Habakkuk 3


‘A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.’ Habakkuk 3:1-2

In this final chapter, we read Habakkuk’s prayer in the form of a song, where he asks God to intervene in the affairs of the nations.

It’s taken some time, but he finally understands, as much as humanly possible that God is actually working in and amongst the nations for the benefit of His own people. In his prayer, he basically asks God to go ahead and do what needs to be done.

No one knows what the word, ‘Shigionoth’ actually means but some believe it’s referring to some kind of musical instrument or musical term with the idea of a wild dance rhythm, Habakkuk 3:19.

Standing in awe of God certainly brings about fear which in turn should bring about obedience. This was the main problem the nation of Israel had, they lacked a fear of the Lord and as a result of having no fear, they got involved in all kinds of evil, including idolatry.

In fact, they had strayed so far away from the Lord, that it forced God to discipline His people by sending them into captivity so that when they were freed from captivity, He could fulfil the blessing He promised Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3.

Habakkuk asks God to remember those who would come out of captivity and hence asks God to be merciful towards them. Even though God acts in judgment we can always be sure His judgment comes with mercy.

‘God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendour was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. 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—but he marches on forever. I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. Were you angry with the rivers, LORD? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode your horses and your chariots to victory? You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. 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. 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. 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. With his 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. 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.’ Habakkuk 3:3-16

In the KJV, we find the word, ‘selah’ in Habakkuk 3:3 / Habakkuk 3:9 / Habakkuk 3:13, this word in the psalms means to pause, this corresponds with the last verse of Habakkuk 3:19. This is a song of past glories, things God has done for His people in the past.

This is Habakkuk responding to God’s second answer, the unrighteousness within God’s people must be taken care of. He sees that God will take care of all the evil he sees in the country.

Notice that God is pictured as coming from Teman and Paran to deliver His people, He comes in a great storm cloud, causing the earth to shake and tremble. This is possibly referring to the parting of the Red Sea, and or the crossing of the Jordon, Exodus 14 / Joshua 3, but whatever it’s speaking about, it’s pointing to God’s power.

Notice also the reference to the sun and moon, this could be a possible reference to Joshua 10 when time stopped for Joshua so he could win the battle. Again, this is pointing to God’s power and if God did that back then, then He could do it again.

The calamitous picture of the natural world Habakkuk gives us depicts the greatness of God. In other words, if God’s coming causes so much calamity, then He’s more than capable of delivering His people in the future.

Habakkuk’s response to all this was so great that his ‘heart pounded’, his ‘lips quivered,’ ‘decay crept into his bones’, and ‘his legs trembled,’ in other words, he was overwhelmed and in awe of God’s power, to the point of collapsing mentally and no doubt spiritually. If God’s presence can cause such disturbance in the things that He created, then certainly He can control all that man does on the earth.

Habakkuk learned to trust God and wait patiently for Him to work things out for the benefit of His people. Amidst all the turmoil and trouble, there is some kind of comfort for God’s people, God is in control, God would send them into captivity, but God will free them later, once they had been disciplined and learned from their mistakes.

This is what Habakkuk has concluded:

1. Babylon will judge Judah.

2. If God is behind Babylon, then Judah will need to help, salvation.

3. Only God can help Judah.

‘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 Saviour. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.’ Habakkuk 3:17-19

As we come to the end of the book, we can’t help but notice the difference in Habakkuk’s thinking, it’s clear his faith in God is growing despite the circumstances, Philippians 4:4 / 1 John 5:4.

What Habakkuk is describing here is what the land looked like when the Babylonians went around invading the nations, people would starve, people would die because of them, and they would leave the land in such a condition that it would be impossible for anyone to live there anymore.

But even still, Habakkuk will rejoice in the Lord and be joyful, Job 13:15 / Daniel 3:18. He will remain faithful to God and rely on God’s strength instead of his own.

The ‘feet of a deer’ is probably the most skilled feet in the animal world when we think about the terrain, they live in. Habakkuk now believes that no matter how hard things get, no matter how rough his circumstances feel, he won’t fall and stumble to the ground. His faith is now totally in God.


God’s patience with Habakkuk is very humbling, He allowed him to grow in his faith and taught him to be patient.

As Christians, we often think that some Christians aren’t growing, but some Christians take a little longer than others and some can only digest a little of God’s Word at a time. We too must be patient with them, as God is with us, as we all have a lot of growing to do, 2 Peter 3:18.


If we learn anything from Habakkuk it’s this, although at first, He didn’t understand why God can use an evil nation like Babylon to punish His own people, he went on to see the bigger picture.

Judah needed to be disciplined for her unfaithfulness and God was going to use the Babylonians to carry this out. They needed to learn from their past mistakes so that God would later free them from their captivity. It’s interesting because Israel never committed idolatry again after they were freed from captivity.

When Habakkuk finally understood what God was doing and why he had peace of mind and would go on to rely on God for the rest of his life. For Habakkuk, faith really was his victory.

‘This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.’ 1 John 5:4