“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18)
The prophet Habakkuk’s final statement is quite different than how it starts out in Chapter 1. Sounds like a rough choir rehearsal doesn’t it? Many times we wonder if we have bitten off a bit too much when we introduce a new anthem. The effort is there but it sure doesn’t sound like what we had hoped for! So what do we do?
It is likely that Habakkuk was both prophet and musician. Certainly, this was not unusual as the musicians were originally set apart for the prophetic ministry (1 Chron. 25). The work reads like a Psalm in many ways. We even find hints of musical cues in Chapter 3. In the first chapter, Habakkuk starts with a lament—a “burden.” Now we KNOW he was a musician! He goes on to assess the struggle and even questions God about His hearing! This prophet is in the midst of dark days. Evil is everywhere. The prophet sees God’s people failing at every step and even falling at the hands of the Chaldeans.
Perhaps the most perplexing struggle is understanding how God can use wicked Babylon to carry out His will. Finally, there is a turning point! In Chapter 2 the prophet moves from lament to faith. The words are repeated from the lips of the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, and pastors everywhere: “The just shall live by faith!” (Verse 4). From faith Habakkuk can now move to passionate worship. This is for YOU! This includes those who plan, facilitate, and engage in worship.
The prophet expresses an unusual yet special word in His song: “Shigionoth “ (Hab. 3.1). One likely interpretation refers to an instruction to literally sing this with “all your heart.” Passionate—yes! Emotional—yes! This is not, however, emotion for “emotion sake.” This passion is not based on human influence or invention. This is passion built on faith and trust. It is important to note that the former is built on the latter and not the other way around.
There would NOT be chapter 3 without chapter 2! Too many today point to passion as the goal. Not so for the servant of the Lord. Faith is the source for biblical passion. It isn’t a tool we use to “conjur” responses or to impress. It is a response that stems from faith. This aligns so well with the Proverb: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Regardless of settings, resources, demographics, cultural shifts, criticisms, or economy—we serve best when we place our full trust in the Lord. This means turning every aspect of our service over to Him. Our passion stems not from our talent or gifts; it comes from faith which flows eternal. Where is your “Shigionoth?” Is it found in education, personality, talent, experience, or work ethic? All of these are important and useful, however, all are affected by time and space. As ministers of the Gospel, may our “Shigionoth” be fixed on Jesus Christ—the “Author and Finisher of our faith.”