In our study of Habakkuk chapter three, we will see how remembering the past actions of God can strengthen us for our walk today. This prayer shows us how our concerns can be laid to rest when we remember what God has already done and the fact that He is unchanging.
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
We see from this opening that this entire chapter is a recorded prayer of the prophet. This fact reminds us that sharing our prayers and how God answers them can be used to build others up in their faith. You may not write a chapter of the Bible, but God can still use your testimony of prayer in a mighty way.
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
For this verse, I prefer the KJV translation over the NIV. We remember that, in chapter two, the prophet complained about God using Babylon as an instrument of judgment on His people and we saw God's answer to him. Now, we see that he says he heard from God and was afraid for the people of Babylon as God explained that they would be dealt with. Habakkuk went from condemning them to now praying that God would remember to show them mercy. That is an example of what Jesus was talking about when He taught us to pray for our enemies.
God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth.
The prophet continues his prayer by remembering that God was with Abraham when he left Ur of the Chaldeans (southern Iraq) and went to Canaan (Israel). The meaning of the term "Selah" is somewhat lost but it is believed to be a pause in the music.
His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.
It was by God's power that Abraham was led to Canaan. He simply trusted God in faith and followed. Habakkuk remembers this in his prayer and is strengthened by the fact that God will lead His people if they simply do the same.
Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal. I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
Habakkuk continues to remember the fact that God humbled the mighty Egyptians through Moses and Aaron. This passage remembers the ten afflictions of the land of Egypt that convinced them to set God's people free. As he (and we) remember how God has delivered His people, we are assured that the everlasting unchanging God will continue to do the same thing with us and our struggles. The KJV points to the freedom that was to come for those who believe in Jesus as it speaks of the curtains that separated God from His people. God caused the curtains to tremble at that time but the curtain was torn in two when Jesus was on the cross (see Luke 23:45). Isn't it cool to see how God is in control of this prayer and uses it to point to the grace that was to come? He will do the same thing with us in guiding our prayers by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Were you angry with the rivers, O Lord? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode with your horses and your victorious chariots? You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. Selah You split the earth with rivers; the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high.
The prophet remembers how God delivered His people from their slavery in Egypt. Even the waters obeyed God as that was an instrument that He used to save His people from the Egyptian pursuers.
Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations.
In this passage, the prophet remembers the battle that Joshua fought with the five kings (Joshua 10) and the prayer that was answered. Joshua prayed for this to happen and God did it while His wrath was carried out by Joshua and his men. This reminded Habakkuk of the fact that God answers the prayers of His people and it is the same thing that James spoke of when he said "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (see James 5). That same assurance is for us today in that, when we pray in faith, God answers in power.
You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. Selah
The prophet remembers that, when God's people were attacked, He fought for them. God is the same today, in that, He will take care of His children. We may be attacked but we cannot be defeated.
With is own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters.
Habakkuk remembers that God takes care of those who humble themselves. As they hid in fear, God stepped in on their behalf. If we humble ourselves and call on the name of God, He will fight on our behalf as well. This gave the prophet comfort and it can help us through our struggles as well.
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.
Although he is afraid, the prophet has resolved to trust in God for deliverance in the face of the enemy. When we face fear and doubt, as brought on by the enemy (Satan), we, too, can resolve to stand firm in the knowledge that God will defend us.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
When times get the toughest, that is when we need to hold onto Jesus the tightest. Habakkuk's prayer is strengthening him as he resolves in his heart to worship God even when things are tough. We, too, should make a habit out of praising God while we are in the storms of life. Out of this praise will come strength just as it did for the prophet.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.
Habakkuk concludes this prayer with the remembrance that God is the source of all of his ability and strength. This prayer was written down to be sung with stringed instruments being played.