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©Michael Player

Chapter 1:12-2:1 (ESV)

Posted on May 17, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:12-2:1 (ESV) - Are you not from everlasting,
    O Lord my God, my Holy One?
    We shall not die.
O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment,
    and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.
You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
    and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
    and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
    the man more righteous than he?
You make mankind like the fish of the sea,
    like crawling things that have no ruler.
He brings all of them up with a hook;
    he drags them out with his net;
he gathers them in his dragnet;
    so he rejoices and is glad.
Therefore he sacrifices to his net
    and makes offerings to his dragnet;
for by them he lives in luxury,
    and his food is rich.
Is he then to keep on emptying his net
    and mercilessly killing nations forever?

I will take my stand at my watchpost
    and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
    and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

Question to consider: Why did Habakkuk think that the Babylonians would be able to go on killing nations forever?

Habakkuk’s description of the fisherman who makes sacrifices to his net by the blood of nations reminds me of the carpenter of Isaiah 44:13-17, “The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, ‘Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!’ And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god!’”

Like the fisherman and carpenter, the Babylonians were idolaters. The sentiment is similar to someone today who proclaims, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” They feel the need to worship something outside of themselves, but they want to avoid doctrines and creeds in order to worship in their own way and without demands. This practice only works if God doesn’t exist or if someone is in fact worshiping himself. 

Habakkuk wanted the LORD to exact judgment on those who perverted justice in Israel, but he didn’t understand why God would use an idolatrous nation to do it. Israel deserved judgment, but in Habakkuk’s way of thinking, Babylon deserved it even more.

When it comes to who was more deserving of judgment, I would argue that Israel was more culpable, for they had been given the Law. Babylon was like Nineveh of whom the LORD said, “Should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11) Babylon was the inevitable outworking of a people who believed they were the captain of their own ship.

Habakkuk’s other concern was that if God used this godless nation to wipe them out, wouldn’t this mean that injustice and godlessness would never end? Habakkuk believed that if there was no Israel to bring God’s law to the nations, there would be no hope for mankind. 

Habakkuk took his seat in the watchtower to await the LORD’s reply. It was not in the sense that God owed him an explanation for Habakkuk’s approval but as a clarification of wisdom to correct what he thought was surely his own misunderstanding. The watchtower was a high place where someone could warn the city of danger. It also would have been a quiet and lonely place for Habakkuk to wait on God.


Dear Lord, thank You for being our rock and salvation. You have the words of eternal life, and while the nations may continue to rage, we know that You are King of kings and Lord of lords. Please grant us comfort and peace in the knowledge that You are working out all things for good and for Your glory. Amen.