To Habakkuk, waiting for an answer, is shown that he must wait by faith, 1-4. The judgment upon the Chaldean for insatiableness, 5-8, for covetousness, 9-11, for cruelty, 12-14, for drunkenness, 15-17, and for idolatry, 18-20.
1 I will stand upon my watch-post and seat myself upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say to me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
2 And the LORD answered me and said, "Write the vision and make it plain upon tablets, so that he may run who reads it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie. Though it may linger, wait for it, because it will surely come. It will not delay.
4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him, but the just shall live by his faith.
5 And also, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man and does not rest. He enlarges his desire as hell, and is as death and cannot be satisfied. He gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all people.
6 Shall all these not take up a parable against him and a taunting proverb against him, and say, 'Woe to him who increases that which is not his and to him who lades himself with thick clay! How long?'
7 Shall they not rise suddenly who bite you, and awake who disturb you, and you shall be for plunder to them?
8 Because you have laid waste many nations, all the remnant of the people shall lay you waste, because of men's blood and for the violence done to the land, to the city, and to all who dwell therein.
9 Woe to him who covets an evil gain for his house to set his nest on high to be delivered from the power of evil!
10 You have devised shame to your house by cutting off many people and have sinned against your soul.
11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
12 Woe to him who builds a town with blood and establishes a city by iniquity!
13 Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts that the people labor in the fire and the people weary themselves for vanity?
14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
15 Woe to him who gives his neighbor drink, pouring out your bottle to him, and also making him drunk, so that you may look at their nakedness!
16 You are filled with shame and not glory. You shall also drink and let your uncircumcision be uncovered. The cup of the LORD'S right hand shall be turned to you, and shameful vomiting shall be on your glory.
17 For the violence done to Lebanon shall overwhelm you, and the destruction of the beasts that made them afraid, because of men's blood and for the violence done to the land, to the city, and to all who dwell therein.
18 What profit is the engraved image when its maker has engraved it—the molten image and a teacher of lies—that the maker trusts in what he has formed, making mute idols?
19 Woe to him who says to the wood, 'Awake,' to the mute stone, 'Arise.' It shall teach! Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
20 But the LORD is in his holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before him."
Matthew Henry Commentary - Habakkuk, Chapter 2[➚]
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains an answer from the Lord to the expostulations, pleadings, and reasonings of the prophet, in the name of the people. The preparation of the prophet to receive this answer is described (verse 1); then follows the answer itself, in which he is bid to write and make plain the vision he had, that it might be easily read (verse 2); and a promise is made, that vision should still be continued to the appointed time, at which time the Messiah would come; and this the righteous man, in opposition to the vain and proud man, is encouraged to live in the faith of (verses 3-4); and then the destruction of the enemies of the people of God is threatened for their pride, ambition, covetousness, oppression, and murder (verses 5-12); which would be unavoidable (verse 13); and issue in the spread of the knowledge of the glory of God in the world (verse 14); and also the ruin of other enemies is threatened, for drawing men into apostasy, and for their violence and idolatry (verses 15-19); upon which would follow an universal silence in the earth (verse 20).
[v.1] - "what he will say to me" - Or, "what God will say to me." Reference, Psalm 85:8.
[v.2] - "so that he may run who reads it" - This passage can easily be misunderstood. The Pulpit Commentary concisely explained it like this: "everyone who reads it may run, that is, read fluently and easily." Matthew Poole gave this explanation: "that none may need to make a stop, but hold on his course; in the greatest haste of business, everyone may plainly and clearly discern what is written." John Gill explained it further (John Calvin gave a similar explanation): "may run through the whole without any difficulty, without making any stop, being written in such large capital letters; and those cut so well, and made so plain, that a man might run it over at once with ease, or even read it as he was running; nor need he stop his pace, or stand to read." Matthew Henry gave application for this passage: "Now the prophet is told to write this very plain. Note, Those who are employed in preaching the word of God should study plainness as much as may be, so as to make themselves intelligible to the meanest capacities. The things of our everlasting peace, which God has written to us, are made plain, they are all plain to him who understands (Proverbs 8:9), and they are published with authority; God himself has prefixed his imprimatur (i.e., a declaration authorizing publication of a book, or, mark of approval, endorsement) to them; he has said, Make them plain."
[v.3a] - "Though it may linger, wait for it" - Reference, Genesis 49:18.
[v.3b] - "It will not delay" - Or, "It will not be postponed."
[v.3c] - Quoted in Hebrews 10:37.
[v.4a] - "Behold, his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him" - An alternate rendering of this verse could be, "Behold, his soul which has fainted, is not right within him." The argument for this rendering, as said by John Owen, comes from the connection of this verse with the previous verse. In the previous verse, there is an exhortation to persevere and not give up, for the vision is said to surely come, though it may delay. Pride, or a lifted up soul, does not contrast with that. However, fainting does. If a soul faints, it has lost hope or given up (i.e., it lacks faith), and therefore, that soul is not right. This form of speech, that of contrasting statements, is common among the prophets.
[v.4b] - Quoted in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38.
[v.5] - "does not rest" - That is, does not rest at home. Literally, "abide," or, "dwell."
[v.8a] - "shall lay you waste" - Or, "shall plunder you."
[v.8b] - "because of men's blood" - That is, because of the shedding of men's blood.
[v.9] - "power" - Literally, "hand."
[v.11a] - "timber" - Or, "woodwork."
[v.11b] - "answer it" - That is, witness against it.
[v.14] - "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD" - This can also be read as, "For the earth shall be filled by knowing the glory of the LORD."
[v.16] - "The cup of the LORD'S right hand shall be turned to you" - In other words, "You have made your neighbor drunk with wine and now God will do the same to you."
[v.17] - "because of men's blood" - See the note for verse 8.
[v.18a] - Reference, Isaiah 44:12-17, specifically verses 15-17.
[v.18b] - "the maker trusts in what he has formed" - Literally, "trusts the former of the form in it."
[v.19] - The English rendering of the Septuagint for the first half of this verse is, "Woe to him who says to the wood, 'Awake, arise;' and to the stone, 'Be exalted!'" Young's Literal Translation agrees with this. It says, "Woe to him who is saying to wood, 'Awake,' 'Stir up,' to a dumb stone, 'It [is] a teacher!'"