Habakkuk 3 begins with a prayer. Verse one introduces the text as, “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth”. Per biblehub.com, the Hebrew definition of shigionoth means “a wild passionate song with rapid changes of rhythm”. I stand in admiration of how the Prophet Habakkuk not only chose to pray despite the oncoming calamity on him and his people, but how he also chose to pray in conjunction with a passionate song.
The term shigionoth is cross-referenced in Psalms 7 where it is reported that King David also sang a shiggaion to God during his trials. I suppose the wisdom that both Habakkuk and King David had concerning God overshadowed their circumstances. I assume they realized that God was good even before he spoke into the void and created the universe. Maybe wisdom told them that even if God had never called the universe into existence, he would have still been good.
So, despite the presence of Habakkuk’s hardships, he realized that God was good. And even if God had never created him at all, God would have still been good. God’s goodness and sovereignty is not dependent upon our existence or circumstances. Habakkuk understood this. And because of his wisdom, he was able to pray a wildly passionate song to God despite his ongoing sorrow. Not only did Habakkuk pray with passion, but he also reminisced on God’s previous feats.
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 3:2 NIV)
Habakkuk said, “Lord, I have heard of your fame.” But what did he hear? As the chapter unfolds, Habakkuk speaks about things that he had heard about God—things that God was famous for. Habakkuk referenced God’s glory and how it covered the heavens, how God’s praise filled the earth. But Habakkuk also remembered how God shook the earth and how he made the nations trembled.
Habakkuk recalled how “the mountains writhed” under his power and how the sun and moon stood still at his command. He remembered how God, in his wrath, destroyed nations and crushed wickedness. He also recalled how God delivered his people.
As Habakkuk remembered the fame of God—both the terrible and great deeds of God—his heart pounded. Verse 16 states, decay crept into the Habakkuk’s bones and his legs trembled as he considered the hard times he and his people would soon face. The following verse poetically described how the fig tree would not bud, how the grapes would not emerge from the vine, and how both crops and fields would not produce vegetation in the coming days.
Yet, Habakkuk decided to rejoice in God. He knew that God would enable him and his people to tread through the difficult times. And he knew this because he had heard of God’s fame. He had heard that the God he served was the same God who performed both great and terrible acts in Egypt to usher the Israelites into freedom. He had heard of what God did for Joshua in Jericho—how the walls fell and how God led them to victory.
Habakkuk had heard of how God’s hand remained on David despite the harsh opposition he faced and how God vindicated him in the face of his enemies. He had heard of how Naomi lost her husband and all her sons—how she asked to be called Mara instead of her real name because her life was very bitter. But how in the end, God gave Naomi a grand-son and renewed her life and sustained her.
The fame of God preceded Habakkuk. He essentially had God’s resume. And when Habakkuk reviewed God’s deeds, he saw that he was reliable. He saw that he was just. He saw that God was holy, good, powerful, and wise. And because of what Habakkuk heard about God, he was able to trust him.
What have you heard? The fame of God precedes you just as it did Habakkuk. So, what have you heard about him? Not just in scripture, but also recall the countless testimonies of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. God’s name is known for a reason. His fame, his resume, and his acts speak for themselves. Although he does not have to prove anything to anyone, God has proven himself to be trustworthy since the beginning of time.
Like Habakkuk, when we are faced with troublesome times, we should remember God’s fame. We should remember what he is known for and how he has delivered his people from tragedy throughout thousands of generations. We should bear in mind that God is a God of justice—that he is both a God of mercy and a God of wrath.
If we keep in mind what God is known for, then we can not only trust him in difficult seasons, but we should also be hasty to live a life of humble submission to him. Throughout scripture, calamity occurred after disobedience to God. If we remember how God operates and what he is known for, then we ought to do our best to live holy before him to avoid undue hardships.
Yet our obedience to God shouldn’t occur just because we want to avoid his wrath. Our obedience to God should come because of who he is. It should come because of how his love is good—so good that he saw fit to send his Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of the world so that we may be saved.
What you have heard about God should be enough to encourage you through both your good and bad seasons. What you have heard about God should inspire you to give your life to him since he gave his Son for you. What you have heard about God should lead you to be led by him in all things…
But I don’t know what you have heard. I don’t know what you have read. If you don’t know about this God, start at Genesis. Or perhaps, start with one of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. It’s not natural to trust in something or someone that you know nothing about. So, if you don’t know God or if you haven’t heard of him or his deeds, I encourage you to go and find out about him.
And for those of you who have heard of God, remember what you have heard about him at all times. Keep God and his awesome deeds at the forefront of your mind. Your remembrance of the Lord’s fame will aid you just as Habakkuk’s remembrance of God’s fame helped him. Like Habakkuk, stand and watch for God’s answer, remain in prayer despite your circumstances, and remember what you have heard.
Have a blessed day and week! Take care.
Quin Arrington is a wife, mother of two children, and author of three books. Her literary collection includes both fictional and nonfictional works. Books can be purchased at the link listed below. Thank you for time and attention. God bless!