A Psalm expressing his Hope with Thanksgiving. He Celebrates the Omnipotence of Yahweh and Rejoices in the Coming Victory over all Nations and the Deliverance of Israel.

Analysis A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth”. This is the superscription of the Psalm which follows. It is believed to be a model Psalm seeing it has all three essential components, namely:

3:1 Superscription

3:2-19 The body of the Psalm

3:19 Subscription. “To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”

The arrangement of the Psalms, as set out in the Authorised Version, is not in accordance with this plan. Often the subscription of a Psalm appears as part of the superscription of the next. This has happened because there is no distinct break in the Hebrew text between the Psalms. This fact is enlightening and should be noted by those anxious to gain a fuller appreciation of them. It was the layout of this perfect “psalm” of Habakkuk 3 that helped unravel this mystery in the Book of Psalms. See also Isa 38:9–20 and refer to The Companion Bible and The Titles of the Psalms by J.W.Thirtle.

3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth Shigionoth” (or Shiggaion, the superscription of Psalm 7). This word only occurs twice and its translation is uncertain. One suggestion is that it means “to cry aloud”, “to cry out in times of trouble, danger or pain”, “to cry to Yahweh for help or relief”. This meaning certainly accords with the theme of the two psalms, above which it is placed.

  1. In Psalm 7 David cries to Yahweh for deliverance from Cush the Benjamite who would persecute him.
  1. In Habakkuk 3 the prophet cries to God to deliver his people and preserve alive His great work with them despite the purposes of Gogue.

 3:2–19 Habakkuk’s Psalm of Hope and Thanksgiving

 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech and was afraid: O LORD revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

“I have heard thy speech and was afraid” — The tenor of Habakkuk’s words is now drastically different. He is no longer willing to confront God. He has seen (chapter 2) that Yahweh does not acquit evil-doers but will bring them to justice and at length prevail and fill the earth with His glory. His spirit is now satisfied and he is happy to patiently await the day of calamity, knowing that this day holds in its store the salvation of his beloved Israel.

“Speech”—the word signifies “fame” and is so translated in Num 14:15 and Isa 66:19. It refers to Yahweh’s reputation, justice and integrity so clearly revealed in chapter 2.

“Revive thy work in the midst of the years”—RV and RSV “in the midst of the years renew it(thy work). Far from despairing at injustice which he thought God was condoning, he desires the outworking of God’s purpose and intervention. This he wishes to see because it will bring in its wake the destruction of the cruel northern confederacy of nations and the salvation of Israel. In verse 13 the PURPOSE of intervention is stated: “Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people … thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked.”

“in wrath remember mercy”—Both aspects of the name or character of Yahweh are recognised and referred to in Romans as the “goodness and severity” of God (Rom 11:22; Exod 34:6–8). With God, judgment and justice are synonymous. He declares on numerous occasions that He will judge men “according to their ways”. This is fair. It means, too, that to the righteous He must “show mercy”, while the wicked must perish in His wrath. Habakkuk was deeply shaken by the determination of Yahweh so plainly stated in chapter 2. The unchangeable purpose of God meant “wrath” to God’s enemies, in which Habakkuk could find comfort but he knew, too, that Judah’s ways were not pleasing in His eyes, so he pleads for “mercy” in the midst of judgment. “Mercy” (racham) is from the verb “to fondle”, and the noun expresses the compassion or pity of a parent for a child (cp Psa 25:6; 103:13; Isa 49:15).

3:3 God came from Teman and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. This is better rendered, “Eloah will come”. The LXX, RV (margin), Roth., and Bro Thomas agree that the tense of the verb is future and that future events are described. The very nature of the events compels a future construction of the prophecy.

“God”“Eloah”—“The mighty one” (the singular of Elohim—“mighty ones”). This term refers to the Lord Jesus who will come on behalf of Yahweh and execute His judgments. He was “Deity manifest in the flesh” at his first advent when he was made perfect by suffering and sacrifice (Heb 2:9–10; 5:7–9; 1Tim 3:16). At his second coming he will be “Deity manifest in Spirit”. He will come with great power and with the saints, and will be known to the nations by the terrible aspect of the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”. He shall judge among the nations and rebuke strong nations afar off. He is here depicted in this “day of vengeance”.

“Holy One”—This is a term applied to the Lord Jesus. It is an acknowledged Messianic title (cp Acts 3:14; Dan 9:24; Mk 1:24; Lk 1:35; Acts 2:27; 13:35; Psa 16:10; 1 John 2:20).

Brother Thomas says, “The word rendered ‘came’ is not ‘bah’, as in Deuteronomy 33:2, where it is correctly translated, but ‘yahvo’, the future of the same verb, and , therefore to be rendered ‘shall come in’. The text should be rendered thus, ‘Eloah shall come in from the South …’.”

 Divine intervention on the scale indicated has never occurred in the past. The prophecy speaks of the intervention of “The Anointed One” (v13) in the great crisis of the ages. To this all the prophets refer (Acts 3:21). Gogue, in conjunction with the confederated nations of Europe and with the blessing of the Pope, will make his grand move for world dominion. At this time the saints will have been gathered for judgment and glorification, and will emerge from Sinai when the crisis comes to a head. The King of the North will invade the Holy Land and overflow and pass over into Egypt, which “shall not escape”. Whilst in Egypt “tidings out of the East (probably the saints in glory emerging from Sinai towards Jerusalem) and out of the north, (probably the western allies in Jordan who will move to block Gogue’s ambitions) shall trouble him”. He will return to Jerusalem and concentrate his massive power in the area of danger, Jerusalem. There, three mutually hostile powers will confront each other (Dan 11:40–45). The King of the North “shall come to his end, and none shall help him”. The rest of Habakkuk 3 depicts, in graphic symbols mixed with literal interpretation, the victory of the saints.

“from Teman” (margin—“the south”) Teman (southern) was the name of a tribe descended from Esau, and also the district it inhabited (Gen 36:11,15,34). The territory was in Edom (Jer 49:20; Amos 1:12), apparently in the northern part (Ezek 25:13). Note that Eliphaz was a Temanite (Job 22:1). It was situated very close to Bozrah (Amos 1:12), and will be on the southern boundary of restored Israel (Ezek 47:19).

“from mount Paran”—“A wilderness situated in the east of the central region of the Sinai peninsula, NE from the traditional Sinai, and SSE of Kadesh, the Arabah and the Gulf of Aqabah as its eastern border.”

It is the locality:

  • Where Hagar and Ishmael went after expulsion,Gen 21:21.
  • Crossed by Israel on the way from Sinai to the Promised Land, Num 10:12;12:16
  • From where the spies were despatched, Num 13:3,26

“Mount Paran of the Song of Moses (Deut 33:2) and Habakkuk 3:3 was possibly a prominent peak on the mountain range on the west shore of the Gulf of Aqabah” (The New Bible Dictionary).

The accompanying map illustrates the locality referred to in these verses as well as some of the significant events which are shortly to take place in that region.

There are two other passages which mention Christ, the angels and the saints in Mount Sinai, namely Deut 33:2 and Psalm 68:17. From here, after the type of Israel of old, the saints will emerge with their Lord. Their purpose will be to save Israel from the invading nations and to establish the Kingdom of God.

From these passages, Brother Thomas concluded that the judgment seat of Christ will actually take place in this secluded location. Although there is no definitive proof that this will in fact be the case he sets out his reasons in Eureka Vol 2 pp 545–550. Deuteronomy 33:2 is the passage on which Habakkuk chapter 3 is based and it adds another detail by saying that Yahweh came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir. Seir is north of Paran, and so the northward progress of the saints is portrayed. Thus as “whirlwinds of the south” (Teman) they shall go forth superintended by the Lord Jesus having been freed from the pit by the “blood of his covenant” (Zech 9:11–16).

“His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise”

 The language is applicable to the sun which is often used as emblematic of Christ (Mal 4:2; Psa 19:4; Rev 1:16; 10:1; Lk 1:78; Rev 16:12). But especially notable is the connection with the basic passage of Deuteronomy 33:2 —“Yahweh came from Sinai, and ROSE UP from Seir unto them; he SHINED FORTH from mount Paran… ”. The Hebrew word for “rose up”—“zarach”—comes from a root meaning to “irradiate or shoot forth beams” that is, to rise (as the sun).

Christ and the saints are likened to the sun.

  • As the sun brings healing, so will the reign and power of Christ (Mal 4:2).
  • As the sun banishes darkness and brings light, discernment and life, so will the reign of the Lord (Isa 60:1–2).
  • Moreover the physical brilliance of the immortal Christ-body will be “above the brightness of the sun” (cp Acts 26:13; Matt 13:43; Dan 12:3; 1Jn 3:2; Rev 1:16; 10:1). They will go forth in militant manifestation and subdue by force the angry nations.

Also the just judgments of God poured out will bring forth ascriptions of Glory and Praise to God. The long reign of sin and tyranny will at last be broken and men shall rejoice in this (cp Ezek 39:21; Rev 14:7; 15:3–4)