the chastisement of God for their unfaithfulness to God.
Deuteronomy 28:58 "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;"
Hebrews 10:31 "[It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
We see that Habakkuk has great fear (reverence), of God. He is so weak at the presence of God that his bones seem to be rotten. His bones were like water. He had no strength within him. Habakkuk knows the invasion of Judah is certain. Habakkuk believes that he will have perfect rest in the midst of all this trouble.
Habakkuk 3:17 "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labor 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:"
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom": Or rather, as the Septuagint version, "shall not bring forth fruit"; since the fig tree does not bear blossoms and flowers, but puts forth green figs at once.
This was a tree common in the land of Canaan, and its fruit much in use, and for food. Hence, we read of cakes of figs among the provisions Abigail brought to David (1 Sam. 25:18), so that when there was a scarcity of these, it was a bad time.
"Neither shall fruit be in the vines": No grapes, or clusters of them, out of which wine was pressed. A liquor very refreshing and reviving to nature; and is said to cheer God and man, being used in sacrifices and libations to God, and the common drink of men (Judges 9:13). So that, when it failed, it was a public calamity.
"The labor of the olive shall fail": Or "lie"; disappoint the expectation of those who planted and cultivated it with much toil and labor, it not producing fruit as looked for. This tree yielded berries of an agreeable taste, and out of which oil was extracted, the Jews used instead of butter, and for various purposes. So that, when it failed of fruit, it was a great loss on many accounts.
"And the fields shall yield no meat": The grass fields had no herbage for beasts; the grain fields had no grain for man; the consequence of which must be a famine to both. And this must be very dismal and distressing.
"The flock shall be cut off from the fold": Flocks of sheep; either by the hand of God, some disease being sent among them; or by the hand of man, drove off by the enemy, or killed for their use. So that the folds were empty of them, and there were none to gather into them.
"And there shall be no herd in the stalls": Or oxen in the stables, where they are kept, and have their food; or stalls in which they are fattened for use. All these are signified the necessaries of life, which, when they fail, make a famine, which is a very distressing case. Yet, in the midst of all this, the prophet, representing the church, expresses his faith and joy in the Lord.
However, there will be very few lively, spiritual, and fruitful Christians, such as abound in the exercise of grace, and are diligent in the discharge of duty. For, when the Son of Man cometh, he will not find faith on the earth; and he will find the virgins sleeping (Luke 18:8). The "fields not" yielding "meat" may signify that the provisions of the house of God will be cut off.
There will be no administration of ordinances; the word of the Lord will be scarce, rare, and precious. There will be a famine, not of bread and of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord. One of the days of the Son of Man will be desired, but not enjoyed.
So, no spiritual food in the use of means to be had; a very uncomfortable time this will be (Amos 8:11; Luke 17:22). The "flock" being "cut off from the fold" may denote that the sheep of Christ will be given up to the slaughter of the enemy, or be scattered abroad in this dark and cloudy day of persecution.
So that there will be no fold, no flock, no sheep gathered together. And perhaps such will be the case, that there will not be one visible congregated church in due order throughout the whole world. All will be broke up, and dispersed here and there.
And yet the prophet, or the church represented by him, expresses an uncommon frame of spirit in the following verse (Hab. 3:18).
The blessings of God upon this people are completely gone. Their crops fail, their cattle are no more. The fig tree symbolically speaks of Israel. The blooming of Israel is over. God has judged them, and they will be chastised.
Habakkuk 3:18 "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
"I will rejoice in the Lord": If everything that was normal and predictable collapsed, the prophet would still
rejoice. Obedience to the covenant was a requisite element to the enjoyment of agricultural and pastoral prosperity (Deut. 18:1-14).
Though disobedience would initiate the covenant curses (Deut. 28:31-34; 49-51). The prophet affirmed his commitment to the Lord; his longing and joyful desire was for God Himself.
Even though his world seems to be collapsing about him, Habakkuk will rejoice in the LORD.
Psalms 91:7 "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee."
The circumstances around Habakkuk do not cause him to be discouraged. He places his faith in the LORD. He is looking beyond this present conflict to the salvation he knows is for him. Joy is an inward knowing that all is well. It is not an outward show of laughing.
Romans 5:2 "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
Habakkuk 3:19 "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."
"The Lord God is my strength": God's response to Habakkuk's perplexities not only promised divine wrath but also provided assurance of divine favor and hope. Security and hope were not based on temporal blessings but on the Lord Himself. This is the essence (of 2:4): "the righteous will live by his faith."
"Like hind's feet": As the sure-footed hind, or deer, scaled the precipitous mountain heights without slipping, so Habakkuk's faith in the Lord enabled him to endure the hardships of the imminent invasion, and all of his perplexing questions.
"To the chief singer": Habakkuk (chapter 3), possibly served as a psalm for temple worship (3:1).
This is just saying that believing in the eternal salvation of God will cause him to rise above the immediate problems.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
It is not my own strength that I can depend upon. It is the strength that God brings me, when Christ dwells within me.
Ephesians 3:16 "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;"
The best thing a person can determine in his work for God is that he cannot do anything on his own. It is God who brings success to our endeavors. There is no obstacle too large for God to overcome.
Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.