“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”
The prospects were bleak indeed for the prophet Habakkuk, which is evident in the context of his pleading with God in the first chapter. He was probably a contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah and maybe later of Ezekiel and Daniel and his prophecy anticipates a disastrous time for the people of Judah. God was raising up the Babylonians who were to attack and destroy the holy city of Jerusalem, slaughter many and carry most of the nation’s leaders and others away into captivity for a generation.
Having begun his prophecy with a virtual instruction to God about how He should run His world the whole tenor has changed dramatically.
Here the prophet acknowledges the reality of His situation – no stiff upper lip or massaging of reality. He says it as it is. Fruitfulness in the Bible is usual an indication of God’s blessing on his People – arid hopelessness seems to suggest judgement.
Here also he is moved to acknowledge in hope and anticipation the salvation of our God. It is only in God and in his glorious work of redemption that there can ever be hope. It’s extraordinary that before he concludes his message Habakkuk can even set a tone of triumph. But surely that is the Gospel. The context in which we live may speak of Godlessness and despair – but we have a Saviour, who even yet is Lord, does save, does transform lives.
He will “make me to tread on high places.” (RS)