Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 2

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-3

CRITICAL NOTES.] Watch] As those ascending high places to look into the distance (2 Kings 9:17; 2 Samuel 18:24). Set] Plant myself firmly. To see] what God will say. Unto] Lit. in me; outwardly to the ear, inwardly to the heart; fixed in purpose and earnest in mind he waits for God’s revelation. Reproved] when reasoned with, for my expostulation with God.

Habakkuk 2:2. Vision] Outwardly seen and inwardly perceived. Write] The revelation important and immutable. Plain Clearly, that it may easily be read (cf. Deuteronomy 27:8; Deuteronomy 1:5).

Habakkuk 2:3. For] The reason for writing. Appointed] i.e. future time fixed by God (Daniel 10:14; Daniel 11:27). Speak] Lit. breathe out (then speak), hasten to the end. Tarry] Linger, delay a little. Come] It is certain, though future. Not tarry] Be behindhand or go beyond the appointed time.



Habakkuk had two great difficulties in justifying the Divine government. First, the wickedness of the Jews and their oppression of the righteous few among them. God removed this difficulty by predicting that he would visit the corruption with captivity, and that the Chaldeans would punish them. But a second objection presented itself that the Chaldeans were worse than the Jews, the avengers more demoralized than the people. Hence the aspect appeared dark indeed to the prophet. The destruction of the temple, cessation of national worship, and universal depravity. Anxious for further light, he determines to take a stand and discern in the light of God’s presence the solution of his difficulties.

I. The fixed purpose of the prophet. “I will stand and set me (firmly) upon the tower.” The prophet made use of the means which God put within his reach to solve his doubts. All temptations and perplexities should lead us to the sanctuary of God. We should direct our prayer to him and look up beyond human vision. Habakkuk desired—

1. To be Divinely enlightened. “To see what he will say to me.” More truth and more light could be had. God could give these, and he would wait upon him in singleness of aim. The voice, the vision from God would clear away the mists and satisfy the heart. Men are ignorant, and reason is dumb in such circumstances. “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.”

2. To be Divinely corrected. “What I shall answer when I am reproved.” He had been pleading with others and they had beset him with objections. He desires to be instructed and guided in his reply. Or he might have cherished wrong thoughts and uttered wrong words concerning God in his darkness. The psalmist stumbled and was hasty in his words, when he saw good men suffer and bad men prosper. “Let us be silent, that we may hear the whisper of the gods,” says Emerson.

II. The appropriate attitude of the prophet “I will stand upon my watch.” This position was most appropriate and safe. It includes—

1. Outward retirement. He ascended the tower, excluded himself from the noise of the city and the excitement of society. Alone like Moses in the rock, he sought intercourse with God. “Apart from the world, and under the tuition of heaven, he was instructed in the principles of Divine wisdom.” “All weighty things,” says Richter, “are done in solitude, that is, without society.” “Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee.”

2. Inward meditation. The prophet was a man of reflection and prayer. He searched his own heart and examined his own ways. He gave his whole attention to his work. “Little can be done well to which the whole mind is not applied,” says Johnson. In our great work there must be withdrawal from the world and concentration in self. “Commune with thine own heart.”

3. Earnest expectation. The prophet waited in patience and perseverance. He did not think that his prayer was done with when offered. He did not find relief in his attitude but in God’s answer. “I will watch to see.” Ministers must acquit themselves like watchmen in an army or in a city, be awake when others sleep, and patiently seek to be filled with light and truth to give to others in times of darkness and danger.

III. The gracious answer to the prophet. “And the Lord answered me.” Expectation was not disappointed. God is sometimes found of them that seek him not. But he pledges himself to hear those who sincerely call upon him. “He said not, Seek ye me in vain.” The answer was an assurance of ruin to the Chaldeans when the chastisement of Israel was accomplished. It was far distant, would try the faith of God’s people, but the event was certain and would come to pass. The answer was to be written in a conspicuous place, recorded for the help of the people in the suspension of the fulfilment, and known as a proof of Divine power and faithfulness when accomplished. Both Israel and Chaldea must own. “And the thing was true, but the appointed time was long.”


The prophet must not only hear but record the Word of God. What the seer beholds he must write. “Write the vision.”

I. To be permanently recorded. The preacher must die, for all flesh is grass. Tradition is uncertain and may be corrupted. Philosophy is insufficient, and human reason is delusive. The testimony of men would continually perplex and mislead. But the Word of God stands for ever, an assurance and guide to all generations. “To the law and to the testimony.”

II. To be universally understood. “And make it plain upon tables.” It must be legibly and correctly written upon accustomed material. Not the impressions, the recollections and surmisings of the mind, not something like the thing, but the thing itself. It must be delivered in simplicity, not hidden in flowers of rhetoric; adapted to the lowest capacity, not merely to the thoughtful few. “It takes all our learning to make things plain,” says Usher. “Write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly” (Deuteronomy 27:8).

III. To be prominently fixed. “That he may run that readeth it.” It must be so conspicuous that it may catch the eye of the traveller, hinder no duty, but read at once without difficulty. Some think that the reference is to the ancient posts which directed the man-slayer to the city of refuge, and that the reading should be “he that runneth may read.” “Refuge” was a word so legible that one running for life was neither delayed nor puzzled to read. The writing (a) Excites attention. No one passes without noticing it. (b) Directs the steps. “This is the way, walk ye in it.” (c) Encourages speed by well-grounded conviction of its truthfulness. “The words of the Lord are pure and forcible.”

IV. To be a little delayed. “The vision is yet for an appointed time.” God’s promises reach a long distance and comprehend vast agencies. Delay is discipline to us, and God has reasons for it. It tests our faith, cultivates our patience, and excites our hope. We cannot hasten the end and must therefore wait. We must not measure God’s thoughts by our ways, and the purposes of eternity by the hours of time. We must not attribute delay to impotency or forgetfulness. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise.” “And the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision,” &c. (Daniel 10:1; Daniel 10:14).


Habakkuk 2:3.

1. As the mercies promised to the Church are in the hands of God, so is the timing of them; we are not therefore to expect that the performance of comfortable promises or of threatened vengeance will be always ready at our bid, but we must wait the Lord’s time, who hath his own seasons for afflicting, trying, and delivering.
2. The Lord’s delaying to appear diminisheth nothing of the certainty of performance that he hath promised to the Church. 3. But such is our weakness, that when he delayeth the performance we are ready to think that he denies it to all, which is to contradict the verdict of Scripture here published [Hutcheson]. “God’s time,” says one, “to visit his people with his comforts is when they are most destitute of other comforts, and other comforters.”

Divine slowness.

1. The history of the earth illustrates this principle.
(1) Creation.
(2) The movement of the seasons.
2. The history of all life illustrates this principle.
(1) Individual life in man.
(2) Life in national history.
3. Revealed religion harmonizes with this principle.
(1) The long interval between promise and the coming of Christ.
(2) The manner of his coming, not as the thoughts of men anticipated.
(3) The history of revealed religion since the appearance of Christ.
(4) The spiritual history of individual believers.
(5) So with the events which make up the story of life [Dr. R. Vaughan].

God’s word speaks and lies not.

1. It speaks at the end, therefore wait. It will not tarry beyond, though it may tarry till the very hour.
(1) Impatience leads to idolatry, as in the case of the Israelites waiting for Moses (Exodus 33:2). Impatience leads to self-destruction, as in the case of Saul waiting for Samuel (1 Samuel 13:0).

2. It speaks and lies not. All failure is a kind of lying.
(1) Failure in truth is a lie in word.

(2) Failure in performance is a lie in act. “Every man is a liar, either by imposture, and so in purpose, or by impotency, and so in the event, deceiving those that rely upon him (Psalms 62:9). But God is faithful and cannot lie, “a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he’ ” [Trapp].

3. Hence wait for the fulfilment. It will not tarry, it will not lie. “Waiting comprises in it

(1) faith;
(2) hope;
(3) patience, or waiting to the end for the time which the Lord has appointed, but which he intends us to wait for” [Lange].

Surely come.

1. Here is the truth of the decree. “The vision is yet for an appointed time.”

2. Here is the truth of the word. “It shall speak and not lie.”

3. Here is the truth of the deed. “It will surely come” [Marbury].


Habakkuk 2:1. Watch. We should follow providence, and not attempt to force it, for that often proves best for us which was least our own doing [Henry].

Habakkuk 2:2-3. Tarry. For our actions let his word be our guide, and for the events of things and all that concern us, let his good pleasure and wise disposing be our will. Let us give up the rudder of our life into his band to be steered by him [Abp. Leighton]. Prayer is the rest of our care, and the calm of our temper [J. Taylor].

Verse 4


Habakkuk 2:4.] Judgment announced. Lifted] Puffed up, then haughty or presumptuous. Upright] Not straight, not without turning or trickery. The heart of the enemy was proud and displeasing to God. But] Marking the contrast between the Jew and the Chaldean, the believer and the unbeliever. Live] Opposed to death. The boast of power in one destroyed, the constant faith of the other secures salvation. Faith] from âmăn, to be firmly rooted or established, as a building upon its foundation, or a tree by its roots. Constant and strong faith is necessary under all the afflictions of life (cf. Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38).



These words are generally applied to the Chaldeans, but we apply them to the Jews. Some believed the words of the prophet and others did not. “While those Jews who, elated by false views of security, refused to listen to the Divine message should have their security disturbed and their minds agitated by the calamities with which they would be visited, such as lived righteously before God and men should experience true happiness in the exercise of faith in that message and others which God might communicate to them by his prophets” [Henderson].

I. The unbeliever’s character and conduct. God takes notice of man’s behaviour in times of trial, for it tends to promote peace or disturbance, to honour or dishonour God. “Behold.” The unbeliever is first described.

1. He is proud in heart. “His soul which is lifted up.” The source of all sin is pride. In the oppression of the Chaldeans, the exaltation of anti-christ, and the rejection of the gospel, pride is manifest. “From heaven the sinning angels fell.” “Pride,” says one, “had her beginning among the angels that fell, her continuance on earth, her end in hell.”

2. He is perverted in mind. His soul “is not upright in him.” He is not straight, but crooked in his thoughts and purpose. He does not please God, but denies his providence and ridicules his word. He is conceited in his own wisdom, and will not wait upon God. Uprightness of character results from peace with God and reliance upon his grace. We see the stature, the complexion, and the deeds of men: God here reads the heart and censures the wicked. “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”

3. He is restless in his soul. Luther gives, “He who is stiff-necked will have no rest in his soul.” Pride inflates and unsettles. Those who trust to themselves are disquieted within them, excited by fear, stirred to fresh adventures by hope, but disappointed in their pursuits. Unbelief can never give rest of mind. He who toils, contrives, and wearies himself in pursuit of sin will find his labour in vain. Like the treasure in the miser’s dream, all will vanish in a world of reality. “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”

II. The believer’s character and conduct. Opposed to those who proudly reject the prophetic vision, others give it a cordial reception.

1. The believer confides in the word. He has firm attachment to God, unwavering confidence in his promise, and waits patiently for its fulfilment. This faith is opposed to the pride of the enemy on the one hand and self-assertion on the other. “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.”

2. The believer lives by his faith in the word. “The just shall live by his faith.” It supports in deepest sorrows, and brings comfort in darkest times. It gives real life. Whatever outward or inward sorrows assail, faith sustains in life and enjoyment. We begin to live by faith in Christ. Through union with him we gain spiritual, holy, and progressive life here and eternal life hereafter. Steadfast faith is the source and element of the highest life. “But without faith it is impossible to please God.”

3. The believer is delivered from death by his faith in the word. Delivered from temporal calamity, spiritual death, and eternal wrath. Out of faith springs life. Abiding faith is continuous life; but life never dwells in the unbelieving heart. If faith in God only is the source of life, then pride which estranges from God results in death. Faith raises a man from danger and sets him on high (Psalms 91:14). There he is “kept by the power of God unto salvation.” “Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”


Habakkuk 2:4.

1. Unsanctified affliction begets a wrong spirit. The soul is lifted up. Instead of humbling and correcting, trial often discovers pride, murmuring against Divine sovereignty, and vain thoughts of self.

2. The wrong spirit when cherished under affliction begets apostasy. Those who are proud and complain will not long wait upon God. They become self-sufficient, unrighteous, and withdraw from God. “The just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” This verse containeth an antithesis, wherein two contraries are set in opposition one against the other.

(1) The man that is lifted up. In which note two things. (a) His notation, “lifted up.” (b) His censure, “his soul is not right.”

(2) The just man. (a) By just we understand not legal righteousness but evangelical righteousness, rectitude of obedience and holy life. (b) He shall live, naturally, against oppression; spiritually, in Jesus Christ; eternally, in glory [Marbury].

Notice the relation between righteousness, faith, and life. Three words containing the essence of creeds and the requirements of the gospel. “This sentence, the just shall live by faith, is universal, belonging at once to Jews and Christians, to sinners who are first being justified, as also to those who are already justified. For the spiritual life of each of these begins, is maintained, and grows through faith. When then it is said, the just shall live by his faith, this word his marks the cause, which both begins and preserves life. The just, believing and hoping in God, begins to live spiritually, to have a soul right within him, whereby he pleases God; and again, advancing and making progress in this his faith and hope in God, therewith advances and makes progress in the spiritual life, in rightness and righteousness of soul, in the grace and friendship of God, so as more and more to please God” [Pusey]. This is an answer to those that ask, What shall we do till the vision speak? how shall we hold out till it come? till the 70 years of captivity be expired? “The just shall live by faith,” saith he, and shall make a good living of it too; he shall live and be safe by the same faith whereby he is just. He shall feed upon his faith, as some read that (Psalms 37:3) [Trapp].


Habakkuk 2:4. Faith. The life of faith can only spring from faith; as trees and plants do from their proper seeds. Faith begins here with a weak apprehension of things not seen, and ends with the immediate vision of God in the world to come.

Verse 5


Habakkuk 2:5.] The thought further developed by a proverbial saying with special reference to the Chaldeans. They were given to wine and insatiable conquest. “Wine is treacherous; the haughty man stayeth not at home” [Hend.] (cf. Proverbs 30:1). Prond] Elated, haughty (Proverbs 21:24). Home] For he longs to go forth to destroy. Desire] Lit. soul; passions widen or enlarge the soul (Psalms 27:12; Psalms 41:2-3; Isaiah 5:14). Hell] Which is insatiable (Proverbs 30:15). Death] Which spares none, but swallows up every living thing (Proverbs 27:20). Gather] Lit. hath gathered. “He describes it, for the rapidity with which he completes what he longs for, as though it were already done” [Pusey].


WINE A DECEIVER.—Habakkuk 2:5

This verse not only developes the thought of the preceding, but adds another feature. Yea also, i.e. add to this that wine is treacherous [cf. Keil]. The general rule is applied to all oppressors, and especially to the Chaldeans, who were addicted to the sins here described.

I. Wine deceives in its nature. Its victims are mocked and grievously deceived. Wine promises pleasures which it cannot give. Strong drink is raging, not that “good creature” which some think it is. Intoxicating drinks abuse men, deceive, and lead them astray. They are overcome, beguiled, and befooled before they are aware. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

II. Wine deceives in its effects. “That it strengthens the system is a deception; chemistry has shown that it contains no nourishment for the body. That it enriches the national revenue is a deception. It is true that the taxes on alcoholic drinks bring millions annually into the national exchequer, but how much of the wealth of the nation does it exhaust by the pauperism and crime which it creates! Alcoholic drink is the great false prophet in England” [Dr. Thomas]. Prince and people, priest and prophet, have “erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way.”

“Ah! sly deceiver! branded o’er and o’er,
Yet still believed! exulting o’er the wrecks
Of sober vows” [Armstrong, I., M.D., 1744].


Drunkenness itself is sin, and is the cause of other sins. Those who are given to wine are sensual and voluptuous. Wine never stands alone. We have here its associated evils.

I. Pride. “He is a proud man.” The proud man thinks too much of himself, despises others, and is arrogant in his conduct, “dealeth in proud wrath.” Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar are fearful examples of pride. Flushed with wine, Belshazzar and his princes desecrated the sacred vessels and insulted God. The drunkenness of the inhabitants enabled Cyrus to take Babylon, well provisioned and strongly fortified. Pride “is a vice,” says Hooker, “which cleaveth so fast unto the hearts of men, that if we were to strip ourselves of all faults one by one we should undoubtedly find it the very last and hardest to put off.” “A man’s pride shall bring him low.”

II. Ambition. “Neither keepeth at home.” Restless in spirit and in condition. Though home be a palace, to a discontented mind it is a prison. Drunk with ambition, as well as wine, the Chaldeans were not satisfied with their splendid kingdom, but sought to enlarge it. The world cannot fill the abyss of the soul without God. The man who treads others under his feet exalts his gate (Proverbs 17:19) above his neighbour, affects a style beyond his rank, and seeks destruction. Think of Alexander, Cæsar, and Napoleon. When Philip was thrown down in the games he saw the marks of his body, and said, “How little a parcel of earth will hold us when we are dead, who are ambitiously seeking after the whole world while living.”

III. Covetousness. “Who enlargeth his desire as hell,” &c. Covetousness and greed of wealth result from pride. Covetous men invade the rights and seize the property of others. One nation will not satisfy without another. The ambitious “gathereth unto him all nations and heapeth unto him all people.” This passion is never satisfied.

1. It is like Hades, which devours in its desire and act, and ever cries Give, give. “Hell and destruction are never full.”

2. It is like death, which has slain its millions and ready to take as many more. Death spares none but is terrible to all. “Hell hath enlarged herself and opened her mouth without measure.”


Habakkuk 2:5-6. Desire. Could you change the solid earth into a single lump of gold, and drop it into the gaping mouth of avarice, it would only be a crumb of transient comfort, a cordial drop, enabling it to cry a little louder, “Give, give” [Royal Preacher].

Verses 6-8


Habakkuk 2:6. These] “nations” and “people” (Habakkuk 2:4). Parable] A derisive song (Isaiah 14:4; Micah 2:4), some; ode, given by others, enigmatical in character. Woes] fivefold given, a song raised by the oppressed over the fall of the oppressor. First woe, ill-gotten gains. Increaseth] i.e. seizes what does not belong to him. How long] will he do this with impunity? Ladeth] To make heavy by a weight or load upon one. Thick clay] (mass of dirt) Lit. a cloud of clay, which will cause her ruin. Many render “a burden of pledges gained by usury,” taken by an unmerciful usurer, which he will be compelled to give up (Deuteronomy 24:10).

Habakkuk 2:7. Shall] Answer to question, How long? Bite] of a snake; the enemy like savage vipers (Jeremiah 8:17). Rise] Shake or rouse up from possession.

Habakkuk 2:8. Because] Reason for woe. Many] Boundless the spoil. Remnant] Only a remnant left, will be sufficient to punish. “Blood, land, and city] Understood generally, and not restricted to the Jews with their country and its metropolis” [Hend.].


The first woe is pronounced, and the sentence passed, upon avaricious men in these words. The fundamental thought is like that expressed concerning the Chaldæan, in Isaiah 14:12-14. Ambition manifests itself in cruelty, and proud edifices built upon the ruins of others.

I. Avaricious men increase their guilt. The covetous and those who thrive unlawfully in the world are under woe. They multiply their sins and their judgments. They break God’s commands, and add injustice to their apostasy (1 Timothy 6:10). “Great abundance of riches cannot of any man,” says Erasmus, “be both gathered and kept without sin.” “A faithful man shall abound with blessings; but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”

II. Avaricious men increase their enemies. “Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee?” &c. God will not long permit their conduct to prosper. Enemies will suddenly rise up to disturb their rest. When they are most secure and least prepared nations will retaliate; “the remnant of the people,” whom they have despised, or whom God has hid from their fury, will rise against them. Those whom they have oppressed shall taunt them. Nations and “many nations” will destroy them. Covetous and ambitious men turn God and their fellow-creatures into their enemies. “For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also, and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.”

III. Avaricious men increase their dangers. Men haste to be rich and rush into danger.

1. They heap up booty for others. “Thou shalt be for booties unto them.” Notwithstanding their labour and strength, the enemy will easily overcome them. Their wealth gotten by vanity will be diminished. Men collect and foster what they cannot keep. They brood over ill-gotten gains which forsake and disappoint them. “As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”

2. They insure fearful retribution. As they had spoiled others, they would be spoiled themselves. “Refrain from covetousness,” says Plato, “and thy estate shall prosper.” Innocent blood which they had shed would be avenged upon the land, the city, and the people (Habakkuk 2:8). “When thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.”


Habakkuk 2:6.

1. Ambitious men become contemptible to others. They are ignominious, a taunting proverb, a public derision. “Shall not these take up a parable against him?”

2. Ambitious men have no right to the possession of that which they illegally acquire. Unjust conquest brings a curse. “Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his.”

3. Ambitious men will be stripped of all their unjust acquisitions. To what end does the conqueror sweep all nations together. Not for himself, but for others. “Riches do not exhilarate us so much with their possession as they torment us with their loss” [Gregory].

Riches are often—

1. Connected with covetousness.

2. With violence,—oppression, robbery, cruelty.

3. With folly. What is that heaped up?—only “clay.” What results from all toil and vexation?—a burden for themselves; “ladeth himself.” “A bag of gold from a Western steamer was found bound to the neck of the robber, his treasure having sunk him” [Van Doren]. “A great fortune is a great slavery” [Seneca].

Habakkuk 2:8. People shall spoil thee. Avaricious men are spoiled:

1. In their friends; who fall away, taunt, and help to strip them.

2. In their dignities; which are tainted by sin and fall into dust.

3. In their reputations; their names are a proverb in the land, and hated by all men.

4. In their posterity; who are cursed by the sins of their fathers, and cut off from the earth. “God loves to retaliate, to spoil the spoilers by a remnant of the people, by such as were of no note, and much unlikely to do such exploits. Thus he spoiled these Babylonians, by Cyrus and his Medes; the Persians, by Alexander and his Macedonians. So the Roman empire was miserably rent and torn by the Goths, Vandals, Huns, Lombards, people not before heard of, and the Greek empire by Turks, Tartars, Saracens, Scythians” [Trapp].


Habakkuk 2:5-6. Desire. Could you change the solid earth into a single lump of gold, and drop it into the gaping mouth of avarice, it would only be a crumb of transient comfort, a cordial drop, enabling it to cry a little louder, “Give, give” [Royal Preacher].

Verses 9-11


Habakkuk 2:9. Woe] the second, against establishing a permanent settlement by godless gain. Evil] Covetousness surpassingly evil and fatal to itself. House] Not the palace but the dynasty (Habakkuk 2:10). High] As eagles build nests on high to protect from harm (cf. Job 39:27); “so does the Chaldean seek to elevate and strengthen his rule by robbery and plunder, that it may never be wrested from his family again.”

Habakkuk 2:10. Shame] the result instead of glory.

Habakkuk 2:11.] Personification. Cry] For the injustice they had suffered (cf. Luke 19:40). Answer] the stone, i.e. join in its crying.



The second woe is now pronounced against coveting still more, and aiming still higher. The desire to build stately palaces, to be exempt from common misfortunes, and to perpetuate human greatness, is condemned. It is an evil covetousness or gain.

I. The design of this covetousness. “That he may set his nest on high,” &c.

1. To enjoy the comforts of life. The covetous seek ease and comfort, make their nest in their acquisitions, and feather it for their offspring, as the eagle builds on high to save its young from destruction. They think their prosperity can never change, and believe they have enough to secure perpetual comfort. “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease,” &c.

2. To escape the calamities of life. “That he may be delivered from the power of evil.” He fears evil from those whom he has injured, and builds on high, and fortifies himself against dangers. But what avails the height, when sin is in the foundation? Babylon was built on high, encircled by walls which no invader could scale or shatter. But it was levelled to the dust, and its proud king ranked with the brutes. God can overthrow the strongest tower, and terror invade the proudest conscience. “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down” (Obadiah 1:4 : Jeremiah 49:16).

II. The proofs of this covetousness. The very buildings which they rear cry out against their conduct. God’s works speak of his wisdom, power, and glory. So man’s works declare his skill and his guilt. Works of mercy are memorials before God, and plead there; works of cruelty and wrong cry out for vengeance upon the oppressor.

1. The stones in the wall cry out.

2. The beam out of the timber responds to the cry. Here are strange witnesses, woeful antiphonies in sin. If everything else is silent, their houses built by oppression and blood shall testify against them. The whole creation groans beneath the bondage of their corruption. “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work.”

III. The results of this covetousness. The covetous man takes a wrong course for his wealth, his family, and his posterity. With all his pains and schemes he cannot preserve himself from utter ignominy and ruin.

1. He inflicts personal injury. “And hast sinned against thy soul.” Men neglect their souls in pursuit of the world, and find their gain in the end to be a poor bargain. “The covetous man heaps up riches not to enjoy them, but to have them; and starves himself in the midst of plenty, and most unnaturally cheats and robs himself of that which is his own; and makes a hard shift to be as poor and miserable with a great estate as any man can be without it” [Tillotson]. In the present world he disquiets himself, pierces himself through with many sorrows; and in the world to come he will lose what the whole world cannot redeem—

“Some, o’er-enamour’d of their bags, run mad,
Groan under gold, yet weep for want of bread” [Young].

2. He brings social disgrace. “Thou hast consulted shame to thy house.” By cutting off many people, he gained disgrace not safety. Mighty conquerors who destroy others do not secure their own throne. Those who scandalise, undermine, or impoverish their neighbours to make room for themselves, turn their own glory and that of their posterity into shame (Proverbs 15:25-27; Proverbs 14:11). “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”


Habakkuk 2:9. Evil covetousness not a good covetousness. “Covet earnestly the best gifts,” &c. The desire itself was evil in its nature. Its results were evil, from which he sought to deliver himself. Covetousness is always evil when joined with ambition, infidelity, and confidence in earthly wealth. On high.

1. The foundation of the building: pride, ambition, and earthly power.
2. The fate of the building. Overthrown by Divine power. “He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave” [Cramer]. What the world calls protection, cannot protect against God’s judgments; death mounts over all rocks [Diedrich]. A nest imports two things: first, warmth, or a fence against cold: secondly, safety, or a fence against danger. Nests are builded close, and so they are warm, and they are built either on high, or out of the way in some secret place, and so they are safe [Caryl].

Habakkuk 2:10. Thou hast consulted. Holy Scripture overlooks the means, and places us at the end of all. Whatever the wicked had in view, to satisfy ambition, avarice, passion, love of pleasure, or the rest of man’s immediate ends, all he was doing was leading on to a further end—shame and death. He was bringing about not only these short-lived ends, but the lasting ends beyond, and these far more than the others, since that is the real end of a thing which abides, in which it at last ends [Pusey].


Habakkuk 2:9-10. House. How few houses have you that those that are now in them can say, “My ancestor dwelt here, and these were his lands?” Go over the whole country, few can say so. Men when they build have conceits. Now I build for my child, and for my child’s child. God crosses them. Either they have no posterity, or by a thousand things that fall out in the world, it falls out otherwise [Rd. Sibbes]. Consulted shame

“Sin and shame are ever tied together
With Gordian knots, of such a strong thread spun,
They cannot without violence be undone.” [Webster.]

Verses 12-14


Habakkuk 2:12. Woe] the third. Town] Babylon, rebuilt and enlarged by spoils of blood (Daniel 4:30).

Habakkuk 2:13. Fire] Lit. to suffice the fire; conflagration and depopulation the result of all labour and fatigue.

Habakkuk 2:14. For] God has determined this result; usurped glory must be destroyed that his glory may spread (Isaiah 11:9). Waters] Surpassing abundance. This predictive of the gospel times.


THE CITY OF BLOOD.—Habakkuk 2:12-14

The third stanza, naturally suggested by the preceding verse, describes the method by which they carried out their ambitious ends. They might pretend public good, and seek to establish popular government; but the wealth of the kingdom was gained by bloody wars, and the city enlarged by captive tribes from other nations. “They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.”

I. The city was built with wrong materials. It was built with blood. God’s people and heathen nations were oppressed, compelled to serve the king, and labour on the fortifications. All private fortunes gained by cruelty, all empires and greatness built and defended in contempt for God, and by the blood of men, are established by iniquity. They may impose upon the outward eye, seem strong and majestic, but they are inwardly rotten; will decay and fall to ruins. “Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not.”

II. The builders of the city laboured in vain.

1. God frustrated their aims. Human skill cannot succeed when God is opposed. In the Church and in the world, nothing can hinder his purposes. He is Lord of Hosts, whom the armies of heaven and the agencies of earth obey. As in building Babel of old so now can he confound the design, and frustrate the efforts, of men. “Behold, is it not of the Lord of Hosts?”

2. God consumed their materials. They toiled and were disappointed. They built the city, and reared splendid palaces, only for the fire. They laboured, with intense energy and pride, to accomplish their own ends, but they “wearied themselves for very vanity.” Men fatigue themselves in pursuit of wealth and honour, weary themselves in sin, and the result is consumed in the fire. “The people shall labour in vain (for vanity) and the folk in (for) the fire, and they shall be weary.”

III. The city shall eventually be destroyed. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.” God will be known by the judgments which he executes upon wrong-doers. All violence and injustice, like that of Babylon and Antichrist, will be overturned. The name of God will be read in the punishment of the wicked, and the deliverance of his people. The glory of God, obscured by oppression and cruelty, in due time will shine forth from the clouds, and fill the earth with its splendour. “As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.”

A GLORIOUS DAY.—Habakkuk 2:14

For” indicates the reason for the sentence pronounced. God had determined to manifest his glory in the judgment and overthrow of all ungodly powers (cf. Isaiah 2:12-21; Isaiah 6:3; Numbers 14:21).

I. The blessing predicted. “The knowledge of the glory of the Lord.” God is glorious in character and procedure. And of this glory he is so jealous that he will not give it to another (Isaiah 42:8). The glory here is the revelation of impartial justice and irresistible power; a manifestation condemning sin and honouring truth. Not only the glory, but the knowledge of it, shall fill the earth. Men shall recognize it, see mercy and judgment, and learn that, “verily, there is a reward for the righteous: verily, he is a God that judgeth in the earth.”

II. The method of revealing this blessing. In the connection of the words, we learn that God reveals and magnifies his glory, when sin is prevalent, and human glory is decayed. In the destruction of Babylon and all the powers that resemble it, and in the deliverance and restoration of the Jews, we see the glory of God. But this is only a type of the destruction of error and the spread of Gospel truth. Both judgment and mercy are requisite to fill the earth with the glory of the Lord. Everything hostile to him, and the interests of his people, must be destroyed. The kingdom of Christ set up. and the earth illuminated with his glory (Revelation 18:1).

III. The measure in which this blessing is bestowed. “As the waters cover the sea.” This indicates—

1. Depth. God’s judgments are a mighty deep, and the knowledge of them shall not be superficial. The nations shall feel them, and be convicted by the revelation of the Divine glory.

2. Abundance. The waters cover the sea, and spread far and wide. This knowledge will fill the earth.

3. Permanence. The waters of the sea abide, can never be exhausted nor diminished. Knowledge is increasing, the Gospel is spreading, and the bright day is predicted when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Psalms 72:19; Isaiah 11:9).


Habakkuk 2:13. Labour in the very fire. Labour which fatigues; labour in vain; labour opposed to God. Sin is labour—the gain is vanity. Then why not observe who causes this? “It is the Lord that bringeth all the labours of the ungodly to loss and vanity, that when they come to thrash their crop of travail, they find nothing but straw and chaff. To express his power to do this he is here called the God of Hosts, for all things serve him, and he resisteth the proud. He layeth their honours in the dust; he disperseth their riches; he spoileth them of all their treasures: he that exalted them made them low; he that gave to them taketh away. They had need to be made to see this; therefore he saith, Is it not of the Lord?” [Marbury].

Habakkuk 2:14. The words of God in this text are full of marrow and fatness, for God is rich in mercy, so he dilateth his favours.

1. In the latitude, all the earth over.

2. In the plenitude, the earth shall be filled.

3. In the magnitude, the knowledge of God’s glory.

4. In the profundity, as the waters cover the sea.

I. The thing to be done. The earth to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God. His moral excellences—holiness, righteousness, and grace: his natural perfections—power, wisdom, omniscience, and omnipotence to be made known. II. The necessity of doing it. God is seen in the physical universe, and in the powers of the human mind; but sin, like a mist, hides the glory. No intellectual effort, no human light whatever, can do the work. God must shine in Christ, shine into the world, and into the soul, “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:6). III. Will it ever be done? How dark the days of the prophet! How improbable the present signs! Yet how much has been done already! Sufficient to guarantee future success. God himself has pledged his word. “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

“So, Jesus, let thy kingdom come;
Then sin and hell’s terrific gloom
Shall at its brightness flee away,—
The dawn of an eternal day.”


Habakkuk 2:12-13. Vanity. To so small a purpose is it to have an erected face towards heaven, and a perpetual grovelling spirit upon earth, eating dust, as doth the serpent [Bacon]. The empire of the world is but a crust to be thrown to a dog [Luther].

Habakkuk 2:14. Glory. It is one of the greatest praises of God’s wisdom, that he can turn the evil of men to his own glory [Bp. Hall].

Verses 15-17


Habakkuk 2:15. Woe] the fourth. Bottle] Skin in common use. Look] with delight (Genesis 9:22). Naked] The prostrate condition of the drunken man a figure of the overthrow of a conquered nation (Nahum 3:11), and the uncovering of the shame denotes the ignominy that has fallen upon it (Nahum 3:5; Isaiah 47:3).

Habakkuk 2:16. Thou] shalt drink of the cup of sorrow (Jeremiah 25:15-17). Foreskin] As one uncircumcised. Spewing] Shameful vomiting will cover thy glory, i.e. destroy thee. Turned] Lit. shall turn itself from other nations.

Habakkuk 2:17. Violence] Outrage in spoiling cedar forests to adorn magnificent edifices (cf. Isaiah 14:8). Cover] Completeness of the destruction. Similar violence to that which they had displayed should fall upon them.


THE THREE CUPS.—Habakkuk 2:15-17

Woe the fourth is pronounced upon beastly luxury, sensuality, and base treatment of subjugated nations. The bottle of wine turns out a cup of wrath, and the disposition in which it is given is that of voluptuousness and lust of power.

I. The cup of wine. “Woe to him that giveth his neighbour drink.” The Chaldæans, with insatiable desire, allured neighbouring States, intoxicated them with lust of war, to obtain booty, and expose them to shame.

1. Drink given to a neighbour. Drinking oneself is bad enough, but to give to others is worse. To put the bottle to others is a practice too common in the palace and the public-house. By the laws of the club or the fashion of the Court, men are constrained to drink.

2. Drink given to make a neighbour intoxicated. To give drink to a weary traveller, a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, is commendable; but to offer the bottle with a design to intoxicate, to “make him drunken also,” is abominable wickedness.

3. Drink given to expose an intoxicated neighbour to shame and contempt. “That thou mayest look on their nakedness.” To look on such things with delight is most unnatural; to abuse men in such a condition is awful. Woe to them who entice others to drunkenness that they may take advantage of them, and mock their infirmities.

II. The cup of riot. The shame with which the enemy was satisfied, was equivalent to riot, or revelling in shame. Belshazzar drank with his lords and ran to excess. In drink is a breach of propriety and good temper; “envyings, and murders, revellings, and such-like.” Day by day we learn the corruption of morals engendered and the crimes committed in sensuality and drink. Every lust of the flesh finds in drunkenness and riot its appropriate fuel and fire, and its influence in seduction and ruin baffles all calculation and conception. “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.”

“Pass where we may, through city or through town,
Village, or hamlet, of this merry land,
Though lean and beggared, every twentieth pace
Conducts the unguarded nose to such a whiff
Of state debauch, as makes temperance real.”

III. The cup of retribution. “The cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee.” To deal out, in barrel or bottle, inflaming and polluting drinks is not innocent and blameless conduct. Woe, heavy woe, is pronounced upon such acts. But when the motives are mercenary, and the intentions unkind, the punishment is heavy.

1. They are filled with shame instead of glory. They sought glory, thought to be rich by oppressing others, but they lost their reputation and were filled with shame. Drunkards and ambitious men proclaim their own shame. Shameful spewing is on their glory. God rejects their services, and nature abhors their customs. “Their glory is their shame.”

2. They were treated as they treated others. “Drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered.” God’s judgments are equitable. As they had drawn others to sensuality and cruelty, so they had to drink the very dregs, and become contemptible as a drunken man lying naked, or an uncircumcised heathen, polluting himself with filthy vomit. Sensuality entails shame. Those who aid in the degradation of others adopt the most effectual means to expose themselves. “The cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken and shalt make thyself naked.”

3. They were overcome with the violence which they displayed to others. “For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee.” Violence to nature, in the destruction of the forests; to beasts, in hunting them for prey, or chasing them in fright; to man, in shedding innocent blood. The city, the country, and the people all suffered. The end of this plunder was not to adorn, but overwhelm them. The destruction was complete; “cover thee” (Isaiah 14:6-8). Violence done to others will be sure to recoil upon the transgressors; “to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day” (Jeremiah 25:15-18).


Habakkuk 2:16. Shame. The shame of the ungodly cometh forth from himself; the shame he put others to is doubled upon himself; and the very means which he had used to fill himself with glory and greatness, cover the glory which by nature he had with the deeper disgrace, so that he should be a loathsome and revolting sight to all. Man veils foul deeds under fair words; God in his word unveils the foulness [Pusey].

The Lord’s right hand shall be turned.

1. Retribution among men: turned, Lit. turn itself from others to you. Every one’s turn will come.

2. Retribution measured among men. “The cup of the Lord’s right hand.” Measure for measure all sin brings its own retribution; but the violent will suffer “violence,” and deeds of shame will be put to everlasting contempt. Glory. The Hebrew word for glory properly signifies weightiness; as the word twice here used for shame signifies lightness; an elegant opposition, showing that whatsoever the Babylonians gloried in, and held themselves honourable for, should be lightly accounted of, and lie buried in the sheet of shame, as in a dunghill of filthy vomit [Trapp].

Habakkuk 2:15-16. That is an extraordinary kind of argument which infers, from the mention or prohibition of an extreme sin, the rightfulness of the intervening and causative steps. Here, however, all the stages and agencies are denounced and condemned—the poisoned potion, the giving of it, and the final result [Temp. Commentary].

Habakkuk 2:17. Beasts. God avenges cruelty done to brutes. Learn—

1. The providence of God over cattle.
2. The treatment they should receive at the hands of man. “Hath God care for oxen?” “We learn here that when God cometh to execute vengeance, he surveyeth the whole catalogue of offences; and as he saith in David, ‘I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thee,’ the wrong to the cities, to the men, to the beasts, to persons, to places, all comes into account, and the offenders shall smart for all” [Marbury].


Habakkuk 2:15. Drink. Seldom does any sensual indulgence come alone. One lust prepares the way for others; the first step is sure to lead onwards. The poor deluded victim cannot stop when he pleases [C. Bridges].

Habakkuk 2:16-18. Shame. There is none of you that ever entered this house of pleasure but he left the skirts of his garment in the hands of shame, and had his name rolled in the chambers of death. What fruit had ye then? This is the question [Bp. Taylor]. The man wakes from his dream, and finds that he possesses not an atom of the rich possessions he had dreamed of [Lorin].

Verses 18-20


Habakkuk 2:18.] Exposure of the folly of Babylon’s idolatry. What] use? none whatever. Lies] Lying oracles connected with idol worship. Dumb] Nonentity (1 Corinthians 12:1).

Habakkuk 2:19. Awake] to help. Teach] Ironical, it teach! Breath] Not at all breath, the spirit of life (Jeremiah 10:14).

Habakkuk 2:20. But] Sublime contrast between Jehovah and utter vanity of idols. Temple] Enthroned in heaven ready to protect his people and destroy their enemies (Psalms 11:4). He is not encased in gold and silver. All] i.e. the people must submit in reverence before him, and wait for his judgment (cf. Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 2:1-7). It becomes all to adore such a God who will speak to the soul bushed in silence.



This fifth strophe does not utter woe at first, but makes prominent the cause that leads to it. Like the rest of heathen nations, the Chaldæans trusted to their gods, but all hope from this quarter is cut off. Idols profit nothing; it is folly therefore to carve and honour them.

I. Idolatry is a system of lies. “A teacher of lies.”

1. The idol itself is a lie. It represents God as visible, finite, and dependent, whereas he is Infinite and Invisible. It contradicts the word of God and the nature of man; and represents carnal conceptions of truth and worship.

2. The teaching of the idol is a lie. In itself and by its priests it sustains delusions. Its oracle is the doctrine of vanities; it is a falsehood and a work of errors (Jeremiah 10:8), leading men to trust in dumb idols, the work of their own hands (1 Corinthians 12:2). “We have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.”

“God’s omnipresence seems not sensuous;
Unless he be in us, we are not in him” [Bailey].

II. Idolatry is a system of impotence. Idols may be adorned and beautified, commended and honoured, but they are only dumb nothings.

1. They are fashioned by man. Carved and encased with gold and silver, and yet neither breath, feeling, nor understanding. They are inferior to their maker, how then can they impart life and help to those who trust them? “They that make a graven image are all of them vanity” (Isaiah 44:9-10).

2. They respond not to the requests of man. Men cry “to the wood,” Awake, for our relief; “to the dumb stone,” Arise, deliver me, for thou art my God (Isaiah 44:17): but there is no answer. A god that cannot speak is nothing. The cries of man must be heard, the wants of man must be satisfied. Without a true response to the entreaties of man there is no religion. We cannot animate stocks and stones. Art and science may create and beautify gods; but this is labour in vain—will deceive, and nourish superstition. “They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.”

III. Idolatry is a system of vanity. When men have done all they can, displayed their skill and carved their image, God ridicules the result. Only wood and stone, base and inferior matter. That teach! Yes, though dumb it speaks of impotence, vanity, and folly.

1. What vanity to trust in a god of your own creation! If images are made by man, how can they have the being and authority of God? Why spend your energy in the service of that which will not profit? “’Tis mad idolatry,” says Shakspeare, “to make the service greater than the God.” “What profiteth the graven image?”

2. What folly to rely upon that which brings a curse! “Woe unto him that said to the wood, Awake.” Whatever is accounted a god, which is only a creature or a feigned thing, is a curse to man. It curses human nature by degrading it, and making men like brutes. It curses the world by bringing down the judgments of God. When men are determined not to retain God in their thoughts, but to exalt that which is below themselves to be in the place of God, they become brutish in their knowledge, vain in their imaginations, and alienated in their hearts. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.”

THE DIVINE COURT.—Habakkuk 2:20

In sublime contrast to idols, Jehovah is set forth in his dwelling-place and authority. None should dispute with him, but stand in awe before him. In the court-house of God “let all the earth keep silence.”

I. God resides in this court. “The Lord is in his holy temple.” The world is not empty space. A true and personal God exists; not like idols dwelling in temples made with hands, but revealing himself in the visible universe. In heaven by glory and honour, in earth by grace and goodness. “The Being whose centre is everywhere, but whose circumference is nowhere.” In every state and condition God is ever near. “The Lord is in his holy temple.”

II. God governs in this court. He dwells in his temple, and has not left the world to chance, inflexible law, or abstract powers. His throne is on high, and has neither been overturned nor vacated. He judges the world in righteousness, delivers his people in distress. and punishes the insolence of the wicked. He is not enshrined in gold and silver; “but our God is in the heavens,” reigning supreme over all the nations of the earth. He is the world’s great King, discerning and rewarding the works and ways of men. “The Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men.”

III. God demands silence in his court. “Let all the earth keep silence.” If we are silent in courts of law, if all are reverent and solemn before an earthly judge, how should we stand before Almighty God!

1. Let sinners tremble at his judgments. He will strike idolaters dumb, convince the wicked of folly, and cover them with shame.

2. Let saints trust in his word. If perplexed, “hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand” (Zephaniah 1:7). If afflicted, “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). If weakened in faith, and disappointed in prayer, “Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near: let them speak” (Isaiah 41:1). “In speaking of God our best eloquence is silence,” says Hooker. “Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.”


Habakkuk 2:18-19. The destruction of idols. Created by man—deaf and dumb, impotent and false. Dumb idols: Lit. dumb nothings. “And what else are man’s idols of wealth, honour, fame, which he makes to himself, the creatures of his own hands or mind—their greatness existing chiefly in his own imagination—before which he bows down himself, who is the image of God?” [Pusey]. The folly of idol worshippers. Trusting their own creation—calling upon it as God, and exposing their own souls. “Here is a double woe:

1. Loss of labour;
2. Want of help. In the first they bewray their folly; the god of this world hath made fools of them for turning the glory of the invisible God into the image of creatures; but in the second we find the misery, for we cannot subsist without help, and they trust to idols where there is no help” [Marbury].

Behold. Though the vanity of worshipping idols be palpably gross, so that seriously to consider it is sufficient to refute it, yet such is man’s stupidity that he needs stirring up to notice the error of his way—to caution him of his danger, and to wean him from his sins [cf. Hutcheson].

Habakkuk 2:4; Habakkuk 2:14; Habakkuk 2:20. Three bright stars. As the prophet stood on his eminence and saw nothing but darkness, God revealed three great principles which infused light and life into the gloom—principles which stand out to this day to all perplexed, fearful, and sceptical souls, as stars in a dark sky.

1. The just shall live by faith. A truth so important that it is quoted thrice in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

2. The earth shall be filled,” &c.

3. The Lord is in his holy temple. The first of these three lights reveals the secret of our religion. It is faith. Faith in God’s word, and faith in God’s work. The second opens up to the faith supposed to exist; a glorious promise that all sin, misery, and confusion which now disgrace and oppress the earth, shall disappear, and make room for the glory of the Lord to take their place. The third sets forth—the stay, the confidence, the breathless silence of the children of God, while the promise is fulfilling, and especially when the ways of God are dark and mysterious. Think of the circumstances and prospects of the prophet, and learn that God, in dispensing his blessings, takes seasons of despondency and thick gloom—that in selecting such times for predicting splendid futures he draws from the opposition of men and the infidelity of the Church an illustration of his irresistible majesty and unchangeable truth [Anon.].

Habakkuk 2:5-20. Of shameful and hurtful avarice.

1. Avarice is contrary to the order prescribed by God; therefore God must bring it back to order by chastisement (Habakkuk 2:1; Habakkuk 2:6 b, Habakkuk 2:7).

2. It is contrary to love, therefore it produces a harvest of hatred (Habakkuk 2:6 a).

3. It confounds the ideas of right, therefore wrong must befall it (Habakkuk 2:8 a).

4. It makes the mind timid; but where fear is there is no stability (Habakkuk 2:9).

5. It accumulates (riches) with sin, therefore for nothing (Habakkuk 2:12; Habakkuk 2:11; Habakkuk 2:13; Habakkuk 2:17).

6. It seeks false honour, therefore it acquires shame (Habakkuk 2:15-16).

7. It sets its heart upon gold and silver and lifeless things, therefore it must perish with its lifeless gods (Habakkuk 2:18-19).

8. On the whole it provokes the judgment of God (Habakkuk 2:8 b, Habakkuk 2:14, Habakkuk 2:20) [Lange].

Habakkuk 2:20. Notice—

1. The privilege of the godly. “The Lord is in his holy temple,” to guide them by his wisdom, defend them by his power, and save them by his grace.

2. The duty of the godly. “Let all the earth be silent;” but they should acquiesce in his word and work. “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”

“Wait, O my soul, thy Maker’s will;
Tumultuous passions, all be still!
Nor let a murmuring thought arise;
His ways are just, his counsels wise.”


Habakkuk 2:16-18. Shame. There is none of you that ever entered this house of pleasure but he left the skirts of his garment in the hands of shame, and had his name rolled in the chambers of death. What fruit had ye then? This is the question [Bp. Taylor]. The man wakes from his dream, and finds that he possesses not an atom of the rich possessions he had dreamed of [Lorin].

Habakkuk 2:18-19. Idolatry. Any opinion which tends to keep out of sight the living and loving God, whether it be to substitute for him an idol, or any occult agency, or a formal creed, can be nothing better than the portentous shadow projected from the slavish darkness of an ignorant heart [Hallam]. While earthly objects are exhausted by familiarity, the thought of God becomes to the devout man continually brighter, richer, vaster, derives fresh lustre from all that he observes of nature and providence; and attracts to itself all the glories of the universe [Channing].

Habakkuk 2:20. A heathen philosopher once asked a Christian, “Where is God?” The Christian answered, “Let me first ask you, ‘Where is he not’?” [Arrow-smith.]. The Will of God is our pole-star, and, with our eye constantly on it, we shall be carried safely through every storm and tempest of this mortal life [Anon.]. What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter, is the unvaried language of God in his providence. He will have credit every step. He will not assign reasons, because he will exercise faith [Wilson].

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Habakkuk 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.