Habakkuk 1 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Habakkuk 1)

Verse 1

[1] The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.

The burden — The prophet seems to speak of these grievous things, as a burden which he himself groaned under.

Verse 4

[4] Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Therefore — Because the wicked go on with impunity.

The law — The whole law, moral, ceremonial, and judicial.

Is slacked — Is slighted, and not observed.

Go forth — From magistrates, judges, and public officers.

Doth compass about — As it were besieges, with design to oppress and ruin.

Verse 5

[5] Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

Behold ye — Here God begins to answer the prophet.

Among the heathen — See what judgments have been executed upon the heathen for like sins.

Verse 6

[6] For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs.

Bitter — Cruel, and without mercy.

Hasty — Speedy in executing their merciless purposes.

Verse 7

[7] They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.

Their judgment — The law they observe, is their own will.

Their dignity — Their authority is all from themselves, without respect to any other law or rule whatever.

Verse 8

[8] Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.

The evening wolves — Which with fasting in the day, came out in the evening, fierce and ravenous.

Shall spread — All over the land.

Verse 9

[9] They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.

For violence — To enrich themselves by making a prey of all.

Their faces — Their very countenances shall be as blasting as the east-wind.

Verse 10

[10] And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it.

At the kings — Which opposed their designs.

And take it — By mighty mounts cast up.

Verse 12

[12] Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

Shall not die — Be utterly destroyed.

Ordained — Set up, and designed.

Them — The Chaldean kingdom.

For judgment — To execute this judgment, which is tempered with mercy.

For correction — To chastise, not to destroy.

Verse 14

[14] And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?

And makest — Not infusing cruel appetites, but permitting them to act according to such appetite which was already in them.

As the fishes — Of which the greater greedily devour the smaller.

Creeping things — Which in the waters are food for the lesser fry; so the world, like the sea, is wholly oppression.

No ruler — None to defend the weak, or restrain the mighty.

Verse 15

[15] They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad.

They — The Chaldeans draw out all alike, good or bad.

In their net — Destroying many together.

And gather — As if they could never have enough, they drive men into their nets.

Verse 16

[16] Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.

They sacrifice — Ascribe the praise of their victories.

Their net — To their own contrivances, diligence, and power.

Verse 17

[17] Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?

Empty their net — As fisher-men empty the full net to fill it again.