on Habakkuk 3 :8
Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? - Floods; here is a reference to the passage of the Red Sea. The Lord is represented as heading his troops, riding in his chariot, and commanding the sea to divide, that a free passage might be left for his army to pass over.
on Habakkuk 3 :8
Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? - The prophet asks the question thrice, as to the two miracles of the dividing of the Red Sea and the Jordan River, thereby the more earnestly declaring, that God meant somewhat by these acts and beyond them. He asks, as Daniel Dan 7:16. and Zechariah asked, what was the truth of the things which they saw. God's defilings with His former people were as much ensamples of what should be with us 1 Corinthians 10:11. as the visions shown to the prophets. Hereafter too, there shall be Luke 21:25; Revelation 8:6 "signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;" there shall be deepening plagues upon the sea and the rivers and fountains of waters; and every living soul in the sea shall die Revelation 16:3. But God's purpose therein aforetime was not as to the sea or the rivers, but for the salvation of His elect; so shall it be to the end. Mighty as may be the "mighty waves of the sea" which lift themselves up against the Lord, "mightier on high is the Lord" Psalm 93:4. Jerome: "As Thou didst dry up the Jordan and the Red Sea, fighting for us; for Thou wert not wroth with the rivers or the sea, nor could things without sense offend Thee; so now mounting Thy chariots, and taking Thy bow, Thou wilt give salvation to Thy people; and the oaths which Thou swarest to our fathers and the tribes, Thou wilt fulfill forever."
Thou didst ride upon Thy horses - as though God set His army Psalm 103:12. "the Hosts which do His pleasure," against the armies of earth, as the prophet's servant had his eyes opened to see 2 Kings 6:15. "the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." Jerome: "Yet amidst so many thousands of horses and chariots, there was no rider; He was the Rider and Ruler of those horses, of whom the Psalmist says Psalm 80:1. 'Thou that sittest above the Cherubim, shew Thyself.' With such horses and such chariots was Elijah also taken up into Heaven."
And Thy chariots of salvation - literally "Thy chariots are salvation." Not, as in human armies, except as far as they are the armies of God, to destruction. The end of God's armies, His visitations and judgments, is the salvation of His elect, even while they who are inwardly dead, perish outwardly also. Nor, again, do they prepare for the deliverance for which He intends them. With God, to will is to do. His chariots are salvation. His help is present help. His chariots are the tokens and channels of His Presence to aid. And so, they who bore His "Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel, chosen vessels" to bear it, are, in a yet fuller sense, His chariots, which are salvation. Jerome said that they "are holy souls, upon which the word of God cometh, to save them and others by them Sol 1:9.. 'I have compared thee,' saith the Spouse, 'to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.' However holy the soul, yet compared to God, it is like the chariot of Pharaoh; and a beast, yet still a beast, before Thee." Psalm 73:23.. Yet such an one, as endowed with might and ready obedience, and swiftness and nobleness to bear the Word of God, and through His might whom they bore, not their own, nor making it their own, bearing down everything which opposed itself.
Cyril: "The object of the prophet, is to show that the second dispensation is better and more glorious, and of incomparably better things than the old. For of old He led Israel forth, through the bodily service of Moses, changing into blood the rivers of Egypt, and doing signs and wonders; then dividing the Red Sea, and carrying over the redeemed, and choking in the waters the most warlike of the Egyptians. But when the only-begotten Word of God became Man, He withdrew the whole human race under heaven from the tyranny of Satan, not changing rivers into blood, nor pouring forth His anger upon waters, nor dividing waves of the sea, nor bringing destruction upon people, but rather destroying the murderous Serpent himself, and taking away the sin which had been invented by him and for him, and loosing the unconquered might of death, and calling all to the knowledge of God, through the holy apostles, who, running forth their course under the whole heaven and bearing about the name of Christ, were very rightly had in admiration.
He saith then, O Lord, most worthy to be heard are those things, of which Thou hast Thyself been the Doer, and what Thou hast done anew is far better than what Thou didst through Moses. For Thou wilt not inflict wrath on rivers, nor show Thy might on the sea; not in these things will Thy divine and marvelous power gleam forth, but 'Thou wilt ride upon Thy horses,' and 'Thy chariots are Salvation.' What may these horses be? The blessed disciples, apostles and evangelists, they who took on them wholly the yoke of all His divine will, they, the noble, the obedient, ready for all things, whatsoever should please Him; who had Christ to sit upon them, whereof one is the blessed Paul, of whom Himself saith, Acts 9:15 : 'He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles.' Of fiery speed were these Horses, encompassing the whole earth; so then the chariots of God are said to be 'ten thousand times ten thousand' Psalm 68:17. For countless, each in their times, and after them, became leaders of the people, and subjected the neck of the understanding to the yoke of the Saviour, and bare about His glory throughout the whole earth, and rightly divided the word of truth, and subdued the whole earth, as with the speed of horsemen."
His chariots are salvation - Cyril: "for they ran not in vain, but to save cities and countries and nations together, Christ overthrowing the empires of devils, who, so to speak, divided among themselves the whole earth, subduing its dwellers to their own will."
on Habakkuk 3 :8
3:8 The sea - The Red Sea. Ride - As a general in the head of his army. Upon thine horses - Alluding to the manner of men. Salvation - No; but he came to save his people.