Worship According to Habakkuk

by K.V. Paxton October 18, 2015

How long has it been since you’ve stumbled on the book of Habakkuk? I hope, if not recently, you’ll revisit it soon. Habakkuk is a rich (but short) book that is very unique among the prophetic books of the Old Testament.

Usually we would see a prophet speaking on behalf of God to the people. In Habakkuk we see a prophet speaking on behalf of the people to God. Habakkuk has a complaint. He wants to know why God is allowing injustice to be done among his people. He wants to know if God even hears his cries or if God cares at all. Habakkuk was a very bold prophet.

God’s response is jarring. Not only will God not do what Habakkuk wants on Habakkuk’s time, he is going to do the opposite. God is going to rise up very bad people to come and route Habakkuk’s people. That’s bad news.

Habakkuk complains once more but God responds by telling Habakkuk that justice will be done and God will eventually crush his enemies. Habakkuk then responds in chapter 3 with a prayer/song. All of a sudden, Habakkuk goes from complaint to praise in just a few short chapters.

What follows in chapter 3 is, in my opinion, one of the most awesome songs in Scripture. Reading it recently also can serve to remind us of some things that should mark our worship. While many things can be gleaned from Habakkuk 3, here are just a few reminders Habakkuk gives us about worship:

God is the Focus

This may evoke a “duh” response but this is something we need to be reminded often. We know God ought to be the focus of our worship but it is incredibly easy to take our focus off of God. In a consumeristic culture we might tend to focus more on whether we enjoy or like the worship experience. We might become preference-driven in our worship to the point where worship isn’t happening at all.

Habakkuk spends the entirety of the song talking about who God is and what He has done. Habakkuk’s posture is nothing short of awe in the God of glory. Habakkuk retells and recalls deeds done by this Divine-Warrior who is sovereign and mighty and he can’t help but praise Him.

Desire to See God’s Splendor

At the beginning of the book, Habakkuk desired God to come and wipe out his enemies. After his encounter with God, Habakkuk’s desire is for God’s splendor to be magnified (whilst wiping out his enemies).

What is our desire in worship? We come to an “event” on Sundays but our focus and desire may be in something else. We have encountered many difficult things in our week leading up to Sunday and we are dreading some things we may be facing in the coming week. In that time of worship with Christ’s body do we desire relief or God’s glory and splendor?

Habakkuk wanted God’s might to be known to all men, may that be the desire of our hearts when we worship Him alone.

It’s Biblical

Obviously it’s biblical because it’s in the Bible. What I mean is that Habakkuk recalls and recites deeds done by God that are told by Scripture. He begins in verse 2 by saying he has heard the report about God and He wishes for God to operate in the same manner He did when He rescued the Hebrews in the Exodus. He continues by recalling all kinds of mighty deeds learned from Scripture.

In the same way our worship must be Biblically driven and informed.

It Transforms

 It’s amazing the transformation that happens in Habakkuk’s posture from chapter 1 to chapter 3. Not only is there a shift between chapters, there’s a shift in Habakkuk’s tone during the prayer/song.

In verses 2-15 Habakkuk sang/prayed about God’s power made visible in the past. In verses 16-19 he sings a song of joy, even when the simplest sign of God’s favor (food on the table) seem to be absent. He is afraid but he finds his joy in God, His sovereignty, and His providence.

Worship should change us. If we are encountered by the same God Habakkuk speaks of, we will be transformed. We will leave different than we were when we came. If we aren’t transformed, we aren’t worshipping.

It is Congregational

As is evidenced by the first verse and last part of verse 19, this song was meant to be sung amongst God’s people. Worship music in Scripture is overwhelmingly congregational and this song is no exception.

When we sing together to God, we are displaying our unity, we are reminding each other of God’s glorious gospel of grace and His mighty deeds, and we edify one another.

It shows us it’s possible to worship when inconvenient

Holding out hope in this situation Habakkuk finds himself in could not have been easy. God personally gave him news he didn’t want to hear, yet this didn’t stop him from worshipping and praising God.

There will be times we don’t feel like singing or hearing a sermon or praying. Habakkuk shows us it is possible to worship in Spirit and in Truth when it isn’t convenient or comfortable because no matter our situation, God is still deserving of all praise and adoration.

Let’s dwell on the mighty deeds of our sovereign God and we will be transformed so that we can say with Habakkuk:

 “Though the fig tree should not blossom, 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, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, ESV)

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