1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.
Shigionoth according to Nelson’s Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible is plural and is “a part of the Hebrew heading of Psalm 7, probably referring to an erratic, enthusiastic, order to a psalm of Lamentation.” The Stones Tanak says it is “a type of musical instrument.” The Key Word Study Bible calls a Shigionoth, “… According to variable songs, or, tunes called in Hebrew, Shigionoth.” And below in the commentary it believes the instrument to be stringed. The Stones Tanak doesn’t translate the first verse as a “prayer” but “erroneous utterances.” The commentary regarding this verse says, “Habakkuk had protested God’s strict judgment against the sinners of Israel (1:4, 14). Now he expresses his forget for those “erroneous utterances,” The according to Rashi.
2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
“LORD I heard your answer to my questions and I am scared to death, please don’t takes my life.” This is basically how Habakkuk begins this verse; his strong opinionated questions he boldly asked of God now seem like babbling idiocy. But on the other hand it could be understood by the beginning of this verse that the fear comes from the answers God gave to Habakkuk questions because the last half of the verse seems to be speaking of the impending exile of Judah.
Radak says, “During the long years of exile, keep Israel alive, for the nation is You “accomplishment” on earth. “Make known” Your promise to the preserve them (Lev. 26:44) no matter how grievous they may have sinned.”
He, Habakkuk accepts God’s infinite wisdom and sovereignty in His answers to Him and the Divine’s plans for Judah.
The Full Life Study Bible comments, “Habakkuk knew God’s people had sinned and would experience His judgment. In this situation he made two petitions.
1. He prayed for God to come among His people with a fresh manifestation of His power. Habakkuk knew that God’s people would not survive if the Lord did not intervene in their lives with an outpouring of His grace and Spirit. Only then would there be true spiritual life among them.
2. Habakkuk prayer that in time of distress and trouble for the Lord’s people, God would remember to be merciful. Without mercy His people would not be sustained. As the foundation of the Church is being shaken today and trouble seems to be on every hand, we too need to plead with the Lord to manifest Himself, His mercy and His power anew in order that life and revival might come to His people.”
Now begins the poetic historical recap of Israel.
3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
Teman means south and is translated as such in various translations. The Stines Tanak points out that Mount Seir is in the south of Israel and believes this is alluding to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Deut. 33:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.
The King James Version poorly translates this verse when it talks about “horns coming out of his hand.” A better translation is “rays of light came from his hand.” This verse in connection with verse three is speaking about the illumination and level upon levels of illumination of the Torah which is the very words of Yah Himself and revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai.
5 Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.
Here begins the verses dealing with the description of God’s wrath, but in context of the above verses it’s said by Ibn Ezra is talking about, “when the Israelites entered their land, pestilence and disease helped them subdue the Canaanite nations.”
6 He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.
This verse is recalling the division of the Promised Land to the twelve tribes under Joshua’s command. This reminds me of a passage regarding the coming of Messiah.
Mark 1:1-3The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
Isa. 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
This verse is refers to the book of Judges, specifically 3:7-11 and chapters 6- 7, all about Othniel, Caleb’s younger brother and Gideon.
8 Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?
This verse recalls the various times God miraculously split the waters from Israel, the Red Sea in Exodus 14 and the Jordan in Joshua 3.
9 Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.
This recalls the instances through Miriam’s well and water from the rock, God provided water for Israel in the Wilderness.
10 The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
Because of all that has been mentioned above, heaven and earth, men and angels praised ADONAI. This is also, I believe, a veiled reference to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.