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Habakkuk 3:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

When I heard, my belly trembled - The prophet, having finished his account of the wonders done by Jehovah, in bringing their fathers from Egypt into the promised land, now returns to the desolate state of his countrymen, who are shortly to be led into captivity, and suffer the most grievous afflictions; and although he had a sure word of prophecy that they should be ultimately delivered, yet the thoughts of the evils they must previously endure filled his soul with terror and dismay; so that he wishes to be removed from earth before this tribulation should come, that his eyes might not behold the desolations of his country.

When he (Nebuchadnezzar) cometh up unto the people, (the Jews), he will invade them (overpower and carry them away captive) with his troops.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

When I heard - , better, “I heard and … ” The prophet sums up, resuming that same declaration with which he had begun, “I heard, I was afraid.” Only now he expresses far more strongly both his awe at God‘s judgments and his hopes. He had just beheld the image of the destruction of Pharaoh, the end of the brief triumphing of the wicked and of the trials of God‘s people. But awful as are all the judgments of God upon the enemies of His people, it was not this alone which was the object of his terror. This was deliverance. It was the whole course of God‘s dispensations, which he had heard; God‘s punishment of His people for their sins, and the excision of their oppressors, who, in His Providence, fulfilling their own evil end, executed His chastisements upon them. The deliverances, which shadowed out the future, had their dark side, in that they were deliverances. The whole course of this world is one series of man‘s unfaithfulnesses or sins, God‘s chastisements of them through their fellow-sinners, and His ultimate overt brow of the aggressors. Those first three centuries of glorious martyrdoms were, on the one side, the malice and hatred of Satan and the world against the truth; on the other side, the prophets of those days told their people that they were the chastisements of their sins. Future deliverance implies previous chastisement of those delivered. The prophet then, at the close, in view of all, for himself and all whose perplexities he represented and pleaded before God, chooses his and their portion. “Suffer here and rest forever!” “Endure here any terror, any failure of hopes, yet trust wholly in God, have rest in the day of trouble and sing the endless song!” Again he casts himself back amid all the troubles of this life.

I heard - (i. e. that speech of God uttering judgments to come) “and my belly,” the whole inward self, bodily and mental, all his hidden powers, trembled, “vibrated” as it were, “Sin every fibre of his frame,” at the wrath of God; “my lips quivered at the voice of God,” so that they almost refused their office and could hardly fulfill the prophetic duty and utter the terrors which he had heard; his very strongest parts, the bones, which keep the whole frame of man together, that he be not a shapeless mass, and which remain unconsumed long after the rest has wasted away in the grave, “rottenness entered into them,” corruption and mouldering eating into them; and “I trembled in myself” (literally under me) so that he was a burden to himself and sank unable to support himself, “that I might rest in the day of trouble.”

All up to this time was weariness and terror, and now at once all is repose; the prophet is carried, as it were, over the troubles of this life and the decay of the grave to the sweetness of everlasting rest I, the same, suffer these things, terror, quivering, rottenness in the very bones themselves. “I (literally) who shall rest in the day of trouble.” I who had not rest until then, shall enter into rest then in the very day of trouble to all who found their rest in the world not in God, the day of judgment Psalm 94:12-13.. “Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him in Thy law, that Thou mayest give him patience in time of adversity, until the pit be digged up for the ungodly.”

“O my soul; had we daily to bear tortures, had we for a long time to endure hell itself, that we might see Christ in His glory and be the companion of His saints, were it not worth enduring all sorrow, that we might be partakers of so exceeding a good, such exceeding glory?”

When he cometh up unto the people, he shall invade them with his troops - or, which is probably meant, “when he cometh up who shall invade them.” It is a filling out of “the day of trouble.” However, near the trouble came, he, under the protection of God and in firm trust in Him, would be at rest in Him. The troubles of God‘s prophets are not the outward troubles, but the sins of their people which bring those troubles, the offence against the majesty of God, the loss of souls. Jeremiah was more at rest in the court of the prison, than when all the people did curse him Jeremiah 15:10 for telling them God‘s truth. He who fears God and His judgments betimes, shall rest in perfect tranquility when those judgments come. The immediate trouble was the fierce assault of the Chaldees whose terror he had described; and this, picturing, as through the prophecy, all other judgments of God even to the last, when devils shall contend about the souls of people, as Satan did about the body of Moses.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
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