1 The [a]oracle (a burdensome message—a pronouncement from God) which Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2 O Lord, how long will I call for help And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. 3 Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? For destruction and violence are before me; Strife continues and contention arises. 4 Therefore, the law is ineffective and ignored And justice is never upheld, For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore, justice becomes perverted.
5 [The Lord replied,] “Look among the nations! See! Be astonished! Wonder! For I am doing something in your days— You would not believe it if you were told. 6 “For behold, I am raising up the [b]Chaldeans [who rule in [c]Babylon], That fierce and impetuous nation Who march throughout the earth To take possession of dwelling places that do not belong to them. 7 “The Chaldeans are dreaded and feared; Their justice and authority originate with themselves and are defined only by their decree. 8 “Their horses are swifter than leopards And keener than [hungry] wolves in the evening, Their horsemen come galloping, Their horsemen come from far away; They fly like an eagle swooping down to devour. 9 “They all come for violence; Their horde of faces moves [eagerly] forward, They gather prisoners like sand. 10 “They make fun of kings And rulers are a laughing matter to them. They ridicule every stronghold And heap up rubble [for earth mounds] and capture it. 11 “Then they will sweep by like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, They [and all men] whose own power and strength is their god.”
12 Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, My Holy One? We will not die. O Lord, You have appointed the Chaldeans [who rule in Babylon] to execute [Your] judgment, And You, O Rock, have established them to correct and chastise. 13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You cannot look favorably on wickedness. Why then do You look favorably On those who act treacherously? Why are you silent when the wicked (Chaldean oppressors) destroy Those more righteous than they? 14 Why do You make men like the fish of the sea, Like reptiles and creeping things that have no ruler [and are helpless against their enemies]? 15 The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, And drag them away with a net, And gather them together in their fishing net; So they rejoice and are glad. 16 Therefore, they offer sacrifices to their net And burn incense to their fishing net; Because through these things their catch is large and they live luxuriously, And their food is plentiful. 17 Will they continue to empty their net And [mercilessly] go on destroying nations without sparing?
God Answers the Prophet
2 I will stand at my guard post And station myself on the tower; And I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, And what answer I will give [as His spokesman] when I am reproved. 2 Then the Lord answered me and said, “Write the vision And engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets So that the one who reads it will run. 3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail. Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it, Because it will certainly come; it will not delay.
4 “Look at the proud one, His soul is not right within him, But the righteous will live by his faith [in the true God]. 5 “Moreover, wine is treacherous and betrays the arrogant man, So that he does not stay at home. His appetite is large like Sheol, And he is like death, never satisfied. He gathers to himself all nations And collects to himself all peoples [as if he owned them].
6 “Will all these [victims of his greed] not take up a taunting song against him, And in mocking derision against him Say, ‘[d]Woe (judgment is coming) to him who increases that which is not his— How long [will he possess it]? And [woe to him who] makes himself wealthy with loans.’ 7 “Will your creditors not rise up suddenly, And those who collect from you awaken? Then you will become plunder for them. 8 “Because you [king of Babylon] have looted many nations, All peoples who are left will loot you— Because of human bloodshed and for the violence done to the land, To the city and all its inhabitants.
9 “Woe (judgment is coming) to him who obtains wicked gain for his house [and thinks by so doing] To set his nest on high, That he may be rescued from the hand of evil. 10 “You have devised a shameful thing for your house By cutting off and putting an end to many peoples; So you are sinning against your own life and forfeiting it. 11 “For the stone will cry out from the wall [to accuse you—built in sin!] And the rafter will answer it out of the woodwork.
12 “Woe (judgment is coming) to him who builds a city with bloodshed And establishes a town by violence! 13 “Is it not indeed from the Lord of hosts That peoples labor [only] for the fire [that will destroy their work], And nations grow weary for nothing [that is, things which have no lasting value]? 14 “But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.
15 “Woe (judgment is coming) to you who make your neighbors drink, Who mix in your venom to make them drunk So that you may look at their nakedness! 16 “You will be filled with disgrace instead of honor. Now drink and expose your own nakedness! The cup [of wrath] in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you [O destroyer], And utter disgrace will be on your own glory. 17 “For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you; The destruction of the animals will terrify you On account of human bloodshed and the violence done to the land, To the city and all its inhabitants.
18 “What profit is the carved image when its maker has formed it? It is only a cast image, and a teacher of lies. For its maker trusts in his own creation [as his god] When he makes speechless idols. 19 “Woe (judgment is coming) to him who says to the wooden image, ‘Awake!’ And to the speechless stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Look, it is overlaid with gold and silver, And there is no breath at all inside it. 20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth hush and be silent before Him.”
God’s Salvation of His People
3 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, set to [e]wild and enthusiastic music.
2 O Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath [earnestly] remember compassion and love.
3 God [approaching from Sinai] comes from Teman (Edom), And the Holy One from [f]Mount Paran. Selah ([g]pause, and calmly think of that). His splendor and majesty covers the heavens And the earth is full of His praise. 4 His brightness is like the sunlight; He has [bright] rays flashing from His hand, And there [in the sunlike splendor] is the hiding place of His power. 5 Before Him goes the pestilence [of judgment as in Egypt], And [the burning] plague [of condemnation] follows at His feet [as in Sennacherib’s army]. 6 He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations, Yes, the eternal mountains were shattered, The ancient hills bowed low and collapsed. His ways are eternal. 7 I [Habakkuk, in my vision] saw the tents of Cushan under distress; The tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.
8 Did the Lord rage against the rivers, Or was Your anger against the rivers, Or was Your wrath against the [Red] Sea, That You rode on Your horses, On Your chariots of salvation? 9 Your bow was made bare; The rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah (pause, calmly think of that). You split the earth with rivers [bringing waters to dry places]. 10 The mountains saw You and [they] trembled and writhed [as if in pain]; The downpour of waters swept by [as a deluge]. The deep uttered its voice and raged, It lifted its hands high. 11 The sun and moon stood in their places [as before Joshua]; They went away at the light of Your [swift] arrows, At the radiance and gleam of Your glittering spear. 12 In indignation You marched through the earth; In anger You trampled and threshed the nations. 13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation and rescue of Your anointed [people Israel]. You struck the [h]head from the house of the wicked To lay him open from the thigh to the neck. Selah (pause, and calmly think of that). 14 With the enemy’s own spears, You pierced The head of his hordes. They stormed out to scatter us, Rejoicing like those Who secretly devour the oppressed [of Israel]. 15 You have trampled on the sea with Your horses, On the surge of many waters.
16 I heard and my whole inner self trembled; My lips quivered at the sound. Decay and rottenness enter my bones, And I tremble in my place. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade and attack us. 17 Though the fig tree does not blossom And there is no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive fails And the fields produce no food, Though the flock is cut off from the fold And there are no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation! 19 The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my [i]high places [of challenge and responsibility].
For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
Habakkuk 1:1I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
Habakkuk 1:6The Chaldeans were the dominant people in Babylonia. Originally from a small part of southern Babylonia near the head of the Persian Gulf, they were an aggressive tribe and completely controlled the country after 625 b.c. Babylon was their capital city and became the scholarly and scientific center of western Asia. The words “Chaldean” and “Babylonian” are used interchangeably.
Habakkuk 1:6“Babylon” was the name of the magnificent capital city of Babylonia, and the name of the city was commonly used to refer to the entire area which was located at the eastern end of the Fertile Crescent. Both the plain of Shinar and Chaldea (land of the Chaldeans) were part of ancient Babylonia.
Habakkuk 2:6The taunting song of the five woes pronounced against Babylon begins in v 6 and concludes at the end of the chapter.
Habakkuk 3:1Lit Shigionoth. The musical heading suggests that this chapter should be sung.
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