Outside the book that bears his name, there is no other mention of Habakkuk anywhere else in the Bible. The author himself gives us no biographic information, nor does he give us dates as most of the other prophets do. However, there is enough information inside his short book that allows us to make some solid inferences:
- based on his instructions in 3:19 we can infer he is a Levite and a worship leader—notice that he says “my instruments”
- we know for certain he is a song writer and a prophet (1:1; 3:1)
- he is a prophet with a heavy message—the word oracle in in the opening verse is probably better translated a “burden”
- he is a contemporary of Jeremiah, who spoke to backsliders, but Habakkuk speaks to the godly remnant to help them make sense of what’s happening in their crumbling culture
Habakkuk does something that isn’t seen anywhere in the Bible except in the Psalms: he calls godly people to Selah—not once, but three times!
In our look at the Selahs of Psalm 55 we noted how David’s Selahs almost came as an interruption of his anxious thoughts. Habakkuk’s Selahs follow this same theme. That’s because Habakkuk’s culture (like ours today) was increasingly unrighteous, unstable, and unsure. This prophetic worship leader wants righteous people trying to stand strong in their unrighteous culture to know that our surety and stability must come from our unshakable relationship with our righteous God.
We’ve said that one of the definitions for Selah is “pause and calmly think of that,” but for Habakkuk’s Selahs I want to modify it slightly: Pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this…. What he wants us to consider, I believe, comes from the opening words of his song in chapter 3—
Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy (v. 2).
We are to pause to consider that God has already shown His unrivaled power in the past, and then we stand firm to see Him move again “in our day, in our time” so that the unrighteous will have an opportunity to repent and turn to Him.
The first Selah is after v. 3 in which Habakkuk references Mount Paran. How did God show His fame there? Moses recorded it this way:
The Lord came from Sinai and beamed upon us from Seir; He flashed forth from Mount Paran, from among ten thousands of holy ones, a flaming fire, a law, at His right hand. (Deuteronomy 33:2)
Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before and He can do it again. His glory will cover the heavens, His praise will fill the earth, His power will be so evident that the earth will quake and nations will tremble (vv. 4-6). All of this to reassure the righteous and arrest the attention of the wayward unrighteous.
The second Selah is after v. 9 where Habakkuk is still describing all that God will do personally to rescue His righteous ones. Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before—see the almost identical language David uses in Psalm 18:3-17—and He can do it again. All of this to reassure the righteous and arrest the attention of the wayward unrighteous.
The final Selah is at the end of v. 13 where Habakkuk describes what God will do to the enemies of His people. He uses words of decisive victory—crushed, stripped, pierced, trampled.
Once again, Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before and He can do it again. More specifically, Jesus is the Decisive and Ultimate Victor over sin and death! Check this out:
Then the end will come, when [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26)
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross. (Colossians 2:15)
Do not be afraid. I [Jesus] am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)
When our culture is becoming increasingly unrighteous, unstable, and unsure, what an unshakable surety and security we have standing on Christ the Solid Rock. As the old hymn reminds us—when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay!
If you’ve missed any of the messages in our lengthy Selah series, you can find all of the messages by clicking here.
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