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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Habakkuk

- Habakkuk

The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic
COMMENTARY
ON THE BOOKS OF THE
Minor Prophets


By the
REV. JAMES WOLFENDALE

Author of the Commentaries on Deuteronomy and Chronicles


NEW YORK

FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
LONDON AND TORONTO
1892

THE PREACHER’S
COMPLETE HOMILETIC
COMMENTARY
ON THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
WITH CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES, INDEXES, ETC., BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
ON
HABAKKUK

INTRODUCTION

THE PROPHET. We have nothing certain, but much apocryphal, concerning the life of Habakkuk. Delitzsch thinks that he was connected with the service of the temple, and belonged to the tribe of Levi. In his writings we find his name and the notice that he was a prophet.
THE DATE. There is considerable difference of opinion on this point. Some say in the first years of Manasseh, and others that he prophesied in the reign of Jehoiachin, about 608–604 B. C. Delitzsch fixes the twelfth or thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign, B. C. 630 or 629. “It is evident from the constant use of the future tense in speaking of the Chaldean desolations (Habakkuk 1:5-6; Habakkuk 1:12), that the prophet must have written before the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, which rendered Jehoiakim tributary to the king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:1), B. C. 606, yet it is equally clear from ch. Habakkuk 2:3, that the prophecy did not long precede the fulfilment; and as there seem to be no references to the reigns of Josiah or Jehoahaz (B. C. 609), and as the notices of the corruption of the period agree with the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, we cannot be far astray in assigning B. C. 608 as the appropriate date of this Book.”

THE CONTENTS. “The prophecy of Habakkuk is clothed in a dramatic form, man questioning and complaining, God answering with threatening. It announces, as nearest of all, the impending fearful judgment by the instrumentality of the Chaldeans on the theocracy because of its prevailing moral corruption (ch. 1); and next to this, in a fivefold woe, the downfall of this arrogant, violent, God-forgetting and idolatrous offender (ch. 2); and it concludes with the answer of the believing Church to this twofold Divine revelation—that is to say, with a prophetico-lyric echo of the impressions and feelings produced in the prophet’s mind” [Keil]. “The prominent vices of the Chaldean character, as delineated in Habakkuk 1:5-11, are made the subjects of separate denunciations: their insatiable ambition (Habakkuk 2:6-8), their covetousness (Habakkuk 2:9-11), cruelty (Habakkuk 2:12-14), drunkenness (Habakkuk 2:15-17), and idolatry (Habakkuk 2:18-20). The whole concludes with a magnificent psalm in ch. 3, ‘Habakkuk’s Pindaric Ode’ (Ewald), a composition unrivalled for boldness of conception, sublimity of thought, and majesty of diction.”

THE STYLE. In point of general style, Habakkuk is universally allowed to occupy a very distinguished place among the Hebrew prophets, and is surpassed by none of them in dignity and sublimity. Whatever he may occasionally have in common with previous writers he works up in his own peculiar manner, and is evidently no servile copyist or imitator. His figures are well chosen, and fully carried out. His expressions are bold and animated; his descriptions graphic and pointed. The parallelisms are for the most part regular and complete. The lyric ode contained in chapter 3 is justly esteemed one of the most splendid and magnificent within the whole compass of Hebrew poetry [Henderson]. “His figures are great,” says one, “happily chosen, and properly drawn out. His denunciations are terrible, his derision bitter, his consolation cheering. Instances occur of borrowed ideas (Habakkuk 3:19; comp. Psalms 18:34; Psalms 2:6; comp. Isaiah 14:7; Isaiah 2:14; comp. Isaiah 11:9); but he makes them his own in drawing them out in his peculiar manner. With all the boldness and fervour of his imagination, his language is pure and his verse melodious.” The Book completes the series of writings threatening judgments upon particular countries and cities opposed to God and his people. Obadiah prophesied against Edom, Jonah and Nahum against Nineveh, and Habakkuk against Babylon. The prophet looks back to the victories of Egypt, derives hope for the future, and closes with a sublime expression of faith in God. “Although the fig-tree shall not blossom,” the believer may “rejoice in the Lord.” The darker the outward circumstances, the greater the succour from God.