Turning the Devil’s Own Arrows against Him: A Brief Meditation on Habakkuk 3:17—18

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The prophet Habakkuk preaches to soldiers and royal counselors as a city is burned in the background.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail 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,  (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

So writes the prophet Habakkuk, who lived during one of the most anxious times of Israel’s history.  Justice was entirely lacking in Israel (Hab 1:4).  The great national enemy Assyria had finally fallen, but now the Babylonians were coming (Hab 1:6).  What cause for rejoicing could the prophet possibly have?  The nation was about to be destroyed and life was in ruin.  The people were acutely feeling the curse of sin.  There was no blossom on the fig tree, no herd was to be found in the stalls (Hab 3:17).  To say the very least, things were not going according to plan.  How could rejoicing be possible under such dire circumstances?

Make no mistake, Satan is at work through your afflictions to drive you to despair.  To rejoice in the Lord even when Satan tempts you to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9) is to rub Christ’s victory back in the devil’s face.  What Satan thought was his greatest moment of triumph—the cross—turned out to be his undoing.  When Satan does his best to destroy you, like Habakkuk, continue to rejoice in the Lord.  Throw yourself on the mercy of Christ.  Turn the devil’s own arrows against him, stick it to the damned murderer and repent.  Then not only does he fail to crush you, but rather unwittingly succeeds in driving you back to Christ— the very last thing he wants to do.

Though devils all the world should fill,
    All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill;
    They shall not overpow’r us.
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
    He can harm us none.
    He’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (LSB, 656; verse 3)

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