Rejoicing & Finding Strength
In The Lord
Habakkuk’s Prayer Of Submission

Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, Mar-Aug 2014
Part 7 of 7


We come now to the final part of Habakkuk’s prophecy in the second part of chapter 3 verse 19, which we may entitle, “Singing to the LORD.”

Singing to the LORD 
(v. 19b)

We read, “To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”

The phrase “to the chief singer” or “chief musician” is found in 55 of the Psalms. The chief singer or musicians probably refers to the director of music at the temple. What this tells us is that Habakkuk chapter 3 was not merely the prophet’s own personal prayer or song or reflection but it was written for the benefit of the whole congregation to sing together in corporate worship.

The phrase “on my stringed instrument” is another musical and liturgical notation that we find in some of the Psalms and again it points us to the fact that Habakkuk chapter 3 was most probably used by the godly believers in his day to sing together in worship.

I’ll like us to observe two things from this final part of verse 19.

First, the songs which the Old Testament saints sang were inspired songs. Habakkuk was a prophet of the LORD and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was led to write a song or psalm for the people to sing in corporate worship.

This practice of singing inspired songs continues into the New Testament era. We today are only to sing songs which are inspired by the Spirit. Now the reason why we do not include Habakkuk chapter 3 in our public worship is that the Holy Spirit Himself has chosen not to include it in the Psalter or the book of Psalms, which is the one book in Scripture that He has given specifically to His people and commanded them to sing, even in the New Covenant (See Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16).

But the point I’ll like us to take note of is that the norm for God’s people, whether in the Old or New Testament, is to sing only songs which have been given by inspiration. Michael Bushell, in his book “The Songs of Zion,” makes a good observation when he writes, “The Psalter very clearly arose out of a context in which the production of inspired worship song was the norm, not the exception, in liturgical practice.”

The second thing I’ll like us to observe is that singing to the LORD, both privately and corporately, is and ought to be an integral part of the life of faith, especially in times of trials and troubles. Let me say that again – singing to the LORD, both privately and corporately, is and ought to be an integral part of the life of faith, especially in times of trials.

Dr O Palmer Robertson closes his commentary on the book of Habakkuk with some very helpful words, which I’ll like to quote here.

He writes, “Habakkuk’s message is all about life – the life of faith despite many calamities. Integral to such a life is the singing of songs praising the redeemer and sustainer of life. So a book beginning with complaint and distress ends in joy. Faith triumphs in life despite many calamities. Songs in the night anticipate the glad arrival of the eternal dawn in which the faithful shall receive their ultimate vindication.”

Conclusion

In the past few articles, we’ve learnt a few more things about what living by faith looks like, practically, in the life of a believer. Let me just very briefly summarize them for us in four points as we close.

First, the life of faith is not one that is ignorant or unaware or even indifferent to the harsh realities and trials of life. Some people think that living by faith means living in a state of denial or of blissful ignorance about what is going on around them. But that is not so. Habakkuk was a man of faith and he was also deeply aware and deeply concerned about what was going on and what was going to happen. He trembled and was much affected by the judgment of God that was soon to fall upon all of them. He recognized the reality and seriousness of the situation, but he did not stop there.

And so second, we learn that the life of faith is one of waiting upon God and trusting in His word. Habakkuk waited patiently and quietly for the day of adversity to come and go, and then for the deliverance that was sure to follow afterwards. The Lord had told him that the just shall live by his faith and that was what Habakkuk was going to do. He was going to live, and he would do so by a steadfast trust in the Lord through the darkest hours.

Third, we learn that the life of faith is one of finding joy and strength in Him. We can have joy even in the midst of war and famine and material want if our joy is found in the Lord. And we can have stability and security and surefootedness even in dangerous places if our strength is found in the Lord.

And fourth and finally, we learn that the life of faith is one of singing Psalms to the Lord, both individually and congregationally. We sing to encourage our faith in Him, and we sing in praises and thanksgiving to Him, who is our sustainer and deliverer and joy and strength and hope.    

Thank God that the Lord Jesus Christ, while He was on this earth, lived a perfect life of faith and obedience on our behalf. And it is because of what He has done for us and given to us that we can personally enjoy and live a life of faith in Him.

Only in Christ can we have the assurance that all things are working out for our eternal good. Only in Christ can we go on living through the darkest years and hours of life. And finally, only in Christ can we confidently say with the prophet Habakkuk,

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” Amen.

Linus Chua