“You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah! You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors, who came like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret. You trampled the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.” (Habakkuk 3:13-15)
In acknowledging the wrath of God, the Scriptures balance this attribute and action of God with His divine and gracious prerogative to save sinners. God is under no obligation to save any soul, but does so on the basis of the good pleasure of His will.
Throughout Israel’s history, God had proven to be a faithful deliverer. Habakkuk remembered the faithfulness of God in going before His people as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day (Exodus 13:21-22) as He delivered His people from their bondage in Egypt. The reference to “crushing the house of the wicked” harkens back to either the pharaoh of the exodus, whose firstborn was slain, or to Nebuchadnezzar the king of the Chaldeans, whose house was built by unjust gain (Hab. 2:9–11).
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “In the past, the LORD came out of His sanctuary for the salvation of His people in distress. This is what Habakkuk is expecting Him to do again.” The LORD not only did this in Israel’s history in saving His people from physical bondage in Egypt, but also in saving His people from their spiritual bondage to sin.
Habakkuk used the word “anointed” to perhaps not only refer to the people of Israel (Psalm 105:15) but most likely to refer to the Divine Savior and King, the Messiah (Psalm 132:10).
“You trampled the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters” is a reference to the LORD’s providential work in parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-9). Dr. John MacArthur writes that “You trampled the sea, is another reference to God’s miraculous, protective intervention on behalf of Israel at the Red Sea. The historical event demonstrates his sovereign rulership of the universe and provides assurance to the troubled prophet that the Lord could be counted on to save his people once more.”
In his lecture on Habakkuk 3:13-15, John Calvin prayed this concluding and recorded prayer. “Grant, Almighty God, that as You have so often and in such various ways testified formerly how much care and solicitude You have for the salvation of those who rely and call on You,–O grant, that we this day may experience the same: and though Your face is justly hid from us, may we yet never hesitate to flee to You, since You have made a covenant through Your Son, which is founded in Your infinite mercy. Grant then, that we, being humbled in true penitence, may so surrender ourselves to Your Son, that we may be led to You and find You to be no less a Father to us than to the faithful of old, as You everywhere testifies to us in Your Word, until at length being freed from all troubles and dangers, we come to that blessed rest which Your Son has purchased for us by His own blood. Amen.”
May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!