Survey of Habakkuk

Book Type: The eighth book of the Minor Prophets; the thirty-fifth book of the Old Testament; the thirty-fifth book of the Bible.

Author: Habakkuk, as noted in Habakkuk 1:1.

Audience: Habakkuk wrote for the Jews living in Judah prior to the Jewish exile to Babylon. Justice seems to have been forgotten in the land, as Assyrian and Babylonian powers continue to grow in strength and conquer kingdoms, threatening God's people. Habakkuk shared his concerns, likely representative of other godly people in his time, and offered prayers for God's mercy upon their people.

Date: Between approximately 610 and 605 BC.

Overview: Habakkuk includes three chapters with two general themes. The first two chapters express Habakkuk's concerns along with responses from the Lord. His first words to the Lord ask why God was not answering his prayers for help (Habakkuk 1:2–4). God will answer that He is at work in a way Habakkuk would not expect (Habakkuk 1:5–11).

Habakkuk then offers his second complaint (Habakkuk 1:12—2:1): why would God use the wicked to punish God's people? His ways do not seem just from a human perspective. God answers that He has future plans for the righteous who live by faith (Habakkuk 2:2–20). God's enemies would not reign for long, but would receive their just punishment as well (Habakkuk 2:6–17). These opponents trusted in idols, which would not be able to save them in the end (Habakkuk 2:18-20).

Chapter 3 shifts from Habakkuk's dialogues with the Lord to his prayer before the Lord. He begins with a desire for God's mercy upon him and his people (Habakkuk 3:1–2). Habakkuk also praises God for His almighty strength, which far exceeds other nations or their gods (Habakkuk 3:3–16). Habakkuk ends by rejoicing that the Lord will be his salvation (Habakkuk 3:17–19). The final sentence, "To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments," suggests this prayer was set to music and sung among the Jewish people.

Key Verses (ESV):

Habakkuk 1:2: "O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, \ and you will not hear? \ Or cry to you 'Violence!' \ and you will not save?"

Habakkuk 1:5: "Look among the nations, and see; \ wonder and be astounded. \ For I am doing a work in your days \ that you would not believe if told."

Habakkuk 1:12: "Are you not from everlasting, \ O LORD my God, my Holy One? \ We shall not die. \ O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment, \ and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof."

Habakkuk 2:2–4: "And the LORD answered me: \ 'Write the vision; \ make it plain on tablets, \ so he may run who reads it. \ For still the vision awaits its appointed time; \ it hastens to the end—it will not lie. \ If it seems slow, wait for it; \ it will surely come; it will not delay. \ Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, \ but the righteous shall live by his faith.'"

Habakkuk 2:20: "But the LORD is in his holy temple; \ let all the earth keep silence before him." Habakkuk 3:2: "O LORD, I have heard the report of you, \ and your work, O LORD, do I fear. \ In the midst of the years revive it; \ in the midst of the years make it known; \ in wrath remember mercy."

Habakkuk 3:19: "GOD, the Lord, is my strength; \ he makes my feet like the deer's; \ he makes me tread on my high places. \ To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments."