It is probable, Habakkuk lived and prophesied in the reign of king Manasseh. His book is a mixture of the prophet's addresses to God in the peoples name, and to the people in God's name. The whole, particularly, refers to the invasion of the land of Judah by the Chaldeans: but it is of general use especially to those who are tempted, concerning the prosperity of bad, and troubles of good men.
The prophet complains of the violence practised by the Jews, ver. 1 - 4. God foretells the punishment of it, ver. 5 - 11. The prophet complains of the mischief done by the Chaldeans, ver. 12 - 17.
The burden - The prophet seems to speak of these grievous things, as a burden which he himself groaned under.
Therefore - Because the wicked go on with impunity. The law - The whole law, moral, ceremonial, and judicial. Is slacked - Is slighted, and not observed. Go forth - From magistrates, judges, and public officers. Doth compass about - As it were besieges, with design to oppress and ruin.
Behold ye - Here God begins to answer the prophet. Among the heathen - See what judgments have been executed upon the heathen for like sins.
Bitter - Cruel, and without mercy. Hasty - Speedy in executing their merciless purposes.
Their judgment - The law they observe, is their own will. Their dignity - Their authority is all from themselves, without respect to any other law or rule whatever.
The evening wolves - Which with fasting in the day, came out in the evening, fierce and ravenous. Shall spread - All over the land.
For violence - To enrich themselves by making a prey of all. Their faces - Their very countenances shall be as blasting as the east - wind.
At the kings - Which opposed their designs. And take it - By mighty mounts cast up.
Shall not die - Be utterly destroyed. Ordained - Set up, and designed. Them - The Chaldean kingdom. For judgment - To execute this judgment, which is tempered with mercy. For correction - To chastise, not to destroy.
And makest - Not infusing cruel appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them. As the fishes - Of which the greater greedily devour the smaller. Creeping things - Which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression. No ruler - None to defend the weak, or restrain the mighty.
They - The Chaldeans draw out all alike, good or bad. In their net - Destroying many together. And gather - As if they could never have enough, they drive men into their nets.
They sacrifice - Ascribe the praise of their victories. Their net - To their own contrivances, diligence, and power.
Empty their net - As fisher - men empty the full net to fill it again.
God answers, that the Chaldeans themselves shall at length be a prey, ver. 1 - 8. A woe denounced against the covetous, the oppressive, the drunkards, and idolaters, ver. 9 - 12.
Upon my watch - I will stand as a watchman on my watch - tower. He - The Lord. Reproved - Called to give an account of the mysteriousness of providence; either to satisfy doubters, or to silence quarrellers.
Upon tables - What was of publick concern, and therefore to be published, was anciently written or engraven upon tables, smooth stones, or wood, and then hung up in a publick place to be read. May run - That none may need to stop, but every one may plainly and clearly discern what is written.
At the end - When the period appointed of God shall come. Shall speak - Be accomplished, and not disappoint your expectation.
Which is lifted up - That proudly contests with the justice and wisdom of the Divine Providence, and provides for his own safety by his own wit. The just - The humble and upright one, who adores the depth of divine providence, and is persuaded of the truth of divine promises. Shall live - Supports himself, by a firm expectation of the deliverance of Zion.
He - The king of Babylon. Wine - Hereby Belshazzar, his city and kingdom of Babylon fell a prey to Darius and Cyrus. At home - Is ever abroad warring upon some or other. Unto him - To his kingdom. All nations - That are round about him.
Of the land - Of the whole land of Chaldea. The city - Babylon.
To his house - His family which he would enrich, and raise high. Delivered - Kept secure and out of danger from all below him.
Thou - Nebuchadnezzar.
Shall cry out - As if it had a voice, it cries to God for vengeance. Answer it - Confirm the charge against thee.
Is it not of the Lord - Is it not a judgment from God Shall labour - That men go thro' the most painful labour. For very vanity - For nothing; without any reward of their labour.
Thou - O king of Babylon. Shall be turned - They turned the cup of pleasure about, God will carry the cup of indignation about also, and make them drink deep of it. Shameful spewing - Thou shalt be as much loathed as a shameful drunkard is in his vomit.
The violence - The violence thou hast done to Judea shall overwhelm thee. The spoil of brass - Such spoil as by hunters is made among wild beasts, when they endeavour to destroy the whole kind.
The Lord - He is Jehovah, the fountain of being, life, power, and salvation to his people. Keep silence - Fear, submit, and depend on him; let his enemies be silent, reverence, hope, pray and wait for him, who will arise and have mercy on them, who will make it to be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked, who will fully and satisfactorily solve the doubts, and unfold the riddles of his providence.
Habakkuk begs of God to succour his people, ver. 1, 2. He calls to mind God's former appearances for his people, ver. 3 - 15. He encourages himself to trust in God, ver, 16 - 19.
Upon Sigionoth - A musical instrument.
Thy speech - In answer to the inquiry made chap.1:13,14. Was afraid - Trembled at what thou speakest. In the midst of the years - Even before the seventy years are expired. Make known - Thy truth, wisdom, power, and compassion.
God - The God of our fathers, discovered himself from Teman, a mountain not far from mount Sinai, where the law was given. Paran - Near Sinai. His glory - This the prophet mentions as a support of his faith, that God so gloriously appeared among their fathers. Full of his praise - Of works which were worthy of all praise.
As the light - Pure, clear as the sun, but much more dazzling. His hand - The face of Moses shined; the face, yea, hands of our God, shine with glorious light. There - In that light wherewith he appeared. The hiding - Which discovered much of it, but hid much more; it was light inaccessible.
Before him - When God was leading the Israelites out of Egypt, he made the pestilence go before him, so preparing room for his people.
He stood - Gave his presence with Joshua, as one that stood by while the work was done. The land - The promised land. He beheld - Looked with a frowning countenance. Drove asunder - Cast them out, his eye did this, for he looked on them, and did this. His ways - The wisdom, goodness, justice, holiness, and power of God, which he shews in governing his people.
The tents - The people that dwelt in them. Arabia - Near whose borders Israel marched. In affliction - In fear and pain, lest that mighty people should fall on them. The curtains - Those that dwelt within them; these people dwelt in tents, which were made up on the sides with curtains.
The sea - The Red Sea. Ride - As a general in the head of his army. Upon thine horses - Alluding to the manner of men. Salvation - No; but he came to save his people.
Thy bow - One part of armour is put for the whole. The Lord is represented as armed, in readiness to smite through all his enemies. According to the oaths - In pursuance of his oath made to our fathers, and their posterity. Cleave the earth - When they were to march through a dry and thirsty land.
Overflowing - The inundation which at that season was wont to be very great in and round Jordan, passed away at the word of God; the waters below flowed, and ran from those above, which stood on a heap to make a path for Israel. The deep - Either the deep channel in which Jordan flowed, or the Red Sea with dreadful roaring parted its waters. Lift up his hands - Its waves which stood on an heap.
Stood still - At the prayer of Joshua. In the light - Which was most miraculously continued.
With thine anointed - Under the conduct of thine anointed, Joshua, the type of the Messiah. Thou woundest - Gavest a deadly wound to the kings of Canaan. The house of the wicked - The courts of these kings were houses of the vilest wickedness. By discovering - Destroying all from head to foot.
Villages - All the cities and all the unwalled towns. They - The inhabitants of Canaan. As a whirlwind - With violence invading me on every side. To scatter - To disperse and drive away the Israelites. Their rejoicing - They rejoiced in full confidence of swallowing up Israel unawares.
Didst walk - Thou heldest on thy way, from thy entering in on the east of the land, to the west thereof.
When I heard - What dreadful desolations God threatened against Israel. My heart trembled - Another effect of surprising fears and astonishment. Rottenness - A decay of all my strength. That I might rest - These fears made me betake myself to God, that I might rest in him. He - The king of Babylon. The people - The Jews.
The labour - The labour bestowed upon the olive. Yield no meat - Corn. Flock - Of sheep.
Like hinds feet - That I may escape to God my refuge. He will make me - To conquer and triumph.