Hab 3.1-19 is a prayer of Habakkuk written like a psalm of David and directed to the director of the Levitical choir to be used in the Temple. Agitated over what was coming upon Judah, he now describes Yehovah’s appearance to judge the whole world.
v 1…A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth (a strong, impassioned emotion sung in a triumphant manner).
v 2…Lord (Yehovah), I have heard the report (of the coming calamity by Babylon) about thee and fear (at Yehovah’s omnipotence). O Lord (Yehovah), revive thy work (call to life) in the midst of the years (the present calamity), in the midst of the years make it known (the “work” is Judah’s judgment by the Chaldeans, and then the overthrow of the Chaldeans. Habakkuk sees these years as long, and then the appointed time for Babylon’s judgment will come. He wants it to be as brief as possible). In wrath remember mercy (he knew the cruelty of Babylon).
v 3…God (Eloah) comes from Teman, and the Holy One (he has a kedusha) from Mount Paran (Deut 33.2). Selah (pause and meditate on this). His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of his praise (as Yehovah came to Sinai and established his covenant, so he will come in the future with great glory to save Israel from the world powers. This describes the coming of Yeshua at the end of the birth-pains).
v 4…His radiance is like the sunlight (bursting forth over the horizon); he has rays (horns) from his hands (emanating from his hands) and there is the hiding of his power (splendor is his covering manifesting the invisible Yehovah).
v 5…Before him goes pestilence, and plague (“reshef” meaning burning heat, a blaze, spark-denoting a fever)
v 6…He stood and sets the earth reeling (to shake); he looks, and makes nations tremble; the ancient mountains burst in pieces (crumble, shattered), the eternal mountains (olam) collapsed (passed away-as Yehovah advanced when he came from Sinai, so the mountains will melt and trembling at his coming now). His ways are everlasting (olam).
v 7…I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, the tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling (as he once went before Israel, God’s wondrous acts preceded them and the neighboring nations were full of fear-Exo 15.15-16; Josh 2.9-11; the same thing will happen again).
v 8…Did the Lord rage against the rivers (Nile and its canals at the plagues), or was thine anger against the rivers (Jordan when he parted it), or was thy wrath against the sea (Red Sea when he parted it-God’s problem was not with the Nile, Jordan or the Red Sea; his problem was with the Egyptian and Canaanite people), that thou didst ride on thy horses (the pillar of fire and the clouds used as vehicles to redeem Israel), on thy chariots of salvation (he was not displeased with the rivers and the sea, but his intention was to save Israel).
v 9…hy bow was made bare (drawn and made ready), the rods of chastisement are sworn through the word (points to the oath God promised when he said he would take vengeance on his enemies, and avenge the death of his servants0Deut 32.40-42). Selah (pause and think). Thou dost cleave the earth with rivers (the sea pours its waves over the land and divides it into rivers).
v 10…The mountains saw thee, and quaked (writhed in terror at the coming of Yehovah); the downpours of waters swept by (rain came from heaven). The deep (tehom) uttered forth its voice (the subterranean waters in the earth rage forth in an outburst, producing a loud, mighty roaring, like the Flood), it lifted high its hands (this mass of waters from the heart of the earth is seen as lifting up of the hands towards heaven, representing the voice of terror and anguish).
v 11…Sun and moon stood in their places; they wear away at the light of thy arrows, at the radiance of thy gleaming spears (the chaotic condition the earth is in, as the instruments of his wrath take effect, is elevated by the darkness in heaven as they “enter their dwelling” so that they are obscured).
v 12…In indignation (fury) thou didst march (progress) through the earth; in anger thou didst trample the nations (Isa 63.1-6).
v 13…Thou didst go forth for the salvation (Hebrew (“yesha” or rescue) of thy people (Israel when they were brought into Canaan, so now again), for thy salvation (Hebrew “yeshua”) of thine anointed (go forth for salvation with thy Messiah; in a way, this verse says Yeshua is the Messiah). Thou didst strike the head (wounded it) of the house of the evil one (in the Peshat it is the Babylonians, but this also alludes to the work of Yeshua against Ha Satan in Gen 3.15, and the False Messiah or “Leviathan” when his heads are crushed-Isa 27.1; Psa 74.13), to lay him open from thigh “Hebrew “yesod” meaning foundation, as in a house) to the neck (the gable of a house-destruction comes from above and below, and the house of the evil one is dashed to pieces in one blow).
v 14…Thou didst pierce with his own spears the head of his throngs (alludes to Sisera in Judges 5.26 who was killed with a “yotaid” or a tent peg, a type of the Messiah; the spear of Yehovah the king will pierce the heads of Babylon and his warlike forces, or Leviathan/False Messiah will be defeated by the coming of Yeshua the Messiah at his coming). They stormed in to scatter us; their exulting was like those who devour the oppressed (Israel) in secret (they are like highway robbers who wait in secret places for a traveler and look forward with rejoicing for the time they can kill him for his money or possession).
v 15…Thou didst tread on the sea with thy horses, on the surge of many waters (at the Red sea to help Israel-nothing could stop him; he will do the same against Babylon, and later Leviathan/False Messiah).
v 16..I heard and my inward parts (belly, body, bones) trembled (was afraid); at the sound my lips quivered (when they smite one another before crying out). Decay enters my bones (inward corruption, paralyzed by pain) and in my place (within himself) I trembled. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress (the trouble Babylon will bring upon Judah, and also alluding to the trouble in the birth-pains), for the people to arise who will invade us (Babylon and also the False Messiah and those nations hostile to Israel).
v 17…Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive tree should fail, and the fields produce no food (the land is devastated by war with Babylon; the farms and field produce no fruit); though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there are no cattle in the stalls (with no necessities of life famine is very near, and this is very distressing for Habakkuk),
v 18…yet (in the midst of all this) I will exult in the Lord (his joy was not dependent on present circumstances or the things of this world; he exults in Yehovah-Phil 4.7; 1 Cor 2.9), I will rejoice in the God of my salvation (who rises up to obtain salvation for his people).
v 19…The Lord (Yehovah) is my strength, and he has made my feet like hinds (deer) and makes me walk on my high places (he is sure-footed like the deer, a clean animal that chews the cud and has cloven hooves, and he is able to walk in the Torah in ultimate triumph over all the oppression of the world-1 Cor 11.2; 2 Thes 2.15, 3.6; Phil 3.17; Acts 21.24; Song 7.3; Josh 1.8; 1 Pet 2.2; Psa 42.1). For the director (of the Levitical choir) on my stringed instruments (this was to be used in public worship, accompanied by stringed instruments. It may indicate “my stringed playing” and affirms that he himself will play it. This means he was qualified to do so, and if he could perform this in public worship in the Temple, then he may have been a Levite whose job it was to perform the musical worship in the Temple).