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Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
Habakkuk 2

 

 

Verses 1-8

The Introduction and the First Woe

v. 1. I will stand upon my watch, as an observer on a solitary height, and set me upon the tower, on the pinnacle of a fortress, where he would have an unobstructed view and could prepare his soul to receive the word and testimony of God, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, in an inner revelation, and what I shall answer when I am reproved, literally, "to my complaint," how he would satisfy himself and others by the answer of Jehovah.

v. 2. And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision, what would be shown him in this revelation, and make it plain upon tables, the writing. tablets on which he should engrave its contents, that he may run that readeth it, so that every one passing by, even hastily, would be able to read it quickly.

v. 3. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, it awaits its fulfillment in the future, but nevertheless in a fixed period, but at the end it shall speak and not lie, like the predictions of the false prophets. Though it tarry, wait for it, not becoming foolishly impatient, because it will surely come, it will not tarry, not be postponed beyond the time fixed for its fulfillment.

v. 4. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him, that is, the conqueror is puffed up, he is not sincere in his attitude over against God; but the just shall live by his faith, that is, he who relies on God's merciful promises in the Gospel would, and does, by this confidence, receive eternal life as a gift of God. Cf Rom_1:17; Gal_3:11.

v. 5. Yea, also, because he transgresseth by wine, rather, "and, moreover, wine is treacherous," not bringing those who are addicted to it life and power, as it seems to promise, but unhappiness and destruction; he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, the tendency of the Chaldeans in this respect being known, who enlargeth his desire as hell, in an insatiable greed, and is as death and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, as vassals and captives and slaves, and heapeth unto him all people, collecting them under his scepter;

v. 6. shall not all these take up a parable against him, a proverbial saying, and a taunting proverb, a satirical speech or sententious poem, against him and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! as the Babylonian conqueror did in this instance. How long? that is, How long could this still last?. and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! rather, "and loads upon himself a burden of pledges gained by usury. " "The Chaldean is compared to a harsh usurer and his ill-gotten treasures to heaps of pledges in the hands of a usurer. "

v. 7. Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, the Hebrew having a play upon words between the bite of a snake and the interest which the usurer demands, and awake that shall vex thee? rather, "and those who shake thee violently," as a creditor might shake a debtor in driving him out of his possession, "wake up,". and thou shalt be for booties unto them? so that they would, in turn, plunder.

v. 8. Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people, either those who were left after being spoiled, or those who had not yet been subjugated, shall spoil thee; because of men's blood, as shed by the Chaldeans, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein, the entire nation being guilty of such wickedness upon the various countries conquered by the Chaldeans, especially Judea and Jerusalem.


Verses 9-20

The Four Remaining Woes

v. 9. Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, who accumulates the gain of wickedness for his house, seeking to establish his house by unrighteous, wicked methods, that he may set his nest on high, secure against every form of attack, as the Chaldean did, that he may be delivered from the power of evil, considering himself safe against every form of misfortune.

v. 10. Thou hast consulted shame to thy house, for the Chaldean's counsel, as outlined in the preceding verse, was bound to bring disgrace upon him, by cutting off many people, the plan to bring about the destruction of many nations being the reason for the Lord's judgment upon Babylonia, and hast sinned against thy soul, transgressing in such a way as to forfeit his life.

v. 11. For the stone shall cry out of the wall and the beam out of the timber, the spar out of the woodwork, shall answer it, agreeing with the stone in its charge against the builder on account of the crimes committed in building the city.

v. 12. Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood! with blood-bought spoils, as Babylon was built, and stablisheth a city by iniquity, by violence and oppression.

v. 13. Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labor in the very fire, for it was due to His dispensation that men strained themselves to the utmost, only, however, to have their buildings consumed by fire in the burning of their cities, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? For all the proud buildings erected by them would eventually be destroyed.

v. 14. For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, the destruction of the world-power being a necessary condition to this end, in order that the honor of Jehovah, the almighty Ruler of the heavenly armies, might be known throughout the world, as the waters cover the sea. Cf Isa_11:9. The enemies who refuse to accept the Lord in the beauty of his mercy will he obliged to acknowledge Him in the majesty of His almighty power.

v. 15. Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, as the Babylonians did, figuratively speaking, that puttest thy bottle to him, or, "while thou addest thy wrath,". and makest him drunken also that thou mayest look on their nakedness! The picture of one lying in a drunken, shameful stupor well emphasizes the entire subjection of a conquered people.

v. 16. Thou art filled with shame for glory, or, "so, then, shalt thou be satisfied with shame instead of glory," satiated with disgracefulness; drink thou also, draining the cup of the Lord's wrath, and let thy foreskin be uncovered, showing Chaldea to be uncircumcised, heathenish. The cup of the Lord's right hand, offered in a manner that it could not be refused, shall be turned unto thee, so that it would eventually be Chaldea's turn to empty it to the last dregs, and shameful spewing, the vomiting of drunkenness and shame, shall be on thy glory.

v. 17. For the violence of Lebanon, the outrage committed in ruining its cedar forests, shall cover thee and the spoil of beasts, the dispersion of the animals of Lebanon, which made them afraid because of men's blood, shed by the conquerors, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein. Cf v. 8.

v. 18. What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it, such trust is utterly useless, the molten image and a teacher of lies, the idol itself, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? All this is vain and foolish. It follows, therefore,

v. 19. Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake! expecting help from a carved idol; to the dumb stone, the hewn idol, Arise, it shall teach! rather, "Can it teach?. Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it, whence it follows that idolatry is a most foolish undertaking.

v. 20. But the Lord, the contrast being sharply emphasized, is in His holy temple, the Ruler in His mighty kingdom; let all the earth keep silence before Him, awaiting His judgment in silent and humble submission. If the whole earth is obliged to acknowledge His majesty and authority, then the glory and power of the Chaldean state cannot maintain itself in His sight.

 


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Bibliography Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Habakkuk 2:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/habakkuk-2.html. 1921-23.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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