The Word of the Lord to Habakkuk

Chapter 1

To Habakkuk, complaining of the iniquity of the land, 1-4, is shown the fearful vengeance by the Chaldeans, 5-11. He complains that vengeance should be executed by those who are far worse, 12-17.

1 [The burden which Habakkuk the prophet saw.]

O LORD, how long shall I cry/
and you will not hear?/
I even cry out to you of violence,/
and you will not save!

Why do you show me iniquity/
and cause me to behold grievance?/
For devastation and violence are before me./
And there is strife, and contention rises up.

Therefore, the law is slackened,/
and judgment never goes forth./
For the wicked encompasses the righteous;/
therefore, perverted justice proceeds.

"Behold among the heathen and regard./
Wonder and be astonished./
For I will work a work in your days/
which you will not believe though it is told to you.

For behold, I raise up the Chaldeans,/
that bitter and hasty nation,/
which shall march through the breadth of the land/
to possess the dwelling-places that are not theirs.

They are terrible and dreadful./
Their judgment and their dignity shall proceed from themselves.

Their horses are also swifter than the leopards/
and are more fierce than the evening wolves./
And their horsemen shall spread themselves/
and their horsemen shall come from far./
They shall fly as the eagle that hastens to devour.

They shall all come for violence./
Their faces shall swallow up the east wind,/
and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.

10 And they shall scoff at the kings,/
and the princes shall be a scorn to them./
They shall deride every stronghold,/
for they shall heap dust and take it.

11 Then his mind shall change and he shall pass over and offend,/
imputing his power to his god."

12 Are you not from everlasting,/
O LORD my God, my Holy One?/
We shall not die./
O LORD, you have ordained them for judgment./
And O mighty God, you have established them for correction.

13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,/
and cannot look at iniquity./
Why do you look upon those who deal treacherously,/
and keep silence when the wicked devours/
the man who is more righteous than he is?

14 You make men as the fish of the sea,/
as the creeping animals that have no ruler over them.

15 They take up all of them with the hook,/
they catch them in their net/
and gather them in their dragnet;/
therefore, they rejoice and are glad.

16 Therefore, they sacrifice to their net/
and burn incense to their dragnet,/
because by them their portion is fat/
and their food plenteous.

17 Shall they therefore empty their net/
and not spare to slay the nations continually?


Matthew Henry Commentary - Habakkuk, Chapter 1[➚]


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

In this chapter, after the inscription, in which are the title of the book, the name and character of the writer (verse 1); there is a complaint made by the prophet of his cry not being heard, and of salvation being deferred, which was long expected (verse 2); and of the wickedness of the times he lived in; of iniquity and trouble, rapine and oppression, in general; and particularly of corruption in courts of judicature, in which there were nothing but strife and contention, a procrastination in proceedings at law, and justice was stopped and suppressed (verses 3-4); then follows an answer to this, showing that some sore judgment, amazing and incredible, would soon be executed for such sins (verse 5); that the Chaldeans would be raised up and sent against the Jews, and spoil them, and carry them captive; who are described by the cruelty of their temper and disposition; by the swiftness and fierceness of their cavalry; and by their derision of kings, princes, and strong holds; and by their victories and success, which they should impute to their idols (verses 6-11); and then the prophet, in the name of the church, expresses his faith that the people of God, and his interest, would be preserved, and not perish in this calamity; which is urged from the eternity, holiness, faithfulness, and power of God, and from his design in this affliction, which was correction, and not destruction (verse 12); and the chapter is closed with an expostulation of the prophet with God, in consideration of his purity and holiness; how he could bear with such a wicked nation as the Chaldeans, and suffer them to devour men as fishes, in an arbitrary way, that have no ruler; catch them in their net, and insult them, and ascribe all to their own power and prudence, and think to go on continually in this way (verses 13-17).

[v.1] - "Habakkuk" - From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "From a Hebrew root meaning to 'embrace,' denoting a 'favorite' (namely, of God) and a 'struggler' (for his country's good)."

[v.4] - "perverted" - Or, "wrested."

[v.5a] - "Behold among the heathen" - The Greek Septuagint renders this phrase, "Behold, you despisers." The Apostle Paul follows the Greek rendering.

[v.5b] - Quoted in Acts 13:41.

[v.9] - "Their faces shall swallow up the east wind" - This can also be read as, "Their faces shall look toward the east."

[v.11] - An alternate rendering of this verse could be, "Then he shall sweep by as a wind (or, shall renew courage), and shall pass over (or, pass through), and be guilty, even he whose might is his god."

[v.12a] - "mighty God" - Literally, "Rock," as in Deuteronomy 32:4, 18, 30-31.

[v.12b] - "We shall not die" - In other words, "We shall not be destroyed," that is, the people as a nation would not be destroyed because they were under the protection of God.

[v.16] - "they sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their dragnet" - That is, they are ascribing their success to their own skill and efforts.