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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 1

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-4

CHART I

HABAKKUK

The Book Describes:

a) The Chaldean Invasion of Judah. b) The Doom of the Chaldeans. c) That "the Just Shall Live By Faith."

Chronology of That Era Involves:

639-608 B.C. King Josiah, Great Reformation, and Zephaniah. 626 B.C. Scythian Army Weakens Assyria. 625 B.C. Babylon Declared Independence from Assyria. 608 B.C. Jehoiakom Carried to Egypt After 3 Months Reign. 607 or 12 (?) B.C. Nineveh destroyed by Babylonians. 606 B.C. Babylonians Invaded, Took Captives of Judah’s Leaders. 605 B.C. Egypt’s Defeat by Babylonians at Carchemish. 597 B.C. Jehoiachin Taken to Babylon After 3 Months Reign. 597-586 B.C. Zedekiah A Weak, Wicked King of Judah, Taken to Babylon. 586 B.C. Jerusalem Burned, Land Laid Desolate.

CHART II

HABAKKUK ---DIALOGUE and PRAISE

I. The First Dialogue, (ch. 1:1-11). a) His Complaint of God’s Indifference to Sin. b) Jehovah’s Reply That Chaldea Was An Instrument He Would Use to Correct Judah.

II. The Second Dialogue, (ch. 1:12-2:20). a) Habakkuk’s Complaint of God’s Use of a Wicked Nation. b) Jehovah’s Reply That Chaldea Would Also Be Judged.

III. Prayer, Praise, and Peace Proclaimed, (ch. 3:1-19). a) Prayer. b) Praise. c) Peace.

HABAKKUK

WHO SPEAKS?

This prophecy was spoken and written by Divine Inspiration, mandate, the revelation from God, through a prophet named Habakkuk, Habakkuk 1:1; 1 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The name Habakkuk means "to embrace with affection." Of his place of-birth, residence, or personal life, nothing is known, beyond what is found in this book. He is known as the prophet of faith, of which considerable is said in the New Testament, Paul, himself, quoted Habakkuk 2:4 three times, affirming that the "just should live by faith," Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38.

TO WHOM?

The prophecy was addressed to Judah, the southern kingdom of the nation of Israel, whom the Chaldeans took captive; While the Assyrians took the northern 10 tribes of the nation of Israel captive.

ABOUT WHAT?

The prophecy concerned the coming captivity of Judah, the southern kingdom of the nation of Israel. Of the nine prophets of the pre-exile era, Habakkuk alone was more concerned that the holiness, and justice, and glory of God be vindicated in all his acts, than that the nation escape chastisement for her adamant idolatry and immoral and unethical behavior, Habakkuk 1:6. Though these wicked deeds, he prophesied, incited God to send the Chaldeans upon them.

WHEN?

The prophecy of Habakkuk seems to have been about 625-606 B.C., shortly before the southern kingdom of Israel, Judah, was invaded by the Chaldeans. Evidence seems to indicate that he prophesied during the reign of the selfish, Godless, tyrannical king Jehoiakim.

WHAT WAS THE OCCASION?

God called Habakkuk to declare His Holiness and justice in character, as consistent with His judgment upon His own people for their idolatry and pantheism. Though the prophet expressed perplexity at God’s delay of chastisement and revelation of His coming restoration of Israel to himself, for his oath-covenants’ sake, his faith in God was unwavering, Habakkuk 3:17-19.

HABAKKUK - CHAPTER 1

Verses 1-4:

Introduction and Prayer For Dispersed Israel

This chapter expresses Habakkuk’s complaint to God that His own nation Israel should be destroyed by a more wicked nation, Chaldea. Habakkuk could not see the justice of such a thing. But God explained, in reply, that He Himself had a righteous purpose in the terrorizing Chaldean conquests of Judah.

Verse 1 declares this book to be "the burden" that Habakkuk envisioned from God. The Hebrew word (massa) means a heavy, weighty or emotionally grievous thing to bear. It was heavy or grievous for Judah to bear or endure, as well as grievous for Habakkuk to lay on the people by prophecy, an unwelcome and unappreciated message, as a message of chastisement usually is, to a person, city, or nation, Isaiah 13:1.

Verse 2 is a direct address of Habakkuk to the Lord; He laments, cries, or complains that because of violent wickedness against his people Israel, by the Chaldeans, he is requesting the Lord’s help. His near despairing cry calls for the Lord to explain to him how long that they must endure the oppression before He saves or delivers them from waves of tyranny by their enemies, Proverbs 1:31; Jeremiah 12:1; Jeremiah 20:8; Job 19:7-8. Israel had gone too far, as a nation, to avoid a time of national judgment, Jeremiah 14:10-12; Jeremiah 11:14.

Verse 3 continues the lament or complaint of Habakkuk against the Lord, for His delay in responding to his prayer, and that of Israel. Since God would not sanction sin and violence in Israel, Habakkuk, asks just why God will permit heathen to inflict iniquity and violence on his own people, before the eyes of this prophet, Numbers 23:21. Now Israel, under this state of Chaldean oppression and violence could not exercise legal Mosaic rights in the land, as their properties were seized and expropriated by force and perversion.

Verse 4 concludes Habakkuk’s file of complaints against the Lord, as he expressed the emotions of the now oppressed Israelites to God. The law of Moses was slacked, could no longer be administered, had lost its force and influence, because of their idolatry and the plundering bands of Chaldean oppressors. The wicked, unrighteously, unjustly sentenced the righteous, without judicial justice throughout the land, continually. This is much like David’s forlorn cry to the Lord against his. enemies. Psalms 13:1-4; to Habakkuk and Israel, it seemed that God had almost abandoned them forever, as He later did Babylon, Isaiah 13:19-22.

Verses 5-11

God’s Response To Habakkuk And Israel

Verses 5-11:

Verse 5 begins God’s call for His prophet and people to take their time, pause, and behold what He was about to do to their enemies, the heathen; Who oppressed them for so long, among the nations, for a full 70 years in Babylon, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12, as fulfilled, recognized, and explained, Daniel 9:1-2. God asserts that He would work a work, or do a deed among them, in their days, while dispersed among the Gentiles, or nations, that they would not believe, though it was told to them. This seems to allude to the coming of Jesus Christ and their rejection of Him as the Redeemer, Deuteronomy 28:64-67; Acts 13:37-41.

Verse 6 asserts that God would (raise up), use as servants of His. judgment against Israel, the Chaldeans who would be a bitter and hasty, fast moving, rapacious nation to sweep through all their land, seizing their houses, lands, and valuables as possessions of prey, booty for the warriors and leaders of Chaldea, as recounted 2 Kings chs. 24, 25. The invasion was to be cruel, rash, and impetuous, without mercy, a bitter chastisement to endure, Judges 18:25; 2 Samuel 17:8; 2 Chronicles 26:6; Isaiah 23:13.

Verse 7 describes the Chaldeans as terrible and dreadful in judgment, and seeking no council in executing judgment. They framed a form of government that provided their own standard of dignity for themselves and servitude toward the captives of Israel. The rights of individuals were ignored by the covetous Chaldeans, who fattened themselves on the misery of the Israelites, as they made them become peons or slaves, Proverbs 28:20-22.

Verse 8 compares the movement of the Chaldean horses in battle against Israel as being swifter than leopards that leap 17 to 18 feet at a jump, and more fierce, vicious, or voracious than starving wolves that hastily ravage the flocks, as early night fall comes, Genesis 49:27; Jeremiah 5:6. Like the flight of an eagle, with no seeming exhaustion, their armies would sweep over all Israel, plundering, pillaging, and ravishing the land and people, as further described, Jeremiah 4:13; Jeremiah 48:40; Lamentations 4:19; Zephaniah 3:3.

Verse 9 warns that the Chaldeans would come against Israel for violent purposes, not to show mercy or administer justice; For Israel’s leaders had been ignoring these virtues, required in the law, even to her own people. The people of Israel were to be sucked up, herded together, and whisked away into the land of Babylon, like an east wind, or tornado sucks up or swallows the sand in a desert. Israel had sown to the wind, and was to reap from the whirlwind or tornado of Divine retribution, for her sins, Job 39:24; Isaiah 27:8.

Verse 10 prophesies that with scoffing and scorn, the Chaldeans would inflict humiliation upon the kings, princes, and leaders of Israel, deriding them at every fortification, mound or stronghold, as they overcame and destroyed them, one by one, taking these leaders of Israel into bondage, heaping the dust of humiliation upon them; As they laughed at them in their calamity and fall, much as God does and will laugh at those who willfully reject Him, His Son, and His calls to salvation and holy service, Proverbs 1:22-32; 2 Samuel 20:15;2 Kings 19:32.

Verse 11 suggests that he (the king of Chaldea) shall then, having swept over all Israel, captured her chief leaders, seized their residences and wealth, plundered the land, and taken many of the Israelites slaves to march back to Babylon, will pass over, return with his armies’ booty, to Babylon and offend the true God in two ways: First, by his cruel, inhumane treatment of Israel, and Second by his attributing his success in battle to his Babylonian god, Bel or Murdock, Proverbs 16:18; Daniel 5:4; Job 12:6; Micah 2:1.

Verses 12-17

Habakkuk’s Response To The Revelation From God, His Second Complaint

Verses 12-17:

Verse 12 begins Habakkuk’s rhetoric inquiry of the Lord regarding what he has heard from Him. You are from everlasting, O my God, my Holy One, aren’t you? He inquired, suggesting an affirmed conclusion. You have ordained or set in order, fixed judgment for our enemies, haven’t you? He continued in direct address to the Lord, His Lord, Isaiah 37:23. As a mighty God, Habakkuk asserted that he believed God had surely set Israel’s heathen enemies to receive correction, as they corrected Israel, Deuteronomy 32:4.

Verse 13 renews Habakkuk and Israel’s complaint and lament against God for looking upon, holding His tongue, beholding the evil the Chaldeans are inflicting, and about to inflict, upon His chosen people Israel, without stopping them. Habakkuk insists that Israel, though backslidden and disobedient, is not as bad as the Chaldeans. Two bad apples need not argue over which is the worst. Two infections, contagiously diseased, quarantined people need find no relief or release in contending which is the worst, see? Two wrongs never equal one right. The Chaldeans, once allies of Israel, are now her bitter enemies, Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 24:16; See also Psalms 73:11-17; Ezekiel 16:51-52.

Verse 14 complains or confesses that God has left His chosen people, to the consequence of their own sins, to reap what they have sown, as defenseless against their enemies, as fish in the open sea, with no defender, and as creeping things upon the earth, without any limbs for quick movement from predators. Their care­taking God had now forsaken them, abandoned them to punishment, but not without justifiable warning, Deuteronomy 28:15-41. These things were written for our admonition, and blessed are those who are admonished by them, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

Verse 15 describes the cruel judgment of the Chaldeans against Israel, as similar to that of a fisherman that seizes his fish by throw nets and drag nets in the open places and the shoals, exulting in his catch. They shall seize the people of Israel and their property as prey and booty, without mercy or moderation, as described v. 11.

Verse 16 asserts that these Assyrians will make their armored equipment objects of sacrificial worship and incense burning, as Gentile heathen fishermen did their nets of all kinds. For by them they were fed, or made fat, with a bounty of meat. They idolized themselves for their military arms, power, and skills, to which they attributed their victories, not to the true God, Deuteronomy 18:17; Isaiah 10:13.

Verse 17 asks whether or not God will continue to permit the Chaldeans to spread their net, prey upon Israel any further, without interrupting their violence and cruelty. Since they attribute their success in battle to their own genius, the prophet expressed bewilderment at God’s delay in cutting off these Chaldean armed bands. God’s answer is given, ch. 2; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Psalms 74:22.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/habakkuk-1.html. 1985.
 
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