These small group studies of Habakkuk contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Habakkuk 3:1-15 Inductive Bible Study – Habakkuk’s Prayer of Praise
I. Habakkuk Praises God’s Person (1-3)
II. Habakkuk Praises God’s Power (4-7)
III. Habakkuk Praises God’s Purpose (8-15)
I. Habakkuk Praises God’s Person (1-3)
How does Habakkuk respond to God’s answer?
What can we learn from Habakkuk’s simple response?
How can you follow this principle in your own life?
How would you describe Habakkuk’s attitude in this passage?
What is the type of prayer Habakkuk is praying here? Confession? Intercession? Praise? Thanksgiving?
Why is it important that Habakkuk’s journey from doubt to faith ends in praise?
Where else might Habakkuk’s doubt have taken him?
Is fear an appropriate response to God (verse 2)? What kind of fear should we have toward God?
What do you learn about God from verse 3?
Jeremiah 33:3 – Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Colossians 4:2 – Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
1. Habakkuk responds to God’s answers by praying – In the last two chapters we have seen that Habakkuk had questions for God. He could not understand what he was seeing around him. First he could not understand why God seemed to be tolerating the sin of the Jews. Then he could not understand why God would use an evil people like the Babylonians to punish them. He was confused and he had some doubts. However, we have learned from Habakkuk that when you have doubts you should turn to God in prayer. Habakkuk’s doubt could have led him many places. He could have ignored it and let it bubble under the service while going about his business. Or it could have led him to become bitter against God. Such doubt if not dealt with could have caused him to lose faith completely. But Habakkuk did not allow his doubt to take him down these roads. Instead he dealt with it in the proper way, expressing ultimate belief in God’s righteous character while also hoping for an answer to settle his questions.
At the end of his journey from doubt to faith, after God’s final answer on the matter, Habakkuk responds once again by praying. Although he had questions he did not allow these questions to morph into something else. Sometimes you may see people who have questions, but are never satisfied. No matter how many answers you give, they keep asking more questions. Such people do not accept the answers given.
We can see that Habakkuk accepts God’s answer. He is satisfied. In the end he places his complete faith in God and his faith in God was vindicated. Thus after all of the back and forth Habakkuk finishes this book with a wonderful prayer of praise.
Application: It is OK, and even good, to sincerely seek answers to questions you have about God and His character. You can search for these answers in Scripture, by asking other believers, and through prayer. However, you should not remain in a state of doubt forever. You need to move from doubt to faith. Do not stay there in that place of doubt letting them increase. Instead diligently seek the answer to your questions. Like Habakkuk, come to the Lord and tell Him you desperately want to understand. If you are sincere God will honor that. Even if your questions are not 100% settled (and they may not be this side of heaven) there should be a point in time when you come before the Lord and tell Him, “Even if I don’t completely understand, I believe in you.”
2. Habakkuk expressed fear for God – We see this in verse two. There are different kinds of fear. Fear can be good or bad. A healthy fear of God can lead us to understand Him better and strengthen our desire to live a holy life.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Habakkuk knew God was on His throne. All of God’s power, prestige, and authority were ingrained in his mind. Habakkuk approaches God as a humble petitioner before a king, not as an equal, or worse as an adversary or challenger.
Application: When you approach God in prayer, you should have a humble attitude. You should realize that He is on His throne in complete power and authority. If you have this attitude, your questioning will be polite and you will accept God’s answer. In short, if we fear God we will not be challenging God, but wee will be seeking God’s help.
3. Habakkuk asks God to “revive” His work – Habakkuk was very familiar with God’s miracles throughout history on Israel’s behalf. In his days supernatural intervention from God was not seen as often. Therefore Habakkuk asked God to show His works more! We too often pray for God to move in our world, asking for revival, expansion of His kingdom, and even miracles in the lives of our friends and loved ones.
4. In wrath remember mercy – Here we see two aspects of God’s character counter-balanced. God hates sin and at the same time is merciful to sinners. Naturally Habakkuk hopes to see more of the mercy part than the wrath part, but nonetheless recognizes that wrath against sin is an essential part of who God is.
Application: In the world today many church focus completely on God’s mercy and grace while ignoring God’s justice. A well balanced view of God needs to recognize both sides.
II. Habakkuk Praises God’s Power (4-7)
What does light represent in the Bible?
What does it mean that God is radiant?
In what ways does God hide His power? Why does He sometimes do this?
Can you give any biblical examples of God causing plague or pestilence? What was the purpose of these events?
What do you learn from verse 6 about God’s relationship with nature?
How then should we react in the middle of natural disasters?
What does Habakkuk mean in verse 7 that the tents of Cushan and Midian were in distress/trembling?
In what ways can you see God’s power demonstrated in the world today?
How will it effect your attitude and outlook if you regularly see God’s power and praise Him for it?
Hebrews 13:15 – Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Psalm 99:3 – Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!
Psalm 71:8 – My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
Psalm 96:11-12 – Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Psalm 145:5 – On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
Nehemiah 9:6 – You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
1. Habakkuk praises God – The prayer of Habakkuk here in chapter three is a wonderful model of how prayer draws us close to God and enhances our view of Him. In chapters one and two Habakkuk has many doubts and many questions. Now all of those have been turned to praise. Praise is his conclusion. Praise is where his journey of discovery led.
God created each of us to praise and worship Him. (Revelation 7:9-12). He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. We come from Him and we are going to Him. At the ends of our lives every knee will bow to Him. For some people this will be forced. They will do so with hate in their heart just before entering an eternity of judgment. But if we bow our knees now, then we will enter into heaven with an eternity before us to praise Him. We are created to be God worshipers. This is where the journey of all believers will take us. We will stand before His throne praising Him forever.
As the song Amazing Grace says, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise then we first begun.”
Since we are going to be praising God forever, we should start practicing now!
2. Habakkuk describes God’s glory and power – In verse four we see Habakkuk attempt to describe God’s glory. It is no easy task! Four different words related to light are used including: radiance, sunlight, rays, and flashing. In the Bible light is a symbol for holiness and truth. It also is often used to describe the glory of God.
When the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, He appeared like flames of fire over the heads of the saints. Light is a wondrous thing. Without it we can’t see. Without it there is no photosynthesis and thus no life on earth. If you look at the creation account in Genesis you will notice that light existed before the sun. What was it’s source? Very possibly God Himself was the source of light. And He will be again.
Revelation 21:23 – The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
Application: Describing God’s power and character is not an easy thing because He is so different than we are. But it is a very edifying exercise. As we struggle through finding the right words to praise God we are drawn more closely to Him and appreciate who He is even more. You do not have to be a poet like David to write songs to God or compose prayers of praise. Find a quiet place. Take a notepad and a pen. And just start writing about God. Imagine you are writing a love letter to Him to give to Him describing His beauty and wonder.
3. Before Him goes pestilence and plague comes after Him – God is just. When people rebel against Him, judgment will come, sooner or later. When David sinfully took a census, plague struck (1 Chronicles 21.) When the Assyrians tried to conquer Judah 185,000 were killed by pestilence. When the Israelites sinned by fornicating with Moabites, a plague came from God killing 24,000 people.
These events show us God’s clear power over life and death. In His justice He could rightfully choose to kill us immediately. But He doesn’t. Every breath we have is from Him. Knowing that He has this power and that He normally doesn’t choose to exercise it, is a cause for thanks.
4. God is surveying the earth – In verse 6 we see that God is watching. He is involved with His creation. One view of God was made popular by the deists. They believed that God did create the world, but then withdrew and left people to their own devices. People of this viewpoint describe God as a “watchmaker,” who makes the watch and then it runs by itself without further intervention.
Here we see that God is not like this. He is observing His people, at all times both aware of and involved with what is going on. Providentially He looks out for His people. Making use of even His enemies, He fulfills His plans. He is the Beginning and the End. Everyone is from Him and everyone is responsible to Him. Our first breath is from Him. And after our last breath we will see Him. In all of the interim He is working in our lives.
2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
1 Peter 3:12 – For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer.
Application: God is watching you. How does this make you feel? What impact should this have on your life knowing that His eyes are on you?
5. Cushan and Midian are punished – In verse six Habakkuk notes that God is watching the nations. And in verse seven he comments that Cushan (part of the territory of Midian) and the land of Midian cannot stand up under His gaze. Their tents shook. Their tents were their dwellings, their homes. God’s judgment would collapse their homes and their very lives.
Psalm 127:1 – Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
Because they did not build their lives according to God’s principles they were susceptible to God’s judgment.
III. Habakkuk Praises God’s Purpose (8-15)
What figurative language does Habakkuk use in this passage?
Does God actually ride on horses? Does He ride on a chariot? Does He have a bow?
Then what does Habakkuk mean with these expressions?
What imagery is he bringing to mind?
What events might Habakkuk be describing?
Where can you see God’s power over nature in these verses?
What was God angry about in verse 12?
What aspect of God’s character can we see here in these verses?
Who is He “striking” and “piercing” and “scattering?”
Why does He do this?
What warning should we take from this?
What have you learned in this passage that you can you apply in your own prayer life?
How can you make your prayers more vibrant?
What can you learn from Habakkuk about the importance of having a conversation with God?
Psalm 33:5 – He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
Romans 12:19 – Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Isaiah 30:18 – Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Proverbs 28:5 – Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.
1. God is over nature and uses nature for His purposes – Here we see God’s relationship with nature. Habakkuk talks about rivers, seas, horses, mountains, earthquakes, storms, and celestial bodies. The rivers rage. The sea churns. The mountains quake. The earth is split. The sun and the moon stop moving. Storms sweep in.
God is behind it all. We are not at the mercy of random acts of nature. Evolutionists are afraid that just as they believe people randomly appeared in this world, so a random act will cause our extinction.
As believers, we do not need to live in fear of such things. Where unbelievers see a random and cruel Mother Nature, we see God’s power, justice, and providence. He used the Red Sea to destroy Pharaoh’s arm y. He used an earthquake to execute vengeance against the rebellious in the wilderness (Numbers 16:32). He threw down hailstones from heaven against Israel’s enemies (Joshua 10:11). He caused the sea to rage when Jonah ran away from Him (Jonah 1). The list goes on and on.
Is God’s power over nature good news or bad news?
The answer depends on your relationship to God. If you are a follower of Jesus then you should take comfort in the fact that He controls this world and will act providentially on your behalf. You need not fear a random act of nature since it is not random and God is in control. This knowledge gives security and safety to the believer.
But for an unbeliever, this is not good news. Instead of facing a random nature that does not care about justice, they will face a holy and just God who may even use nature to punish their sin.
2. Habakkuk anthropomorphizes God – That is a long word which means that Habakkuk attributes human like qualities to God. He describes God as riding horses, shooting a bow, and striking the earth with a rod. These are not meant to be taken literally. Otherwise how did God get around before horses were created on the sixth day?
Instead they are a way for our human brains and words to try to describe God, whose exact nature is incomprehensible to us. He exists outside of our dimension and time and reality. Ascribing human attributes to God can give us a glimpse or an idea of what He is like using the words and concepts we know. These are not complete or perfect representations.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
Although God is hard to comprehend for us, like Habakkuk we should use all of our very limited brain power into trying to understand and describe Him.
3. We see God’s purposes in His actions around us –
He marches in indignation and anger against sinners (verse 12). Once again we see God’s justice highlighted here.
He saves His people (verse 13).
He strikes the evil (verse 13).
He uses the weapons of the evil against themselves (verse 14). From these we see the principle of “you reap what you sow.”
The picture we see is one of God marching at the head of an army, glowing with light. His weapons are shining. And nature itself responds to Him. Nothing can stand against Him.
Once again there is good news or bad news here depending on your perspective. If you belong to Him, you rejoice that He is coming to deliver you and nothing can stop Him. If you do not stand with Him, then His coming should strike a complete fear and panic in your heart as you know there will be no escape.
Application: Which side are you on? What shall you do while you wait?
E-Book: If this study is helpful for you, see our complete Study Habakkuk Bible study guide available for download.