Something I was led to ponder on this evening. (Commentary from James Burton Coffman’s Commentary on the Bible)
This chapter begins with Habakkuk’s plaintive summary of Judah’s wickedness (Habakkuk 1:2-4).
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
What Christian has not experienced in his heart such questions as these? Rampant wickedness, blasphemy, atheism, rejection of sacred laws, and the arrogant confidence of evil men asserting themselves against truth and righteousness – one who is able to see such things in the light of the word of God may easily feel the frustration and latent doubt that nagged at the heart of Habakkuk. True followers of the Lord “are in danger of being unduly depressed and disheartened by the rising power of the mystery of iniquity.” “Violence, as used by the prophets refers to any kind of wrong done to one’s neighbor.” In this passage Habakkuk places himself as a spokesman for the people, some of whom are righteous, crying unto God upon their behalf.
Despite all of the terrible wickedness, God apparently did nothing about it; at least it seemed so to Habakkuk. Everywhere he looked, he continued to “behold iniquity and perverseness in the character and conduct of his (God’s) people.” The question in Habakkuk’s heart was, “How could God look on this condition without punishing it, thus bringing it to an end?
“The law is paralyzed …” “The commandments, in other words, are not kept.” This reference to God’s law indicates positively that the people who were supposed to keep that law were the ones addressed in these verses. “Justice never prevails.” A certain indication of the decadence of a society and its approaching ruin is always a breakdown of the system for administering justice.
“The wicked hem in the righteous …” Watts identified the persons meant by these words as “the guilty” and the “innocent,” basing his view upon the emergence here of opponents “in a legal contest.”
The purpose of Habakkuk 1:2-4 was that of citing the reason why God was sending punishment and doom upon them. That basis having been adequately stated, he announced the doom. Then comes the bold and courageous prophecy of the destruction of Judah by the Chaldeans (Habakkuk 1:4-11)….
The Lord’s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,[a]
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9 they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes[b] advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”
A final verse:
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” – Hebrews 10:31