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.
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,
18 Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
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.
(Habakkuk 3:16-19 NASB)
Today, Habakkuk reflects on what he has seen and heard from the Lord. Yesterday, Habakkuk addressed the Lord directly, worshipping God for all He had done in the past, was doing in the present, and will do in the future.
Today, Habakkuk returns to first person narrative. In your mind’s eye, imagine being Habakkuk. The Lord has just shown you what He is about to do in your lifetime, in your country, with your fellow citizens. And it takes your breath away. But in God’s wrath, you see His mercy, salvation, and upholding His everlasting covenants He made with you and every other Israelite. You have addressed God one-on-one, and He has answered you, not once, but twice.
Habakkuk shares his response to all this news of God’s plans. Notice the physical reaction that happens: his stomach churns, he is unable to speak, his legs give way as he can no longer stand. All he can do is sit and wait on the Lord.
Obviously, Habakkuk wrote the first sentence of verse 16 at a later time, as he was unable to write when he felt the full gravity and implications of God’s plans.
The second sentence of verse 16 shows Habakkuk snapping back to the present: broken in spirit, humbled, and waiting on the Lord, and for His day of judgment upon the land and inhabitants of Judah.
Verses 17 and 18 go together, as Habakkuk reflects on the future condition of his beloved homeland, and his response to those circumstances. As Habakkuk reveals his thoughts real time, we see him deciding right then and there to honor and worship the Lord regardless of what happens. Even utter desolation of the land and its people could not sway Habakkuk to take his eyes and focus off the Lord.
Habakkuk finishes his thoughts by acknowledging that his strength comes from the Lord. Habakkuk is powerless to change the course of future events and knows that the Lord is his only power and protection and hope. By God’s strength, Habakkuk will not only be able to stand again, but to walk as sure-footed as the deer on the barren rocky mountain crags and peaks.
May we, like Habakkuk, see and realize:
- God’s greatness and our smallness
- God’s strength and our weakness
- God’s security and our unprotected vulnerability
- God’s provision and our poverty
- God’s completeness and our brokenness
- God’s majesty and our humility
- God’s righteousness and our sin
- God’s love that covers us just as we are, where we are.