Habakkuk [Hābăk'kuk]—love’s embrace or he that embraces. The eighth of the Minor Prophets whose parentage, birthplace and era are unrecorded (Hab. 1:1; 3:1).
Although he is not much more than a mere name to us, we know that Habakkuk was a prophet of Judah and of the tribe of Levi and of the temple singers (Hab. 3:19). He is also referred to as a prophet and the last prophet before the destruction of Jerusalem (Hab. 3:11). Rabbinical tradition makes him the son of the Shunammite woman whom Elisha restored to life (2 Kings 4:16). Habakkuk prophesied the coming of the Babylonians upon Judah. This invasion took place in 606 b.c. and also in 597 b.c. and 586 b.c. “In your days” (Hab. 1:5), would indicate that he prophesied scarcely a generation before the first invasion.
In his prophecy Habakkuk was true to his name, which means “strong embrace of God,” for he caressed and comforted the people as one would embrace a weeping child until its tears are dried. A modern writer suggests that his name may have contributed somewhat to the unpopularity of the prophet. “His name is against him; its coarse gutterals, falling upon the modern ears with a forbidden ring, and creating a prejudice from the beginning.”
From the book Habakkuk wrote, we gather that he was the questioning prophet. He wants to know “Why?” and “How?” Answers were granted him. Why does God permit the destruction of His own people by a hand so cruel and unclean? The prophet waited patiently for an answer, and it came. The ungodly shall pass; the just shall live by faith.
Then we have a chant of derision against the Chaldeans raised by their victims—a fivefold woe:
I. Their insatiable greed.
II. Their overreaching ambition.
III. Their cruel tyranny.
IV. Their shameful treatment of conquered people.
V. Their brutal idolatry.
Then there is Habakkuk’s great message of faith which gave Paul a hint of the most precious truth of the Gospel (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38) and aided the Reformation under Martin Luther, the charter of evangelical liberty.