Habakkuk 3:18 Commentaries: Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:18
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Yeti.e., in spite of all the afflictions predicted in Habakkuk 3:17. We are reminded of St. Paul’s expression of confidence in Romans 8:37.

3:16-19 When we see a day of trouble approach, it concerns us to prepare. A good hope through grace is founded in holy fear. The prophet looked back upon the experiences of the church in former ages, and observed what great things God had done for them, and so was not only recovered, but filled with holy joy. He resolved to delight and triumph in the Lord; for when all is gone, his God is not gone. Destroy the vines and the fig-trees, and you make all the mirth of a carnal heart to cease. But those who, when full, enjoyed God in all, when emptied and poor, can enjoy all in God. They can sit down upon the heap of the ruins of their creature-comforts, and even then praise the Lord, as the God of their salvation, the salvation of the soul, and rejoice in him as such, in their greatest distresses. Joy in the Lord is especially seasonable when we meet with losses and crosses in the world. Even when provisions are cut off, to make it appear that man lives not by bread alone, we may be supplied by the graces and comforts of God's Spirit. Then we shall be strong for spiritual warfare and work, and with enlargement of heart may run the way of his commandments, and outrun our troubles. And we shall be successful in spiritual undertakings. Thus the prophet, who began his prayer with fear and trembling, ends it with joy and triumph. And thus faith in Christ prepares for every event. The name of Jesus, when we can speak of Him as ours, is balm for every wound, a cordial for every care. It is as ointment poured forth, shedding fragrance through the whole soul. In the hope of a heavenly crown, let us sit loose to earthly possessions and comforts, and cheerfully bear up under crosses. Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry; and where he is, we shall be also.Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. - The words are very impressive, as they stand in the Hebrew. "For," he says, "the fig tree shall not blossom, and there is no fruit in the vines, the labor of the olive hath failed;" (the prophet does not look on, only to these things, but in his mind stands in the midst of them, they are done, and he amid them, feeling their effects) "and the field hath yielded no food; the flock hath been cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stall; and I." He relates it as the result of all which had gone before; such and such was the state of fruit-trees, vintage, harvest, flocks and herds; such was the aspect of all nature, living or inanimate; all was barren, disappointing; all had failed and was gone; and then at last he comes to himself, and I; what is he doing, when all nature and every seeming hope is dead? thus and thus it is with them; and I will rejoice.

He almost uses the expression as to the exultation of the enemy, adopting the same word only in a softer form. "Their exulting joy was" concentrated in this, "as to devour the poor secretly;" he too had "exulting joy." There is a joy against joy - a joy of theirs in the possession of all which their rapacity covets, in the possession of all things: a joy of his amid the privation of all things. He contrasts the two joys, as David had of old; Psalm 17:13, Psalm 17:15 : "the men of the world, whose portion is in this life, whose belly Thou fillest with Thy hid treasure; they are sated of children and leave their substance to their babes: I," he adds, "I shall behold Thy Presenee in righteousness, I shall be sated, in the awakening, with Thine image." So Habakkuk, "I will not rejoice only, but shout for joy;" and not so only, but "I will bound for joy;" and this not for a time only; both words express a drawing, yearning of the soul, and this yet more and more, "I will shout for joy and would shout on; I will bound for joy and would bound on."

But whence the source of this measureless unutterable joy? In the Lord, the Unchangeable God, "who is and was and is to come," I am (it is the incommunicable Name); in the God of my salvation: it is almost the Name of Jesus; for jesus is salvation, and the Name means "the Lord is Salvation;" whence the words are here rendered even by a Jew "in God the Author of my redemption," and yet more sweetly by a father. Augustine, de Civ. D. xviii. 32: "To me what some manuscripts have; 'I will rejoice in God my Jesus,' seems better than what they have, who have not set the Name itself (but saving) which to us it is more loving and sweeter to name.") "in God my Jesus." In Him his joy begins, to Him and in Him it flows back and on; before he ventures, amid all the desolation, to speak of joy, he names the Name of God, and, as it were, stays himself in God, is enveloped and wrapped round in God; sad I((the words stand in this order) "and I in the Lord would shout for joy."

He comes, as it were, and places himself quite close to God, so that nothing, not even his joy should be between himself and God; "and I in the Lord." All creation, as it had failed, ceases to be; all out of God: he speaks of nothing but himself and God, or rather himself in God; and as He, God, comes before his joy, as its source, so in Him does he lose himself, with joy which cannot be contained, nor expressed, nor rest, but utters itself in the glad motions of untiring love. "I would bound for joy in my Saving God." Truly all our joy is, to be in Him in whom is all Good, who is all Goodness and all Love.

18. yet I will rejoice—The prophet speaks in the name of his people. As for my part, I will, saith the prophet, rejoice; look for joy, expect matter of rejoicing

in the Lord, who will preserve a remnant and redeem them, who will rebuke Babylon, and will very strangely destroy it.

I will joy in the God of my salvation: the prophet renews his own faith, and confirms ours. All shall end in salvation to him and believers. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,.... In the Word of the Lord, as the Targum; the essential Word of the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ; in his person, the greatness and glory of it; in his offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King, the only Mediator and Saviour; in his relations, as head and husband, father, brother, friend; in his fulness, grace, and righteousness; in his spiritual presence, and comfortable communion with him, which may be expected in a remarkable manner after the above day of trouble is over; and in his personal appearance, which will shortly be, and when his tabernacle will be with men on earth:

I will joy in the God of my salvation; in Christ, who is God, and so able to save his people; to make everything he did and suffered in human nature effectual and available to them; to supply all their wants, and to keep what they commit unto him, and to preserve them safe to his kingdom and glory: and who also joy in the salvation of their God, or which he is the author of, both temporal and spiritual, especially the latter; which is so great and glorious in itself, so suitable to their case, so complete and perfect, and makes so much for the glory of all the divine perfections, and is all of free grace, and lasts for ever: this salvation is peculiar to the people of God; it is theirs, and theirs only; it is what they choose and prefer to all other ways of salvation; it is brought and applied to them by the Spirit, and which they appropriate to themselves under his witnessings; and then it is they can and do rejoice: particularly salvation and deliverance from antichristianism, in all the branches of it, may be chiefly pointed at as the matter and ground of joy; and the enjoyment of Gospel privileges in the full extent of them; the word and ordinances in their power and purity; and the presence of Christ in them.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy {y} in the God of my salvation.

(y) He declares in what the joy of the faithful consists, though they see ever so great afflictions prepared.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord] Comp. Psalm 5:11; Psalm 32:11; Psalm 33:1; Isaiah 61:10. In spite of calamities the people will joy in God; though earthly blessings perish He remains their portion. The joy is partly a present one in the possession of God, as Psalm 73:23, “Nevertheless I am continually with thee”; and partly one of hope in His salvation; Psalm 18:46; Micah 7:7; Isaiah 17:12 ff.Verses 18, 19. - § 5. In spite of the terror produced by these judgments, the true Israelite is blessed with hope of salvation and joy in the Lord. Verse 18. - Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. Unshaken in confidence, the prophet, representing the faithful Israelite, expresses his unbounded joy at the prospect of salvation which opens to him beyond the present affliction. The psalmist often thus shews his exulting faith (see Psalm 5:7; Psalm 13:6; Psalm 17:14, 15; Psalm 31:19). I will joy. I will shout for joy; my joy shall express itself outwardly. The God of my salvation (see note on Micah 7:7). The God who judges the nations to procure the final salvation of his people. Septuagint, Τῷ Θεῷ τῷ σωτῆρί μου, "God my Saviour;" Vulgate, In Deo Jesu meo. From this gloss of St. Jerome some of the Fathers have argued for the existence in this passage of a revelation of the incarnation of Christ and the redemption wrought by him. "Therefore will He give them up until the time when a travailing woman hath brought forth, and the remnant of His brethren will return, together with the sons of Israel. Micah 5:4. And He will stand and feed in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah His God, and they will dwell, for now will He be great to the ends of the earth." "Therefore" (lâkhēn): i.e., "because the great divine Ruler of Israel, from whom alone its redemption can proceed, will spring from the little Bethlehem, and therefore from the degraded family of David" (Caspari). This is the correct explanation; for the reason why Israel is to be given up to the power of the nations of the world, and not to be rescued earlier, does not lie in the appearance of the Messiah as such, but in His springing from little Bethlehem. The birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem, and not in Jerusalem the city of David, presupposes that the family of David, out of which it is to spring, will have lost the throne, and have fallen into poverty. This could only arise from the giving up of Israel into the power of its enemies. Micah had already stated clearly enough in what precedes, that this fate would fall upon the nation and the royal house of David, on account of its apostasy from the Lord; so that he could overlook this here, and give prominence to the other side alone, namely to the fact that, according to the counsel of God, the future Deliverer and Ruler of Israel would also resemble His royal ancestor David in the fact that He was not to spring from Zion the royal city built on high, but from the insignificant country town of Bethlehem, and that for this very reason Israel was to remain so long under the power of the nations of the world. The suffix attached to יתּנם points to ישׂראל in Micah 5:1; and נתן is applied, as in 1 Kings 14:16, to the surrender of Israel into the power of its enemies as a punishment for its sins. This surrender is not the last of many oppressions, which are to take place in the period before the birth of the Messiah (the Roman oppression), but a calamity lasting from the present time, or the coming of the judgment threatened in ch. 3, until the time of the Messiah's coming; and יתּנם points back not merely to Micah 5:1, but also to Micah 4:9-10. The travailing woman (yōlēdâh) is not the community of Israel (Theodoret, Calvin, Vitringa, and others), but the mother of the Messiah (Cyril, and most of the Christian expositors, including even Ewald and Hitzig). The supposition that the congregation is personified here, is precluded not only by the fact that in the very same sentence the sons of Israel are spoken of in the plural, but still more by the circumstance that in that case the bringing forth would be only a figurative representation of the joy following the pain, in which the obvious allusion in the words to the Messiah, which is required by the context, and especially by the suffix to אחיו, which refers to the Messiah, and presupposes that His birth is referred to in יולדה ילדה, would entirely fall away. But Micah had all the more ground for speaking of this, inasmuch as Isaiah had already predicted the birth of the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14). יולדה has no article, and the travailing woman is thereby left indefinite, because the thought, "till He is born," or "till a mother shall bring Him forth," upon which alone the whole turns, did not require any more precise definition.

In the second clause of the verse there commences the description of the blessing, which the birth of the Messiah will bring to Israel. The first blessing will be the return of those that remain of Israel to the Lord their God. אחיו, the brethren of the Ruler born at Bethlehem, are the Judaeans as the members of the Messiah's own tribe; just as, in 2 Samuel 19:13, David calls the Judaeans his brethren, his flesh and bone, in contrast with the rest of the Israelites. יתר אחיו, the remnant of his brethren, are those who are rescued from the judgment that has fallen upon Judah; yether, as in Zephaniah 2:9 and Zechariah 14:2, denoting the remnant, in distinction from those who have perished ( equals שׁארית, Micah 2:12; Micah 4:7, etc.). ישׁוּבוּן, to return, not from exile to Canaan, but to Jehovah, i.e., to be concerted. על־בּגי ישׂ, not "to the sons of Israel;" for although שׁוּב, construed with על, is met with in the sense of outward return (e.g., Proverbs 26:11) as well as in that of spiritual return to the Lord (2 Chronicles 30:9), the former explanation would not give any suitable meaning here, not only because "the sons of Israel," as distinguished from the brethren of the Messiah, could not possibly denote the true members of the nation of God, but also because the thought that the Judaeans are to return, or be converted, to the Israelites of the ten tribes, is altogether unheard of, and quite at variance with the idea which runs through all the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament, - namely, that after the division of the kingdom, Judah formed the kernel of the covenant nation, with which the rebellious Israelites were to be united once more. על signifies here together with, at the same time as (Hofmann, Caspari), as in Jeremiah 3:18 with the verb ילכוּ, and in Exodus 35:22 with בּוא; and "the sons of Israel" are the Israelites of the ten tribes, and, in this connection, those that are left of the ten tribes. There is no ground for the objection offered by Hengstenberg to this explanation, namely, that "it is absurd that the ten tribes should appear to be the principal persons redeemed;" for this is not implied in the words. The meaning "together with," for על, is not derived from the primary meaning, thereupon, in addition to, insuper, as Ewald supposes (217, i), nor from the idea of accompanying, as Ges. and Dietrich maintain. The persons introduced with על are never the principal objects, as the two passages quoted sufficiently prove. The women in Exodus 35:22 (על הנּשׁים) are not the principal persons, taking precedence of the men; nor is the house of Israel placed above the house of Judah in Jeremiah 3:18. The use of על in the sense of together with has been developed rather from the idea of protecting, shielding, as in Genesis 32:12, slaying the mothers upon, i.e., together with, the children, the mothers being thought of as screening the children, as Hosea 10:14 and other passages clearly show. Consequently the person screening the other is the principal person, and not the one covered or screened. And so here, the brethren of the Messiah, like the sons of Judah in Jeremiah 3:18, which passages is generally so like the one before us that it might be regarded as an exposition of it, are those who first receive the blessing coming from the Messiah; and the sons of Israel are associated with them as those to whom this blessing only comes in fellowship with them. In Micah 5:3 there follows what the Messiah will do for Israel when it has returned to God. He will feed it (עמר simply belongs to the pictorial description, as in Isaiah 61:5) in the strength of Jehovah. The feeding, as a frequent figure for governing, reminds of David, whom the Lord had called from the flock to be the shepherd of His people (2 Samuel 5:2). This is done in the strength of Jehovah, with which He is invested, to defend His flock against wolves and robbers (see John 10:11-12).

(Note: The word "feed" expresses what Christ is towards His people, the flock committed to His care. He does not rule over the church like a formidable tyrant, who oppresses his people by fear; but He is a shepherd, and leads His sheep with all the gentleness to be desired. And inasmuch as we are surrounded on all sides by enemies, the prophet adds, "He will feed in the strength," etc.; i.e., as much power as there is in God, so much protection will there be in Christ, whenever it shall be necessary to defend the church, and guard it against its foes (Calvin).)

This strength is not merely the divine authority with which earthly rulers are usually endowed (1 Samuel 2:10), but גּאון, i.e., the exaltation or majesty of the name of Jehovah, the majesty in which Jehovah manifests His deity on earth. The Messiah is El gibbōr (the Mighty God, Isaiah 9:5), and equipped with the spirit of might (rūăch gebhūrâh, Isaiah 11:2). "Of His God;" for Jehovah is the God of this Shepherd or Ruler, i.e., He manifests Himself as God to Him more than to any other; so that the majesty of Jehovah is revealed in what He does. In consequence of this feeding, they (the sons of Israel) sit (yâshâbhū), without being disturbed (cf. Micah 4:4; Leviticus 26:5-6; 2 Samuel 7:10), i.e., will live in perfect undisturbed peace under His pastoral care. For He (the Messiah) will now (עתּה, now, referring to the time when He feeds Israel, in contrast with the former oppression) be great (auctoritate et potentia valebit: Maurer) to the ends of the earth, i.e., His authority will extend over the whole earth. Compare the expression in Luke 1:32, οὗτος ἔσται μέγας, which has sprung from the passage before us, and the parallel in Malachi 1:14.

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