Not much is known about the prophet, Habakkuk. With most of the prophets, we are given at least some minor biographical information, but we are not even told where he came from. Many scholars, however, have somehow deduced that he was from Jerusalem. And the fact that the third chapter is in fact a song – a psalm, suggests quite reasonably to some that he was from the tribe of Levi. Habakkuk 3:1 reads “a prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.” Shigionth is a reference to a type of music that is sung in times of victory.
The date of the book can only be surmised in approximation. In Habakkuk 1:6, the Lord tells Habakkuk that He is raising up the Chaldeans. The Chaldean rise to power was about 612 B.C., with their first invasion of Judah occurring in 605 B.C. A date shortly before that is reasonable. This would place this prophet as a contemporary of Zephaniah, and possibly Daniel. Likely, the time was during the reign of Josiah (640 – 609 B.C.) or just after his death. There are some non-inspired writings with Habakkuk in them, but the more interesting one is not considered historically accurate.
Although clearly written for their benefit, Habakkuk does not address the people of Judah. The first two chapters consist of Habakkuk’s prayers (and protestations) to God, as well as God’s responses. Habakkuk is taken aback that God would send those who were even more wicked than the people of Judah to exact His punishment on them. This does not seem to him to be the actions of a just God. God assures him that He has every intention of punishing the evil nations involved – but in His own time. By the end of the book, Habakkuk is resigned to the fate, but more importantly, he realizes that his faith in God means that he must trust Him to take care of justice.
These words were evidently a comfort to the faithful after the captivity, as they struggled to understand. The key verse is Habakkuk 2:4, which says “but the righteous will live by his faith.” That is the lesson of Habakkuk. As His children, we must trust in God to deal with the evil of this world in His time.
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.