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Bible: What Does Habakkuk 1-3 Teach Us About the Righteous and the Proud?

Updated on September 23, 2016

The Prophet Habakkuk


A Brutal People

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You Won't Believe It!


The prophet Habakkuk "sees" a burden.

Given that fact, his prophecy could qualify as a vision in which he both converses with Yahweh and receives an oracle from Him (v. 1).

Habakkuk addresses the LORD and questions His long inactivity regarding his dire circumstances.

More specifically, he asks, "Why do You do nothing to save me from the violence and other iniquity that surrounds me (viz., the particularly perverse moral situation current in Israel)? [Vv. 2-4].

Yahweh replies, in short, that He plans to use the brutal Chaldeans to chastise Israel (that is, Judah): something deemed highly unbelievable among God's chosen people (v. 5).

His description of the Babylonian army definitely highlights its viciousness:

(1) bitter and impetuous,

(2) greedy (v. 6),

(3) self-sufficient (v. 7),

(4) terrible and violent (v. 9),

(5) proud (v. 10), and

(6) unfaithful to the true God (v. 11).

Yahweh's answer succeeds in eliciting more questions of anguish from Habakkuk (1:12-2:1).

The first question (and its follow-up statements) reveals the prophet's hope that, since Yahweh is who He is—Israel's eternal, holy, covenant God—He will not allow His people to perish, but only undergo correction (v. 12).

Habakkuk's second question demonstrates that he does not understand why his God, the righteous LORD, allows the more wicked to judge the less wicked and does nothing to stop it.

He says, in effect, "God, you are too pure to look on evil, so why are you looking on evil" (v. 13)?

However, he does not stop there. With his third question, the prophet charges Yahweh with making men vulnerable to capture (v. 14).

Chaldeans easily trap Judah, despoil him, and treat him cruelly (vv. 15-16).

He closes his questioning with one last gasp of incredulity (v. 17).

Text: "The Righteous Shall Live by Faith"


Habakkuk 2

Expecting his impudence to receive a just rebuke, Habakkuk readies himself on watch, waiting patiently for Yahweh (v. 1).

As the LORD responds, He shows concern that the prophet preserve his vision in writing, because it will provide valuable and needed truth when the right time comes (vv. 2-3).

What is that truth but that the just man will wait for "the appointed time," trusting that God's word will then triumph (v. 4).

Contrasted With the Righteous Man

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Characteristics of the Proud Man

The LORD contrasts this righteous one with "a proud man" who drinks intoxicants excessively and seeks greedily to satisfy his lusts (v. 5).

Employing proverbs and riddles, Habakkuk issues a series of five extended "woes" leveled against this proud individual.

The first woe decries his unjust gain, and warns of his own plundering at the hands of creditors (vv. 6-8).

With his second woe, the prophet emphasizes the man's covetous nature.

Purposing to live a safe, comfortable existence apart from righteousness, the proud person will not succeed; the very substance of his house will rebel against him (vv. 9-11).

Third, Yahweh condemns this proud man for trying to build a town on unrighteous deeds (v. 12).

The ways of the "unsaved" ultimately lead to vanity (v. 13).

On the other hand, God will surely bring to pass the glorious day of universal knowledge of the LORD (v. 14).

Drunkenness is the fourth reason for Yahweh to issue a message of woe.

Not only does He highlight that particular debauchery, but also the sexual perversion that often follows indulgence in drink (vv. 15-16).

God's wrath will fall on him, and he will be ashamed of his violence (v. 17; cf. v. 8).

The final woe concerns his idolatry.

God stresses the unprofitable and untrustworthy (because they are inanimate/never alive) nature of idols, and contrasts it with His own awesome holiness (vv. 18-20).

Hejaz/Paran/Hagar and Ishmael's Land


Habakkuk 3

The prophet designates the final chapter of his prophecy a prayer, possibly setting it to music (v. 1).

In light of God's fearful "speech" entailing His wrath, Habakkuk requests mercy, even revival, "in the midst of the years (v. 2).

The LORD comes from Paran (a wilderness bordering on Edom and Midian) in judgment, His glory illuminating the heavens and the earth (vv. 3-4).

Disease and illness follow as His power goes forth (v. 5); His very presence causes upheaval among men and in nature (vv. 6-7).

Habakkuk links various bodies of water (as well as the mountains, the sun, and the moon) to Yahweh's wrathful judgment.

God's victorious ride to deliver His people disrupts all creation; He tramples the nations and humiliates Israel's enemy (vv. 8-15).

[Might these waters symbolize the peoples about to undergo punishment? Compare Revelation 17:15].

When he hears God's mighty voice and learns of His judgment, the prophet trembles (v. 16).

Though anticipating the worst in circumstances for an agrarian economy—viz., no produce or livestock—, Habakkuk still manages to compose a hymn of faith.

By this action he showed his determination to rejoice in Yahweh, his strength.

The prophet is sure that God will grant him protection and preservation (vv. 17-19).


1. Why did the Israelites deem it unbelievable that Yahweh should use the Chaldeans to chastise the nation?

2. What two kinds of men does Yahweh contrast in chapter two?

3. What are the five woes leveled against the proud?

4. In what form does chapter three appear?

5. What does Habakkuk describe in chapter three?

6. Despite evil times, what does the prophet determine to do?

7. Where does the LORD come from in judgment?

8. What famous truth did Paul borrow from Habakkuk 2?

9. Describe the characteristics of the Babylonian army.

10. What was Habakkuk’s problem in chapter one?

© 2014 glynch1


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    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      For one thing - his name. It would seem that the name Habakkuk means "to embrace" and "to wrestle". We see him wrestling with God in the beginning of the book, but by the end he is embracing God.

    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 4 years ago

      What, in particular, do you find interesting?

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I always found the book of Habakkuk to be very interesting. Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us.


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