What does it look like to wait quietly for something? Not just wait, but wait quietly? Is that our go-to activity when faced with disaster? I know how to wait NOT quietly. I’m really good at that. But what does a quiet wait look like?
Habakkuk begins his vow to wait quietly on God with the word YET. This small word carries a big punch. Yet . . . even though . . . regardless . . . nevertheless. The prophet is not letting the circumstances or his emotions determine his actions.
We said back when we began this chapter, when we talked about the meaning of the word shigionoth, that this style of song includes praise that defies the darkness. It’s like the prophet is shaking his fist at the coming tragedy and saying, “No. I’m not giving up. I’m praising God anyway.” How is he able to do that?
Let’s read what Habakkuk has to say:
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,Habakkuk 3: 17-19
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
In an agrarian society like the one Habakkuk lived in, the picture he paints is one of utter disaster. YET. There’s that word again. What the prophet has learned through his dialogue with God, his struggle to come to grips with the vision God has painted, is this: Joy is not based on our circumstances. It is grounded in our future hope.
The Key to singing in defiant triumph is KNOWING who God is and putting our trust in that. We just spent the last three lessons looking at God’s faithfulness to the nation of Israel and remembering God’s mighty power. Our God is BIG. Our God is POWERFUL. Our God is a force to be reckoned with in his righteous anger. Our God is also compassionate, merciful, and loving. He has promised to deliver his people, and He kept that promise on the cross. We can stand firm in His faithfulness.
Because we know who God has been in the past, we can KNOW who He will be in the present and in the future. The battle against sin and death has already been won. No matter our circumstances, we can wait patiently because the future is set, and it is glorious!
In the final verses of Habakkuk, the prophet borrows from a psalm of David when he says, “God, the Lord, is my strength. He makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on high places.” Like a songwriter today incorporating the words of a favorite hymn into a contemporary chorus, Habakkuk uses familiar imagery to end his own song of praise.
To understand the imagery here, you must understand Middle Eastern deer. Unlike our corn-fed midwestern giants, these deer are more the size of mountain goats. These animals do not have the luxury of flat, solid ground with no obstacles. They live on rocky crags and sheer cliffs. God created them to be sure-footed on the narrowest of ledges. In the middle of what we might consider impossible circumstances, these deer stand firm.
Having feet like these deer is a picture of fearlessness. It’s a picture of being able to do the impossible, to thrive despite our circumstances. With God as our strength, we too can stand firm. We too can wait quietly on our God.