1. (16-18) Knowing God’s strength, Habakkuk can trust the Lord even in a crisis.
When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops. 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.
a. When I hard, my body trembled: Habakkuk shows the proper response of man under the sovereign power of God. He recognizes his own weakness and low standing before this God of all majesty and power.
b. He will invade him with his troops: The prophet remembers that the Babylonians are coming, and that this God of sovereign power and majesty is directing their work against Judah.
c. Though the fig tree may not blossom, not fruit be on the vines . . . yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation: In almost a vision, Habakkuk sees the Judean countryside desolate, perhaps from the invading Babylonian army or perhaps from natural calamity. In the midst of this almost complete loss, Habakkuk can still rejoice in the Lord.
i. He knows that this God of majesty and power is not diminished because man faces difficult trials. Sometimes we think, “If God is so great and powerful, how come I am going through a hard time?” Habakkuk knew this was the wrong question and the wrong attitude. Instead, he says: “I know you are strong and mighty, and if we are in desolate circumstances it is because we deserve it. I will praise You still, and even rejoice in You.”
ii. Rejoice in the Lord . . . joy in the God of my salvation: With desolate circumstances like he just described, Habakkuk can find no joy in the fig tree or in the vines or in the fields or flock; yet God is unchanged. He can still rejoice in the Lord, because He is unchanging.
iii. Habakkuk didn’t just practice positive thinking and shut out the idea of the barren fig tree and the empty cattle stalls. Instead, he saw those problems for what they were and remembered that God was greater than them all.
d. Benjamin Franklin – who was not a Christian, though he had great respect for the Bible – used Habakkuk 3:17-19 to confound a group of sophisticated, cultured despisers of the Bible. When he was in Paris he heard this group mocking the Bible, and mocking Franklin for his admiration of it. One evening he came among them and said that he had a manuscript containing an ancient poem, that he was quite impressed by the poem and he wanted to read it to them. When he read Habakkuk 3:17-19, his listeners received it with praise and admiration – “What a magnificent poem!” they said, and wanted to know where they could get copies. Franklin told them to just look in Habakkuk chapter 3.
2. (19) Knowing God’s strength, Habakkuk can trust God for strength.
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. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.
a. The Lord God is my strength: Habakkuk can only properly pray this after he prayed the prayer of faith in the previous verses. He rightly declared that his strength was not in fig trees or vines or fields or flocks, but only in the Lord God.
i. We might even say that what we praise is our strength. If by his words, life, or heart a man lives to praise his own achievements and resources, that those are his strength. If by words, life, or heart one praises a person or an idea, then those are his strength. We demonstrate that the Lord God is our strength when we praise Him.
b. He will make my feet like deer’s feet: Habakkuk thought of the deer running about on the high hills, never losing a step and never falling. More than that, the deer positively dance and leap on the hills – they are full of life and joy. So the prophet declares, “God will set my steps that firmly and lively also. As I trust in Him, He will not allow me to slip or fall, and I will do more than merely plod along – I will skip about with life and joy.”
© 2001 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission