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©Clay Eldridge

Chapter 1:1-4 (ESV)

Posted on May 15, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:1-4 (ESV) - The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
    and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
    and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity,
    and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
    so justice goes forth perverted.

Question to consider: How does people’s relationship with God relate to violence and injustice?

This oracle from Habakkuk is dated at about 605 BC. After the wicked King Manasseh reigned for 55 years from the age of twelve and rebuilt all of the high places torn down by his father, Hezekiah, he was replaced by another wicked king named Amon who reigned for two years. Amon was replaced by Josiah, an eight-year-old king who reigned from 640 BC until 609 BC. Josiah was faithful to the LORD, and Habakkuk was born during his reign.

By 605 BC, Josiah had been replaced by Jehoiakim who was wicked in the eyes of the LORD. Experiencing the contrast between the reign of Josiah and the reign of Jehoiakim caused Habakkuk to call out to God for help. When someone has grown up in an era of righteousness and prosperity, it is shocking to witness a time where justice is perverted and people of violence and iniquity take over the land.

The king was meant to be the physical image of the god of a nation. Moses warned the Israelites about the character of a human king when he prophesied in Deuteronomy that they would ask God to have a king like the surrounding nations. Having a wicked king like Jehoiakim defiled the image of God before the people of Israel and the surrounding nations. When Jehoiakim allowed the building of high places to Baal and Asherah poles, he was giving the message that the God of Israel was just another god in the pantheon of gods.

When the image of God is diminished in the eyes of people, they no longer fear setting aside His commands. I think most of us can relate to this experience as we see violence and protests breaking out in the streets and justice being perverted to the point where people are afraid to defend themselves from attackers for fear of prosecution while criminals get away with theft and violence.

When we witness these things, our reaction is to cry out to God for help. How can He let these things happen? When will justice prevail? Why are bad things allowed to happen to good people? We’ll read God’s response to Habakkuk tomorrow, but it is worth noting that Habakkuk loved the LORD and was not afraid to ask these hard questions.

His name meant “embrace”, and he lived up to that name in clinging to the LORD for the salvation of Israel.


Dear heavenly Father, may we learn to embrace You and Your people in times of blessing and times of difficulty. Help us to fear Your holy name so that we may not sin against You. Thank You for being faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Amen.