Trembling at the Majesty of God

Week Forty-Nine: Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah

When I go walking early in the morning, I watch the sun come up over the mountains and the morning star fade into the light morning sky. I am in awe as to the beauty of this earth and I feel to tremble before the majesty of our God. C. S. Lewis felt this same way about the beauty of nature, but he also realized that the splendors we see outwardly should also affect us inwardly as well. He said: “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”[i]

The prophet Habakkuk had such a spiritual moment when he mingled with the splendors that he saw. He received a peek into the inner majesty of God’s creations and he even saw the Creator himself. Habakkuk had the experience of witnessing the brilliance of the Morning Star and the Splendor of the Son. In Chapter 3, Habakkuk wrote about this experience in a beautiful psalm or prayer. It is written in poetry and the beginning of this psalm might have been sung or chanted. Notice the word “Selah,” which word was often used in the Book of Psalms, to indicate a possible break in the singing or chanting.

Habakkuk trembled at the majesty and power of God. He made many historic allusions to earlier times when the Lord had saved Israel from her enemies, especially during the days of Moses and Joshua. This theme of deliverance became personal as Habakkuk experienced a vision of seeing the Lord. He reflected upon His own individual deliverance from sin and the saving grace of God.

Habakkuk described his vision of the Lord: “His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.”[ii]

The phrase that “he had horns coming out of his hand” is better explained if you imagine rays of light coming from His hand. Shawn Brasseaux described it this way: “Think of projections, shafts, or beams of light originating from the sun at sunrise, light passing through gaps in or between clouds. The scientific name for them at sunset is crepuscular rays. They are hornlike, but not actual horns.”[iii]

Moses also described the Savior’s hand this way when the Savior comes again: “…[H]e came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand:”[iv]

Joseph Smith also saw the Savior. There are similarities between Habakkuk’s description of the Savior and Joseph Smith’s vision: “We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah saying: I am the first and the last: I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.”[v]  

Habakkuk saw “burning coals” going forth from the Savior’s feet and Joseph Smith saw under the Savior’s feet “a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.” The brightness of the Savior’s countenance was described by both prophets. His presence affected the world around Him. In Habakkuk’s vision, the majesty of the Lord’s presence caused the mountains, the sun and moon to tremble or stand still in their habitation. Throughout the world, the Lord destroyed the wicked and sent forth salvation to His people, even salvation for His anointed.

In verse 15, Habakkuk referred to two miracles long remembered in Israelite history. First, the dividing of the Red Sea during the time of Moses and second, the dividing of the River Jordan when the ark crossed the river into the Promised Land during the time of Joshua. Habakkuk wrote: “Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses through the heap of great waters.”[vi] The Book of Joshua described the parting of the water with this description: “And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water… That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap….”[vii] Thus, the priests carrying the ark walked through the heap of great waters because of the Lord’s miraculous handiwork.

Habakkuk’s final statements illustrated his faith in the Lord. Even if his flocks are gone and his orchards and vineyards fail, Habakkuk would still be faithful to the Lord. Putting his thoughts into modern terms, even if he lost his job, lost his home, and lost all his money, yet he will “rejoice in the Lord, [he] will joy in the God of [his] salvation.”

His final words of praise are “the Lord God is my strength and he will make my feet like hinds feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”[viii]

So, why does Habakkuk use the symbol of hind’s feet for staying on God’s path? A hind is a female red deer which is swift, steady and sure-footed, even on treacherous ground or winding up strenuous paths. The Lord will strengthen Habakkuk to be swift, nimble, and agile in maneuvering through life’s challenges.[ix] And eventually, he will be set by the Lord upon the high place of the celestial kingdom.

Habakkuk’s poem describing his awe for the Lord reminds me of my favorite sacramental hymn, “I stand all amazed.” “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me; confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified; that for me a sinner he suffered, he bled and died.”[x]

Habakkuk saw the Lord and was awed by the experience to the point that the Lord became his inner strength, no matter what outwardly happened to him.

May we find joy in the Lord this week as we stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers each of us.

[i] C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, (1942), pp. 16-17.

[ii] Habakkuk 3:3-6

[iii] Shawn Brasseaux, How Can God Have Horns Coming Out of His Hand?, For What Saith the Scriptures,

[iv] Deuteronomy 33:2-3

[v] D&C 110:2-4

[vi] Habakkuk 3:15

[vii] Joshua 3:15-16

[viii] Habakkuk 3:18

[ix] Benson Commentary,

[x] Hymn # 193, I Stand All Amazed.

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