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Asbury Bible Commentary – II. The Prayer (3:1–19)
II. The Prayer (3:1–19)

The structure of this chapter is arranged chiastically (i.e., according to a concentric movement): introduction, v. 1 (A); prayer, v. 2. (B); theophany, vv. 3-15 (C); response, vv. 16-19 (B1); epilogue, v. 19 (A1). This structure is denoted by the repetition of certain key words or phrases in v. 2 (B) and vv. 16-19 (B1). Examples are šāma'tî (“I have heard” in vv. 2, 16), and rōgez (wrath in v. 2 and pounded and trembled in v. 16). The whole prayer is framed by musical notations in v. 1 and v.19c (Armerding, 521).

Many scholars have challenged the ascription of the prayer to Habakkuk (v. 1, cf. Hiebert, 136-43). But as stated in the introduction, today a general consensus exists among scholars of multifarious traditions that the same individual composed all three chapters. This case has been made eloquently on the basis of philology (Albright, 9). But even structurally, ch. 3 is not unlike chs. 1 and 2 (see introduction). And theologically, this prayer is an ideal closure for Habakkuk's quest to understand the problem of evil. His prayer reflects his acceptance of God's answers to his personal complaints. His vow to exult in Yahweh in the midst of catastrophe (vv. 17-19) is a fitting example of the principle of faith introduced in 2:4.