Red deer/hind loping away across the moor
Author Dr Richard Murray Wikimedia Commons
Last night I heard a speaker on the book of Titus call attention to this phrase, “adorn the doctrine of God.” I was trying to figure out how we as sinful men could do that. I also read portions of Habakkuk today and was deeply impressed by a familiar passage in chapter 3. The chapter is short so I’m sharing it all here.
Note that it’s a song. Imagine singing this in your church. Just imagine, in the middle of all that goes on in churches nowadays passing for worship songs, hearing this mixture of thoughts and impressions about our God.
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.
2 Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
3 God comes from Teman,
And the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah.
His splendor covers the heavens,
And the earth is full of His praise.
4 His radiance is like the sunlight;
He has rays flashing from His hand,
And there is the hiding of His power.
5 Before Him goes pestilence,
And plague comes after Him.
6 He stood and surveyed the earth;
He looked and startled the nations.
Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered,
The ancient hills collapsed.
His ways are everlasting.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan under distress,
The tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.
8 Did the Lord rage against the rivers,
Or was Your anger against the rivers,
Or was Your wrath against the sea,
That You rode on Your horses,
On Your chariots of salvation?
9 Your bow was made bare,
The rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah.
You cleaved the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw You and quaked;
The downpour of waters swept by.
The deep uttered forth its voice,
It lifted high its hands.
11 Sun and moon stood in their places;
They went away at the light of Your arrows,
At the radiance of Your gleaming spear.
12 In indignation You marched through the earth;
In anger You trampled the nations.
13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people,
For the salvation of Your anointed.
You struck the head of the house of the evil
To lay him open from thigh to neck. Selah.
14 You pierced with his own spears
The head of his throngs.
They stormed in to scatter us;
Their exultation was like those
Who devour the oppressed in secret.
15 You trampled on the sea with Your horses,
On the surge of many waters.
16 I heard and my inward parts trembled,
At the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones,
And in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
For the people to arise who will invade us.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18 Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
19 The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
I would say there’s quite a bit of doctrine here in this short passage. God is a God of both judgment and mercy. We fear Him but we are captivated by His splendor. He has fought for our salvation — And He will also turn back the weapons of evil ones against themselves.
This describes past and future events — God’s people have been judged for sin. So have those wicked ones who rose up as His instruments of judgment. They had no idea they were used by God or would face God’s wrath for their evil. This has happened more than once, and will happen again.
In our future, the Christ Who died for our salvation will come again to defeat evil once and for all. Those who right now suffer real persecution around the world have testified that they know God is holy, just, and merciful. They praise and worship him in the midst of suffering. They adorn the doctrine of God.
Habakkuk trembled and feared at the thought of coming judgment. He foresaw destruction, and famine, and great hardship. But he knew above all else that God is just and merciful and that what would happen was for God’s glory.
So that’s how we adorn God’s doctrine. We proclaim His holiness even as we see and experience suffering, starvation, and destruction. Because we see the whole God, both the just and the merciful aspects. We expect those hinds’ feet, and find ourselves able to run up the mountain to worship Him in all His glory.
Not after everything’s all better. Now. In the midst of whatever trouble we are going through. Now is the time to adorn God’s doctrine by letting everyone who’s still down below the high places see our worship, no matter what.