Problems of Habakkuk
|Praise of Habakkuk
Opens in Gloom:
|Closes in Glory:
Ends with an
|What is God Doing?||Who God Is|
of the Prophet
of the Prophet
of the Prophet
|Watch and See||Stand and See||Kneel and See|
Why Does God
Why Will God use
|Word of Praise
Words of fear & faith Hab 3:16-19
|Oracle Related to Judah
Habakkuk moves from burden to blessing, from wonder/worry to worship, from restlessness to rest, from a problem to God’s Person, and from a complaint to consolation. God turns sighing into singing if we (like Habakkuk) take time to wait before Him in prayer and listen to His Word.
Timeline of Habakkuk
722: Northern Kingdom of Israel (10 tribes) falls & is exiled to Assyria
627: Jeremiah begins his prophetic ministry
621: Rediscovery of Book of Law which had been lost in House of God! Josiah's reformation (but not lasting revival)
612: Fall of Nineveh, capital of Assyria
609: Death of godly King Josiah
607: Habakkuk begins his prophetic ministry
605: Nebuchadnezzar defeats Pharaoh Necho of Egypt at Battle of Carchemish = "the turning point of world history"
605: First invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon; Daniel taken captive
597: Second invasion of Judah by Babylon; Ezekiel and 10,000 taken captive
592: Ezekiel begins his prophetic ministry to Babylonian exiles
586: Fall of Jerusalem, Destruction of Temple
538: Exiles return from Babylon to Judah (relatively small number return)
Kitto introduces this great section of Scripture...
A prayer of Habakkuk - Hab 2:20 ends with God in His Holy Temple, which provides a natural transition into the prayer beginning in Hab 3:1-2. Imagine Habakkuk's worshipful reverence as he is made aware of Jehovah in His Holy Temple.
While the tone of this chapter is distinctly different from the previous two, the author is clearly stated to be the same individual, albeit a man now supernaturally transformed by a "close encounter" with God, with His Word of Truth and Life and a vibrant trust in His Word (Hab 2:4-note). How ridiculous are those "experts" who reject Habakkuk's authorship of chapter 3!
Recall that Habakkuk’s name means "the embracer" and as Spurgeon says "he truly was one who saw the promises afar off and was persuaded of them and embraced them. He took fast hold upon the goodness of the Lord and rested there." (Sermon)
A prayer - This is not just a prayer, but a prayer that reads like a psalm. Indeed, it is a song to be sung, one that all of God's people can sing. Note that Shigionoth is translated "ode" or song in the Greek. And the last phrase in Hab 3:19b makes it clear this prayer is to be sung...
For the choir director,
From the NT 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 "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 and looking back to remember the great and mighty works of our great God, and then looking forward, confident of the future fulfillment of every one of His great promises given to us personally in Christ Jesus.
Corrie Ten Boom's well known quote is a great subtitle for Habakkuk 3...
If you look at the world, you'll be distressed.
Shigionoth - Lxx translates it with Greek word ode meaning "song." The NASB has a note says it is "a highly emotional poetic form", that it may refer to "a wild passionate song with rapid changes of rhythm" which presumably is why the Amplified version is translated as follows...
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet,
NET Note on Shigionoth:
And so we see the prophet turn his worry into worship, a prayer in the form of a song. As Corrie Ten Boom said "Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”
As Spurgeon wrote...
Habakkuk 3:2 LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.: (I have: Hab 3:16 1:5-10 Ex 9:20,21 2Ch 34:27,28 Job 4:12-21 Ps 119:120 Isa 66:2 Jer 36:21-24 Da 8:17 Heb 11:7 12:21 Rev 15:4) (report, or hearing, Isa 53:1 Ro 10:16) (O Lord: Ezra 9:8 Ps 85:6 Ps 90:13-17 Ps 138:7,8 Isa 51:9-11 Isa 63:15-19 Isa 64:1-4 Hos 6:2,3 Jn 10:10 Php 1:6) (In the midst of the years: Jer 25:11,12 Jer 52:31-34 Da 9:2) (In wrath: Ex 32:10-12 Nu 14:10-23 Nu 16:46,47 2Sa 24:10-17 Ps 6:1,2 Ps 38:1 Ps 78:38 Jer 10:24 Jer 29:10 La 3:32 Zec 1:12)
LORD, I have heard the report about You - Literally, ”Yahweh I have heard the hearing of You." Notice that Habakkuk begins his prayer with Jehovah, the covenant Name of God, the God Who keeps covenant! (Compare Hab 1:2-note). As a result of the vision in the previous chapters, we can only imagine the depth of the prophet's awe at the greatness of His God. Undoubtedly Habakkuk is forever changed by this encounter and rightly so! How do we know? He no longer accuses the prophet of not hearing (Hab 1:2-note), because he himself has now heard the report ("the hearing"). Notice also how the complaint has changed to a petition, for he knows that Jehovah is not silent, and he desires to see more of His great work (Hab 3:2). Is this not the case in our life -- when God reveals some aspect or truth about Himself, it often kindles in us a desire for even more of Him. Indeed, the invitation is ever to
O taste and see that the LORD is good;
Robert Spendera makes an interesting observation...
I fear (Literally "I am afraid") - KJV = "was afraid"; NET = "I am awed"; CSB = "I stand in awe"; ESV = "your work, O LORD, do I fear" rather that "You...I fear." The godly man has a healthy (reverential) fear of God. The ungodly in their arrogance and self-deception do not fear Him (Ps 36:1-note).
Habakkuk 3:1 designates this chapter as a prayer and it is notable because Habakkuk has only 2 petitions - revive Your work...make it known and remember mercy. This psalm, designed to be sung as a prayer hymn, seeks both to review God's works of old for His people, as a means of encouraging them in relation to the troubles that were coming, and also to assure that God's ancient promises will surely be fulfilled.
Revive (piel imperative) your work - preserve or make alive. Habakkuk prays for God's redemptive intervention during the period of their chastisement ("in the midst of the years"). Although God's warnings surely were enough to make them afraid, Habakkuk and the people could still pray for revival and for God to be merciful, even in His wrath against their sins. Habakkuk prayed for a fresh manifestation of God’s power.
Revive is the verb chayah = to live, to have life, to give, to restore life.
OT passages that speak of "revival" = Ezra 9:8 Ps 85:6 Ps 90:13-17 Ps 138:7-8 Isa 51:9-11 Isa 63:15-19 Isa 64:1-4 Hos 6:2-3 Ps 119:25, Ps 69:32 Ps 71:20 Ps 80:18 Ps 119:37, 40, 88, 107, 149, 154, 156, 159 Ps 138:7 Ps 143:11 Hab 3:2
Or stated another way
"There will be No Revival without Rebible!"
Habakkuk may have had something like this in mind...
Patterson writes that...
Ryrie explains that Habakkuk is asking God to preserve or make alive His ...
The Psalmist prays...
Your work - Jameison says
In the midst of the years - Only here in the OT. Meaning uncertain.
Earlier in His declaration of the coming judgment on Judah God gave Habakkuk a specific time of fulfillment...
In wrath remember mercy - "“in turmoil remember [to show] compassion." Spendera writes that "Habakkuk’s fear of coming judgment is genuine but his knowledge of God’s merciful character is equally genuine, so he intercedes for his people." (Ibid)
Mercy (07355) (racham) reflects a deep love (usually of superior for inferior) rooted in some "natural" bond. Racham is a revealed attribute of the Lord (Ex. 33:19; See discussion of God's Attribute of Mercy) and reflects the tender feelings that a mother has for the fruit of her womb.
Guzik comments that...
F B Meyer - O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years. Habakkuk 3:2
When we are oppressed with the state of the Church and the world, as Habakkuk was, there is no resource but to turn to God. It is of no use to say to our brother, “What shall we do?” Better at once get into the presence of the Almighty. All conferences with flesh and blood are wasted breath, unless there has been a previous one with God.
Note also the unselfishness of the prayer which precedes revival. We must not pray “Revive my work,” lest the insidious temptation come in of using the stream of God’s blessing to turn our own tiny water-wheels for our own profit. Let us get beyond the narrow limits of our church or section, and ask for a revival of God’s work everywhere.
We do not need a new Gospel, but a revival—a revivifying of the old Gospel. If any preach another Gospel than that which the apostles preached, let him be accursed; he is selling bran for wheat; he is filling cartridges with sand. We want nothing but the Gospel of the Cross of Jesus Christ, proclaimed from lips which have received a new baptism of heavenly power.
Note the time. Not at the end of years, but in the midst. This is a prayer for those in middle life. They are apt to think that their power for service has passed its prime, and that the successes of their early days cannot be paralleled. But let them remember that in the midst of the years God can revive his work, and ask for it.
What an argument! “Remember mercy.” We cannot appeal to merit, but can lay great stress on mercy. Lord, have mercy on thy Church—revive her; and ere the dispensation close, may she arise for one great work of soul-salvation! (Our Daily Homily)
Habakkuk 3:3 God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.: (O Lord: Ezr 9:8 Ps 85:6 Ps 90:13-17 Ps 138:7,8 Isa 51:9-11 Isa 63:15-19 Isa 64:1-4 Hos 6:2,3 Jn 10:10 Php 1:6)
God come from Teman...Mount Paran - God answers Hab 3:2 with a description of His glory (glory is that which gives a proper opinion of someone) from Hab 3:3 through Hab 3:15. Hab 3:16 is the prophet's reaction to God's Self Revelation and Hab 3:17-19 is his final declaration of trust. The reader needs to be aware that there are two ways Hab 3:3-15 is interpreted, one school seeing this description as only past history with no prophetic implications, but another school seeing it as a description of God's actions in the past and a prophecy to be fulfilled in the future at the Second Coming. This commentary favors the latter view as will be explained in the following exposition.
See parallel passage - Exposition of Isaiah 63:1-6
Spendera comments that this next section recalls...
God (Eloah) - Thought by some to be the singular of the noun elohim. David uses Eloah to describe Jehovah in Ps 18:31. Eloah is used once in the phrase “God of Jacob” (Ps 114:7) and once in the phrase, “God of forgiveness” (Neh. 9:17).
Eloah - 56x in OT - Dt 32:15, 17; 2Chr 32:15; Neh 9:17; Job 3:4, 23; 4:9, 17; 5:17; 6:4, 8f; 9:13; 10:2; 11:5ff; 12:4, 6; 15:8; 16:20f; 19:6, 21, 26; 21:9, 19; 22:12, 26; 24:12; 27:3, 8, 10; 29:2, 4; 31:2, 6; 33:12, 26; 35:10; 36:2; 37:15, 22; 39:17; 40:2; Ps 18:31; 50:22; 114:7; 139:19; Pr 30:5; Isa 44:8; Da 11:37, 38, 39; Hab 1:11; 3:3
Holy One - Used in Hab 1:12, cp Hab 1:13. This name expresses God's absolute holiness, His set apartness so to speak from sin and all things unholy.
Holy One - 58x in 56v (50v in OT & 8v in NT) - 2Kgs 19:22; Job 6:10; Ps 16:10; 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; 106:16; Prov 9:10; 30:3; Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:17, 20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11f, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 40:25; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14f; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14; Jer 50:29; 51:5; Ezek 39:7; Dan 4:13, 23; 8:13; Hos 11:9, 12; Hab 1:12; 3:3; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; John 6:69; Acts 2:27; 13:35; 1 Pet 1:15; 1 John 2:20; Rev 16:5
Mount Paran (Dictionary Description) - According to most sources this describes a wilderness area south of Judah, west of Edom, and north of Sinai. Israel camped there after leaving Sinai during the Exodus and sent spies to scout out the Promised Land from Kadesh, a location in Paran (Nu 10:11-12; 13:3,26). In short, Habakkuk received an answer to his prayer that consists of an awesome description of God coming from the southern portion of Israel, the general direction of Sinai. The mention of Teman and Paran appear to be allusions to the events of Israel's wilderness wanderings during which God demonstrated great power to His covenant people as He brought them on their journey to the Promised Land.
There are several other majestic descriptions of God similar to that of Habakkuk 3 which also recall God's past presence, power and provision during the time of Israel's wilderness wanderings...
Paran - 10x - 10v: Ge 21:21 Nu 10:12 Nu 12:16 Nu 13:3 Nu 13:26 Dt 1:1 T 33:2 1Sa 25:1 1Ki 11:18 Hab 3:3
Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes that Hab 3:3 places Messiah's
In another discussion Fruchtenbaum has this comment on Habakkuk 3:3 -
Selah (05542) is used 3x in this chapter (Hab 3:3, 3:9, 3:13) which are the only uses outside of Psalms where it is found 71 times. Selah invites the reader/singer to stop and think about that thought. 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 sang or read. It affords an opportunity for pause and reflection upon what has been said. Someone has suggested that when we read it, we probably should not vocalize it anymore than a singer would vocalize the rests of a musical composition. Whatever its meaning, an obvious break was intended in the middle of Hab 3:3. For some reason, the ESV choose to place Selah at the end of verse. The NJB translates it as "Pause."
Scott feels that Selah "is used in this chapter (vv. 3, 9, 13) as a pause to allow the reader time to reflect upon God’s deliverance of His people." (When Prophets Speak of Judgment)
Henry Morris - Habakkuk here refers partially to God's leading His people in their Exodus from Egypt, with the veiled revelation of His glory on Mount Sinai. However, the dramatic events described following the "Selah" pause did not take place at that time. The literal fulfillment must be at His glorious coming following the Great Tribulation of the end-times. It seems that Habakkuk's prophetic vision, on which his psalm was based, contained a blending of both God's past miraculous deliverances of His people and also the future deliverances of which these had been a type.
Cyril Barber - In his prayer Habakkuk portrayed God as coming “from Teman,” a district of Edom, and from Mt. Paran, a region south of Seir. Habakkuk amplified the word he used for God, ’Eloah, by the descriptive term “Holy One,” emphasizing a specific aspect of God’s deity in keeping with the judgment He was about to execute. The historic backdrop of the events described by Habakkuk were portrayed by Isaiah as having a future fulfillment. Isaiah described the Lord as advancing in judgment upon his enemies and coming “from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah” (Isa. 63:1–6-note). The context of Isaiah’s prophecy definitely has application to the second advent of Christ and the events bringing to a close the Battle of Armageddon. That which Habakkuk saw, therefore, apparently had more than one fulfillment. It had an immediate context that foreshadowed a final, ultimate victory. (Habakkuk and Zephaniah - Everyman’s Bible Commentary)
A C Gaebelein offers a very lucid summary of Habakkuk 3:3-15...
His splendor covers the heavens (See Shekinah glory) - KJV = "His glory covered the heavens." Picture the sunrise and how the sky is lit by the sun. Yahweh's coming causes the heavens to light up with His glory, while the earth reacts with joyful praise.
Wiersbe - Everything about this stanza reveals the glory of God. He is called “the Holy One” (Hab. 3:3, and see Hab 1:12), a name used in Isaiah at least thirty times. “His glory covered the heavens” (Hab 3:3) is an anticipation of the time when His glory will cover all the earth (Hab 2:14). (Be Amazed)
Spendera observes that...
Splendor (KJV = "Glory") (01935) (hod) describes kingly authority (Nu 27:20; 1Chr 29:25), as well as splendor, majesty, that which is glorious (1Chr 16:27; 29:11; Job 37:22; 40:10; Ps 8:2; 21:6; 45:4; 96:6; 104:1; 111:3; 145:5; 148:13; Isa 30:30; Jer 22:18; Da 11:21; Hos 14:7; Hab 3:3; Zec 6:13). God's splendor is often linked with His majesty - 1Chr 16:27, Job 37:22, Ps 21:5, Ps 45:3, Ps 96:6, Ps 104:1, Ps 111:3, Ps 145:5.
The point is that the Holy One is sovereign over His creation and the history of the world ("His" story).
The earth is full of His praise - NET, NJB = " his glory fills the earth" Compare the similar phrase in Hab 2:14 "the earth filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD."
Praise (08416) (tehillah) refers to glory; praise; song of praise; praiseworthy deeds. Tehillah can denote a quality or attribute of some person or thing, "glory or praiseworthiness." Secondly, in some cases tehillah represents the words or song by which God is publicly lauded, or by which His "glory" is publicly declared (Ps 22:22). Third, tehillah can be a technical-musical term for a song (sir) which exalts or praises God. (Ps 145:1).
NET Note writes that "earth is full of His praise"...
NET BIBLE NOTE ON
NET Note writes that in Hab 3:3-15 there are some 30 verbs in the Hebrew...
Habakkuk 3:4 His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, And there is the hiding of His power.: (Radiance: Ex 13:21 14:20 Ne 9:12 Ps 104:2 Isa 60:19,20 Mt 17:2 1Ti 6:16 Rev 21:23 22:5) (The hiding: Job 26:14 Pr 18:10)
GOD, THE HOLY ONE
His radiance is like (= simile) the sunlight - Imagine staring at a created object like the sun on a cloudless day. Now imagine Habakkuk's vision of the Creator's "radiance...like sunlight!" Little wonder that Habakkuk adds "there is the hiding of His power!" This reminds one of Jehovah's warning to Moses after he had asked "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory" (Ex 33:18)...
Other translations of Hab 3:4a - NET = "He is as bright as lightning"; ESV = "His brightness was like the light"; NIV = "His splendor was like the sunrise"; NLT "His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise"; LXX = "His brightness shall be (future tense) as light". The NET felt that instead of light or sunlight, a better translation would be lightning, reasoning that this picture fits better with "rays flashing from His hand". They felt that the fact that this Hebrew word does refer to lightning in Job 36:32, 37:3, 11, 15 also supported that translation in this passage.
Sunlight (light, lightning)(0216) (or) refers to literal light (Ge 1:3), light from a heavenly body (Jer 31:35), the light from the "pillar of fire" (Ex 13:21), light as the "clothing" of God (Ps 104:2) or originating from Him (Isa 60:19, 20). The Bible versions differ in their translation (sunlight, lightning, sunrise), but each is still a picture of the awesome appearance of God.
John MacArthur's comments that...
He has rays flashing from His hand - KJV "He had horns coming out of his hand." It is as if rays of God's glory break through "the hiding of His power" and allow the prophet to view the "rays" of His glory.
Scott writes that
Thomas Constable comments that...
Rays (07161) (qeren) means a literal horn (Ge 22:13), but also referred to horn-like extensions (Ex 27:2, Jer 48:25). In other contexts, qeren was used figuratively to describe strength (1Sa 2:10) or power (2Sa 22:3).
The Lxx translates qeren in Hab 3:4 with keras which literally means a horn. Figuratively keras was used to describe exceptional might or power (Lk 1:69, Ps 89:17, Ps 148:14). Keras is used to translate the Hebrew qeren in the expression "the horn of salvation" (Ps 18:2, 2Sa 22:3).
And there is the hiding of His power - ESV = "and there He veiled His power", NAB = "where His power is concealed", NIV= "where His power was hidden"; NLT = "where His awesome power is hidden." - This description seems to refer to the unfathomable "inner recesses of the divine power." How can a finite being, even the godly prophet Habakkuk, comprehend and stand in the presence of infinite power? But dear child of God, don't forget that this very One is also YOUR Father, YOUR God, YOUR Protector! Be encouraged!
There is a verse in Job which alludes to the fact that we only see a small fraction of Who God really is, which makes sense for if He is infinite, everything about Him is infinite including His power and His glory. Thus Job declares...
Before Him goes...comes after Him - Lxx = "Before Him shall go (future tense)...it shall go forth (future tense)." Here is the other dimension of God's coming. First His brilliance and glory but not the pestilence and plague. As Spendera says...
Pestilence (01698) (deber) refers to any kind of plague (think "Bubonic plague"!) or pandemic (think the 1918 flu pandemic) that results in widespread death and most uses speak of divine punishment. Death and destruction are clearly the results of pestilence and plague. John describes such a divinely decreed devastation in the end times when "A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues" (Rev 9:18-note, cp Rev 15:1-note)
Deber - 48v - Not surprising, this Hebrew noun is prominent in the Prophets! - Ex 5:3; 9:3, 15; Lev 26:25; Num 14:12; Deut 28:21; 2 Sam 24:13, 15; 1Kgs 8:37; 1Chr 21:12, 14; 2Chr 6:28; 7:13; 20:9; Ps 78:50; 91:3, 6; Jer 14:12; 21:6f, 9; 24:10; 27:8, 13; 28:8; 29:17f; 32:24, 36; 34:17; 38:2; 42:17, 22; 44:13; Ezek 5:12, 17; 6:11f; 7:15; 12:16; 14:19, 21; 28:23; 33:27; 38:22; Hos 13:14; Amos 4:10; Hab 3:5. Translated = pestilence(38), plague(10), thorns(1).
Plague (KJV = "burning coals") (07565) (resheph) refers to a flame, live coal. Figuratively of love in Song 8:6. Reshep was the name of a pagan god of fever and pestilence, so this could be a play on words. Another sources says Reshep is a name for the Canaanite god of pestilence and sterility.
The "holy fire" of the Holy One burns up that which is unholy.
Resheph - 7x in 6v - Deut 32:24; Job 5:7; Ps 76:3; 78:48; Song 8:6; Hab 3:5. Translated in NAS as - bolts of lightning(1), flaming(1), flashes(2), plague(2), sparks*(1).
Pestilence...plague - As alluded to above, these terms most frequently speak of God's judgment (on sin, unrepentant sinners) (Ex 7:14-12:30, 12:29, Nu 16:46-49, Lev 26:25; Dt 28:21, 22; Ps 91:3, 6).
Scott comments that...
Habakkuk 3:6 He stood and surveyed the earth; He looked and startled the nations. Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered, The ancient hills collapsed. His ways are everlasting.: (Surveyed: Ex 15:17 21:31 Nu 34:1-29 De 32:8 Ac 17:26) (Startled: Jos 10:42 11:18-23 Ne 9:22-24 Ps 135:8-12) (Everlasting: Hab 3:10 Ge 49:26 Dt 33:15 Jud 5:5 Ps 68:16 114:4-7 Isa 64:1-3 Na 1:5 Zec 14:4,5)
THE HOLY ONE ARRIVES!
He stood and surveyed the earth - His arrival causes an appropriate response in the topography and the nations. And so we see the aged mountains "rearranged" by the power of His presence. This picture of the arrival of the Holy One to earth is reminiscent of the response of the Roman soldiers who came to arrest Jesus: "When therefore He said to them, “I Am [He],” (cp Ex 3:14, Jn 8:58, 59 = another response!) they drew back, and fell to the ground." (Jn 18:6) So great is His power and authority! This is our God!
Henry Morris comments that...
Surveyed (KJV = "measured") (NAS has 04058 = madad; KJV has 04128 = mod) refers to measuring lengths or distances and thus means to measure, to mete out, to stretch. Baker says mod "refers to the LORD's surveying the earth as He prepares to demolish it." (Word Study OT Dictionary) Madad is used 53x in 51v and is translated continues(1), measure(9), measured(41), stretched(1), surveyed(1) - 30x in Ezek 40:1–47:23 to specify the measurements of the Millennial Temple.
Some translations prefer "shook" (instead of surveyed) following the lead of the Lxx which translates the Hebrew verb madad with saleuo which describes " the unexpected and disastrous shaking of what would be thought to be stable" (Friberg). Saleuo means to put into a state of rocking or vibratory motion. (cp Lk 21:26). Saleuo can also mean a measure as of a quantity that has been "shaken down" (Lk 6:38).
The NLT paraphrases it...
The picture one has is of God "stepping off" the area that He will destroy. He is like a commanding general who arrives at the place the battle will be waged, carefully surveying the landscape.
He startled the nations - The Hebrew word for "startle" (05425 - natar/nathar) means to jump, to leap, to be violently agitated, to be shocked! It can describe "the shuddering motion of fear as a basal response of the body to stress" (DBL Hebrew). In Job 37:1, this Hebrew verb describes the pounding motion of the heart that is overstimulated by excitement! What a picture - the nations "jump" out of the way at His coming! What an apt description of that future judgment day when the godless, God hating, God rejecting unholy nations of the world are confronted with the sudden arrival of the Holy One! Their worst nightmare has just become their reality! The Septuagint translates the Hebrew (nathar) with the Greek verb diateko which means to melt away, also a fitting description of the response of godless men dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-note) to the Living God! (cp Rev 1:7-note)
Earth...nations - These words speak of a global effect, which seems to enlarge this picture so that it applies not just to ancient Judah and Babylon (past historical fulfillment) but to the entire world, which speaks of an eschatological (future) fulfillment.
Perpetual mountains...ancient hills - parallel terms both of which would normally symbolize permanence (perpetual...ancient), having existed since the day of creation but now shaken and shattered by the arrival of their Creator, the Holy One.
As Scott rightly says "Nothing will stand before God—neither nations nor nature." (Ibid)
Shattered (NAS = patsats) - 3x - Job 16:12, Jer 23:29, Hab 3:6. Lxx = diathrupto = break into pieces (Lxx uses in Lev 2:6, Nahum 3:6, Hab 3:6)
Collapsed (shachach) - means to bow or to be brought low.
Spendera writes of Jehovah's impact on the mountains and hills that...
His ways are everlasting - This phrase presents a striking contrast between the Creator and His creation - the "perpetual mountains" and "ancient hills." Everything God is and does is everlasting. Indeed, His very Name is El Olam, the Everlasting God. Why is this mentioned in this context? What is the context of Habakkuk? Is it not his angst over the coming Babylonian invasion and destruction of the beautiful land, the Holy City of Jerusalem, and God's Holy Temple? Even though these horrible events would occur just as He promised, His ways are everlasting. And so just as He delivered Israel in the past, judging Egypt who had held them captive, and led them through the wilderness giving them victories over other nations, so once again He will trample the nations (as He did to Babylon who was defeated by the Medes and Persians) and go forth for Israel's salvation in the future. Indeed, in the end times, the earth will be full of His praise (Hab 3:3) and full of the knowledge of His glory (Hab 2:14-note). Habakkuk like many of Israel's prophets had a message of judgment for the enemies of Israel and a message of hope for Israel in the end times. Indeed, as Scott says "What He did for Israel in the past He can do in the future." (Ibid)
Spendera writes that ...
C H Spurgeon offers a practical application of the truth in the phrase “His ways are everlasting.” — Habakkuk 3:6
Habakkuk 3:7 I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, The tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.: (Saw: Ex 15:14-16 Nu 22:3,4 Jos 2:10 Josh 9:24) (Cushan: Ge 10:6,7) (Midian: Ge 25:1-4 Nu 31:2-12 Ps 83:5-10)
DISTRESS AND TREMBLING
I saw - The prophet again speaks of his own experience. What he witnesses is distress and trembling of two representative tribes, which give further evidence of the impact of Jehovah's coming.
Scott comments that...
Tents of Cushan (means blackness) - This tent dwelling people is visualized as experiencing God's wrath. The parallel with Midian makes people think of an Arabian tribe, possibly nomads.
The ISBE entry on Cushan comments that the...
Distress (0205) ('aven) conveys the idea of to come to naught and thus is strictly nothingness. 'Aven speaks of calamity, trouble, misfortune, suffering, some unfavorable circumstance which causes hardship (Nu 23:21; Job 5:6; 18:12; 21:19; Ps 55:4; 56:8; 90:10; Pr 12:21; 22:8; Jer 4:15; Am 5:5).
Trembling (07264) (ragaz) means to quake, shake, quiver as with any violent emotion, in this context clearly fear of God's wrath.'
Richard Patterson sums up this previous section noting that...
Habakkuk 3:8 Did the LORD rage against the rivers, or was Your anger against the rivers, or was Your wrath against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, on Your chariots of salvation?: (LORD: Ex 14:21,22 Jos 3:16,17 Ps 114:3,5 Isa 50:2 Na 1:4 Mk 4:39 Rev 16:12) (Rode: Hab 3:15 Dt 33:26,27 Ps 18:10 45:4 68:4,17 104:3 Isa 19:1 Rev 6:2 Rev 19:11,14)
Did the LORD rage...- This is a rhetorical question. Interestingly some commentators say this calls for a "no" (He did not come to fight the natural forces) or "yes" the LORD came in rage, anger, wrath.
Spendera feels the answer is "no" because...
Rage...anger...wrath - This passage clearly highlights the anger of God. Earlier the prophet had alluded to God's anger, referring to His wrath in Hab 3:2.
In the previous passages Habakkuk has presented a majestic theophany, depicting God's awesome presence and power. Now in this one verse, Habakkuk speaks not about God but directly to God ("Your anger...Your wrath...You rode...Your chariots"). The prophet then returns to his description of God's appearance in Hab 3:9.
That You rode on Your horses - Lxx = "Thou wilt mount (future tense) on Thine horses."
John MacArthur adds that...
ESV Study Bible...
Salvation (03444) (yeshuah) means deliverance, help, victory, prosperity. The main idea is to rescue one from danger (Ex 14:13, 2Chr 20:17). To move from distress > safety requires deliverance. Generally deliverance comes from an outside source. A title of God, Savior (Dt 32:15).
Yeshuah - 77v - Gen 49:18; Ex 14:13; 15:2; Deut 32:15; 1 Sam 2:1; 14:45; 2 Sam 10:11; 22:51; 1Chr 16:23; 2Chr 20:17; Job 13:16; 30:15; Ps 3:2, 8; 9:14; 13:5; 14:7; 18:50; 20:5; 21:1, 5; 22:1; 28:8; 35:3, 9; 42:5, 11; 43:5; 44:4; 53:6; 62:1f, 6; 67:2; 68:19; 69:29; 70:4; 74:12; 78:22; 80:2; 88:1; 89:26; 91:16; 96:2; 98:2f; 106:4; 116:13; 118:14f, 21; 119:123, 155, 166, 174; 140:7; 149:4; Isa 12:2f; 25:9; 26:1, 18; 33:2, 6; 49:6, 8; 51:6, 8; 52:7, 10; 56:1; 59:11, 17; 60:18; 62:1; Jonah 2:9; Hab 3:8. Translated - deeds of deliverance(1), deliverance(6), help(4), prosperity(1), salvation(61), save(1), saving(1), security(1), victories(1), victory(1).
Patterson comments that "God’s deliverance (is) represented by the “chariots of salvation.”"
Habakkuk 3:9 Your bow was made bare, the rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah. You cleaved the earth with rivers.: (bow: Dt 32:23 Ps 7:12,13 Ps 35:1-3 Isa 51:9,10 Isa 52:10 La 2:4) (Sworn: Ge 15:18-21 17:7,8 22:16-18 26:3,4 28:13,14 Ps 105:8-11 Lu 1:72-75 Heb 6:13-18) (You cleaved: Ex 17:6 Nu 20:11 Ps 78:15,16 Ps 105:41 1Co 10:4)
The NET Note on "the rods of chastisement were sworn" explains that this refers to those that have sworn allegiance. In context...
You cleaved (ESV = "split") the earth with rivers - The omnipotence of God is emphasized in His control of the rivers which He is able to use to split the earth.
The NET Note on "You cleaved the earth with rivers" explains that...
Habakkuk 3:10 The mountains saw You and quaked; The downpour of waters swept by. The deep uttered forth its voice, It lifted high its hands.: (mountains: Hab 3:6 Ex 19:16-18 Jud 5:4,5 Ps 68:7,8 Ps 77:18 Ps 97:4,5 Ps 114:4,6 Isa 64:1,2 Jer 4:24 Mic 1:4 Na 1:5 Mt 27:51 Rev 6:14 20:11)(Downpour: Ex 14:22-28 Jos 3:15,16 Jos 4:18,23,24 Ne 9:11 Ps 18:15 66:6 Ps 74:13-15 Ps 77:16-19 Ps 114:3-8 Ps 136:13-15 Isa 11:15,16 63:11-13 Heb 11:29 Rev 16:12)(The deep: Ps 65:13 Ps 93:3 Ps 96:11-13 Ps 98:7,8 Isa 43:20 Isa 55:12)
CREATION'S REACTION TO
These next two verses show that creation reacts dramatically to the coming of the Lord.
Quaked (ESV = "writhed", KJV = "be in pain") is translated in the Lxx with the Greek verb odino which means to experience pains of childbirth (e.g., Dt 32:18; Isa 13:8; 26:17; Jer 4:31)
The deep - word often refers to the forces of the sea which obey the Lord (Ex 15:5, 8; Isa 51:10; Ezek 26:19; 31:15; Ps 33:7; 77:16; 135:6).
Lifted high its hands - Surely a figurative description of the waves of the sea.
Habakkuk 3:11 Sun and moon stood in their places; They went away at the light of Your arrows, at the radiance of Your gleaming spear.: (sun: Jos 10:12,13 Isa 28:21 Isa 38:8)(Places: Ps 19:4)(At the light: Jos 10:11 Ps 18:12-14 Ps 77:17,18 Ps 144:5,6)
NLT = The lofty sun and moon began to fade, obscured by brilliance from your arrows and the flashing of your glittering spear.
Sun and moon stood still - This presumably refers to another time in history when God's enemies were judged by His intervention as recorded in Joshua 10:12-14
Patterson "For the participation of other celestial phenomena in earthly events, see Jdg 5:20; Isa 60:19, 20." (Ibid)
Habakkuk 3:12 In indignation You marched through the earth. In anger You trampled the nations.: (Marched: Nu 21:23-35 Jos 6:1-12:24 Ne 9:22-24 Ps 44:1-3 Ps 78:55 Ac 13:19) (Trampled: Jer 51:33 Am 1:3 Mic 4:12,13)
In indignation You marched...in anger You trampled - This reads as a past tense event, but the Septuagint uses the future tense for both verbs. As discussed below this description seems to have eschatological implications, awaiting a yet future fulfillment.
In indignation - God's anger is not like man's anger! God's wrath is never petty or inappropriate, but is always perfectly righteous.
Indignation (02195) (za'am) describes either the expression or experiencing of intense anger or wrath. Most often za'am refers to God's indignation, but occasionally to individuals (Jer 15:17, Ho 7:16). Za'am is often coupled with other Hebrew words that also describe anger ('ap  in Ps 69:24, Isa 10:5, 25, 30:27; Zeph 3:8; 'ebrah  in Ps 78:49; Ezek 21:31; Ezek 22:31 and qesep (07110) in Ps 102:10; Jer 10:10).
Za'am - 15x in OT - Ps 38:3; Ps 69:24; Ps 78:49; Ps 102:10; Isa 10:5, 25; Isa 13:5; Isa 26:20; Isa 30:27; Jer 10:10; Jer 15:17; Jer 50:25; Lam 2:6; Ezek 21:31; Ezek 22:24, 31; Da 8:19; Da 11:36; Hos 7:16; Nah 1:6; Hab 3:12; Zeph 3:8. Translation (NAS) = indignation(21), insolence(1). In Daniel 11 za'am describes the time of the Great Tribulation (cp Zeph 3:8 which describes Rev 16:14-16-note)...
Through the earth - If one interprets this passage literally, it seems to describe God's wrath poured out on the entire world. The only time yet future that such an event will occur is in the time Daniel's Seventieth Week, a seven year period, the last 3.5 years of which Jesus designated the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:21, When is "then?" - See Mt 24:15 = begins at the midpoint of the 7 year period, coinciding with the "revelation" of the Antichrist as predicted by Daniel in Da 9:27-note), which will be abruptly brought to an end when Messiah returns to defeat all His enemies (Mt 24:27-31, Rev 1:7-note [Click for an interesting discussion of "The Coming One"], Rev 19:11-21-note).
Trampled (KJV = thresh) (02195) (dus/dush) refers to threshing (oxen moving around in a circular pit trampling the wheat or barley to separate the grain from the stalk) and is often used figuratively to depict military invasions and/or the execution of judgment. Threshing was often a symbol of judgment (Isa 41:15; Mic 4:13).
The Lxx uses the Greek verb katagnumi which means to break in pieces or break in two (Mt 12:20, Jn 19:31-33) and is in the future tense which indicates in His wrath, God will break the nations in pieces. Has this event happened? Clearly this prophecy awaits a future fulfillment when God's wrath is finally and fully poured out on the nations, those who have rejected His offer of salvation.
Barker comments that...
Habakkuk's description parallels the picture described in...
There are two similar descriptions of God threshing His enemies in the book of the Revelation
Here are some other "threshings" in a military or war context - Judges 8:7; 2Ki 13:7; Isa 21:10; Isa 25:10; Da 7:23; Amos 1:3.
The nations (01471)(goy - plural = goyim) - Usually "nations" represents the Gentiles as distinguished from the Jews. In many contexts the Gentiles are also referred to as the "peoples." In Revelation 19:15-note which was quoted above, we note that at His Second Coming, Jesus will "smite the nations (at the end of the Great Tribulation); and He will rule them (the nations in the Millennium) with a rod of iron."
Habakkuk 3:13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil to lay him open from thigh to neck.: (Went forth: Ex 14:13,14 Ex 15:1,2 Ps 68:7,19-23)(Ps 77:20 89:19-21 99:6 105:15,26 Isa 63:11)(Struck: Ex 12:29,30 Jos 10:11,24,42 Jos 11:8,12 Ps 18:37-45 Ps 68:21 Ps 74:13,14 Ps 110:6)
IN WRATH GOD
You went forth for the salvation of Your people - God comes to save Israel.
Salvation (03468)(yesha') means deliverance, safety, rescue, liberty. Occasionally used as a title of God (2Sa 22:47; 1Chr 16:35; Isa17:10).
Your anointed (masiyah) - To whom does this title refer? Scholars differ widely in their interpretation. Some say Moses, others Cyrus (Isa 45:1). Some favor that this refers primarily to the Messiah (the Hebrew masculine noun masiyah which means "anointed one"-see Da 9:25-26-note) or the corresponding NT term Christ, the Greek noun Christos which is derived from the verb chrio meaning to anoint, rub with oil or consecrate to an office, as was done in the OT for a prophet, priest or king (Jesus is eternally all three!) Others interpret anointed as referring to "Your people" (but see MacArthur's note below).
John MacArthur comments on "Your anointed"...
A C Gaebelein adds that...
Spendera comments that...
Habakkuk 3:14 You pierced with his own spears the head of his throngs. They stormed in to scatter us; Their exultation was like those Who devour the oppressed in secret.: (the head: Ex 11:4-7 Ex 12:12,13,29,30 Ex 14:17,18 Ps 78:50,51 Ps 83:9-11) (They stormed: Ex 14:5-9 Ex 15:9,10 Ps 83:2,8 Ps 118:10-12 Ac 4:27,28) (Scatter: Da 11:40 Zec 9:14) (Exultation: Ex 1:10-16,22 Ps 10:8 Ps 64:2-7)
The reader should note that this verse is extremely difficult to interpret, leading one writer to state "this text seems to defy comprehension." It may be a possible reference to the pursuit of fleeing Israel at the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s army (Ex 14:5-9). Like the poor, Israel appeared to be easy prey for the pursuing Egyptians. Others see this as an allusion to the Babylonians.
You trampled on the sea - Compare a similar description in...
When you don’t know where God is, when your circumstances seem to be crashing down on you, and you are trying to get a perspective take the approach of Habakkuk. Don’t look outward, looking to man for solutions. Don't look inward, looking for a solution. Look upward. Look to God! This is what Habakkuk does. He prays and the result is he sees the Holy One, trampling the sea with His horses. He sees God going forth for the salvation of His people, etc. We need to remember that whatever our circumstances are now, one day God will get the final victory for His people.
Habakkuk 3:16 I heard and my inward 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 invade us.: (I heard: Hab 3:2 1:5-11) (My inward parts: Ps 119:120 Jer 23:9 Eze 3:14 Da 8:27 Da 10:8)(Because I must wait quietly: Ps 91:15 94:12,13 Isa 26:20,21 Jer 15:10,11 45:3-5 Eze 9:4-6 2Th 1:6-9) (The people: Hab 1:6 Dt 28:49-52 2Ki 24:1,2 Jer 25:9-11)
I heard and my inward parts trembled (NET = "I listened and my stomach churned") - Habakkuk reverts to first person.
At the sound my lips quivered - The Pulpit Commentary says that "The word rendered “quivered” (tsalal) is applied to the tingling of the ears (1Sa 3:11; 2Ki 21:12), and implies that the prophet’s lips so trembled that he was scarcely able to utter speech.
Decay enters my bones (NET = "My frame went limp, as if my bones were decaying") - A figurative description denoting that the strongest part of his body (his bony framework) was weakened by the awesome nature of the overwhelming vision he had just received and recorded. This description suggests that his skeletal frame could not even stabilize him, making him unsteady on his feet.
In my place I tremble (NET = "I shook as I tried to walk." NIV = "My legs trembled")
Wait quietly (KJV = "rest", NIV "I will wait patiently") (05117) (nuach) literally describes an absence of movement (the ark "rested" on Mt Ararat = Ge 8:4). Nuach means to rest, to remain, to be quiet. Compared to Habakkuk, Job was "not at rest" (Job 3:26). The Lxx renders nuach with the Greek the verb anapauo (word study) means strictly to make to cease and then comes to mean to remain quiet or restful, to be still and in some contexts includes the ideas of to revive or refresh (as used in Mt 11:28-note).
The TWOT writes that
At the beginning of his prayer, Habakkuk said "I have heard the report about You and I fear." And now after Hab 3:3-15 he says he trembles, convulsing to the very depths of his being! Why? He has been overwhelmed by his theophany or manifestation of the coming Holy One. Picture Habakkuk's his heart pounding, his respiratory rate racing, his lips quivering.
The phrase "decay enters my bones" Can we not identify with Habakkuk's description? He was a real person just like us and so the reality of the coming Babylonian judgment caused him to tremble. There are times in our life when we tremble, when we are so weak, we feel we might faint from fear or despair. And yet Habakkuk was to experience what Paul later described declaring "When I am weak, then I am strong." (2Cor 12:9).
Given his feelings, how could Habakkuk wait quietly for the day of distress? Clearly if he had depended on and yielded to his feelings ("inward parts trembled...my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones...I tremble"), he could never have waited quietly nor make such a great confession of faith. So what was Habakkuk's secret? A better question to ask is where was his focus?
Warren Wiersbe explains it this way...
And as Paul Harvey used to say "Now for the rest of the story" in Habakkuk 3:17-19. His triumphant conclusion can also be ours beloved, for we worship and serve the same covenant keeping God!
The Lxx translates tsarah in this verse with the Greek word thlipsis (from thlibo = to crush, press together, hem in) which originally expressed physical pressure. Figuratively thlipsis pictures one being "crushed" by intense pressure, difficult circumstances, suffering or trouble pressing upon them from without. Tsarah is used to describe Israel's future time of distress (Da 12:1-note), synonymous with the time of Jacob's distress (Jer 30:7-note), which will come to pass in the Great Tribulation.
Tsarah - 71v in NAS - Gen 35:3; 42:21; Deut 31:17, 21; Jdg 10:14; 1 Sam 10:19; 26:24; 2 Sam 4:9; 1Kgs 1:29; 2Kgs 19:3; 2Chr 15:6; 20:9; Neh 9:27, 37; Job 5:19; 27:9; Ps 9:9; 10:1; 20:1; 22:11; 25:17, 22; 31:7; 34:6, 17; 37:39; 46:1; 50:15; 54:7; 71:20; 77:2; 78:49; 81:7; 86:7; 91:15; 116:3; 120:1; 138:7; 142:2; 143:11; Pr 1:27; 11:8; 12:13; 21:23; 24:10; 25:19; Isa 8:22; 30:6; 33:2; 37:3; 46:7; 63:9; 65:16; Jer 4:31; 6:24; 14:8; 15:11; 16:19; 30:7; 49:24; 50:43; Dan 12:1; Obad 1:12, 14; Jonah 2:2; Nah 1:7, 9; Hab 3:16; Zeph 1:15; Zech 10:11 - Translated -affliction(1), anguish(2), distress(34), distresses(1), trouble(22), troubles(11).
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress - What was the "day of distress?" In context this has to refer to the coming Babylonian invasion which results in capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Holy Temple. This day of distress would bring a day of great calamity leading to severe famine and ultimate death for many of those in Judah. And yet even in the face of such sure and devastating defeat Habakkuk voiced one of the greatest expressions of undaunted faith, a most beautiful testimony of the supernatural power of true belief to be found anywhere in Scripture. In the following passages, Habakkuk declared that although everything fails, yet he will trust in the unfailing God, Yahweh, Who keeps covenant forever.
For the people to arise who will invade us - The vicious Babylonians.
Habakkuk 3:17 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,: (Fig tree: Dt 28:15-18,30-41 Jer 14:2-8 Joel 1:10-13,16-18 Amos 4:6-10 Hag 2:16,17)
G Campbell Morgan writes...
Though the fig tree should not blossom - In context of the coming Babylonian invasion, Habakkuk is referring to the overwhelming desolation of the land and livestock which would be wrought by the invading hordes of savage soldiers.
Faith in Christ knows
Constable notes that...
Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.: (Yet I will exult: Dt 12:18 1Sa 2:1 Job 13:15 Ps 33:1 46:1-5 85:6 97:12 104:34 Ps 118:15 Ps 149:2 Isa 41:16 61:10 Zec 10:7 Lk 1:46,47 Ro 5:2,3 Php 4:4 Jas 1:2,9,10 1Pe 1:8 1Pe 4:12,13)(the God: Ex 15:2 Ps 25:5 27:1 Ps 118:14 Isa 12:2 Mic 7:7 Lk 2:30)
(** From a sermon by that title from G Campbell Morgan)
Yet - Yet is clearly a term of contrast. Whenever you encounter a term of contrast ("but" is much more common - ), pause to ponder the passage in context, asking questions like - What is being contrasted?, What is the writer's change of direction?, How is this change possible?, How does this change apply to my life?, etc. Your Teacher the Holy Spirit (1Cor 2:12-16, Jn 14:26, 16:13. 14, 1Jn 2:20, 27 where "anointing" ~ the indwelling Holy Spirit, cp 2Cor 1:21, 22, Acts 10:38) will reward your diligence and desire to actively interact with the supernatural Word, often by illumining the passage in ways you would have missed had you read through quickly without taking time to "Wait on the Lord." This "yet" is one of the most beautiful and meaningful in all of Scripture.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 presents one of the most striking contrasts in the entire Word of God. Habakkuk moves from a description of stark devastation to striking declaration of joy, from abject desolation to absolute jubilation, and all that in the space of two passages! In short, the prophet moves from a natural reaction based on his feelings to a supernatural reaction based on his faith. His faith is founded on the revelation of God - Jehovah's plan, Jehovah's presence (cp Ps 16:11) and Jehovah's power (as recorded in Habakkuk 2-3).
G Campbell Morgan writes that...
I will exult (I will jump for joy)...I will rejoice - Habakkuk makes a volitional choice is to rejoice, even in the face of imminent judgment. However, this choice is not simply "mind over matter", but reflects God giving His prophet the desire and the power to exult and rejoice (Php 2:13NLT).
Exult (05937) (alaz) means to rejoice, to exult, to be jubilant and describes a state and act of celebration. TWOT says this Hebrew word group describes "an emotion of joy which finds expression in singing and shouting." This Hebrew verb is translated in the Lxx by agalliao (from agan = much + hallomai = jump; leap, spring up) which literally means "jump for joy" ( Mt 5:12 Lk 1:47 10:21)
Alaz - 16v in NAS - 2Sa 1:20; Ps 28:7; 60:6; 68:4; 94:3; 96:12; 108:7; 149:5; Pr 23:16; Isa 23:12; Jer 11:15; 15:17; 50:11; 51:39; Hab 3:18; Zeph 3:14. Alaz is translated as - become jubilant(1), exult(11), exults(1), jubilant(1), rejoice(2).
Rejoice (01523) (giyl/gul) is derived from a root word which means "to circle around", from which such ideas as "to circle in joy" are readily derived. It is more applicable to vigorous, enthusiastic expressions of joy and can even mean to spin round (under influence of any violent emotion)!
G Campbell Morgan has some insightful comments on these two Hebrew words for exult and rejoice...
Exult in the LORD...rejoice in the God of my salvation - The source and sphere of our joy is in the Lord. As Spurgeon said "Joy in God is the happiest of all joys." In fact, joy ceases to be joy when it ceases to be "in the Lord."
G Campbell Morgan has a superb discussion of the sphere of the Habakkuk's joy...
The NT formula for believer's to have joy independent of circumstances is...
Billy Graham said it this way...
Wiersbe astutely notes that...
G. Campbell Morgan said
As someone has well said "Joy is the flag that is flown from the citadel of the heart when the King is in residence."
John Calvin said it this way "There is nothing in afflictions which ought to disturb our joy."
J I Packer noted that "Joy is a condition that is experienced, but it is more than a feeling; it is, primarily, a state of mind."
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
William Cowper paraphrased Hab 3:17-18 in the poem entitled "Joy and Peace in Believing"...
Though vine nor fig tree neither
Corrie Ten Boom has several quotes which nicely summarize the book of Habakkuk...
Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts
Marvin Williams writes: Habakkuk concluded his book with a wonderful affirmation: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab 3:18). Though it was not clear how Judah would survive, Habakkuk had learned to trust God amid injustice, suffering, and loss. He would live by his faith in God alone. With this kind of faith came joy in God, despite the circumstances surrounding him. We too can rejoice in our trials, have surefooted confidence in God, and live on the heights of His sovereignty.
Be this the purpose of my soul
Praising God in our trials
The Choice To Rejoice --Habakkuk 3:18 - When a grief-stricken woman was sharing her feelings, her friend said sympathetically, "Sorrow does color life, doesn't it?" "Yes," the woman agreed, and then added, "but I intend to choose the colors." In today's Bible reading, the prophet Habakkuk expressed the same intention. Facing the possible loss of crops and livestock, he declared, "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Hab 3:18). The words "I will" revealed Habakkuk's belief that he could choose his response to loss--either to sink into despair or to rejoice in God's redeeming power. His decision to rejoice wasn't a denial of the pain. It was a decision of trust based on the truth that God would remain with him to be his strength and enabler (Hab 3:19).
The choice to rejoice is with us every day (Comment: One caveat - Don't try to make this choice in your own strength - yes, we must each individually make the choice to rejoice, the desire and the power to do so comes from the indwelling Spirit - see Php 2:13NLT-note. It's not "self reliance" but "Spirit reliance" that will allow us to rejoice [supernaturally] independent of the circumstances we are experiencing!). To refuse to choose is itself a choice. It's an unconscious consent to be overcome rather than to be an overcomer (Ed: See 1Jn 5:4-5, faith/trust in God's goodness, His promises, etc, will allow us to be experiential overcomers - all believers are positionally overcomers, but not all are living up to their position and privileges in Christ, enabled by His Spirit!). I recently met a disabled elderly woman who exemplified this. When I inquired, "How are you," she replied cheerfully, "Just fine! If I were any better, I'd have to be twins!"
Loss and pain do color life, but we can choose the color--joy! —Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
When rough the path from day to day,
Joy—Even In Poverty - In the book 450 Stories for Life, Gust Anderson tells about visiting a church in a farming community of eastern Alberta, Canada, where there had been 8 years of drought. The farmers' economic situation looked hopeless. But in spite of their poverty, many of them continued to meet together to worship and praise God.
Anderson was especially impressed by the testimony of a farmer who stood up and quoted Habakkuk 3:17-18. With deep feeling, he said, "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Anderson thought, That dear saint has found the secret of real joy!
It's not wrong to find pleasure in the good things money can buy, but we should never rely on them for happiness. If our fulfillment depends on material possessions, we are crushed when we lose them. But if our joy is found in the Lord, nothing can disrupt it, not even economic distress.
Yes, those who know and trust the Lord can rejoice—even in poverty! —Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Pleasures of earth, so seemingly sweet,
CAN WE REJOICE?—Habakkuk 3:18, 19 - I’ll never forget the question our Bible-study leader asked: “What do you fear would test your faith in God the most?” We were studying Habakkuk 3:17, 18, where the prophet said that even if God sent suffering or loss, he would still rejoice.
As a single woman in my twenties, my answer was “I don’t know if I could stand the pain of losing my parents.” But I told God that day that even when they died I would rejoice in Him. I found out too soon that it’s easier said than done.
A month later, Dad learned he had heart disease and didn’t have long to live. He didn’t know Jesus as his Savior, so I begged God not to let him die without coming to know Him. Not only did he die that year, so did Mom, who was a believer. I didn’t know if my prayer for Dad was answered. I couldn’t rejoice; I wondered if God had even heard my prayer.
As I wrestled with Him about my questions, I experienced the Lord as my “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). I found hope in the truth that God, “the Judge of all the earth,” would do what was right by everyone (Genesis 18:25).
We can rejoice—when we are rejoicing in the Lord, our strong refuge and righteous Judge. —Anne Cetas (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Why must I bear this pain? I cannot tell;
The Secret Of Joy - One of the shortest books in the Old Testament is the book of Habakkuk. In its three brief chapters we see an amazing transformation in the prophet’s outlook on life. His opening words express depths of despair, but at the close of the book he has risen to heights of joy.
What caused this remarkable change? Why did Habakkuk begin with a complaint and end with a song of praise? The answer lies in three verses in Habakkuk 2. In addition to God’s message of judgment on the wicked, the Almighty told the troubled prophet, “The just shall live by his faith” (Hab 2:4-note). He also promised that someday the earth would “be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14-note). Finally, He assured him that “the Lord is in His holy temple” (Hab 2:20-note). These wonderful truths were just what Habakkuk needed to lift him out of his deep depression. By fixing his eyes on God, he rose above his discouraging circumstances and found a source of lasting joy in the Lord.
Like the prophet, we too must walk by faith and look forward to that glorious time when Jesus will return to earth to set up His kingdom of peace and righteousness. Maintaining our confidence in Him is the secret of true joy!— by Richard De Haan
Rejoice in Christ the Lord, again
To improve your outlook,
Counterfeit Happiness - It’s easy to fool people about how we really feel. Simply wear a deceptive smile or hum a cheerful song like this one that was very popular during World War I and many years afterward:
What’s the use of worrying?
Those words, written by British vaudeville actor George Powell, were set to a cheerful melody by his piano-playing brother Felix. It earned them $60,000. Yet one day years later, Felix sat down at a piano and played his well-known melody “Smile, Smile, Smile.” Then he went into a room where he was all alone and shot and killed himself.
Troubles can’t be packed away and magically forgotten. A smile and a song may camouflage deep unhappiness, but only God can lift the burden of gnawing worry from our hearts. Knowing that He cares for us, we can cast all our anxiety on Him (1Pe 5:7). If in our difficulties we trust in the Lord as our strength, He will do even more than give emotional relief. He will enable us to rejoice (Hab 3:17-19).
A smile can conceal pain
Joy is the byproduct
ABOVE THE CIRCUMSTANCES - I remember a story about a woman who was very discouraged because of the many problems in her life. As she was walking down the street, she met a fellow believer who asked, "How are you doing today?" With a sour look and a bitter shrug she replied, "Oh, not too bad--under the circumstances." The other person quickly countered, "Well, get above the circumstances! That's where Jesus is."
The prophet Habakkuk was of the same mind. He refused to let circumstances dampen his faith or crush his hope. He looked to the future not with pessimistic fears of what else could go wrong, but with faith in God no matter what would happen. Even if he lost all his possessions, Habakkuk proclaimed that he would continue to trust the Lord to meet his needs (Hab 3:17-19).
Our eyes are to be focused on the Lord, not on our circumstances. We are to live above the shadows of fear and bask in the sunlight of faith. Even though we, like Habakkuk, may have a long list of troubles, faith's answer to disappointment must always be:
"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
That type of attitude will enable us to live above the circumstances instead of under them. - Henry G. Bosch
Although my trees are fruitless,
Always Thankful--Habakkuk 3:18 - Perhaps Habakkuk 3:17-19 was an unusual Bible passage to read as our family and guests sat down to a traditional feast of turkey with all the trimmings. But I had a reason for choosing it. Simply to bow my head and give thanks didn't seem to be enough. Compared with the poverty of many of the world's people, I am wealthy.
The prophet Habakkuk was awaiting the destruction of his country by the ruthless Chaldeans, whose army was called by God to punish His people for their disobedient and evil ways (Hab. 1:5-6-note). He said, "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls--yet I will rejoice in the Lord" (3:17-18).
Those words made me stop and ask, "Am I thankful to God regardless of what He gives or withholds?" Habakkuk pondered how he would respond to the loss of every material blessing. He concluded, "I will joy in the God of my salvation" (v.18).
Circumstances may change, but God remains the same. That's always cause for thanksgiving. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
We can give thanks in every trial
The Smile Of Joy -1 John 1:4 - Remember those round, yellow, happy-face stickers that showed up frequently on stationery and postcards? They were often accompanied by the one-word message, "Smile." They implied that you can put a smile on your face as easily as you can put a hat on your head. In a sense, that is true. A good actor can look happy even when his heart is breaking.
Favorable circumstances can also produce smiles. A person with good health, an adequate income, and a nice house finds it easy to look happy. The best smile, though, comes naturally from within. It reflects a joy that remains even when a person has few of life's material blessings. It comes from knowing God, believing and obeying His Word, being assured of sins forgiven, possessing eternal life, and anticipating the glories of heaven. The believer who depends on God for these blessings can smile despite adversity.
In today's Scripture reading, the prophet Habakkuk declared triumphantly, "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:18). Even if everything were taken from him, the Lord would be his strength. He didn't need to "put on" a smile, because the joy in his heart would do it for him. —Richard De Haan —Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
A smile can conceal our pain
A M Hodgkin summarizes Habakkuk 3...
Habakkuk 3:19 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.: (my strength: Ps 18:1 Ps 27:1 Ps 46:1 Isa 12:2 Isa 45:24 Zec 10:12 2Co 12:9,10 Eph 3:16 Php 4:13 Col 1:11)(Like hinds' feet: 2Sa 22:34 Ps 18:33)(Walk: Dt 32:13 Dt 33:29 Isa 58:14)(Stringed: Ps 4:1-8 Ps 6:1-10 Ps 54:1-7 Ps 55:1-23 Ps 67:1-7 Ps 76:1-12)
When we meditate on the little book of Habakkuk, we need to remember that we are to live by faith (Hab 2:4), and we are to rejoice in the Lord (Hab 3:18). His Spirit will enable us to exult in the Lord and give us the confidence to proclaim that one day "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord" (Hab 2:14), and the assurance that at that time the Lord will be in His holy temple (Hab 2:20).The Lord is our strength, and He makes our feet like hinds’ feet on our high place.
Constable sums up Habakkuk writing that...
Warren Wiersbe's closing comments on Habakkuk are priceless...
The Lord God is my strength (See Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 49:5) - It is not that the Lord God had lent Habakkuk strength, but that God Himself was his strength. The corollary is "I am not my strength," contrary to what the modern physical fitness movement would have us believe (However, as an aside - I love to bike and swim and highly recommend physical exercise of some kind.) 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. Indeed, as difficult as this truth is to fully grasp, it is still true that the Almighty god Himself becomes our strength!
As Corrie Ten Boom said...
Like hinds' feet - This is simile (term of comparison), which helps us visualize Habakkuk's confidence in God even in the face of overwhelming odds. As an aside, terms of comparison can add wonderful "color" to a passage, but one must be careful to not see these terms as "license" for fanciful imaginative interpretations, because such language while figurative is always meant to convey literal truth! The hind (doe, female dear) was a surefooted animal, able to make its way on high, dangerous terrain. In context, Habakkuk is alluding to the security God gives to those who place their trust in Him (cp Hab 2:4-note). Below are similar descriptions in Dt. 32:13; 33:29. David rejoiced that God had made his feet like a doe's feet in preparation for battle (Ps 18:33 - see Ps 18:34, ).
Spurgeon comments that...
Herbert Vander Lugt says...
O taste and see that God is good
Even when everything looks bad,
Fast Feet - While in Chile for a Bible conference, I was resting at the hotel when a rugby match came on the television. Though I don’t fully understand rugby, I enjoy it and admire the courage it takes to play such a dangerous sport.
During the match, one of the French players was injured and had to be taken to the sidelines. As the trainers attended to him, the camera showed a close-up of his shoes. With a black marker the player had written the words: “Habakkuk 3:19” and “Jesus is the way.” Those expressions of faith and hope were a strong testimony of that young athlete’s priorities and values.
The verse cited on that rugby player’s shoes is not just one of heavenly hope and persevering faith. It is one of practical value—especially to an athlete dependent on speed for success. It says, “The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”
In all of life, we need the strength and supply of our God. He alone can give us “feet” that are swift and strong. He alone can equip us for all of the uncertainties of life, for He alone is our strength. With Paul, we can be assured: “My God shall supply all your need” (Php 4:19-note).— by Bill Crowder
In You, O Lord, I take delight,
My every need You will supply;
I long to do what’s true and right,
So, Lord, on You I will rely.
—D. De Haan
We always have enough when God is our supply.
TODAY IN THE WORD Habakkuk 3:19 - Physicist Stephen Unwin recently wrote a book entitled The Probability of God. “I don’t consider anything to be understood until numbers have been applied,” he said. “I have made a career of understanding and analyzing uncertainty and probabilities. Therefore, it seemed obvious to apply these methods to the ultimate uncertainty–whether God exists.” Using something called Bayes’ Theorem as well as other equations, he reviewed evidence from observation and experience in an attempt to assign a mathematically rigorous number to the probability of the existence of a personal God. He concluded that the probability of God’s existence was 67 percent.
People wrestle with their spiritual doubts in many different ways–the prophet Habakkuk took his questions directly to God. Habakkuk ministered around the same time as Jeremiah. In his book, written mostly as a dialogue, he asked and argued about the comprehensibility and justice of God’s ways–especially regarding His punishment of Israel through conquest and exile–and God answered. This prophecy encouraged the faith of the godly remnant of Israel.
Today’s reading is a prayer or psalm that was Habakkuk’s concluding response to God’s answers. His central petition was for God to do what He had done in the past, that is, to show His power and love in the lives of His people in order to make His name known in present times: “Renew them in our day, in our time make them known” (Hab 3:2). His poetic recounting of the Exodus in Hab 3:3-15 described God’s unstoppable power exercised on Israel’s behalf–it was a faith-boosting recollection of what God could do. These memories made the prophet’s heart pound with excitement, even though he would have to wait for God’s judgment on Babylon (Hab 3:16).
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Did you know you’re allowed to ask God tough questions? Even to express doubts? God is far bigger than all your questions and doubts–He can handle them, and your faith will be strengthened as a result. (Copyright Moody Bible Institute. Used by permission. All rights reserved)
Surefootedness—Habakkuk 3:19 - THIS confidence of the man of God is tantamount to promise, for that which faith is persuaded of is the purpose of God. The prophet had to traverse the deep places of poverty and famine, but he went downhill without slipping, for the Lord gave him standing. By and by, he was called to the high places of the hills of conflict; and he was no more afraid to go up than to go down. See! the Lord lent him strength. Nay, Jehovah Himself was his strength. Think of that: the Almighty God Himself becomes our strength!