Habakkuk’s Song, Pt. I

” I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds.” Habakkuk 3:2

             This chapter of Habakkuk is a sermon-song. God came to man. God intervenes. God cares.  

             His song is a rehearsal of the wonders God had wrought in Israel’s history.  God is pictured as a dynamic, Sovereign active on behalf of His own righteousness, poured out in love toward His people.

             God is not remote, unfeeling, or cold. He is portrayed in this song as the God Who is There.  He is paying attention, He acts, He feels, He moves. As He has done, He is doing and will continue to do according to His own covenant. [1][2]  We can’t keep our part of that covenant with God, but He does for us.  

             Habakkuk’s song teaches the people to intercede for themselves, but morever for the nation as a whole as part of God’s Greater Plan to bring salvation to all mankind.

  • Remember what God has Promised and what He has already done,
  • Repent of your sins–turn away from them and put on His righteousness instead,
  • Remain in Him through worship in faith and obedience. 

REMEMBER

             Sin damages our memory. We forget the kindnesses of God, and that all that we have in this life has been given to us by the Father: the skills, the abilities, the opportunities, the mental power, the physical skill.  We forget who is really in charge.  

             We loom large in our concerns, much larger than the Lord.  Not only my pride, but awareness of my sin looms larger in my mind than God’s miraculous forgiveness.  This life we live from day to day just seems bigger than God.  More immediately urgent than a far-off invisible entity. We lose sight of God’s magnificence.  In so doing, we are left without a Father who loves, guides, protects and saves. We become our own captain and we are very afraid, even as we while away the hours trying to forget.

             We see God’s power and know in our minds that He is to be reckoned with; but sin turns this from a rightful worship to a wrongful kind fear. We don’t want to face the God whom we fear, and so fear turns to anger. Then in our rebellion, we believe we can’t face God even if we wanted to. We are guilty of treason, and we feel that guilt keenly. Aware of the reality of our rebellion, we can’t imagine that we will ever again be received by Him.  

             But what does our history tell us?  Let Habakkuk remind us!  

             The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Habakkuk begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9):  “I have heard the report of You; I stand in awe…In Your wrath, remember mercy!”  

             Every Hebrew child knew the Abrahamic covenant from Genesis 12. At Passover, every Hebrew family would recite the story of the Exodus. The great songs of scripture were sung.  These were songs of God’s promised deliverance despite man’s sin.  

            Yet along the way, they borrowed the songs of the culture around them. Their own songs, created out of Holy Spirit-filled wonder and worship, fell to the dust like useless vestiges of an old, archaic out-of date religion.  Too restrictive, too “backward” for modern times.  The thorny vines of sin wended their tentacles around them and squeezed and pierced their hearts, eclipsing the Light of Truth, and poisoning their praise (Jeremiah 2:32; 3:21; 13:25; 18:13-17) .  

            And God came! 

            Habakkuk was entrusted to give very bad news. Judgement on Judah was near. The Chaldeans were coming! Judah was entering into a time of judgment. They were coming face to face with God’s holiness, which they had violated.  The people would melt with fear.  The Supreme God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is coming!  

            The people needed reassurance that their chastisement would not destroy them.  Can this holy God still have mercy for us?  Will He still save?  Oh, how I know these questions!

            Habakukk now crafts his Song of Remembrance with God Himself:

And God came...” (Habakkuk 3:3)!

            What beautiful words Habakkuk uses to describe the awesome power of our Lord as He comes in glory and radiance and terrible justice on behalf of His precious people! Habakkuk’s song is not didactic and dry, it is meant to fill their senses, to recreate the true picture of the glory of God. 

            The language Habakkuk uses evokes power and might. If one reads this chapter and focuses only on the ardent fire of God’s righteous indignation against the oppressors, one would miss the beauty that penetrates deeper than mere poetic language. The purpose of His coming is the intense fire of his love for His people. God’s judgment on evil makes redemption possible. This is a hard lesson. It would be for Judah who had made alliances with their surrounding culture.

            And yet, recounting these mighty acts of God would remind Judah not only of God’s severe holiness in judgment, but they would also see a Father Who is moved with compassion by the integrity of His holy purpose. That purpose is greater than those who are oppressed. God saves because He has purposed our Redemption from the foundation of the creation (Genesis 1-3). And that which God has purposed, He will do. Our Sovereign God is Truth and in Him is all glory and honor. It is God Who is to be feared above all, and yet this fear is a welcoming, respectful fear if one humbled by it.

            As Habakkuk had faced God, his song would teach the people to face God and to remember how He had come before.  In doing so, their own hearts and minds would be overcome with the majesty of the truth of God’s amazing love for them and His deliverance in the past.  

           God’s justice may bring us to our knees; but it is God’s mercy that gives us new hope and life.  They would sing this new song throughout the onslaught of the enemy and their time of exile, during the time of their suffering. I need to remember as well (Hebrews 12:5,6).

© June 2019 by www.ReadPsalm119.com.  
This is part of a series of reflections on the book of Habakkuk.  See Habakkuk's Lament (Pt1). The remaining posts ("Habakkuk's Song, Pt II", "...Pt. III", and "Habakkuk's Statement of Faith", which will close this series) are finished and pre-scheduled for delivery each day this week.  

FOOTNOTES:

[1] See What is a Covenant? by Mark Jones, Ligonier Ministries (ligonier.org), for an in-depth, though brief answer to the eponymous question.

[2] See A Little Introduction to Covenants, by D.A. Carson (The Gospel Coalition) with John Piper (DesiringGod.org). Audio interview available for download as well as transcript.

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