Habakkuk 3:16-19 -- Adopting A New Perspective On Life!

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Habakkuk 3:16-19


          Wicked Kings

          Wicked people

          Wicked Nation Babylon

  • The book is broken into three sections.

  • The first section is a Q & A.

  • Habakkuk looks around and sees God’s people acting wicked, sinful and against God’s word.

  • They reject God, His word and live worst than the pagan nations around them.

  • Habakkuk has been praying for God to do something, to bring justice, but nothing has happened.

  • It’s as if God is silent at the sins of His people.

  • Habakkuk cries out and pleads for God to do something.

  • He questions why God does nothing in verses 1-4

  • God answers the bewildered prophet in 5-11.

  • He tells Habakkuk that he will be utterly shocked and amazed at what He is going to do.

  • He will judge the sins of His people by using the wicked nation of Babylon.

  • This brings us to our next section, the second Q & A.

  • Now Habakkuk is confused.  He wonders how a Holy and pure God can use a wicked nation.

  • Sure Israel is sinning and is a wicked people, but not as bad as Babylon.

  • How can God use a more wicked nation to judge.

  • How can God let this horrible nation prosper.  God doesn’t approve evil and does not look favorably on the wicked, so how can He look favorably on Babylon.

  • Babylon is a conquering nation that seems unstoppable.

  • They conquer nation after nation, life a fisherman emptying the sea of fish.

  • Will God ever stop this?

  • God answers a second time by reassuring that punishment will be dealt to the Babylonians.

  • It may seem like they will conquer forever, but God will judge and in chapter 2, God gives the reasons for the punishment and also how the righteous should live, by faith!

  • This brings us to the third section, Habakkuk’s response.  He prays and praises God.

  • He understands that God must judge and He will use Babylon.

  • Habakkuk also knows that God will judge both Israel and Babylon.

  • So He prays for God to be merciful in the judgment and to rekindle or revive the work He has done in the past, namely bringing Israel out of Egypt, providing in the wilderness, and bringing them into the Promised Land.

  • Chapter 3 Looks at God’s past action, His past faithfulness to Israel during the time of the exodus and giving of the Promised Land.

  • Here we see Habakkuk composing a Psalm that prays for mercy and praises God’s majesty.

  • Now that brings us to our text today, Habakkuk 3:16-19

  • The book begins with a prayer of despair and ends with a confession of hope and faith.

  • The prophet began his book with a complaint of God’s silence.

  • The book ends with the prophet’s confidence placed in God no matter what happens.

  • Throughout this journey, we have seen the Prophet learn about God, wrestle with difficult ideas and circumstances.

  • Now we will conclude on a vastly different tone than when we began our study.

  • Habakkuk no longer wonders when and what God will do.  He knows it now!

  • He knows how difficult it will be.

  • But now He has a changed perspective.  A new outlook on life.  A different point of view then when he started.

  • We have seen our prophet go through a lot and the journey of this book crescendo’s at these final four verses.

NAS Habakkuk 3:16 I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us. 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail, And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold, And there be no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.

1.  Habakkuk’s Inward Distress

  • The prophet’s heart pounded, his lips quivered, and his legs trembled.

  • Inside, the prophet was torn, distraught, and distressed.

  • What was the big issue, the report that he heard.

  • He remembers what God has stated, this wicked, violent, fierce, godless nation is on its way to destroy the nation for its sin.

  • The full weight of this weights on him physically.

  • He is worried sick in a sense.  He knows the trouble that is ahead and physically, it makes him weary and distressed.

  • He remembers the judgment of God that will come upon the people, not just the sinning, wicked Israelites, but also those who follow after God, like Habakkuk, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and others.

  • He knows what God is going to do and it affects him emotionally and physically.

  • Ever been there?  You have a situation in your life and it affects you physically.

  • Your insides tremble, your body feels weak, you are distraught. 

  • Habakkuk is there, contemplating what awaits.

  • His inward parts trembled.  Literally, “my insides quaked”.

  • His solar plexus convulses.

  • His lips quivered.

  • He states that decay entered his bones.

  • In a sense, his body went limp, giving a sensation of rotting away.

  • And in his place, he trembled.  His legs started to shake violently.

  • Emotionally and physically, he was weak and troubled greatly.

  • His life’s circumstances that would await were so difficult and hard to handle that it affected him physically.

  • He would have to experience the judgment of God at the hands of a violent nation, Babylon.

  • He would have to live through this and he must wait quietly for it.

  • That is the reason for this inward distress.  He must wait for the day of distress.

  • He must wait for the people that will invade, those wicked Babylonians that were cruel, violent, wicked, lawless and godless.

  • He knows he has to wait for it, God has said it would happen.

  • This affects him greatly!

  • But this situation is not unique to the prophet. 

  • Many have gone through this emotional distress that affects the physical body.

  • Our Lord and savior went through the same distress at the Garden.

  • The wrath that he was going to embrace for the sins of the world was horrendous.

  • He pleaded for an alternative.  He was in such inward distress that he needed an to be strengthened by an angel.

  • He sweated drops of blood!

NAS Luke 22:42 saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

  • Yet he embraced the Will of the Father.  He entrusted himself to God and the we will see the prophet do that later.

2. Habakkuk’s Outward Difficulties

  • Not only was the circumstances of life for Habakkuk an inward distress, but he also faced outward difficulties.

  • Verse 17 points out the difficulty of famine.

  • Habakkuk outlines the worst possible scenario for anyone living in Israel during that time.

  • Personally, I don’t like figs or olives and I’m not much of a fan for whole wheat grain.

  • But these things were the staple of food for Israel.

  • He states in verse 17 that

NAS Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail, And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold, And there be no cattle in the stalls,

  • No figs, no fruit or grapes, no olives, no food from the fields, probably wheat.

  • Figs were an important food.

  • The grapes or fruit of the vine was used for wine and really as a disinfectant for the water.

  • Most water was collected in cisterns, large holes that held water.  This water would become stagnant an grapes would be used to help the drinking water.

  • Olives were not only used for cooking, but also used for lighting, cosmetics, medicine, and other uses.

  • The fields produce no food, including wheat which means no bread.

  • Losing one would not be catastrophic, but losing all of these is.

  • There were no Ralph’s or fast food places.  The field is what gave them their food.

  • Not only that, but the there will be no sheep or cattle.

  • This pictures total devastation of livestock.  From the smallest, sheep, to the largest, cattle.

  • Habakkuk and Israel would experience utter economic devastation.

  • This is his outward difficulty.

  • All means for resources and food will be gone during the invasion.

  • What a difficult thing to wait quietly for, no wonder Habakkuk trembled.

3. Habakkuk’s God-ward Dependance

  • Though the prophet experience inward distress and outward difficulties, the next two verses show His God-ward dependence.

NAS Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.

  • What a contrast from the beginning of the book.

  • One little word sets off this section.  YET.  That little word has enormous meaning.

  • Though these things happen, YET!

  • He is not going to stoically endure the distress and difficulties.

  • He is going to exult in God, rejoice in God.

  • His relationship with God is more dominating in his life than emotional distress and economical difficulties.

  • It is this God of salvation that will get him through this tough time.  And he will rejoice, praise, and worship God, even in the darkest hours.

  • Far too many people try to buy joy, but joy is available for everyone, even those stripped of material possessions.

  • True Joy is found in a Person, in a relationship with our Savior.

  • Habakkuk understood that God was his joy, not prosperity.

  • Verse 19 the prophet states that God is his strength.

  • He will soon be without the materials to provide physical strength, yet His God will be his ultimate strength.

  • He finishes this verse with a poetic description of how God will give him the strength to endure these things.

  • He compares his situation to that of a deer, whose feet can grip the tough terrain of a mountain.

  • God will enable the prophet to endure.

  • He will help the prophet navigate through the inward distress and outward difficulties.

  • What a change of perspective.  To begin with WHY and end with YET!

  • To wonder if God will do anything and end with God enabling the prophet to endure everything!


  •  How did the prophet get there?  How did his outlook on life change?

  • How did is point of view become God-ward?

  • That is the question that needs to be asked.

  • When we look at the answer to that question, we find our application for our lives.


  • Remember chapter 3.  In it we find the prophet remembering and praise God’s past faithfulness to Israel.

  • God has taken Israel out of Egypt through the leading of Moses, the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea.

  • He leads them into the wilderness and provides for them manna from heaven and meat to eat.

  • He protects them for the surrounding nations.

  • He leads them into the Promised Land.

  • He does all of these things by displaying His majestic acts, especially in nature and among the nations.

  • This is the God that Habakkuk knows, loves and trusts.

  • If He can do these things for Israel’s past, If God is faithful to His people in the past, then He will be faithful in the future.

  • Habakkuk remembers this and it gives him confidence for the future. 

  • If God can protect His people during those distressing and difficult times, He can and will do so now!


  • This remembrance of God’s past faithfulness and newfound confidence helps the Prophet learn how to entrust all aspects of his life to the God who strengths.

  • He learns to give over to God everything.

  • That is what entrusting means, to hand over to someone trustworthy for safe keeping.

  • He trusted God with his life and this changed his outlook on life.


1. Remember God’s faithfulness in your life.  Past, present, future.

  • God is faithful and will be faithful.

2.  Learn to entrust everything to God

  • He is faithful, therefore He is trustworthy.

  • This is a day by day, issue by issue concept.

NAS 1 Peter 4:19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

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