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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Habakkuk 2

 

 

Verses 1-20

Habakkuk 2:1. I will stand upon my watch. The ancient nations often had no great confidence in what is now called, The faith of treaties. The Israelites kept a watchman on the tower of Jezreel; others had towers, round towers, as is mostly their structure. Hence the gloss of certain rabbins, I will confine myself within a circle. I will not stir, nor be absent from my station. When the Roman general, Popilus, had his first interview with Antiochus, he drew a circle, and said to the king, you shall not leave this circle till you accept the conditions of peace which I offer in the name of the Roman people, or I will declare war against you.

Habakkuk 2:2. Write the vision, which Habakkuk saw while awake, watching and waiting for the Lord to disclose his pleasure. These visions were the emanations of the Word of Jehovah, unveiling futurity to the mind. Hence the holy prophets, on special occasions, watched and waited for them in the most hallowed abstractions of the mind. The prophet was commanded to write the vision on a full sheet of parchment, and like a placard, in fair hand and large characters, for the public eye, that all men might see light in the light of the Lord; see the tremendous invasion, the fall of Jerusalem, the pride of the conquerors, and the ultimate fall of Babylon, followed by the liberation of the jews. The assurance of the revelation made the prophet bold. “It shall speak and not lie.”

Habakkuk 2:4-5. His soul which is lifted up is not upright. The king of Assyria said, I will cut off nations not a few. He was intoxicated with the mania of conquest, as with wine. His desire of aggrandisement was enlarged as hell. The fire of ambition burns the more furiously for gratification.—Oh Zion, be not afraid. The just shall live by faith; a word of comfort applicable to the church through every future age.

Habakkuk 2:6. Take up a parable against him; even against Nebuchadnezzar, who, after the fall of Nineveh in the twenty ninth year of king Josiah, aspired at universal dominion. Woe to him that encreaseth wealth and dominion, not his own. The Medes shall rise up suddenly and vex thee. Where does history present us with a blazing conqueror whose wick has not expired with the fœtid effluvia of a candle? The Chaldean conquerors we know; the death of Cyrus is beclouded; that of Alexander was tragic in the midst of his days. We have seen one in our own times, who equalled them all in blood, close his career in St. Helena, doing penance for his sins.

Habakkuk 2:8. Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee. All the blood that thou hast shed shall be visited on the third and fourth generation of the Chaldeans. They were defeated on the plains of Babylon by Cyrus with tremendous slaughter; and Xenophon adds, that after Babylon was taken, the Persian cavalry paraded the city for three days, and lowered their hand to smite all they found in the streets. The first strokes of their arm fell on Belshazzar, and on his court, ere they had time to become sober.

Habakkuk 2:9. Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high. The pride of Babylon is four times reproved by the eagle who built her nest on the high summits of Lebanon. Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 49:16. Ezekiel 31:6. Obadiah 1:4. Pride must fall, and the plundered wealth of the poor is a canker. The wars of Babylon for aggrandisement and plunder, comprised the essence of every crime. The trembling nations had committed no aggression: existence was their only crime.

Habakkuk 2:11. The stone shall cry out of the wall. The ruins of cities and houses, wide as the Asiatic world, shall cry to heaven against thy injustice and cruelty; nor shall they cease from wailing, till her kingdom is numbered and finished.

Habakkuk 2:12. Woe to him who buildeth a town with blood. Nebuchadnezzar said, Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house, the palace, and metropolis of my kingdom, by the power of my might, and for the glory of my majesty? Daniel 4:30. He in a manner rebuilt Babylon, and replaced the brickwork of Semiramis with stone.—Herodotus.

Habakkuk 2:15. Woe to him that giveth his neighbour drink. Critics apply these words to the intrigue of the Chaldean court, which dazzled, beguiled, and intoxicated the nations into submission. Others think that Pharaoh-Hophra might be intended, who excited the kings of Judah to revolt. But the idea of exposing the weakness of the jewish state to contempt, does not apply to the king of Egypt.

REFLECTIONS.

We find our illustrious and eloquent watchman at his post. He watches for farther disclosures of divine wisdom. He writes the vision in large characters for public exposure, being assured that though delayed to the extreme periods of longsuffering, it should surely speak with the roaring of a lion, the terrors of invasion, and the excision of the Hebrew state. From this prophet, other watchmen may learn the lesson of vigilance and labour. In like manner also let us wait for the full accomplishment of every promise.

In the pride, the aggrandizement, and monopolies of Babylon, other characters, on a minor scale, may see their own portrait. Why does this courtier buy up the cottages of the poor? Why does he fare sumptuously, and daily indulge in wine? Why does this enterprising tradesman oppress his neighbours, to gain a villa and a carriage before he dies? He may not live to do it; and wealth gained with daily shades of extortion, will inspire the stones and timbers of his mansion with reproachful eloquence. Let good men prosper like the holy patriarchs, but never by unfair and reproachful means.

But the just shall live by faith. Precious words of comfort and hope, which comprise, according to some rabbins, the whole of the Mosaic law; Christ and his covenant, righteousness, and life. He who punishes proud and bloody-minded men, will clothe the righteous with salvation, and make their memory blessed.

Therefore our evangelical prophet, seeing the earth full of wars and blood, places Zion on the holy hill, where she might overlook the dark ages of tears, and see her Messiah filling the earth with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. These words from the eleventh of Isaiah, are a reference to the whole of that chapter; for the old testament, according to Pascal, is full of Christ. He will heal the nations, he will shame and destroy the idols of the gentiles, the dumb nothing, as Habakkuk 2:18 literally reads. He will silence the trumpet of war, that the people may renew their strength, in all the grace and glory of the latter day. Thus the prophet forgets his troubles in the sublimest of songs, which immediately follows.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Habakkuk 2:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/habakkuk-2.html. 1835.

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Friday, May 24th, 2019
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