Habakkuk 3

Habakkuk 3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.

This was Habakkuk’s chance to write the words to a hymn.  He calls it a prayer but Shigionoth is a poetic form, and he addresses it to “the chief singer on [his] stringed instruments” (v. 19).  Thereby, we may safely infer that his prayer is meant to be the lyrics to a sacred song.  Besides the Lord declared, “the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me” (D&C 25:12).  Martin Luther wrote the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”  Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “This is the Christ.”  Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, “My Redeemer Lives.”  None of them probably thought they were following the Old Testament pattern of Habakkuk. 

If we read this chapter as a worshipful declaration of God’s power, it will make more sense.  The content is more retrospective and reflective than prophetic.

Habakkuk 3:2 O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years

A better translation would be, “revive thy work in my day as well.”  Or, “I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known.” (New International Version)

Habakkuk 3:3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran

This is a reference to God coming from the South.  Perhaps there was a tradition that God approached from the South.  “In this theophany, the Lord is coming from the south:  Both Teman and Mount Paran are in the south from a Judahite perspective (cf. Deut. 33:2; Judg. 5:4)” (The Jewish Study Bible, ed. by A Berlin & MZ Brettler [New York, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2014], 1220)

Habakkuk 3:4-19

As a lyrical poem, much of Habakkuk’s prayer reads like a psalm or the poetry of Isaiah.  In fact, the ideas are repeated in other places in the Old Testament as listed in the following table.


Other Prophets

His brightness was as the light; he had [rays of light] coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power (v. 4)

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. (Ps. 50:2)

Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. (v. 5)

And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood . . . and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. (Ezek. 38:22)

He stood and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting (v. 6)

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (Isa 42:12)

The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing water passed by:  the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high (v. 10)

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind . . . and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. (Ex 14;21-22)

The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. (v. 11)

[Joshua] said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. (Josh. 10:12-13)

Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. (v. 12)

. . . thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them . . . thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. (Ps 44:2)

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (v. 18)

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation (Isa. 61:10)

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 (v. 19)

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint (Isa. 40:31)


Habakkuk 3:17 the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine

Sometimes, things don’t go our way.  It’s been that way since Adam and Eve left the Garden.  How does Habakkuk respond to life’s perennial disappointments?  He doesn’t complain.  He doesn’t murmur.  He rejoices in the Lord and places his trust in God.  That is easier to say than it is to do.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s insight into human nature poignantly illustrates our frustration with mortality,  “A basic cause of murmuring is that too many of us seem to expect that life will flow ever smoothly, featuring an unbroken chain of green lights with empty parking places just in front of our destinations!” (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1989/10/murmur-not?lang=eng)  The Lord made clear that He “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45)  It’s not all roses for the righteous!  So when life rains on your parade, remember Habakkuk; rejoice in the Lord and make Him your source of joy and strength.

Habakkuk 3:19 The Lord God is my strength

Marion D. Hanks

Like Habakkuk of old, we may in our anguish feel that we could bear anything if we could only understand the divine purpose in what is happening. The ancient prophet learned that the righteous live by faith and that faith is not an easy solution to life’s problems. Faith is confidence and trust in the character and purposes of God.

Habakkuk declared:

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine; 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.

“The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet … to walk upon mine high places.”  Hab. 3:17–19

Our religion is “not weight, it is wings.” It can carry us through the dark times, the bitter cup. It will be with us in the fiery furnace and the deep pit. It will accompany us to the hospital room and to the place of bereavement. It can guarantee us the presence of a Captain on the rough voyage. It is, in short, not the path to easy disposition of problems, but the comforting assurance of the eternal light, by which we may see, and the eternal warmth, which we may feel. “The Lord is good: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”  Ps. 34:8  (Conference Report 1975 April, 12; https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1975/04/trust-in-the-lord?lang=eng)