Trusting God in the face of calamity is not easy. When you know that things are not looking good, what should you do? God is faithful, which is the anchor that kept Habakkuk. It will keep you too, as this meditation shows.

Source: The Messenger, 2010. 3 pages.

Habakkuk’s Song of Thanksgiving in Time of Calamity

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; Yet Will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Habakkuk probably lived during the last part of godly Josiah’s reign and the shorter reigns of his two evil sons, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim. The latter king was carried away to Babylon during the first deportation. Sin prevailed at the royal court of Judah as well as among the general popu­lation. In Habakkuk 1:4 we read that justice was not being carried out and in chapter 2:15 and 16 we learn that drunkenness and immorality were common. Consequently, the prophet was faced with a paradox: How could the promises of God be fulfilled when impending destruction was going to take place by heathen invasion? That burden lay heavy on Habakkuk’s heart.

In the final chapter of his prophecy God’s servant speaks about the great power of the Lord demonstrated on behalf of His people in the past. His knees knock and his lips tremble as he considers the majesty and glory of God, as well as His august power. How terrible will the Lord’s indignation and anger be when He judges His covenant people! And yet, in the words of our text, God’s servant declares his hope in the Lord his God: Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. What an awesome testimony of God’s grace!

The Basis of This Song🔗

While Habakkuk fears the worst on account of his people’s sins, he pleads God’s grace by saying: 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 (v.3:2). While God’s judgment upon His people was looming, he pleads for His mercy. Verses 3, 4 and 6, 7 and 8, 9 are couplets in which we see how the prophet recounts God’s great power on behalf of His people in the past. The Lord used rivers and mountains and even the sun and the moon in defeating Israel’s enemies. Pleading on God’s past mercies to His people, Habakkuk encourages them to look to Him for the future.

Indeed, Judah was going to experience much misery on ac­count of her sin. Figs, grapes, olives and grain, the staples of Israel’s diet were going to fail. Cattle and flocks would no longer remain. And yet God’s servant speaks of his hope in spite of God’s judgments, which would certainly come: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation (v.18). Amaz­ingly Habakkuk rejoices in the God of the covenant! The LORD, Who cannot lie, is the prophet’s refuge! That is the only hope that remains.

Has this also become true in our life? In spite of the perplexities, reversals and tri­als the Lord brings into your life, is He your refuge and your one and only hope? That’s what we always need to consider, also during the season of Thanks­giving. Every blessing we receive has been forfeited from our side, the greatest of them being God’s mercy. Therefore we can only plead on God’s faithfulness that He would re­main true to Himself.

The Content of This Song🔗

That Habakkuk was able to declare hope in the living God is remarkable! Just think for a moment about all the things he has enumerated. The figs would fail; they were a regu­lar part of Israel’s diet. Scarcity of figs meant hard times. Grapes would not grow either. This fruit refreshed and re­vived people and was also used in sacrifices and drink of­ferings to God. The olive harvest too would fail. Olives were used by Israel as we use butter today. Lack of field grains meant no bread or fodder for man and animals. Moreover, the absence of both sheep and cattle would mean no meat for human consumption or for sacrifice. How great the ca­lamity would be that the Lord was going to send!

We have not been faced with such devastation in our fa­voured land. Most of us have no conception of the misery that would come on Israel. We live in times of relative pros­perity in spite of today’s economic trials. We lack nothing when it comes to our daily sustenance. But how could Ha­bakkuk express such joy in the LORD his God? This was only possible because he had learned that the compassions and mercies of the Lord are new each morning (Lam. 3:22, 23).

Notice that in our text God’s servant continually uses the covenant name of God: Jehovah, the LORD. I will rejoice in the LORD. I will joy in the God of my salvation. Yes, Jehovah will remain true to Himself; He will not allow one of His promises to fail. His truth will be upheld and fulfilled, especially concerning the coming Messiah of God. This does not mean that the prophet overlooked the devastation and ruin, which would come as a result of Israel’s sin. But, he was able to look beyond that; he had learned to put his trust in the LORD his God. He rejoices in the LORD! God’s servant is like a man who sings Psalms as he boards up his windows the day before a hurricane is forecast to strike his area.

Many people may think that this is an in­congruity. How can anyone praise God in the face of danger? This cannot be under­stood by the natural man. The world thinks that such people are insane. But no, Habakkuk does not belong in an institution. Instead, God’s servant experienc­es the mercy and love of God; his heart has been enlarged by the Holy Spirit so that he is able to place all his hope and trust in the LORD his God. He is confident that the LORD does all things well.

The Fruit of His Song🔗

How beautiful it is when God’s children’s perceptions are raised above the everyday concerns of life! Then their hope and trust is placed in the LORD and His grace! That grace is so amazing and all-pervasive that Job, in spite of the loss of his ten children and many temporal goods, was able to declare: The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. How unspeakably rich those times are, when we are enabled to praise God and to put our con­fidence in Him, even in the face of great trials. Here too, Habakkuk speaks of rejoicing in the God of his salvation! Therein lay the secret of the prophet’s response to all the disasters that loom on the horizon.

God’s servant continues: The Lord is my strength, and He will make my feet like hind’s feet, and He will make me to walk upon high places (v.19). Habakkuk has learned that man is not only to live by God’s providence in nature but by every word that proceeds from His mouth. In the previous verse he declared his joy in the LORD his God, Who was his salvation. This means that he experienced the grace and mercy of God. Salvation is to receive forgiveness of one’s sins; it is to receive a mediator, a kinsmen redeemer for one’s poor and needy soul. Salvation is to experience freedom from the penalty due to one’s sin; it is to find forgiveness full and free in the precious all-atoning blood of the Lamb of God.

When the Holy Spirit leads a sinner into the truth as revealed in Christ Jesus, that soul is set free from the burden of sin and all earthly attachments. How precious those moments are, when the heart leaps for joy in God and His Son! As a fruit of the goodness and mercy shown to him, Habakkuk declares that the Lord’s strength will make his feet like hind’s feet.

How blessed God’s people are when they experience the lovingkindness of their Saviour because the Lord has become their refuge and defense, as David also expresses in Psalm 18:33. They shall tri­umph gloriously in their Lord and Sav­iour, for then they have hope of eternal glory. When that becomes the experi­ence of your life, Thanksgiving Day takes on a whole new meaning. Then you will not only delight in temporal blessings bestowed upon you, but you will also be filled with humble adoration for the unspeakable gift of God’s Son through Whom every mercy flows. Then the ver­sification of our text, penned by William Cowper, will also become precious to you:

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruits should bear,
Though all the fields should wither,
Nor flock, nor herds be there;
Yes God, the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For, while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

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