A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet on Shigionoth.
This chapter records the remarkable "prayer" or "Code" of Habakkuk. The superscription contained in the first verse and a cursory glance at the chapter as thus described may be found suggestive of important teachings respecting the sacred exercises of prayer and praise. Note -
I. THE TEACHINGS CONCERNING PRAYER.
1. We do well to solicit present blessings. "In the midst of the years make known" (ver. 2); i.e. he sought the Divine manifestation in mercy to be granted to his people in his own day.
2. We should recount God's goodness in the past. The prayer abounds in reminiscences of God's favour as bestowed upon his chosen in the days of yore.
3. The comprehensive nature of prayer. This prayer of Habakkuk contains
(3) devout contemplation of God in his character and works;
(4) review of his providential doings; and,
(5) pervading the whole, the spirit of confiding and joyous trust.
II. THE TEACHINGS CONCERNING PRAISE.
1. The desirability of employing in this exercise the devout compositions of God's servants in past ages, which have been preserved, in his Word.
2. The appropriateness of the language of prayer as the medium of expressing praise to God. "The prayers of David the son of Jesse" are contained and expressed in his Psalms. "The prayer of Habakkuk" is also "an ode" set to music, and used at his suggestion in the liturgical services of the temple.
3. The importance of cultivating correct musical expression in the presentation of the sacrifice of praise to God. The tones should be in harmony with the character of the thoughts and sentiments of the words being sung. This is probably the meaning of the expression, "upon Shigionoth' (ver. 1), 'al shigyonoth meaning "in wandering measures," the tones to be varied according to the character of the thoughts and words. The term "Selah," used by him (vers. 3, 9,13), and the direction, "To the chief singer on my stringed instruments," with which he closes his book, also indicate the carefulness in execution the prophet would have exercised. All true worship to God must proceed from humble and trusting hearts, and be presented "in spirit and in truth," and this is perfectly compatible with regard for all that is cultured and artistic in method. Our motto should be, "The best for the Lord." - S.D.H.
Parallel VersesKJV: A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.