I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
I will stand upon my watch - i:e., watchpost. The prophets often compare themselves, awaiting the revelations of Yahweh with earnest patience, to watchmen on an eminence watching with intent eye all that comes within their view (Isaiah 21:8; Isaiah 21:11; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33:2-3 : cf. Psalms 5:3; Psalms 85:8). The watch-post is the withdrawal of the whole soul from earthly, and fixing it on heavily things. The accumulation of synonyms,
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see - implies persevering fixity of attention.
And will watch to see what he will say unto me - in answer to my complaints (Habakkuk 1:13). "Unto me" - literally, 'in me,' God speaking, not to the prophet's outward ear, but inwardly. When we have prayed to God, we must observe what answers God gives by His Word, His Spirit, and His providences.
And what I shall answer when I am reproved - what answer I am to make to the reproof which I anticipate from God on account of the liberty of my expostulation with Him. Maurer translates, 'What I am to answer in respect to my complaint against Yahweh' ().
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision - which I am about to reveal to thee.
And make it plain - just as God directed the law to be written, "Write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly" (Deuteronomy 27:8). In large legible characters.
Upon tables - boxwood tables covered with wax, on which national affairs were engraved with an iron pen, and then hung up in public, at the prophets' own houses, or at the temple, that those who passed might read them. Compare Luke 1:63, "a writing table" - i:e., a tablet.
That he may run that readeth it - commonly explained, 'so intelligible as to be easily read by any one running past;' but then it would be, 'that he that runneth may read it.' The true sense is, 'so legible that whoever readeth it may run to tell all whom he can the good news of the foe's coming doom and Judah's deliverance.' Compare Daniel 12:4, "many shall run to and fro" - namely, with the explanation of the prophecy, then unsealed; also Revelation 22:17, "Let him that heareth (the good news) say (to everyone within his reach), Come." "Run" is equivalent to announce the divine revelation (Jeremiah 23:21); as everyone who becomes informed of a divine message is bound to run - i:e., use all despatch to make it known to others (Henderson). Grotius, Ludovicus de Dieu, and Maurer interpret it: "Run" is not literal running, but 'that he who reads it may run through it' - i:e., read it at once without difficulty. This view accords well with the parallel words, "make it plain."
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
For - assigning the cause why it ought to be committed to writing: because its fulfillment belongs to the future.
The vision is yet for an appointed time - (Daniel 10:14; Daniel 11:27; Daniel 11:35, "Because it is yet for a time appointed"). Though the time appointed by God for the fulfillment be yet future, it should be enough for your faith that God hath spoken it (Lamentations 3:26, "It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord').
But at the end it shall speak - Maurer translates [yaapeeach], 'it pants for the end.' But the antithesis between "it shall speak" and "not lie" (i:e., not fail to speak) makes the English version the better rendering. So the Hebrew is translated, Proverbs 12:17. Literally, 'breathe out words,' 'break forth as a blast.' Moreover, the obvious parallelism between "yet for an appointed time," and "at the end," confirms the English version. Also, the phrase "at the end" is expressed by Daniel in an expanded form, "at the time of the end."
Though it tarry, wait for it - (Genesis 49:18, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord").
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
Behold, his soul which is lifted up - the Chaldean's soul (Maurer). The unbelieving Jew's soul (Henderson).
Is not upright in him - i:e., is not accounted upright in God's sight; in antithesis to "the just shall live." So Hebrews 10:38, which with inspired authority applies the general sense to the particular case which Paul had in view, "If any man draw back (one result of being "lifted up" with over-weening arrogancy), my soul shall hare no pleasure in him."
But the just shall live by his faith - the Jewish nation, as opposed to the unbelieving Chaldean (cf. Habakkuk 2:5, etc.; Habakkuk 1:6, etc., Habakkuk 1:13). (Maurer.) Henderson's view is, that the believing Jew is meant, as opposed to the unbelieving Jew (cf. Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). The believing Jew, though God's promise tarry, will wait for it; the unbelieving "draws back," as Hebrews 10:38 expresses it. The sense, in Maurer's view, which accords better with the context (Habakkuk 2:5, etc.) is, the Chaldean, though for a time seeming to prosper, yet being lifted up with haughty unbelief, is not upright - i:e., has no right stability of soul resting on God, to ensure permanence of prosperity (Habakkuk 1:11; Habakkuk 1:16, "Then shall his mind (the mind of the Chaldean elated with success) change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat):" hence, though for a time executing God's judgments, he at last becomes "lifted up" so as to attribute to his own power what is the work of God, and in this sense "draws back" (Hebrews 10:38), becoming thereby a type of all backsliders, who thereby incur God's displeasure; as the believing Jew is of all who wait for God's promises with patient faith, and so "live" (stand accepted and continue accepted, walking in the righteousness which is by faith) before God. The Hebrew accents induce Bengel to translate, 'he who is just by his faith, shall live." Other manuscripts read the accents as the English version, which agrees better with the Hebrew syntax. For [ tsadiyq (Hebrew #6662)] is the nominative absolute, therefore [ be'
Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people: Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine - additional reason why the Jews may look for God punishing their Chaldean foe-namely, "because he transgresseth by wine."
He is a proud man - rather, this clause continues the reason for the Jews expecting the punishment of the Chaldeans, "because he transgresseth by wine (a besetting sin of Babylon, cf. , and Curtius 5: 1), being a proud man." Love of wine often begets a proud contempt of divine things, as in Belshazzar's case, which was the immediate cause of the fall of Babylon (Daniel 5:2-4; Daniel 5:30; cf. Proverbs 20:1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise"). Prosperity also often leads to pride (Proverbs 30:9; Proverbs 31:5).
Who enlargeth his desire as hell - the grave, or the unseen world, which is "never full" (Proverbs 27:20; Proverbs 30:16; Isaiah 5:14). The Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar were filled with an insatiable desire of conquest. Another reason for their punishment.
Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!
Shall not all these - the "nations" and "peoples" (Habakkuk 2:5) "heaped unto him" by the Chaldean.
Take up a parable - a derisive song. Habakkuk follows Isaiah (Isaiah 14:4) and Micah (Micah 2:4) in the phraseology.
Against him - when dislodged from his former eminence.
Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! The 'derisive song' here begins, and continues to the end of the chapter. It is a symmetrical whole, and consists of five stanzas, the three first consisting of three verses each, the fourth of four verses, and the last of two. Each stanza has its own subject, and all except the last begin with "Woe;" and all have a closing verse introduced with "for," "because," or "but."
How long? - how long is he destined to retain his ill-gotten gains? But for a short time, as his speedily coming fall proves (Maurer). 'Covetousness is the greatest bane to men. For they who invade others' goods often lose even their own' [Pleonexia megiston anthroopois kakon, etc.] (Menander). Calvin makes "how long" to be the cry of those groaning under the Chaldean oppression while it still lasted-How long shall such oppression be permitted to continue? But it is plainly part of the derisive song, after the Chaldean tyranny had passed away.
And to him that ladeth himself with thick clay - namely, gold and silver dug out of the "clay" of which they are a part. The covetous man, in heaping them together, is only lading himself with a clay burden, as he dares not enjoy them, and is always anxious about them. Lee and Fuller translate the Hebrew [ `abTiyT (Hebrew #5671), from `aabaT (Hebrew #5670), to give a pledge] as a reduplicated single noun (the reduplication intensifying the sense of the simple word), and not two words, 'an accumulation of pledges' (). The Chaldean is compared to a harsh usurer, and his ill-gotten treasures to heaps of pledges in the hands of an usurer. The Syriac and Vulgate versions, and the Rabbis, support the English version. Ten of Kennicott's MSS. read two words, which would necessitate the English version.
Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
Shall they not rise up suddenly - the answer to the question, "how long?" (Habakkuk 2:6).
That shall bite thee - "bite" [ naashak (Hebrew #5391)], often used of usury, so favouring Lee's rendering (Habakkuk 2:6). As the Chaldean, like an usurer, oppressed others, so other nations shall, like usurers, take pledges of, i:e., spoil, him.
Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
Because though hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee - "the remnant of the people" - those remaining of the peoples spoiled by thee, though but a remnant-will suffice to inflict vengeance on thee.
For the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein - i:e., on account of thy violent oppression of the lands and cities of the earth (Grotius). (Compare ; Habakkuk 2:12.) The same phrase occurs in Habakkuk 2:17, where the "land" and "city" are Judea and Jerusalem.
Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!
Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness - i:e., a covetousness so surpassingly evil as to be fatal to himself. To his house - greedily seizing enormous wealth, not merely for himself, but for his family, to which it is destined to be fatal. The very same "evil covetousness" that was the cause of Jehoiakim's being given up to the Chaldean oppressor (Jeremiah 22:13, "Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong," etc.; Jeremiah 22:17, "Thine eyes, and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness") shall be the cause of the Chaldean's own destruction.
That he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil - (Numbers 24:21, "Thou (the Kenite) puttest thy nest in a rock;" Jeremiah 49:16; Obadiah 1:4, "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord"). The image is from an eagle (Job 39:27). The royal citadel is meant. The Chaldean built high towers, like the Babel-founders, to "be delivered from the power of evil" (Genesis 11:4).
Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.
Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people. Maurer, more literally, 'Thou hast consulted shame to thy house (namely) to destroy many' - i:e., in consulting (determining) to cut off many thou, hast consulted shame to thy house: 'to cut off' follows in construction "thou hast consulted," or 'determined.'
And hast sinned against thy soul - i:e., against thyself: thou art the guilty cause of thine own ruin (Proverbs 8:36; Proverbs 20:2, "Whose provoketh him, (the king) to anger, sinneth against his own soul"). They who wrong their neighbours do much greater wrong to their own souls.
For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
For the stone shall cry out of the wall. Personification. The very stones of thy palace, built by rapine, shall testify against thee (Luke 19:40).
And the beam out of the timber - the cross-beam or main rafter connecting the timbers in the walls.
Shall answer it - "it," namely, the stone. The stone shall begin, and the cross-beam continue the cry against thy rapine.
Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!
Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood - namely, Babylon, rebuilt and enlarged by blood-bought spoils (cf. Daniel 4:30).
Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?
Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts. Yahweh, who has at command all the hosts of heaven, and earth, is the righteous Author of Babylon's destruction. 'Shall not God have His turn, when cruel rapacious men have triumphed so long, though He seem now to be still?' (Calvin.)
That the people shall labour in the ... fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? - the Chaldeans labour at what is to be food for the fire-namely, their city and fortresses, which shall be burnt. Jeremiah 51:58 adopts the same phraseology to express the vanity of the Chaldean's labour on Babylon, as doomed to the flames.
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Adopted from Isaiah 11:9, with the difference that Isaiah's phrase, "the knowledge of the Lord," is, by the Holy Spirit in Habakkuk, expanded into "the knowledge of the glory of the Lord," Here the sense is, 'The Jews shall be restored, and the temple rebuilt, so that God's glory, in saving His people and punishing their Chaldean foe, shall be manifested throughout the world,' of which the Babylonian empire formed the greatest part; a type of the ultimate full manifestation of His glory in the final salvation of Israel and His Church, and the destruction of all their foes, and the setting up on earth of His world-wide and glorious kingdom (Revelation 11:15).
As the waters cover the sea - namely, the bottom of the sea-the sea bed.
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him - literally, skin, as the Easterns use "bottles" of skin for wine; Maurer, after Menochius, and the versions of Aquila and Symmachus, from a different Hebrew root [ ch
Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD's right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.
Thou art filled with shame - now that thou art fallen. "Thou art filled" indeed (though so insatiable), but it is "with shame."
Shame for glory - instead of thy former glory (Hosea 4:7, "As they were increased, so they sinned against me, therefore will I change their glory into shame."
Drink thou also - the cup of sorrow is now in thy turn to pass to thee (, etc.; Lamentations 4:21).
Let thy foreskin be uncovered - expressing in Hebrew feeling the most utter contempt. So of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:36, "this uncircumcised, Philistine"). It is not merely thy "nakedness," as in Habakkuk 2:15, that shall be "uncovered," but the foreskin, the badge of thy being an uncircumcised alien from God. The same shall be done to thee as thou didst to others, and worse.
The cup of the Lord's right hand shall be turned unto thee - literally, shall turn itself, namely, from the nations whom thou hast made to drink it. 'Thou shalt drink it all, so that it may be turned, as being drained' (Grotius).
And shameful spewing shall be on thy glory - "spewing," i:e., vomiting-namely, that of the King of Babylon, compelled to disgorge the spoil he had swallowed. It expresses also the ignominious state of Babylon in its calamity (Jeremiah 25:27, "Be drunken, and spue, and fall"). Less appropriately, it is explained of the foe spewing in the face of the Babylonian king.
For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
For the violence of Lebanon - thy "violence" against "Lebanon" - i:e., Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:24; Jeremiah 22:23. "O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars;" Ezekiel 17:3; Ezekiel 17:12, "A great eagle ... came unto Lebanon" - explained, 'the King of Babylon came to Jerusalem;' for Lebanon's cedars were used in building the temple and houses of Jerusalem, and its beauty made it a fit type of the metropolis), shall fall on thine own head.
Shall cover thee - i:e., shall completely overwhelm thee.
And the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid. "Which" is not in the Hebrew, but is supplied in the English version. Maurer explains, 'the spoiling inflicted on the beasts of Lebanon (i:e., on the people of Jerusalem, of which city "Lebanon" is the type), which made them afraid' (shall cover thee). But it seems inappropriate to compare the elect people to "beasts." I therefore prefer explaining 'the spoiling of beasts' - i:e., such as is inflicted on beasts caught in a net, and 'which makes them afraid' (shall cover thee). Thus the Babylonians are compared to wild beasts terrified at being caught suddenly in a net. In cruel rapacity they resembled wild beasts. The ancients read, 'the spoiling of wild beasts (the Medes and Persians, who were cruel warriors) shall make THEE afraid' [ y
What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?
What profiteth the graven image ... The powerlessness of the idols to save Babylon from its doom is a fitting What profiteth the graven image ... The powerlessness of the idols to save Babylon from its doom is a fitting introduction to the last stanza (Habakkuk 2:19), which, as the former four, begins with "Woe."
The molten image, and a teacher of lies - its priests and prophets uttering lying oracles, as if from it.
That the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Though men can "make" idols, they cannot make them to speak.
Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake - arise to my help.
To the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! - rather, an exclamation of the prophet, implying an ironical question, to which a negative answer must be given. What! 'It teach?' Certainly not (Maurer). Or, 'It (the idol itself) shall
(i:e., ought to) teach you that at is deaf, and therefore no god' (Calvin). (Compare "they are their own witnesses," Isaiah 44:9)
Behold - the Hebrew is nominative. 'There it is' (Henderson).
It is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it - outside it has some splendour, within none.
But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
But the Lord - Yahweh; in striking contrast with the idols.
Is in his holy temple - "His place" (Isaiah 26:21, "Behold, the Lord cometh out of His place), heaven (Psalms 11:4, "The Lord is in His holy temple;" Jonah 2:7; Micah 1:2). The temple at Jerusalem is a type of it, and there God is to be worshipped. He does not lie hid under gold and silver, as the idols of Babylon, but reigns in heaven, and fills heaven, and thence succours His people.
Let all the earth keep silence - in token of reverent submission and subjection to His judgments (Job 40:4; Psalms 76:8, "Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still;" Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 2:13).
(1) The true attitude of the servant of God, when he is in perplexity and doubt concerning the dealings of God's providence, is to stand in patient waiting on God, until He is pleased to dissipate all mists by the clear manifestation of Himself to the soul. After we have prayed to God we must not unbelievingly forget to be on the watch for the answer; but with all earnestness observe thoughtfully what answers God gives us by His Providence, His Word, and His Holy Spirit.
(2) No praying, waiting soul is ever left without an answer of peace soon or late. The petition may be put off for long, but it will be granted at last. So God answered the watching prophet, directing him to write the vision which was now about to be revealed, so plainly that the reader might at once decipher and understand it. The minister or layman who desires to impart the Word of God to others ought to "use great plainness of speech" (2 Corinthians 4:12). Moreover, he who has received from the Spirit in his own soul the joyful message of reconciliation with God, and deliverance from all spiritual enemies, should lose no time in clearly delivering the same good news to all around him.
(3) As the fulfillment is still future, and reserved for the "appointed time" (Habakkuk 2:3), it has been preserved for the good of the Church in the written Word, instead of being subjected to the risks necessarily attending oral tradition. Though the event be distant, it is enough for the assurance of faith to know that God hath "spoken" it, and that therefore it cannot "lie." The believer in calm confidence waits for it, however long it may seem to "tarry." Really the Lord's coming for the deliverance of His people from all their foes does not tarry, but will "surely come," without the delay of a moment beyond the time required for the ripening of God's all-wise, all-loving plans. It would be no real gain of time to cut down the harvest before the full grain in the ear is ripe. Nor will the Lord come, and the heavenly reapers thrust in their sickle, until at the world's great harvest, the fruit of the godly shall have been all brought to maturity. To do so prematurely would be to retard, not to hasten the blessed consummation (Matthew 13:28-30; Mark 4:28-29).
(4) Undue "lifting up" of the "soul" tends to "drawing back" in the religious walk (Habakkuk 2:4). "Faith" is the only principle whereby any man can be accounted "just" before God. From first to last, salvation is of grace, not of works. The soul, instead of being "lifted up," must be abased to the dust, before the life of faith can begin. So also, in the continued walk of the child of God, the only guarantee of a fruitful life, and of perseverance unto the end, is that he cast away all self-sufficiency, and "live" spiritually by faith alone.
(5) Proud contempt of others, and insatiable covetousness, are sure, as in the case of the Chaldean invaders, to bring down at last the vengeance of God (Habakkuk 2:5). Unjust increase of gains ends in "woe" (Habakkuk 2:6). They who defraud others of their possessions shall ere long loss their own. Meanwhile, what avails their gain? They are only loading themselves "with thick clay" (Habakkuk 2:6). They are becoming more earthy. Clogged with the thick day which they make their chief good, they find their journey through life the more anxious and wearisome. While they wrong their neighbour, they do an infinitely greater wrong to their own souls (Habakkuk 2:10); and, while "consulting" their own glory, they bring on themselves everlasting "shame."
(6) Often even in this life the biter is bitten, and the spoiler spoiled by those who have suffered by his injustice, or violence (). Then, too, "covetousness" proves a deadly "evil," not only to the covetous man himself, but also to his house. The idolater of mammon fancies he can "set his nest" so "high" as to be beyond "the power of evil." But the castle which in imagination he builds proves as vain as the tower of Babel did to its impious builders. The very wealth which he accumulates in selfishness testifies and "cries out" against him before God (Habakkuk 2:11). The hand of "the Lord of hosts" is plainly marked in the way in which the service of the world is made its own punishment. No slavery can be a harder drudgery than that of those who "labour and weary themselves for" what proves to be mere a "vanity" (Habakkuk 2:13). The highest aims of the mere worldling end not only in disappointment, but in the awful "fire" which never is quenched. "Riches profit not in the day of wrath; but righteousness delivereth from death" (Prov. 11:41 ; and "whose hearkeneth unto the Lord shall be quiet from fear of evil" (Proverbs 1:33).
(7) Whereas all earthly glory is transitory, "the glory of the Lord" is abiding, and the day is coming soon when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of" it. Then shall all Babylon-like violence and wrong cease, and the "peace" of Israel and of the Church shall be "as a river," and their "righteousness as the waves of the sea" (Isaiah 48:18).
(8) A special woe is pronounced on them who not only drink themselves, but put the bottle to their neighbour, so as to "look on" his shame (Habakkuk 2:15). This woe also applies to those who tempt others to participate in the intoxication of sin of any kind whatsoever-covetousness, lust, or ambition. All sin brings with it its own retribution. They who commit "violence" shall suffer "violence" (Habakkuk 2:17): they who do deeds of "shame" shall be put to eternal shame (Habakkuk 2:16).
(9) All idolatry convicts its dupes of the profitless nature of their "trust" (Habakkuk 2:18). But the Lord "Yahweh, in His holy temple" above, is the sure confidence of His people. They have continual access to Him there through Christ, who is exalted by the right hand of the Father, and who ever liveth to make intercession for us. "Let all the earth keep silence" in reverent submission to His will and His judgments.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Habakkuk 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Easter