“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.
O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, and there His power was hidden.”
Passages From The Writings
- “Prediction that the Lord will come into the world, to whom belongs Divine truth and good.”
AC 482 
- “In Habakkuk…3:2…the ‘midst of the years’ signifies the Lord’s advent. In lesser intervals it signifies every coming of the Lord, as when man is being regenerated; in greater, when the church of the Lord is arising anew. It is likewise called the ‘year of the redeemed,’…”
AC 893 
- “…in the Word a ‘year’ is continually used with the meaning of a time and a state. As in…Habakkuk…3:2…where ‘years’ denote a time and state.”
AC 2906 
- “That a ‘year’ and ‘years’ denote the full time of a church, is plain in Habakkuk…3:2, 3…This is said of the Lord’s advent; ‘in the midst of the years’ denotes in the fullness of times…”
- “That ‘Paran’ is illumination from the Lord’s Divine Human, is evident from the signification of ‘Paran,’ as being the Lord’s Divine Human, which is manifest from the passages in the Word where it is named, as in the prophet Habakkuk…3:2-4…Where the Lord’s advent is plainly treated of, which is signified by ‘reviving in the midst of the years,’ and by ‘making known in the midst of the years.’ His Divine Human is described by ‘God coming from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran.’ He is said to ‘come from Teman’ as to celestial love, and ‘from Mount Paran’ as to spiritual love; and that illumination and power are from these is signified by saying that there shall be ‘brightness and light,’ and by His having ‘horns going out from His hand;’ the ‘brightness and light’ are illumination, and the ‘horns’ are power.”
AC 1675 [4, 6]
- “…Mount Paran, signifies neither mountains nor their inhabitants, but Divine realities, thus the celestial things of the Lord’s Human essence…[and] in the opposite, the love of self.”
- “…it will be shown by the following passages from the Word that the Lord in respect to His Human is called the Holy One of Israel…” Habakkuk 3:3 is cited.
AC 2832 
- “In Habakkuk…3:3, 4…Where the Lord is treated of; that ‘He had horns out of His hand, and there was the hiding of His strength,’ plainly denotes the power of truth; that ‘Mount Paran’ is the Divine Spiritual or the Divine Truth of the Lord’s Human, may be seen above (n. 2714), which also is the ‘brightness’ and the ‘light’.”
- “‘A horn’ is frequently mentioned in the Word, and by it is everywhere signified power; therefore when ‘a horn’ is predicated of the Lord, it signifies omnipotence…That ‘a horn’ signifies power, and when applied to the Lord, omnipotence, may appear from the following passages…” Habakkuk 3:4 is one of the many passages offered.
AE 316 
- “In Habakkuk…3:4…Because ‘horns’ signify Divine truth with power, it is said, ‘the brightness of Jehovah God shall be as light,’ and ‘in the horns is the hiding of His strength;’ ‘the brightness of Jehovah’ and ‘light’ signify Divine truth; and ‘the hiding of His strength in the horns’ signifies the omnipotence of Divine good through Divine truth, for all power of good is through truth, and in Divine truth lies concealed the omnipotence that is of Divine good.”
“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.”
- Let’s begin our derived doctrinal study with the word Shigionoth. We have no mention of its spiritual meaning in the Writings. Biblical dictionaries offer us the following explanations.
- “Shiggaion is from the verb shagah, “to reel about through drink’…the plural form, Shigionoth…denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a dithyrambic ode.” (WebBible Encyclopedia. www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/home.html)
- “Shiggaion from the verb shagah, ‘to reel about through drink,’ occurs in Psalm 7. The plural form, Shigionoth, is found in Hab 3:1. The word denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a dithyrambic ode.” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary. www.sacred-texts.com.)
- We need to exercise some caution with the above references. Since the Word is authored by the Lord, I cannot accept Habakkuk “reeling due to strong drink” as an explanation. Revelation does not occur through someone who is intoxicated. Habakkuk might not have fully understood the words. He might have received these words in such a way that he “reeled” in a sense because of their “staggering” importance, but I don’t think these words came to him while under the influence of “drink.” A lyrical poem composed under “strong mental emotion” pushes the reader also to think more about Habakkuk’s human emotions than of Divine emotions. “Impassioned imagination” focuses on Habakkuk’s mental state and away from heavenly correspondences. Could we not picture the Lord’s omnipotence inspiring a deep emotional influence within the prophet’s soul that took on a poem-like expression and also lent itself to a song? Singing signifies the glorification of the Lord on account of liberation from slavery. (AC 8261) Isn’t that really what this book of the Word is revealing to us? The “teacher of lies” is being exposed and overcome with the news of the advent of the Lord and the establishment of the New Church. This news could definitely cause reeling and staggering; it is strong emotional news to the insanely drunken residents of hell.
“O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years!”
- Why would Habakkuk become afraid of the Lord’s speech? He had been talking with the Lord from the beginning. Why have fears now?
- To “hear” signifies to understand (perceive) truth and to obey it. (AR 356) AE 588 explains to “hear” as signifying perception from the will of good. AE 808 adds this insight: to “hear” signifies both to understand truth and to perceive good.
- To be afraid of the Lord’s speech, or voice, represents many things. “Speech” or voice represents the enunciation of the Lord’s precepts from the Word. (AC 8360) A voice from the throne signifies instruction from the Lord. (AR 236)
- AC 6849 explains what being afraid to look upon the Lord means. “That this signifies lest they should be injured by the presence of the Divine Itself is evident from the signification of ‘being afraid’ as being fear lest they should be injured, namely, the interiors, for this was the cause of the fear…Lest therefore the angels in heaven should be injured by the influx of heat from the Lord as a sun, they are each of them veiled over by a certain thin and suitable cloud, whereby…that sun is tempered.”
- Is the source of Habakkuk’s fear an overwhelming sense of what he saw the Lord was about to do? Were the “word-pictures” of Divine instruction so awesome that the prophet trembled with fear and anticipation of what he had to give in prophesy? Was he wondering when these things might come about? Did he have a holy fear about who might be left standing in the presence of the Lord? “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3)
- “…‘revive’ Your work in the midst of the years!” is a prayer for enlightenment. It is a specific request that the Word, Divine truth, might vivify the church. It also signifies every coming of the Lord and to have a longing for the Lord’s Advent. (AC 2714)
“…in wrath remember mercy…”
- The word “wrath” in the literal sense can be misleading. One could be led to imagine anger, indignation, and retaliation coming from the Lord toward His people. Instead, it represents people turning away from truth. (AC 6359) “Wrath” represents human opposition (AC 5798 ), the fury of the hells to inflict violence on those whom the Divine protects (AC 8284), and the advent of the Lord to bring judgment (Divine Love and Wisdom 5). This petition for mercy is a prayer for Divine protection to help us (rescue us) when we err and stray from His order.
“God came from Teman…the Holy one from Mount Paran…”
- These words (Teman and Paran) in their spiritual and celestial sense are meant to call our attention to the mission of the Lord’s Divine Human. AE 400  teaches us that “Teman” in the negative sense represents the change in the church brought about by evils and falsities. “Teman” represents the church perishing. The Lord, in order to correct this “death”, assumed the Divine Human to rescue, vivify, and redeem the church. “Paran,” we are taught in AC 2711, signifies the Lord’s illumination from the Divine Human to bring us out of obscurity.
- The correspondential meaning of the word “Selah” is not given in the Writings. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (volume three, page 460) gives a glimpse of its use as follows: “Selah…is probably a direction for the conductor that now a signal of the cymbals should interrupt the even flow of chant. Probably Selah was originally a marginal gloss…It [Selah] occurs seventy-one times in thirty-nine psalms and in Hab. 3:3, 9, 13…Most expressive [at]…the end of the main thought by a soft whispering of strings, followed by a clash of cymbals.”
“His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.”
- The petition for His glory to cover the heavens and the earth to be full of His praise is a prayerful anticipation of the Lord’s Divine Truth proceeding from Him in fullness and in judgment. All of this glory will come from the Word as the internal sense is revealed. There are approximately 49 passages in the Writings that speak of this when explaining the meaning of “glory.” Here are but a few citations to point the way for anyone wanting to check out the fuller explanation: AE 235 , 253 , 270 , 282 , 288 ; TCR 780; NJHD 260.
- “Praise” signifies the love of truth. (AC 3880 ) “Praise” signifies to worship the Lord from internals and externals. (AE 406)
“…He had rays flashing from His hand, and there His power was hidden.”
- This passage speaks of the infinite power of the Lord’s Divine truth. The “rays flashing from His hand” signify the strength that is involved in Divine Uses and the omnipotence of His Divine Good and Divine Truth. The fullness of these Divine attributes is hidden from human comprehension. AC 3854 gives us this clue: “…it is impossible by any thought to comprehend as much as one out of a hundred millions of them [the Lord’s minutest involvements in our lives]…a series extending to eternity…each moment being as a new beginning…” All of His love, care, and attention to the tiniest details of our life escape our comprehension. “His power was hidden.” It is hidden from us, hidden from the angels, and wonderfully hidden from the hells so they can do no harm to the Lord’s infinite plan for the New Church as promised in the book of Revelation.
Putting It All Together
“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.” (Habakkuk 3:1)
“Predication that the Lord will come into the world…” (P&P)
What do these quotes reveal? Every prophet, at some point in his prophecy, had the privilege of predicting the Lord’s advent. When the revelation came to each prophet, there was invigorating excitement, anticipation, and humbleness. Not one of them acted as if this was old news. They were overwhelmed with what their spiritual eyes saw. They trembled in the presence of the Lord’s awesome power. “O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work…” All thought of human prudence and power was removed, and a full reliance on the Lord brought Habakkuk to his knees.
“Shigionoth” means having a strong mental and emotional reaction. Like reeling and staggering visionaries, all the prophets couldn’t wait to tell everyone about the Lord’s advent. This was news too good not to share. And yet, what will it take to get people to listen and amend their ways? How can this prophecy teach the people to sing a new song unto the Lord? How can the church be made to see the power and brightness of the Lord with wonderful things coming from His hand? We can’t comprehend fully one out of one hundred millions of the Lord’s ways. The Lord is involved in the minutest matters of our life. He is working new beginnings for everyone. To those who speak of the Lord as being beyond comprehension, the message of the prophet must say, you err if you think He is indifferent and uninvolved in your life.
When it was revealed to John the Baptist who the Lord was, he uttered these words: “He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all…” (John 3:31)
The Lord is coming to rescue, vivify, and redeem the church. To this prophetic reality, let the people of the church, with great joy and trembling anticipation, say “Amen.” The word “Amen” carries with it a prayer of consent: “so may it ever be.”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Habakkuk 3:1-4.
Questions To Stimulate Reflection
- Are you able to identify with Habakkuk, with his reeling and staggering experience of seeing the meaning and effect of the Lord’s advent?
- The Lord’s New Church is so important in overcoming the death experience of falsity. What would your life be like if you didn’t know the doctrines of the Second Coming?
- Can you envision the teaching about the Lord being involved in our lives? What about the one out of one hundred millions of things He does for us to bring about new beginnings? Doesn’t that teaching bring hope for our minute happenings? A new beginning out of the mundane events of our life is an impressive truth to offset times when we think we are in a rut.
- The Lord hiding His ways—is this OK with you? A certain amount of trust frees us. Trusting that the Lord will give us insights when we are ready to use them is comforting. On the other hand, if the Lord revealed too many of His ways to us, don’t you think it would weigh us down with more than we could handle?
- Have you ever questioned how much of the Lord’s good and truth is enough for you?
“Before Him went pestilence, and fever followed at His feet. He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian trembled.”
Passages From The Writings
- “He will examine the church; it is not a church.”
AC 6435 
- “In Habakkuk…3:6…the ‘mountains of eternity’ denote the good of love of the Most Ancient Church, which was celestial; the ‘hills of an age,’ the mutual love that belonged to that church; the former being its internal, the latter its external. When that church is meant in the Word, seeing that it was the most ancient one, ‘eternity’ is sometimes added, as here the ‘mountains of eternity,’ and elsewhere the ‘days of eternity’ (n. 6239); and an ‘age’ also is added, as here the ‘hills of an age,’ and also in the prophetical utterance of Israel: ‘to the desire of the hills of an age.’ Hence it is evident that by the ‘hills of an age’ are signified the goods of mutual love, which are of the celestial church, or of the Lord’s celestial kingdom.”
- “…by ‘measuring’ it and the things which are of it, is signified to know the quality.” Habakkuk 3:6 is cited as an example.
AE 629 
- “In Habakkuk…3:6 [it] is said of visitation and the Last Judgment by the Lord when He should come into the world. ‘He stood and measured the earth’ means exploring at that time of what quality the church is, ‘to measure’ signifying to explore, and ‘the earth’ the church; ‘He saw and drove asunder the nations’ signifies the casting down into hell of all who are in evils and falsities therefrom, ‘to drive asunder’ signifying to cast into hell, and ‘nations’ those who are in evils and in falsities therefrom; ‘the mountains of eternity were scattered’ signifies that the celestial church, such as was with the most ancient people, who were in love to the Lord, had perished, ‘the mountains of eternity’ signifying that church and that love; ‘the hills of the age did bow’ signifies that the spiritual church perished, such as was with the ancient people after the flood, who were in love towards the neighbor, ‘the hills of the age’ signifying that church and that love; ‘His goings are an age’ signifies according to the state of the church at that time, which was a perverted state.”
AC 3242 
- “In Habakkuk…3:6, 7…the advent of the Lord is treated of. The ‘tents of Cushan’ denote a religiosity from evil; the ‘curtains of the land of Midian,’ one from falsity.”
AC 9595 
- “In Habakkuk…3:7…‘the curtains of Midian’ denote truths with those who are in simple good (n. 3242, 4756, 4788, 6773, 6775).”
- “…in the opposite sense ‘tents’ signify worship not holy…[as in] Habakkuk 3:7, 8…”
“Before Him went pestilence, and fever followed at His feet.”
- “Him” signifies the Lord. The things mentioned as going “before Him” represent the state of disorder the church had fallen into prior to His advent.
- “Pestilence” signifies the vastation and consummation of good and truth. (Last Judgment 73)
- “Pestilence” signifies total devastation. (AC 7536)
- “Pestilence” signifies those who by the Word and those who by knowledges (scientifica) have confirmed themselves in falsities and evils. (AE 388 )
- Every disease signifies some evil that destroys the life of the will of good, and falsities that destroy the understanding of truth. Thus, disease means destruction of the spiritual life which is of faith and charity. (AC 8364) A “burning fever” denotes the cupidity of evil. (AC 8364 )
- “At His feet” signifies the natural. It signifies instruction. (AC 2714 ) “Feet” represent the lowest part of the body, externals that were to be under the Lord’s watchful care. (AR 470)
- AE 407, explaining the meaning of Revelation 6:15-17, addresses the question “who is able to stand” in the presence of the Lord. The answer is given: “no one.” Evil runs and hides in caves and under rocks. With His advent and the Last Judgment, the Lord alone stands above all else. He Stands for Good and Truth in the midst of the fallen evil and falsity.
“…the tents of Cushan…”
- AC 3242 explains that this stands for a religion raised up out of evil.
- “Tents” signify holy worship (or not holy). (AC 1102, 1566)
- “Tents” signify the goods of love and of worship. (AE 365 )
“…land of Midian trembled.”
- “Midian,” in the negative sense, represents the perversion of good and evil. This representation grows from the fact that they made for themselves dens in the mountains and caverns. The sons of Israel were possessed by the spiritual example and ways of the Midianites. (AE 410 )
Putting It All Together
Is there any question about the meaning of our lesson? The Word gives us a review of the demise of the Most Ancient Church, the Ancient Church, and now the Jewish Church. In each case, the people of the church lost that which was celestial, spiritual, and natural. A “pestilence and fever” swept through and consummated everything of the church. The Word was being used for self-promotion. Knowledges were crafted to advance the goals of self-love. P&P summarizes these passages this way: “[The Lord] will examine the church; it is not a church.” (Emphasis added.)
What spiritual failings cause a church to be “not a church”? The external church was not engaged in worship that was holy. It was not measuring up to the Lord’s standards of good and truth. Nor were its acts of charity and faith acceptable. It had a fever of self-love that was burning away the core of its spiritual health. The Lord’s advent was absolutely necessary. He had to come and stand before His people to save and redeem them. Hell and its legions were responsible for the demise of the church. So the Lord came to “bow” and subject all things to His will and understanding. The Doctrine of Faith 34 sums it up this way: “The Lord from eternity…came into the world to subdue the hells and to glorify His Human; and without this no mortal could have been saved; and they are saved who believe in Him.”
The church to be a church must have a balanced grasp of holy worship and humility. It needs to have within its tents a passionate voluntary response of love, wisdom, and use to keep its faith and charity free of pestilence and burning fevers. Put another way, we need to be passionate about the church and the doctrines. Lukewarm approaches will not work. A teaching of the church states that we must let truth be truth. The essence of this teaching is that we need to not play games with the Lord’s Word. Compromising, equivocating, deleting teachings we don’t like from the truth of the Word, all make a church “not a church.”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Habakkuk 3:5-7.
Questions To Stimulate Reflection
- Do the churches in our times seem to be going through states of pestilence and fever?
- If pestilence and fever-like conditions exist in any church, do we understand why “it is not a church”?
- The Lord coming to measure the earth reminds me of the book of Amos. Amos was sent with a “plumb line” to measure the church, and it was found deficient. What valuable tools do we have to measure the health of our church? Are size and growth, doctrinal classes, home study (reading) of the Word, or educational enrollment statistics good measuring tools?
- The scattering of the mountains and the bowing of the perpetual hills are representative of humbling self-love and overcoming conceit. What kinds of self-love and conceit exist in the church that we might have to do battle against every day?
- Have you ever heard someone say, or indicate, that a given teaching from the Word is no longer valid or applicable in our lives? The Lord did abrogate certain Levitical requirements for us. He did the abrogating. Popular opinion votes did not. So the church, to be a church, must be alert to the dangers of man-made prudence deciding questions of faith and worship.
- When we think about some issues, where there are no direct teachings to guide us, what do we do? We can’t put our head in the sand and hope the issues will go away. Can you picture making a tentative decision with a prayerful attitude of “I’m willing to change my mind if I see that I am wrong and the Lord shows me how to rectify my thoughts”?
- In question 5, it was mentioned that the Lord abrogated certain Old Testament requirements. Do you know which ones were abrogated? Check out AC 2180 , AC 4489 , AC 10637, AC 9349 , AC 10360 , and TCR 670 . But after you read these, consider this teaching: “Although abrogated they are still holy things of the Word.” (AC 8972 , 9349 )
“O Lord, were You displeased with the rivers, was Your anger against the rivers, was Your wrath against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation? Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah. You divided the earth with rivers.”
Passages From The Writings
- “He will by His Divine truth dissipate the falsities of evil.”
AC 5321 [6-8]
- “…by ‘horse and chariot,’ [are signified] the things of the understanding and of the doctrine of good and truth.” Habakkuk 3:8 is cited in section 8.
- “That ‘rivers’ signify truths in abundance may be evident from the following passages…” Habakkuk 3:8 is cited.
- “…‘chariots’ signify doctrinals…‘horses’ signify the understanding of the Word…and ‘many horses,’ what is plenary…That ‘a chariot’ signifies doctrine, is plain from these passages…” Habakkuk 3:8 is cited.
AE 518 
- “In Habakkuk…3:8…[there is] a supplication that the church may be guarded and not perish; the ‘rivers’ and ‘the sea’ signify all things of the church, because they are its ultimates…‘to ride upon horses,’ in reference to Jehovah, that is, the Lord, signifies the Divine wisdom which is in the Word; and ‘chariots’ signify doctrinals therefrom.”
AC 2686 
- “In Habakkuk…3:8, 9…the ‘bow’ is the doctrine of good and truth.”
- “…by ‘a bow’ is signified the doctrine of truth and good from the Word fighting against evils and falsities. To fight against falsities and evils is also to fight against the hells, because evils and falsities are from thence…That ‘a bow,’ in the Word, signifies doctrine combating…may appear from these passages…” Habakkuk 3:8-9 is cited.
AE 357 
- In Habakkuk…3:8, 9…‘Thy bow shall be made bare’ signifies that the doctrine of truth shall be laid open.”
“O Lord, were You displeased with the rivers, was Your anger against the rivers…”
- Can the Lord ever be displeased, angry, furious, irritable, or annoyed with any of His children? Our heart and mind needs to respond with a resounding “No!” Does He act to correct, remove, and lift His church out of falsities and mistakes? Yes! Will He calmly, lovingly overcome and defeat the work of the hells? Yes!
- Please note that we will have to deal with the appearance that the Lord is displeased, angry, and wrathful, and that He swore an oath to undo Israel. To fully understand these things, we must note that these words have a positive sense and a negative sense. Only the positive things represent the Lord. The negative sense comes from hell, and hellish spirits attempt to project the negative as coming from the Lord.
- AC 6288 gives us a clue about the true meaning of this image of the Lord being “displeased.” “What is higher can perceive how the case is with what is done in what is lower, thus also whether it is truth that is being thought there, or not. For as what is higher sees from the light of heaven, it sees the things that are below…thus the internal celestial which is ‘Joseph,’ saw that the spiritual good from the natural…was in error, and therefore it displeased him.” Seeing the lower choose what will separate it from Divine ends is displeasing in the sense that this choice will turn what is lower away from the Lord. The Lord doesn’t want that to happen. He wants all to enter heaven. He is not satisfied that one soul should be lost. So the Divine in His compassion is unhappy, saddened, or displeased with the straying of His sheep.
- In the positive sense, “rivers” signify truths in abundance. In the negative sense, “rivers” represent falsities in abundance. So the answer to the question “O Lord, were You displeased with the rivers, was Your anger against the rivers…” depends on which spiritual state Israel was living.
- The perception of the Lord’s “anger” against the rivers comes from hell’s point of view. Evil wants its falsity to prevail and be free from disapproval. The least opposition from the Lord is perceived by hell as anger, and hell sees nothing of His zeal or love to protect and save.
“…was Your wrath against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation?”
- AE 887 offers this insight: “…anger and wrath are mentioned in many passages of the Word…anger means the love and desire for evil in man and wrath the love and desire for falsity…” (Emphasis added.)
- AR 532 explains that “wrath signifies a lamentation over those in the churches who are in untruths of faith and consequently are in evils of life…”
- AR 558 explains that “wrath signifies a lamentation over those who are in things internal and external of the doctrine concerning faith alone, and are consequently in evil.”
- AE 518  summarizes this passage as “a supplication that the church may be guarded and not perish; the ‘rivers’ and ‘the sea’ signify all things of the church, because they are its ultimates…‘to ride upon horses,’ in reference to Jehovah, that is the Lord, signifies the Divine wisdom which is the Word; and ‘chariots’ signify doctrinals therefrom.”
“…Oaths were sworn over Your arrows.”
- “Oaths” that are sworn by the Lord signify that which is divinely irrevocable. (AC 2842)
- “Arrows” imply the necessity of a bow. AR 299 explains that “…by the ‘bow’ is signified the doctrine of truth and good from the Word fighting against evils and falsities…”
- “Arrows” signify selected truths to be used to combat evils. (AE 684 )
- Picture in your mind the ringing sound of cymbals. They crash, breaking or interrupting the flow of the words so as to alert all listeners to the importance of what is about to be said.
“You [the Lord] divided the earth with rivers.”
- “Dividing” signifies the Lord distinguishing between the internal person and the external person. (AC 24) “Earth,” in many of passages in the Writings, signifies the church. The dividing of the earth with rivers indicates the Lord setting boundaries between spiritual and natural truths (the internal and external person). This prophecy announces that the Lord’s abundant truths (rivers) will illustratively distinguish that which is from the Lord from that which comes from human beings. The “Selah” announces the truth that “He (the Lord) will dissipate the falsities of evil.” (P&P)
- Isaiah 55:8 speaks of such boundaries: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
- The Selah cymbals need to dramatically chime this message so that all will sit up and listen alertly.
Putting It All Together
Falsity will be dissipated. The sound of the Selah cymbals needs to clash loudly to catch our attention with this important Divine announcement. The showy, pompous veneer of the natural person will be peeled off. The Lord’s Word will establish clear and precise spiritual boundaries. The Word will provide the bow and arrows necessary to combat falsity. When will all of this happen? The slow but sure ways of the Lord’s Providence have started the cleansing of the church with the Lord’s abundant rivers of revelation. Years of proprial resistance have built up the walls of ignorance. These must be knocked down. Evil and falsity will thoroughly be emptied and cleansed. Only the Lord is able to unravel the widely spreading tentacles of evil. Each connection, each subtlety, each evil appearance of acceptance and propriety has to be brought to the Lord’s light. These things will happen under the Lord’s direction. Can we wait and trust in the Lord’s timing?
With the gift of the Writings, the process has begun. We need to cooperate with the Lord and hone the use of the spiritual “bow and arrows” He provides to fight and overcome the legion of hellish ideas. Our prayers need to supplicate the Lord for help so that our aim is sure and steady. We need to ask for His help so that our church may be guarded; we need to ask Him to bless us so that we will be useful vessels in the growth of His church.
When will the work of the Lord’s New Church begin and be completed? We don’t know. This lesson emphatically says, “He will by His Divine truth dissipate the falsities of evil.” Hell hopes that we will not read and believe these words. Hell hopes we become lethargic and negative about the coming of the New Church. But if we gain confidence and become resolute in the promises of the Lord, hell will tremble and flee from our presence. The hellish spirits flee, not because of us, but because of the Lord’s power and thorough justice.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Habakkuk 3:8-9.
Questions To Stimulate Reflection
- Are you familiar with the propaganda hell uses to try to convince us why and how the Lord and His church are failing? Some of the usual points are declining membership, declining participation in Friday doctrinal classes, and low attendance in church each Sunday morning. What positive things will we use to counterbalance the views of hell?
- What “bow and arrows” of faith can we use in the fight against hell and its disorders?
- What are some of your favorite spiritual arrows? David, with his bag of stones, picked one that was “smooth” and probably well-suited to do battle against Goliath. Do we carry around stones or arrows every day to maintain our spiritual safety?
- Do you recall the historical explanation of “Selah” as the notation of the effective use of cymbals to call attention to something extraordinary in worship services? In other words, a “Selah” was a kind of wake-up call to arouse people from their spiritual lethargy. What teachings act as a “Selah” for you?
- The Word calls us to trust in the Lord; He calls us to be of good courage, to wait on Him, to be still and know that He is God. These are some fundamental requirements. We could add many more. But let’s close with this one from the Psalms. “Let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold me up, and I shall be safe.” (Psalm 119:116) What other quotes might you add to this list?
- “He will by His Divine truth dissipate the falsities of evil.” (P&P) That sounds positive. There are no conditional words in that quote. Might you hear the clash of the cymbals? Selah! The Lord has spoken. He will win, and hell will lose. Does this teaching get our attention and build our confidence?
“The mountains saw You and trembled; the overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, and lifted its hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; at the light of Your arrows they went, at the shining of Your glittering spear. You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger. You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, by laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah. You thrust through with his own arrows the head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret. You walked through the sea with Your horses, through the heap of great waters.”
Passages From The Writings
- “Judgment upon them, combat with them, their destruction, and their being cast into hell.”
AR 53 [5-6]
- “This is said of the Jewish church, which was ‘to breathe out its soul,’ that is, would perish; ‘the sun shall set,’ signifies that there will be no longer any love and charity…something similar is also said in Habakkuk…3:10, 11…”
AE 401 
- “In Habakkuk…(Hab. 3:10, 11). This chapter treats of the Lord’s coming and of the Last Judgment then accomplished by Him; ‘the mountains were moved, the overflowing of waters passed by,’ signifies that those who were in the love of self and the world were cast out by the falsities of evil into which they were let; ‘mountains’ signifying the loves of self and the world, and ‘the overflowing of waters’ to be let into falsities from these loves, ‘waters’ meaning falsities, and ‘overflowing’ to be let into them. That by those in that state genuine truths and goods are not seen, but instead of these, fatuous truths and goods, which in themselves are falsities and evils, is signified by, ‘Thine arrows go forth in light, the lightning of Thy spear in brightness;’ ‘arrows’ or ‘lightning’ signifying fatuous truths, which in themselves are falsities, and ‘the lightning of the spear’ signifying fatuous goods, which in themselves are the evils of falsity…those who are in falsities from the loves of self and the world, when the Last Judgment takes place, and these are cast out.”
AC 2709 
- “…a ‘quiver’ denotes the doctrine of good and truth. In Habakkuk…3:11…The arrow of salvation…signifies arcana concerning the doctrine of good and truth.”
AC 3542 
- “In Habakkuk…3:13…where ‘smiting the head out of the house of the wicked’ denotes destroying the principles of falsity; ‘laying bare the foundation even unto the neck’ denotes intercepting the conjunction thereby.”
- “That ‘a horse’ signifies the understanding of the Word, may also appear from the following passages…Habakkuk 3:8, 15…”
AC 9954 
- It “…is evident from many passages in the Word (as…Habakkuk 3:13…and elsewhere)…The reason why they anointed the kings was that these might represent the Lord in respect to judgment from Divine truth; therefore in the Word by ‘kings’ are signified truths Divine…”
- “That they anointed the kings with it [oil], and therefore the kings were called ‘the anointed of Jehovah’…Habakkuk 3:13…because they thereby represented the Lord as to the Divine Human.”
AE 375 
- It “…is evident from many passages in the Word (as…Habakkuk 3:13…and elsewhere)….Kings were anointed that they might represent the Lord in relation to judgment from Divine truth; therefore in the Word ‘kings’ signify Divine truths…”
- “‘A staff’ signifies power, because wood, of which staffs were made among the ancient people, signified good; and because it is instead of the right hand, and supports it, and by ‘right hand’ is signified power; hence it is, that a scepter is a short staff and by ‘a scepter’ is signified the power of a king…That a staff signifies power, is evident from these passages…Habakkuk 3:14…”
AE 727 
- “‘…the rod of Jehovah’s mouth’ signifies Divine truth or the Word in its natural sense; and ‘the breath of His lips’ signifies Divine truth or the Word in the spiritual sense, both destroying the falsities of evil in the church, which is signified by ‘smiting the earth and slaying the wicked.’…(Habakkuk 3:14)…[has] a like signification.”
Please go back and read AE 401 . That number gives us direct teachings regarding the general meaning of the internal sense of Habakkuk 3:10-11. We will focus here on the rest of Habakkuk 3:12-15.
“You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger.” (Emphasis added.)
- Marching involves organization, order, cooperation, a willingness to follow a similar cadence and to be in step. Disorganized marching is called “rout step,” in which each marcher follows a different cadence so that the cadence of the group is dissimilar or chaotic. Rout step is useful for safety when an army walks across a bridge, but once the army is over the bridge, it returns to its organized marching cadence.
- The Lord organized the “tents” of Israel in a specific Divine order and told them they were also to “march” in that order. These commands show that obedience, order, cooperation, and following the Lord’s truths were to be extremely important as they “marched” through the desert on their way to the Promised Land.
- Apparently, the church was spiritually in “rout step” in Habakkuk’s time, marching to its own man-made rules that were full of self-love and evil. When the Lord’s Last Judgment neared the church, they perceived His way as a way of “indignation.” The church had a sense of resentment. Those who thought they were wise did not want to be told about their disorder. As usual, they tried to turn the blame for their self-centered “rout step” on the Lord. “You marched through the land in indignation.”
- The church was “trampling,” perverting goods and truths, with the light of their natural intelligence. (AC 250 and 2162 ) The Lord’s pure zeal and love for His people and church was misdiagnosed by the church. They didn’t see love. They projected the opposite on Him. The church saw none of the Lord’s softness, care, and concern. So they cried out: “You trampled the nations in anger.”
- AC 249 mentions that the word “nations” in the negative sense represents “those who trust in their Own (proprium)…” From the perspective of the evil proprium, the Lord is believed to be out of control with His anger. What is sad is that the people believed this.
“You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your Anointed.”
- The Doctrine of Sacred Scriptures 12 gives us a clue as to what “went forth” might signify. The Lord “went forth” for what purpose? To look at and examine the successive states of the church, “from its beginning to its end...”
- Salvation is a process of putting off (shunning) evils as sins against the Lord. To accomplish this, each person needs to actively pursue the Lord. With His guidance and inspiration, we are to engage our heart and mind in the goals of repentance, reformation, and regeneration. AE 340  explains salvation as signifying “to glorify the Lord from spiritual truths…and spiritual good…” Salvation is not an utterance of faith alone. It is a life-long work in process—a going hand-in-hand with the Lord to fight and to rid our life of evil, falsity, and sin.
- Note that the first part of this verse speaks of the Lord’s mission as going forth “for the salvation of Your people…”
- This next portion speaks of the Lord’s mission as “salvation with Your Anointed.” Why did the Lord specify the for and with missions of salvation?
- Let’s note first the words “salvation with Your Anointed.” This calls our attention to the Lord assuming our nature. It points us to the Lord as the Divine Human. Doing what? Facing hell and subduing it all for us while glorifying His human and uniting it with the Divine. His infinite mission was to make that which had become invisible, in the hearts and minds of people, visible again so that the church might worship the Lord God Jesus Christ as the one and only God of Heaven and earth.
“You struck the head from the house of the wicked, by laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah.”
- To unfold the meaning of the spiritual sense, let’s look at the word “head.” In the positive sense, we read that the “head” signifies the whole Human of the Lord. (AC 10011) In the opposite sense, the “head” signifies the whole of the person. (AC 10044) The “head” signifies intelligence. So our text deals with a question. What will prevail—the intelligence of the Lord or the intelligence of people? We know the answer. The Lord’s will and understanding has no equal; therefore, there is no chance that it would lose to (the head of) human prudence.
- In the earliest prophecy of the Lord’s coming (Genesis 3:15), the trampling on the “head” of the serpent is mentioned. This signifies overcoming the dominion of evil in general and self-love in particular. Our lesson then teaches us that “the house of the wicked” (hell) and its disorderly conditions will be subdued by the coming of the Lord. (AC 250)
- “...‘smiting the head out of the house of the wicked denotes destroying the principles of falsity…” and “‘laying bare from the foundation to the neck’ denotes intercepting the conjunction” (desolation) of falsity so that it will “no longer [be] admitted into the rational man.” (AC 3542 [3-4]) A “neck” signifies influx and communication of higher things with lower things, such as the communication of people’s interiors with their exteriors as the head communicates with the body through the neck. (AC 3695)
- Selah. Please recall what we read regarding the use of a “Selah.” It probably signaled the clashing sound of cymbals to mark a dramatic event. It was a way to call everyone’s attention to an important teaching. Wake up and listen! Things are about to change! The Lord is going to prevent evils from polluting the interior of His Word and church.
“You thrust through with his own arrows the head of his villages.”
- “Villages” mean the external aspects of the church. (AC 3270) “Villages” denote natural cognitions and knowledges. (AE 405 )
- The thrusting through “with his own arrows” clearly illustrates how falsity contributes to its own end. Those who oppose the Lord fall prey to their fallacious external cognitive doctrinal arrows. We can put this into the adage: He who lives by the sword (of falsity) will die by the sword (of falsity).
- Note once again the appearance that the Lord is angrily doing this. The truth is just the opposite. Falsity has no love, concern, or unity. Like cowards, lovers of falsity flee at the presence of the Lord. Do you recall the number of stories in the Word where a multitudinous enemy of Israel, fleeing in panic from the angels of the Lord, fell on their own swords? So, too, evil falls victim to its own doctrinal arrows of falsity.
“They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.”
- A “whirlwind” has an interesting correspondence. Picture vain and inconsequential things swirling around, disturbing the peace of the church. (AC 9147 ) Do any present whirlwinds come to mind that are sweeping or scattering us? The whirlwind wants to “blow” us away from the essentials of the Word and leave us confused and separated from one another and the Lord. If we face such stormy threats, we must remember we love a Lord who calmed the boisterous winds and steadied the course of our doctrinal boats of faith.
- “Feasting” in the positive sense signifies being nourished by the good of charity. Such a feast gladdens the heart and mind and nourishes (enriches) the soul with good things. (AC 2371 ) In the opposite sense, “feasting” signifies the adulteration of good and truth, thus making one’s soul poor.
- The poor spirit, the poor feast, always happen in secret. How did the Lord put it? “Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest their deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:20) The darkness of evil rejoices with a plan to feast on the poor in secret.
“You walked through the sea with Your horses, through the heap of great waters.”
- “Horses” in the positive represent a love of understanding the Word. (AR 298) A horse signifies the love of learning or intellectual things. (AC 3727) The opposite sense (like the red horse, pale horse, and black horse in Revelation) signifies the varying degrees of the understanding and the will being destroyed by self-love and falsity.
- The horses mentioned in our text are the Lord’s. His horses are in the highest sense the perfect blending of the celestial, spiritual, and natural levels of the Word walking through the sea. Walking represents living (and applying) the Word according to the doctrine of truth and faith. What are some of the adjectives that come to mind when thinking about the Lord’s horses? Genuine, forthright, honest, pure, caring, powerfully useful, unselfish, and everlasting/eternal concepts for heavenly living.
- The Lord’s horses cut right through the “heap of great waters.” In the Lord’s sight, there is no “red-tape” nor profoundly unanswerable issues. He is able to sort through and resolve things that confound us. Our text shows that the great heap of water cannot knock His horses off stride.
- We need to take comfort in the Lord’s mercy sorting through and resolving things. Good and truth will have dominion over all things. Human prudence will not stump Him nor slow down His restoration of the New Church.
Putting It All Together
Let’s pull up several direct teachings in the Writings to put us on the path to understanding the internal sense. Like a powerful story, let’s follow the thread of continuity from beginning to end so we can remember the theme in our own times of struggles and doubts. To do so will help us be strong and very courageous.
- P&P sums up the meaning of Habakkuk 3:10-15 this way: “Judgment upon them [the Jewish Church/hells], combat with them, their destruction, and their being cast into hell.”
- AE 401 : “This chapter treats of the Lord’s coming and of the Last Judgment…those who were in the love of self and the world were cast out by the falsities of evil into which they were let…”
- The church was chaotically out of step with the Lord’s truth. They marched to their own cadence and cared little for others. To excuse themselves, they blamed the Lord for the mistakes, the pain, and the trampling of the things of the church.
- The Lord answered by telling them that the head of the house of the wicked would be struck. The intelligence of human beings was faulty. It could not stand in the presence of the Lord. To prevent the inflowing of evil into the spiritual rational person, the “neck” of the church was going to be closed off. The disorderly conditions of the church were to be subdued by the coming of the Lord.
- The evil were going to be thrust through by their faulty doctrinal arrows. As hard as the evil sought to stir things up with the whirlwind of controversy, the Lord was not going to be blown off course. He steadied the ship of doctrine, and the winds obeyed His voice.
- The horses of the Lord will be surefooted in the heap of great waters. Nothing said, thought, or implemented by evil reasoning will ever knock the Lord’s horses over. His Word is everlastingly sure. His Word will be studied to eternity and will never be exhausted.
- The former mocking of the Lord and the feasting on the poor will be over. That evil which was being done in secret will be brought to light. The Lord will expose the intent of evil; everything will be overcome by His advent and Last Judgment, and hell will be cast out.
- Selah. Let the reader of this prophecy hear the clash of the cymbals. Let the heart and mind hear the Lord’s message clearly. The true church of the Lord will be established. The church of the evil will flee in panic when it faces the Lord. There will be combat. There will be destruction. Hell will be cast out. The enemy will be thrust through by its own arrows.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Habakkuk 3:10-15.
Questions To Stimulate Reflection
- Was there a favorite scriptural image in this lesson that will help you with your fight against the hells and the dead church of self-love? What was it?
- How do you think we are doing, as a church, in the cadence of our march toward the Promised Land? Are we together or in rout step?
- What kind of whirlwind of vain and inconsequential thinking is disturbing the peace of the church in our times?
- Isn’t it useful to think about evil falling on its own arrows of doctrinal deceit? Did you ever pick up on this point in stories such as the one about Gideon’s fight with the Midianites? Three hundred men with pitchers and candles caused a whole army to run and cry out in fear while fleeing.
- Blaming the Lord is a constant theme. How do you deal with the plethora of accusations that the Lord is insensitive and unfeeling in the lives of the unfortunate?
- Do you have a positive feeling for the important use of the word “Selah” as found in our text and the Psalms?
- The steady horses, the balanced progress against hell are encouraging themes in the books of the prophets. The Lord will not be deterred. The chicanery of the hells will be dealt with, and the spiritually poor will be fed and nourished by the Lord. Do we hear this theme loud and clear?
- Are there any other points you want to add to this summary?
“When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops, though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls…”
Passages From The Writings
- “Grief on account of their state, that there is no longer anything of the church.”
AE 622 
- “In Habakkuk…3:16…‘My belly trembled’ signifies grief of thought, therefore it is added, ‘My lips quivered at the voice,’ which signifies a consequent stammering of the speech…”
AC 5113 
- “As in the genuine sense a ‘vine’ signifies the good of the intellectual part; and a ‘fig-tree’ the good of the natural man, or what is the same, that a ‘vine’ signifies the good of the interior man, and a ‘fig-tree’ the good of the exterior man, therefore a ‘fig-tree’ is often mentioned in the Word at the same time as a ‘vine;’ as in the following passages…Habakkuk 3:17…”
AC 9277 
- “In Habakkuk…3:17…where ‘the fig-tree’ denotes natural good; ‘the vine,’ spiritual good; ‘the olive,’ celestial good; and ‘the field,’ the church.”
AC 9780 
- “In Habakkuk…3:17…neither fig-tree, nor vine, nor olive, nor fields are meant, but heavenly things to which they correspond; as also every one is able to acknowledge from himself who acknowledges that the Word treats of such things as belong to heaven and the church, thus as belong to the soul. But they who think of nothing but worldly, earthly, and bodily things, do not see the internal things, and even do not wish to see them, for they say within themselves, What are spiritual things? What are celestial things? And so, What is heavenly food? That these are such things as belong to intelligence and wisdom they indeed know when it is so said; but that they belong to faith and love, they do not desire; for the reason that they do not imbue their life with such things, and therefore do not attain to the intelligence and wisdom of heavenly truths and goodness.”
AC 10261 
- “…the ‘vine’ and the ‘olive’ are mentioned…as in these passages…Habakkuk 3:17…The ‘fig-tree’ also is here mentioned because the ‘fig-tree’ signifies the good of the external…but the ‘vine’ the good of the internal spiritual church, and the ‘olive’ the good of the internal celestial church…”
AE 375 
- “In Habakkuk…3:17…here fig-tree, vine, olive, and fields, are not meant, but heavenly things, to which they correspond. ‘The fig-tree’ corresponds to and thence signifies natural good; ‘the vine’ corresponds to spiritual good, which in its essence is truth; the ‘olive’ as the fruit from which oil is derived, corresponds to the good of love in act; and ‘fields’ correspond to all things of the church; ‘produce’ and ‘foods’ thence signify all things pertaining to spiritual nourishment; from which it is clear what these things signify in their order.”
AE 403 
- “In Habakkuk…3:17…‘The fig-tree shall not blossom’ signifies that there shall be no natural good; ‘neither shall there be produce on the vines’ signifies that there shall be no good; ‘the labor of the olive shall dissemble’ signifies that there shall be no celestial good; ‘the fields shall yield no food’ signifies that there shall be no spiritual nourishment.”
AE 638 
- “In Habakkuk…3:17…The ‘fig-tree’ signifies the externals of the church, ‘vines’ its internals; the ‘olive-yard’ its goods; and the ‘field’ the church itself with man.”
“When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice…”
- AC 2691 explains what is meant when the Lord hears the voice of a child “as being in the internal sense to bring help [because Ishmael]…was in a state of the greatest grief on account of the privation of truth…” Is it possible that something of this teaching applies also to the vision that Habakkuk saw? Perhaps the Lord was telling him how needy the Jewish church was? As the Lord opened his eyes to see the coming of the Last Judgment, was Habakkuk overwhelmed with the sense of the church’s spiritual void and its need for obedience and compliance? The state of the church at that time was not open to the order of the Lord. Seeing what was coming could cause one’s body (belly) to tremble in fear and anticipation. How could his lips not quiver with the awesome task of giving this prophecy? His lack of words to explain these things to the indifferent church could have caused him to wonder, “Where do I begin to make them understand what spiritually lies ahead?” AE 622  explains that quivering lips represent a “stammering of the speech.” Why are the lips mentioned? “Lips” signify confession and thanksgiving from the heart. (AE 279 ) “Lips” signify the doctrine of good and truth. (AE 391 ) Do these quotes help us see why the lips quivered at the prospect of delivering this Divine message to a dead church?
“…rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble.”
- “Bones” signify truths in the ultimate, thus truths in the whole complex. (AE 364) “Bones” signify the falsity which is from a person’s own (proprium). (AC 3812 )
- “Rottenness” signifies a vital perishing. (AE 637 ) “Rottenness” signifies that in which there is nothing of life. In place of perception, there is an affection of falsity from evil. (AC 10254 ) “…in various places in the Prophets, a kind of reciprocity is expressed, which is such that one finds evil in place of truth, meant by ‘rottenness’ instead of ‘judgement,’ and falsity in place of good, meant by ‘a cry’ instead of ‘righteousness’...” (AC 2240)
- Why did Habakkuk’s prophecy speak of rottenness entering his bones? Could it have been inspired by the message of the Lord’s Last Judgment? Did that vision cause a sense of reflection so that a truly humble state caused him to feel inadequate or worthless? Seeing the Lord’s power and plan to purify and redeem the church had to have been breath-taking. Examining his role in the whole process of reciprocity, he saw that his proprium and evil had a place in his telling of the truth when they shouldn’t have.
- “Trembling” signifies a great alteration and change of state when truth gives place to good. (AC 3593) “They who are in good do indeed tremble at the presence of the Divine, but it is a holy tremor which precedes reception…The evil are in terror at the presence of the Divine, and therefore flee away…” (AC 8816)
- “…in the day of trouble” seems to represent being in a state of temptation. The word “trouble” “denotes labor…because it is predicated of temptations.” (AC 8670) The plea, and hope, is that rest may be found in the day of trouble. “Rest” signifies finding a state of peace. (AC 9279)
“When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops.”
- Who is the “he” in this quote? The fact that the “he” is in the lower case suggests that it is not the Lord coming up to the people. Is it referring to the invasion of the Chaldean nation? If so, that would tend to put this prophecy in a time-and-space lock. The Word is written for eternal purposes.
- Most likely, the reference to “he” represents the hells marshaling an all-out attempt to intimidate the church and drive away the truth that the Last Judgment was at hand. We have examples of hell using this battle plan. In Genesis 2:4, when Adam and Eve were tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit, the wily serpent used the argument: “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
- See also AC 6405 where “A troop shall ravage him” is explained as truth being driven away by illusions, and with respect to truth, an attempt to obscure the understanding.
N.B. Verse 17 deals with the fig tree; the vines; the olive tree; and the field. These correspondences are explained in seven quotes cited in the Passages from the Writings section. Please review them as they deal with the demise of natural good, spiritual good, and celestial good within the church. With the lack of spiritual fruit and their failure to provide food, we are taught such things relate to heaven, the church, and the soul. This revelation is a summation of what led to the demise of the Jewish Church. But this verse is like the dark cloud behind which is seen a great silver lining. Verses 18 and 19 end the prophecy of Habakkuk with a glimpse of what lies ahead. There are given “words to live by” regarding the bright future of the New Church after the Last Judgment.
So what we will look at now are the portions of verse 17 not explained above.
“…though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls…”
- A “flock” signifies those who are led and taught. (AC 343) A “flock” signifies the church and those who are in truths of simple good. (AC 6828)
- A “fold” signifies good from celestial things of love, in which innocence may rest. (AC 415)
- A “herd” signifies goods in general. (AC 3154 ) A “herd” signifies interior and exterior goods of truth. (AC 6108)
- A “stall” signifies to imbibe the knowledges of external good, and to do violence is to live contrary to charity. (AE 279 )
- What then is the summary of these things? The church as to its simple good was not being fed, that is, taught and led. This neglect led to a process of separation from the fold of celestial good. The violence of self-love did great harm to the “stalls.” Such an attack on the goods of truth caused there to be “no herd in the stalls.”
Putting It All Together
As we have consistently done before, let’s begin our summation with the overview P&P gives us regarding the meaning of the spiritual sense. The Church will have “Grief on account of their state, that there is no longer anything of the church.”
What kind of reaction does this summary elicit? It sounds like pretty glum stuff, downright depressing; is there anything that can come from this that will lift our spirits and inspire us?
Look again at the literal sense:
- Habakkuk reports that his body (belly) trembles and quivers at the voice of the Lord.
- In comparison to the Lord, Habakkuk feels like rottenness has entered his bones. While trembling with this thought, he wishes, indeed longs for the day of temptation to be over so that he might feel at rest, or peace, again.
- Hell doesn’t want to hear of the Lord’s Last Judgment, so its “army” invades the mind to offer up contrary, illusional information. While hell was boasting of the improbability of a judgment happening, there were clear signs all around the people of the spiritual demise of the church. The Lord spoke about hell's determination to not see spiritual reality in Matthew 13:15: “...their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears...so that I should heal them.”
- What was the evidence? The fig tree (natural good) was not blossoming. There was no fruit (spiritual good) on the vines. The olive tree (celestial good) failed. The crops of the fields (the church) gave no food. And lastly, the flock had been cut off from the fold, and there was no herd to be found in the stalls.
Can we put a specific illustration into this lesson? As a reader of this study guide, it would be more powerful if you were able to focus on a personal issue. To get some reflective thought going in this process, let’s pick a universal issue. As hard as we try to be open and honest with our life, do we find times when it seems impossible to be totally honest? Backed into a defensive corner, has telling a “white lie” ever seemed not only prudent but absolutely necessary? What effect does that white lie have on our natural good? Does the lie momentarily prevent the “fig-tree” from blossoming? In turn, what does the lie do to the “vine”? Does it keep fruit, or spiritual good, off of the vine? Like a chain reaction, the lie causes us to lose a degree of our natural good, spiritual good, and celestial good. The lie separates us from the flock. A flock signifies those who are led and taught. A flock signifies affections of innocence.
Hell with its “army” of illusive thoughts will try to convince us that the Lord will not judge us for these minor offenses. We are human, and to be human means to err, and erring means telling harmless lies. Is that what the Lord taught? What was the ending in the lesson? The church had no fruit and produce, and the stalls were empty. No herd was to be found. How can we learn from this so that we can have some spiritual maintenance to keep our growing productive?
It seems that our lot is to be open with the Lord by doing self-inspection. We need to willingly confess our indiscretions to the Lord, ask (supplicate) the Lord for help, and seek (expect) to attain a new life. These things keep our fruit growing, our fields full of produce, and the stalls with a herd present.
Don’t let despair settle in. Wait and read the closing two verses of this prophecy. Be prepared to listen to the joy and conviction they express regarding the total victory the Lord will give to those who trust in Him and His power.
In the opening chapters, Habakkuk argued with the Lord. He asked hard questions and made assumptions that the Lord was being unfair and indifferent to Israel. Habakkuk assumed the Lord was using the enemy to persecute His church. Each question, each charge was answered, and the message was and is awesome. The Lord will establish His New Church.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Habakkuk 3:16-17.
Questions To Stimulate Reflection
- Trembling, quivering, and feeling as though our bones are full of rottenness seem like an overwhelming theme. Do such states, if experienced with a degree of humility, bring us to bended knee or being prostrate before the Lord?
- The quivering of the lips touched me somewhat. How many times have we had the experience where we just don’t know how to talk about the church? Think about telling people about the Second Coming; telling them about the Writings; telling them about things seen and heard in heaven and hell by Swedenborg. Does it seem to you that we hesitantly pick and choose our time to speak of such things? We try to ascertain whether this is the right person and time to speak about spiritual pearls. What success have you had in deciding such matters?
- Looking forward to the day and hoping for peace in matters of temptation is necessary. Will we ever have full peace, or will we have intermittent, alternating states of temptation and peace?
- These verses have great illustrations of natural, spiritual, and celestial good. The trees, the vines, the fields, and the stalls are easy to remember. How about thinking through the process with specific issues? Will we use these Divine parables in our fight to enliven the New Church within?
- Before moving to the last two verses of Habakkuk’s prophecy, what things might we do to prepare adequately for the ending? Prayer? Reaching inward to prepare ourselves to see and hear what the Lord is promising?
“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.
To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.”
Passages From The Writings
- “Then those who at heart acknowledge the Lord will be saved.”
AE 660 
- “…exultation, like joy, is predicated of good, because it relates to love, to the heart, and to the will; as in the following passages…Habakkuk 3:18…In all these passages, ‘exultation’ signifies delight from love and from the affection of good, and ‘gladness’ signifies pleasure from the love and affection of truth.”
AC 6413 
- “…in Habakkuk…3:19...‘to make the feet like those of hinds’ denotes the natural in the freedom of the affections…to make the feet nimble and active to run like those of hinds is not anything spiritual; and yet that something spiritual is involved, is plain from what immediately follows, that ‘Jehovah will set him and cause him to march upon his high places,’ whereby is signified spiritual affection, which is above natural affection.”
“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
- AC 7093  defines rejoicing as a “joy from good and truth from man’s inmost to his external.”
- AC 8672 explains that “rejoicing” is a state when Divine good (love) in all things succeeds. This goes well “beyond [human] comprehension, because it belongs to the Infinite…there is infinite joy on account of the reception of good by those who are in heaven and the church…from the Divine love, which is infinite toward the human race…for all joy, is of love.”
- “…the God of my salvation” signifies “that He must be worshiped by means of truths from good, from which is salvation.” (AE 411 )
- “Salvation” signifies “conjunction with Him by truths and by a life according to them, for thereby there is salvation.” (AE 365 )
“The Lord God is my strength…”
- AC 3921  teaches that when “God” is mentioned, the regeneration of the spiritual person is the subject. When Jehovah or the “Lord” is mentioned, the subject is the good of love of the celestial person.
- AE 689 teaches us “the signification of ‘the Lord God,’ as being the Lord in respect to Divine good and truth; for where Divine good is meant in the Word the names ‘Lord’ and ‘Jehovah’ are used, and where Divine truth is meant the name ‘God’ is used, therefore ‘the Lord God’ and ‘Jehovah God’ means the Lord in respect to Divine good and Divine truth.”
- “Strength” signifies the Divine truths fighting. (AC 9809 )
- Putting these teachings together, we get the picture of the Lord God uniting His Divine Love and Divine Truth for the salvation of humanity and the angels, and that His omnipotence will bring those mighty force to bear for our rescue. His Divine Truths will fight off any and all of what hell seeks to marshal.
- We need to confidently spread the good news: Victory is at hand because “the Lord God is my strength.”
“He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”
- The Writings use the word “hind” in place of “deer.” A “hind” is a “red deer.” Could this distinction be of importance to the spiritual meaning? Red signifies the good of love and of life. (AC 3300) A “hind” signifies natural affections. Giving the hind a fleetness of feet, that is, making it nimble and active, denotes a freedom of the affections. (AC 6413 ) The word “spontaneous” brings to mind a kind of child-like openness to the Lord, acting and worshipping with a state of innocence instead of hidden selfish agendas. Boredom is gone. Excitement comes into the heart and mind. How may we know this? The words “nimble and active” speak to the liveliness of the heart in responding to the Lord.
- He will “make me walk” sounds forced and demanding. Instead of this image, think of the word “make” as meaning: He will enable, allow, permit, and encourage me to walk. With this insight, a sense of freedom comes back into the prophecy.
- To “walk” signifies to live according to the doctrines of the Lord. (AC 519) To “walk” signifies to view and perceive the nature of the Lord’s heavenly kingdom. (AC 1613)
- Where will our nimble, active, and lively feet take (walk) us? “…to my high hills.” The reference from AC 6413  explains that “my high hills” represents walking in a place of “spiritual affection which is above natural affection.” Please note that the word “my” is not capitalized. Could this denote that the Lord will leave us in an “as-of-self” state of freedom during this period of new discoveries?
“To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.
- We have no explanation in the Writings as to why we have these seemingly fragmented sentences following the end of the prophecy. Can we make sense of their placement?
- A skilled musician knows how to make proper use of various kinds of musical instruments to highlight the theme and stir the affections of the audience. He will use the wind, percussion, and stringed instruments masterfully. AC 418 gives us a long quote illustrating this plan. Please read it.
- Harpers and musicians relate to spiritual affections and spiritual truth and good, and they represent interior and exterior joys. (AE 1184)
- “To the Chief Musician.” Should we note the capitalization of “Chief” and “Musician”? If so, are we considering the Lord as the Chief Musician? It makes sense to do so when we consider that He is the one who wrote the “musical score” and that He knows best how to arrange the sequencing of instruments to touch the affections of the listening church (audience). He directs the tempo, the level of sound, and the timing of when the brass, reeds, cymbals, drums, and strings make their entrance in harmony or in solo.
- Do you recall the word “Selah”? It is believed that the Chief Musician would call for the clashing noise of cymbal or chime to get everyone’s attention so they might alertly note an important transition. The Last Judgment certainly was emotional, and it required the church to pay attention. The new transition, the New Church, is a reality. Selah.
“With my stringed instruments.”
- AE 323 and AE 1185 teach that “stringed instruments” signify such things as belong to the affection of truth and wind instruments to affections of good.
- Do the “stringed instruments” called for by the Chief Musician harmonize with the “Nunc Licet” message found in TCR 508 ? “It is now permitted to enter understandingly into the mysteries of faith.” Such words touch our deep innocent remains that belong to our affections of truth. Only the Lord knows where these remains reside. But at His direction, they will come forward and play their “strings” with a clarity and a beauty that will stir us into performing better than we ever imagined possible.
- May we, as the Lord’s children, stand and clap cheering: Bravo! Encore! For the Lord has produced, directed, and provided us with a heart-felt message of eternal care and love. Praise to the “Lord God of our salvation.”
Putting It All Together
“Then those who at heart acknowledge the Lord will be saved.” (P&P)
I do believe there is little need to pull these verses together. The above exposition in the light of doctrine is quite moving and provides us with a melody that we can robustly sing together:
“The Lord God Jesus Christ reigns! This is the hour He comes with power to loose our captive chains. Hell’s legions reel before Him. The victor’s crown He gains.”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Habakkuk 3:18-19.
Questions To Stimulate Reflection
- “I will joy in the God of my salvation” are words that lift one’s spirit. To yourself, or within a study-group setting, speak about your joy for the Lord. How many blessings can you recount?
- “The Lord is my strength.” Do you feel the Lord’s strength frequently, occasionally, or just sometimes? There is no doubt from this section that we need to feel and use the Lord’s strength often. “Those who at heart acknowledge the Lord will be saved.”
- Are you at a point in your spiritual life where you feel your feet are nimble, active, and free to climb the high hills?
- What musical pieces stir your heart? Are there any hymns that lift you?
- Can we picture the Lord as our Chief Musician conducting the orchestra of our heart? Reflecting on the melody of your life, can you see times when He called for stringed instruments to be played? How about wind instruments? Were there any cymbals called for?
- We visited many spiritual states in Habakkuk. There were ponderous questions. There were those states of nagging doubts. Now that we have come to the uplifting conclusion of Habakkuk, do you feel that a day of peace has been given to us by the Lord? Following temptations, the Lord gives us rest so that we get invigorated enough to face the next obstacle. May we rest a “day” and recuperate with our Chief Musician to be ready when the call comes for us to play our strings or wind instruments for the Lord.