Habakkuk 1

Listen to Habakkuk 1
1 This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.
2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save.
3 Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.
4 The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.
5 The LORD replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.
7 They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like.
8 Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.
9 “On they come, all bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand.
10 They scoff at kings and princes and scorn all their fortresses. They simply pile ramps of earth against their walls and capture them!
11 They sweep past like the wind and are gone. But they are deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god.”
12 O LORD my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal— surely you do not plan to wipe us out? O LORD, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins.
13 But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery? Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they?
14 Are we only fish to be caught and killed? Are we only sea creatures that have no leader?
15 Must we be strung up on their hooks and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate?
16 Then they will worship their nets and burn incense in front of them. “These nets are the gods who have made us rich!” they will claim.
17 Will you let them get away with this forever? Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?

Habakkuk 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

The subject of this prophecy is the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem for the sins of the people, and the consolation of the faithful under national calamities.

The wickedness of the land. The fearful vengeance to be executed. (1-11) These judgments to be inflicted by a nation more wicked than themselves. (12-17)

Verses 1-11 The servants of the Lord are deeply afflicted by seeing ungodliness and violence prevail; especially among those who profess the truth. No man scrupled doing wrong to his neighbour. We should long to remove to the world where holiness and love reign for ever, and no violence shall be before us. God has good reasons for his long-suffering towards bad men, and the rebukes of good men. The day will come when the cry of sin will be heard against those that do wrong, and the cry of prayer for those that suffer wrong. They were to notice what was going forward among the heathen by the Chaldeans, and to consider themselves a nation to be scourged by them. But most men presume on continued prosperity, or that calamities will not come in their days. They are a bitter and hasty nation, fierce, cruel, and bearing down all before them. They shall overcome all that oppose them. But it is a great offence, and the common offence of proud people, to take glory to themselves. The closing words give a glimpse of comfort.

Verses 12-17 However matters may be, yet God is the Lord our God, our Holy One. We are an offending people, he is an offended God, yet we will not entertain hard thoughts of him, or of his service. It is great comfort that, whatever mischief men design, the Lord designs good, and we are sure that his counsel shall stand. Though wickedness may prosper a while, yet God is holy, and does not approve the wickedness. As he cannot do iniquity himself, so he is of purer eyes than to behold it with any approval. By this principle we must abide, though the dispensations of his providence may for a time, in some cases, seem to us not to agree with it. The prophet complains that God's patience was abused; and because sentence against these evil works and workers was not executed speedily, their hearts were the more fully set in them to do evil. Some they take up as with the angle, one by one; others they catch in shoals, as in their net, and gather them in their drag, their enclosing net. They admire their own cleverness and contrivance: there is great proneness in us to take the glory of outward prosperity to ourselves. This is idolizing ourselves, sacrificing to the drag-net because it is our own. God will soon end successful and splendid robberies. Death and judgment shall make men cease to prey on others, and they shall be preyed on themselves. Let us remember, whatever advantages we possess, we must give all the glory to God.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Greek version reads Look, you mockers; / look and be amazed and die. Compare Acts 13:41 .
  • [b]. Or Chaldeans.
  • [c]. Or leopards.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO HABAKKUK

This book is called, in the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, "the Prophecy of Habakkuk". Of this prophet, Aben Ezra and Kimchi say, we know neither his age nor his family; which shows they paid no regard to a tradition of their nation, mentioned by some of their ancient writers {a}, that he was the son of the Shunammite, whom Elisha raised from the dead; and find the etymology of his name in the words of the prophet to her, "about this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son", 2Ki 4:16 where the root of his name is used; and they account for the doubling of the last radical in his name, because of the two embraces of him, one by his mother, and the other by the prophet. His name indeed signifies "an embrace" {b}; or, as some, "an embracer" {c}; and the last letter being doubled, it is with others interpreted "the best embracer" {d}; to which name his character and conduct agree; who, in the most tender manner, embraced the people of God, as parents their children, and comforted them with the assurance of their preservation, notwithstanding their captivity, and with the promise of the Messiah's coming; suggesting to them they should live by faith, to which he led them the way by his own example, Hab 1:12 Hab 2:3,4, 3:17-19 but as this is placing him too early, to put him in the times of Elisha; so it is fixing him too late, to make him to be in the times of Daniel, and to feed him in the den of the lions, as Joseph ben Gorion {e}, and the author of the apocryphal book of Bel and the Dragon, say he did, which was after the Babylonish captivity was ended; whereas it is certain this prophet prophesied of it, and must have lived some time before it; for he speaks of the Chaldeans by name coming against the Jews, and carrying them captive, Hab 1:6,9. The learned Huetius {f}, and others, think there were two prophets of this name; one of the tribe of Simeon, who lived before the captivity; and another of the tribe of Levi, who lived after it. The Jewish chronologers {g} generally place this our prophet in the times of Manasseh; with which well enough agrees the description of the times the prophet lived in, given in Hab 1:2-4 though some think he lived in the latter times of Josiah {h}, or the beginning of Jehoiakim {i}; and it is probable he was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah, with whom he agrees in many things, and prophesied of the same. However, there is no room to doubt of the authority of this book, being always received by the Jewish church, and agreeing with other parts of Scripture, and especially with the prophecies of Jeremiah; and may be further confirmed and established by the quotations out of it in the New Testament, as Hab 1:5 in Ac 13:41 and Hab 2:4 in \Ro 1:17 Ga 3:11 Heb 10:38\. The general design of the prophecy is to comfort the people of God under the afflictions that were coming upon them, and to encourage them to the exercise of faith and patience, in the hope and view of the coming of the Messiah. Pseudo Epiphanius {k} says that Habakkuk died two years before the people of the Jews returned from Babylon, and was honourably buried in his own native place, which he says was Bethsocher, in the tribe of Simeon. With whom Isidore {l} agrees, as to the time of his death; but the place of his birth, he says, was Bethacat; and of his death, Sabarta. Sozomen {m} reports, that, in the days of Theodosius, the grave of Habakkuk was found in Cele, formerly the city Ceila. So Eusebius says it was shown at Kela, eight miles from Eleutheropolis; though, in another place, he says it was to be seen at Gabbatha, twelve miles from the same place; which may be reconciled, by observing that it might be between them both, and be seen from each, since they were places near to each other {n}. But the Cippi Hebraici {o} say it was at a place called Jakuk in Galilee, not far from Sephetta, where was an academy of the Jews; and this seems to agree with what Sanderson, a countryman of ours, as quoted by Van Till {p}, observes; that in his journey from Damascus to Jerusalem, between Sephet and Chapherchittin, he found a village, in which, the Jews report, Habakkuk the prophet dwelt and died, the name of which is Jeakoke. But these things are not to be depended on.

{a} Zohar in Gen. fol. 6. 3. Vid. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 12. 2. {b} qwqbx "amplexus", Hillerus; "amplexatio", Hieronymus. {c} "Amplexans", ibid. {d} "Optimus amplexator", Tarnovius. {e} Hist. Heb. l. 1. c. 11. p. 35, 36. {f} Demonstr. Evangel. Prop. 4. p. 284, 301. {g} Seder Olam Rabba, p. 55. Seder Olam Zuta, p. 105. Tzemach David, fol. 15. 1. Juchasin, fol. 12. 2. {h} Bedford's Scripture Chronology, p. 674. {i} Usher. Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3395. {k} De Prophet. Vit. & Interit. c. 18. {l} De Vit. & Mort. Sanct. c. 47. {m} Hist. Ecclesiast. l. 7. c. 29. {n} Vid. Reland. Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 772. {o} P. 63. Ed. Hottinger. {p} Habakkuk Illustratus, p. 214.

\\INTRODUCTION TO HABAKKUK 1\\

In this chapter, after the inscription, in which are the title of the book, the name and character of the writer, Hab 1:1, there is a complaint made by the prophet of his cry not being heard, and of salvation being deferred, which was long expected, Hab 1:2 and of the wickedness of the times he lived in; of iniquity and trouble, rapine and oppression, in general; and particularly of corruption in courts of judicature, in which there were nothing but strife and contention, a dilatoriness in proceedings at law, and justice was stopped and suppressed, Hab 1:3,4 then follows an answer to this, showing that some sore judgment, amazing and incredible, would soon be executed for such sins, Hab 1:5 that the Chaldeans would be raised up and sent against the Jews, and spoil them, and carry them captive; who are described by the cruelty of their temper and disposition; by the swiftness and fierceness of their cavalry; and by their derision of kings, princes, and strong holds; and by their victories and success, which they should impute to their idols, Hab 1:6-11 and then the prophet, in the name of the church, expresses his faith that the people of God, and his interest, would be preserved, and not perish in this calamity; which is urged from the eternity, holiness, faithfulness, and power of God, and from his design in this affliction, which was correction, and not destruction, Hab 1:12 and the chapter is closed with an expostulation of the prophet with God, in consideration of his purity and holiness; how he could bear with such a wicked nation as the Chaldeans, and suffer them to devour men as fishes, in an arbitrary way, that have no ruler; catch them in their net, and insult them, and ascribe all to their own power and prudence, and think to go on continually in this way, Hab 1:13-17.

Habakkuk 1 Commentaries