Woe to WOW!

Scripture: The Book of Habakkuk

The people to whom Habakkuk ministered to were Judeans who apparently lived under the reign of King Jehoiakim. During his reign the Israelites were looking for help in all the wrong places, specifically Egypt and Assyria. This was because of the growing Babylonian power. Sound familiar anyone?

Well an amazing progression occurs in the 3 short chapters of Habakkuk. The book begins with the prophet protesting that God seems to be standing idly by while his people in Judah plummet into rampant evil and injustice.

God responds that it’s not going unnoticed, and, to Habakkuk’s surprise, God’s already working on the issue—by raising up the wicked Chaldeans, “that bitter and hasty nation," to punish Judah. Habakkuk protests the justice of punishing a wicked people with a people that are even more wicked! The prophet is confident that God can’t answer him on this score, and so he will “look out to see what [God] will say to me and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” Habakkuk is optimistic that he can rebut whatever answer God has to give for this. (Sounds like a Job to me!)

God answers and again Habakkuk is floored: God will punish the Chaldeans in due course and bring destruction to their home in Babylon. He assures the prophet, “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” That includes Habakkuk and his plans for rebuttal.
Habakkuk marvels at the plans of God and agrees that he has been duly silenced: “I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.” Only he pleads that God will “in wrath remember mercy” for his people.

Knowing that he has exhausted all avenues of question and instead of trying God’s patience, Habakkuk now joyfully submits to the sovereign hand and plan of God. And in what are considered some of the most beautiful words of the spirit of submission in the scripture the prophet ends his writing.

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.

The book’s final line reads, “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.”
What’s up with that? Habakkuk has ended in song! He received a glimpse of the glory of God, and despite the certain suffering that looms on the horizon; he knows that this God will be enough for him. What a progression—from protest to praise.

Habakkuk was about to 'go under' when he started his writing. Destruction, violence, strife, conflict, injustice, and wickedness were all he could see. But he cried out to God and his cry did not go unheeded. The Lord not only answered his complaint but also provided the confidence needed to lift him from the quagmire. Habakkuk started in the pits, but ended on the mountaintop. His journey was not exactly an easy one, but it was certainly worth it.

Habakkuk teaches us to face our doubts and questions honestly, take them humbly to the Lord, wait for His Word to teach us, and then worship Him no matter how we feel or what we see.


I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me. Amen