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by Matthew Poole
The prophecy of Habakkuk seems to be an exact stating of that perplexed case, touching the seeming unequalness of the proceedings of God in the government of the world, in which the good suffer evil, and the evil rejoice in prosperity; the more righteous are afflicted, and the more unrighteous prosper; nay, the worst domineer over the best, among men. This case baffled the wise among philosophers, and it much troubled David and Jeremiah, Psalms 73:2-3, &c.; Jeremiah 12:1-2; and hath ever been matter of some wonder. to the best and wisest of men, as here it was to Habakkuk, who lived in the times of great impieties against God, and of great injustice amongst men. It is most probable he lived and prophesied in the days of Manasseh, when the wicked devoured the man that was more righteous than himself; and this is the subject of his complaint, Habakkuk 1:1-4. Those grievous sins which then abounded, he declareth shall be punished by the Chaldeans, at which he again wondereth: it grieveth him to see, in Judah, the best afflicted by the worst; and it is as much grief to him to foresee the wicked nation of the Chaldeans prosper in the ruins of a more righteous nation, (from the 5th to the 11th verse of the first chapter,) which God commandeth him to foretell. On this he proposeth the case expressly, from verse 12 to the end of the chapter, and which God resolveth for him in the second chapter, where the sins of Judah and the sins of the Chaldeans are enumerated, and at once both are threatened with punishment; when the Chaldeans have punished Judah's sins, the Medes and Persians shall punish the same sins in the Chaldeans. In all which the unspotted righteousness and the admirable wisdom of God is seen, in the government of his church, chastised for her sins against God; and in his government of the world, sinning highly against God, and with greater wickedness acting the same or worse things than those for which by their means God had before punished his church. In fine, the prophet, with steady faith and fervent prayer, addresseth to God, and in most elegant manner recounting God's mercy and faithfulness to his people, Habakkuk 3:0, leaves it both a foundation to our hope and pattern for our practice. He doth resolve, as we should, to wait for, rejoice in, and submit to the Lord, in greatest distresses and darkness of providence. An excellent subject for our meditations at this day, as well as in the days of our prophet, whose name seems to imply his wrestlings with these difficulties, or his laying hold, embracing of God; our safest course in such circumstances being to adhere to God. We can but guess at the time of his prophesying, and that we think is rather in the time of Manasseh, than of Hezekiah, or Josiah, though possibly he might live and be a prophet in the first part of Josiah's reign. What tribe or what family he was of we pretend not to tell you, since we cannot pretend to know; but we are sure he was not the pretended messenger that carried a mess of broth out of Judea into Babylon, for Daniel's dinner; and we think it a wonder any thinking man should now believe it, as it would at that day have been, if really done.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17