HABAKKUK CHAPTER 1.
The Chastisement of the Lord Set Forth.
THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF JEHOVAH’S JUDGMENT. — V. 1. The burden, the prophetic sentence with its threat of punishment, which Habakkuk, the prophet, did see, his first statements being in the nature of a complaint on the part of righteousness, accusing the people of sin. V. 2. 0 Lord, how long shall I cry, until ‘when would he have to raise his voice, and Thou wilt not hear? Jehovah, the God of the covenant, refused to heed any appeal in the interest of the people while they persisted in their wickedness. Even cry out unto Thee of violence, of the criminal acts of the people of the land, and Thou wilt not save? The fact that the Lord apparently remained indifferent to conditions in Judah and did nothing to stop the criminal activity, seemed to the prophet incompatible with the holiness of God. V. 3. Why dost Thou show me iniquity, permitting him to see it on every hand, and cause me to behold grievance? rather, “and Thou observest distress inactively,” seemingly paying no attention to perverseness. For spoiling and violence are before me, so that he could not help but be a witness of them daily; and there are that raise up strife and contention, literally, “there is strife, and contention arises.” V. 4. Therefore the Law is slacked, the leaders not being interested in its enforcement, since God remained indifferent, and judgment doth never go forth, there, is never a righteous sentence delivered; for the wicked doth compass about the righteous, a whole circle of such wicked people surrounding one righteous person, so that he is often forced to bow to superior power; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth, righteousness and truth are perverted. Jehovah answers this complaint by saying that He intends to perform a marvelous work, namely, by pronouncing a sentence in agreement with the greatness of the transgression. V. 5. Behold ye among the heathen, out of whose midst the storm of judgment would proceed, and regard and wonder marvelously, literally, “be astonished! astonished!” For I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe though it be told you, one which in ordinary circumstances is unbelievable. V. 6. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, a fierce and impetuous nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, whose campaigns would extend throughout the earth, to possess the dwelling-places that are not theirs, to take possession of strange countries, to wage wars of conquest. V. 7. They are terrible and dreadful, arousing terror, causing fear; their judgment and their dignity, what they consider their right and their eminence, shall proceed of themselves, they take this much upon themselves, they themselves decide the norm and the right of their actions. V. 8. Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, so that their attacks could be made with the greatest speed, and are more fierce than the evening wolves, when hunger makes them ravenous; and their horsemen shall spread themselves, rushing along with a fearful sound, and their horsemen shall come from far, from the remote country of Babylonia; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat, pouncing upon his food to devour it. V. 9. They shall come all for violence, or, “all its multitude,” the entire hostile nation, “comes for deeds of violence,” so that none can withstand the impact of its attack; their faces shall sup up as the east wind, panting to go forward to the attack, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand, their captives being innumerable. V. 10. And they shall scoff at the kings, rulers that attempt to stop their victorious onslaught, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them; they shall deride every stronghold; for they shall heap dust, any kind of little earth-mound, and take it. The enemy would simply mock at every show of resistance to their advance as a ridiculous and futile effort. V. 11. Then shall his mind change, then the spirit of the enemy revives, and he shall pass over, passing on in his whirlwind campaign, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god, or, “he becomes guilty, for this his power is his god,” he deifies himself. With these words the Lord points out that the climax of Babylonia’s power would thereby be reached, for He cannot permit such idolatrous ideas to gain the upper hand in a nation.
The PROPHET'S PRAYER. — V. 12. Art Thou not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, mine Holy One? To this certainty the prophet clings; from it he derives consoling confidence. We shall not die, the people of the Lord would not be wholly exterminated. O Lord, Thou hast ordained them, the children of Israel, the Lord’s people, for judgment, to carry out His judgment of punishment upon them; and, O mighty God, literally, “Thou Rock,” Thou hast established them for correction, to be chastised and thus brought to the realization of their sins. V. 13. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, too pure to endure to behold it, and canst not look on iniquity, the wickedness and distress which men inflict upon others; wherefore lookest Thou upon them that deal treacherously, the violent Babylonian conquerors, and holdest Thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he, for the children of God in the midst of Israel gave them a higher moral standing than that which the Chaldeans possessed, V. 14. and makest men as the fishes of the sea, helpless in the face of the fisherman’s net, as the creeping things that have no ruler over them, one who might act as their protector and defender in times of peril? V. 15. They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag, in the largest kind of fishnet; therefore they rejoice and are glad, the enemies being pleased with the ease with which they overcame the Lord’s people. V. 16. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net and burn incense unto their drag, a custom which was actually found among some heathen nations; because by them their portion is fat and their meat plenteous, present in rich and great quantities. V. 17. Shall they therefore empty their net, namely, with the intention of casting it out again for a new draught, and not spare continually to slay the nations? or, “and always strangle nations without sparing?” The enemies angles, or hooks, nets, and drags are clearly his great and powerful armies, with which he has conquered nations and brought the treasures of the world to Babylon. Mark: He who puts his trust in anything on earth and glories in it to the exclusion of God makes this creature his idol.