on Habakkuk 3 :3
God came from Teman - Bp. Lowth observes: "This is a sudden burst of poetry, in the true spirit of the ode; the concealed connection being that God, who had formerly displayed such power in delivering the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, might succor their posterity in a like wonderful manner." Hence the prophet selects the most striking facts of that first deliverance; and to decorate and render them impressive, brings forth all the powers of his genius, in all the strength and elegance of his language. "What crowns the sublimity of this piece," says Bp. Lowth, "is the singular elegance of the close; and were it not that antiquity has here and there thrown its veil of obscurity over it, there could not be conceived a more perfect and masterly poem of its kind." See, for more particulars, his twenty-eighth Prelection.
I shall endeavor to show the facts in the deliverance from Egypt, to which the prophet refers.
Teman - This was a city, the capital of a province of Idumea, to the south of the land of Canaan. Numbers 20:21; Jeremiah 49:7.
Paran - Was a city which gave its name to a province in Arabia Petraea. Genesis 21:21; Deuteronomy 33:2.
Selah - This word is not well known; probably it means a pause or alteration in the music. See it in the Psalms, and its explanation there.
His glory covered the heavens - His glory when he descended on Mount Sinai, and in the pillar of fire by night.
The earth was full of his praise - All the land was astonished at the magnificence of his works in behalf of his people. Instead of praise, some translate splendor. The whole land was illuminated by his glory.
on Habakkuk 3 :3
God came - literally, shall come
From Teman - "God shall come," as He came of old, clothed with majesty and power; but it was not mere power. The center of the whole picture is, as Micah and Isaiah had prophesied that it was to be, a new revelation Isa 2:3; Micah 4:2 : "The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Isaiah 44:5, "I will give Thee for a covenant to the people (Israel), for a light of the Gentiles." So now, speaking of the new work in store, Habakkuk renews the imagery in the Song of Moses Deuteronomy 33:2, in Deborah's Song Judges 5:5, and in David; Psalm 68:7 but there the manifestation of His glory is spoken of wholly in time past, and Mount Sinai is named. Habakkuk speaks of that coming as yet to be, and omits the express mention of Mount Sinai, which was the emblem of the law . And so he directs us to another Lawgiver, whom God should raise up like unto Moses Deuteronomy 18:15-18, yet with a law of life, and tells how He who spake the law, God, shall come in likeness of our flesh. And the Holy One from Mount Paran In the earliest passage three places are mentioned, in which or from which the glory of God was manifested; with this difference however, that it is said Deuteronomy 33:2, The Lord came from Sinai, but His glory arose, as we should say "dawned" unto them from Seir, and flashed forth from Mount Paran Seir and Mount Paran are joined together by the symbol of the light which dawned or shone forth from them. In the second passage, the Song of Deborah, Seir and the field of Edom are the place whence God came forth; Sinai melted Judges 5:4-5 at His presence.
In Psalm 68 the mention of Edom is dropped; and the march through the wilderness under the leading of God, is alone mentioned, together with the shaking of Sinai. In Habakkuk, the contrast is the same as in Moses; only Tehran stands in place of Seir . Theman and Mount Paran are named probably, as the two opposed boundaries of the journeyings of Israel through the desert. They came to Mount Sinai through the valley, now called Wady Feiran or Paran; Edom was the bound of their wanderings to their promised land Numbers 20:14-20; Deuteronomy 2. God who guided, fed, protected them from the beginning, led them to the end. Between Paran also and Edom or Teman was the gift of the Spirit to the seventy, which was the shadow of the day of Pentecost; there, was the brass serpent lifted up, the picture of the healing of the Cross . If Mount Paran is near Kadesh, then Moses in the opening of his song describes the glory of God as manifested from that first revelation of His Law on Mount Sinai; then in that long period of Israel's waiting there to its final departure for the promised land, when Mount Hor was consecrated and God's awful Holiness declared in the death of Aaron.
He who "shall come," is God , "the Holy One" (a proper name of gods) . Perfect in Holiness, as God, the Son of God, and as Man also all-holy, with a human will, always exactly accompanying the Divine Will, which was:
"The passion of His Heart
Those Three-and-thirty years."
On this there follows a pause denoted by "Selah" (which occurs thrice according to the mystery of that number,) that the soul may dwell on the greatness of the majesty and mercy of God.
Selah - There is no doubt as to the general purport of the word, that it is a musical direction, that there should be a pause, the music probably continuing alone, while the mind rested upon the thought, which had just been presented to it; our "interlude" . It is always placed at some pause of thought, even when not at the end of a strophe, or, as twice in this hymn , at the end of the verse.
Gregory of Nyssa modifies this thought, supposing "Selah" to express a pause made by the writer, that "while the psalmody, with which David's prophesying was accompanied, went on in its course, another illumining of the Holy Spirit, and an addition to the gift according to knowledge, came for the benefit of those who received the prophecy, he, holding in his verse, gave time for his mind to receive the knowledge of the thought, which took place in him from the divine illumining. He defines it to be "a sudden silence in the midst of the Psalmody for the reception of the illumining."
His Glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise - This is plainly no created glory, but anticipates the Angelic Hymn Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men," or, as the Seraphim sing first glory to God in Heaven Isaiah 6:3, "Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God of Sabaoth," and then, the whole earth is full of His glory; and Uncreated Wisdom saith (Ecclesiasticus 24:5), "I alone compassed the circuit of Heaven, and walked in the bottom of the deep." Nor are they our material heavens, much less this lowest heaven over our earth nor is "His glory" any of God, which rules, encompasses, fills, penetrates the orbs of heaven and all its inhabitants, and yet is not enclosed nor bounded thereby. Those who are made as the heavens by the indwelling of God He spiritually "covers," filling them with the light of glory and splendor of grace and brightness of wisdom, as it saith, "Is there any number of His armies, and upon whom doth not His light arise? Job 25:3 and so the earth was full of His praise," i. e., the Church militant spread throughout the world, as in the Psalm Psa 112:3, "The Lord's name is praised from the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same, and, Psalm 8:1, O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth, who hast set Thy glory above the heavens."
on Habakkuk 3 :3
3:3 God - The God of our fathers, discovered himself from Teman, a mountain not far from mount Sinai, where the law was given. Paran - Near Sinai. His glory - This the prophet mentions as a support of his faith, that God so gloriously appeared among their fathers. Full of his praise - Of works which were worthy of all praise.