Taking Joy in the God of Salvation
“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” (vv. 17–18).- Habakkuk 3:17–19
Persevering faith that trusts in God to keep His promises even in the darkest times marks the one whom the Lord regards as righteous (Hab. 2:4). Habakkuk had such faith, believing that his Creator would answer him when he could not understand how the Lord could use evil Babylon to work out His will. This faith was vindicated in God’s promise that He would finally punish His instrument of judgment for its wanton wickedness (vv. 5–20). Moreover, Habakkuk believed the Lord’s words to Him, trusting also that God’s servants would be vindicated and asking his Creator to act as He did in the days of the exodus to deliver His people with His mighty hand (3:1–15).
The prophet’s trust in the Lord is exemplified most clearly in the closing verses of his book. Having recalled the mighty acts of God, Habakkuk resolves to wait quietly “for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us” (v. 16). No longer will he ask questions of his Maker. God has answered His prayer, and the revelation He gave is sufficient. All that remains is for Habakkuk to rest completely in this revelation, to abide by its guidance and trust the Lord to keep His Word. We have a similar task. The Lord has given us revelation that is sufficient to guide our understanding of His great acts of salvation and what He will do to consummate His plan (2 Tim. 3:16–17). Our job as His people is to trust fully in His holy Word, to believe what He has promised in the Bible and not look for special revelation elsewhere, whether in church tradition, dreams, additional writings, or anything else beyond the canon of Scripture.
Authentic faith abides even when we have nothing tangible to show for it. Habakkuk proclaims that even though he has little to sustain him, having lost even the means of basic sustenance to the Babylonians and the Lord’s curse on nature, he will not stop trusting his God. The prophet will continue to “take joy in the God of [his] salvation” (Hab. 3:17–18). It is easy to rejoice and be glad in the Lord when things are going splendidly, and such joy is appropriate. But when things are disastrous for us, as F. F. Bruce comments, “to rejoice in God for his own sake is evidence of pure faith” (MP, p. 893). By such faith, God makes us steady in life’s most difficult circumstances, just as He keeps the deer’s feet steady on the narrowest, most terrifying mountain paths, guiding it to security. This is the kind of faith possessed by people who are just before the Lord.
Believing God when “the chips are down” is one of the most difficult things that we will ever be called to do. Yet if we trust the Lord only when things are going well, then we do not really trust Him at all. When things are good, let us thank God for His blessings, but also ask Him to sustain our faith if we face real hardship. As we walk through dark times, let us ask Him to help us rejoice in Him and remember that He is our exceedingly great reward (Gen. 15:1).
Passages for Further Study
Hebrews 10:35–36; 11:13–16, 32–40