Habakkuk 3:1-2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 29, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:1-2)

Previously in Habakkuk, we have seen Habakkuk crying out to God twice, and both of God’s responses. God’s last response to Habakkuk included five ways that God was going to judge the Babylonian people, who He would use to judge His people in Israel. Here, the book changes form significantly. The form now is that of Hebrew poetry, which is very similar to the structure of the book of Psalms. In particular, this is similar to psalms of lament, such as Psalm 18 or Psalm 77.

If you’ve done much reading in the Psalms, verse 1 may seem similar in structure to you. Psalms often start out with who wrote them, what context they were to be used in, what genre of music this is, or what sort of musical instruments were to be used with it. This is similar information to what we would see at the top of the sheet music for a song. Because of this, it is believed that the “shigionoth” referenced in this verse is a type of musical genre that’s devoted to crying out against injustice. The theme of Habakkuk 3 is the same as chapters 1-2, but Habakkuk’s lament here is recorded in a different style.

Verse 2 is a model for a way that we can use in prayer to God. Habakkuk first acknowledges who God is and the mighty things He has done for His people. Habakkuk knows that God is a merciful God because of what He has done in the past, and therefore Habakkuk believes that God will be merciful again. When God’s people have messed up in the past, God has shown them mercy. Habakkuk first praises God before he asks God to show mercy on the people.

Is that how you pray? Do you praise God first and foremost, before starting in on your list of needs and wants? It’s so easy to just come to God with all of our requests and forget to praise Him in our prayers. I fall into this too, as often the purpose of my prayer is simply to ask God for things, whether for myself or for other people. One way to help me remember to praise God is to use the acronym ACTS for my prayers. The “A” stands for adoration - we first praise God for what He has done and who He is. The “C” stands for confession - confessing where we fall short of God’s standards, and recognizing that God is God and we are not. The “T” stands for thanksgiving - thanking God for the multitude of amazing ways He has blessed us. Finally, the “S” stands for supplication - bringing our requests to God. This acronym helps me put my prayers in the proper perspective, with more emphasis on God and less emphasis on self.

In Habakkuk’s prayer, he recognizes that the people have sinned and do not deserve God’s mercy. But he is asking for God’s mercy anyway, in spite of knowing that God has said the people will be judged for their actions. We will reap what we sow, unless God decides to give us grace. It is only through grace - getting what we don’t deserve - that we may experience God’s mercy and not receive the full consequences for our disobedient actions. For us on this side of the cross, we know that we experience that grace through the work of Jesus Christ, in His sacrificial death on the cross and resurrection for us. While we are still under God’s natural law, so we will often reap what we sow, as followers of Jesus Christ we know that our eternal fate is due to Jesus’s sacrifice, which we experience by grace through faith in Him.

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