Commentary of the Old and New Testaments


By Joseph Benson


The Prophet. His name means "embracing," and he very likely was a contemporary of Jeremiah and prophesied between 608 B. C. and 638 B. C. at a time of political and moral crisis. He may have been a Levite connected with the Temple music.

The Prophecy. As Nahum prophesied the fall of Assyria for its oppression of Israel, Habakkuk tells of God's judgments upon the Chaldeans because of their oppression. The style is poetical and displays a very fine imagery. (1) There is a dialogue between the prophet and the Divine ruler. (2) There is a prayer or psalm which is said not to be excelled in any language in the grandeur of its poetical conceptions and sublimity of expression.

Its purpose grew out of the fact that they were no better off under the rule of Babylon (Chaldeans) which had overthrown Assyria than they were formerly while Assyria ruled over them. It intended to answer the questions: (1) How could God use such a wicked instrument as the Chaldeans (Barbarians) to execute his purposes? (2) Could the Divine purpose be justified in such events? God's righteousness needed vindicating to the people. (3) Why does wickedness seem to triumph while the righteous suffer? This is the question of Job, applied to the nation.


I. The Problem of the Apparent Triumph of Sin, Ch. 1.

  1. Why does sin go unpunished? 1-4.
  2. God says he has used the Chaldeans to punish sin, 5-11.
  3. Are they confined to evil forever, 12-17.

II. The Impending Punishment of the Chaldeans, Oh. 2.

  1. Waiting for the vision, 1-3.
  2. Vision of five destructive woes, 4-20.

III. An Age of Confidence in God, Ch.3.

  1. Prayer of the disquieted prophet, 1-2.
  2. Past history has shown that God will finally destroy Israel's enemies, 3-15.
  3. The prophet must joyously trust God and wait when in perplexity, 16-19.

For Study and Discussion. (1) The morals of the people. (2) The character and deeds of the Chaldeans. (3) The Universal supremacy of Jehovah. (4) The proper attitude amid perplexing problem. (5) Faith and faithfulness as a guarantee of supremacy and life.