Charles Simeon Commentary - Habakkuk 3:17 - 3:18

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Habakkuk 3:17 - 3:18

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Hab_3:17-18. Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

A CHRISTIAN will be distinguished from others, whatever be his situation in life; but the more trying and afflictive his condition be, the more will he cause his light to shine before men, and demonstrate the excellence of the principles he has embraced. The prophet’s resolution, in the prospect of the Babylonish invasion and of the calamities consequent upon it, affords a just picture of every child of God: for though all do not possess the same attainments, all determine through grace to make God the exclusive object of their joy and triumph. Taking then the text as expressive of the feelings of all God’s people, we shall notice,

I.       The Christian’s boast—

The Christian is not exempt from the common calamities of life: but though he partakes of the troubles in which others are involved, he feels supports with which others are wholly unacquainted—

1.       He views God as his God and Saviour—

[The Christian contemplates God as the Creator and Governor of the universe, but more especially as the Saviour of sinful man. He admires the stupendous method which God has devised for the salvation of sinners through the blood and righteousness of his only dear Son: but that which gives peculiar sweetness to his meditations is, that he is enabled to claim God as his Saviour, who has been already the “God of his salvation, and is daily his strength; and will be an effectual Saviour, making his feet like hinds’ feet, and causing him to walk upon his high places [Note: ver. 19.]” — — —]

2.       He determines, in the want of all other things, to rejoice in him—

[In possessing God, he enjoys a suitable good, an all-sufficient good, and an everlasting good; he has that which fully satisfies the desires of his soul [Note: Psa_4:6.] — — — which makes him regardless of all his wants or trials [Note: Psa_46:1-4.] — — — and which is unchangeable, no less in its operation than its existence — — — Hence he determines to rejoice in God, no less when bereft of all the necessaries of life, than when surrounded with a fulness of all earthly comforts.

Nor is this a vain boast: for it accords with the experience of the godly in all ages of the world [Note: Heb_10:34. Act_5:41; Act_16:23-25.] — — —]

We shall have a just view of the Christian, if we consider,

II.      The insight which this gives us into his real character—

Following the clew which this passage affords us, we shall find that the Christian is,

1.       An exalted character—

[His thoughts are not engrossed by the things of time and sense; he soars to heaven, and views God himself in all the perfections of his nature, and in all the wonders of his grace. Nor could he be contented to call the whole world his own: he will be satisfied with nothing but the enjoyment of God, and a well-grounded persuasion of an interest in his favour. In this respect he as much surpasses the wisest philosopher, as the philosopher excels the most illiterate clown; because they who search deepest into the works of nature are circumscribed by the creation, whereas the Christian contemplates the Creator himself. Indeed he emulates even the angels around the throne, who are represented as continually looking into the mysteries of redeeming love [Note: 1Pe_1:12.].]

2.       A happy character—

[The Christian is not exempt from trials and troubles; yet is he far happier than any unregenerate man. There is not any earthly bliss of which he has not a higher relish than others, because he enjoys, not the creature only, but God in the creature. A carnal mind cannot form any estimate of the Christian’s joys. To know what is meant by communion with Christ, by the witness of the Spirit, and by the love of God shed abroad in the heart, we must experience them ourselves; and without such experience we are as incapable of judging of them as a blind man is of colours, or a deaf man of sounds. No words can fully express the joy with which the Christian is sometimes favoured: it is represented as “unspeakable and glorified [Note: 1Pe_1:8.].”]

3.       An independent character—

[Others, if bereft of earthly supports, are reduced to extreme distress: the Christian may be deprived of all external comforts, and still the source of his happiness will remain entire. He can even derive happiness from his afflictions; he can “rejoice in his sufferings,” and “glory in his tribulations.” He is independent of the whole world: none can greatly add to his happiness, or materially detract from it. In the fulness of earthly blessings he enjoys God in all; and in the absence of them he enjoys all in God [Note: 2Co_6:10.]]


1.       The careful Christian—

[God would “have you without carefulness [Note: 1Co_7:32.]:” he commands you to “be careful for nothing [Note: Php_4:6.]:’ and four times in the space of a few verses does our Lord repeat the command, “Take no thought,” that is, no anxious thought, “about any earthly thing whatever [Note: Mat_6:25; Mat_6:28; Mat_6:31; Mat_6:34.].” O ye who are “careful and cumbered about many things,” see how ye live below your privileges. Get your hearts more filled with the love of God, and the cares of this world will be dissipated as the dew before the sun [Note: Gal_6:14.].]

2.       The timid Christian—

[Some, though dead to the world, have not that joy in God which it is their privilege to possess. They meditate too much upon their own infirmities, and too little upon the perfections and promises of their God. O brethren, look at God as the God of salvation, as the God of your salvation, and you shall have your fears turned into confidence, and your sorrows into thanksgiving and the voice of melody.]

3.       The confident Christian—

[If your confidence be tempered with humility and contrition, “hold it fast,” and “keep the rejoicing of your hope firm unto the end.” Such joy in God will recommend religion unto others, and “be the strength of your own souls.” While living in this state you will be prepared for every event: you will be guarded equally against the allurements of prosperity, and the terrors of adversity. “Rejoice then evermore; rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice.”]