The Song of Habakkuk Part I -- By: J. Ellwood Evans

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 112:445 (Jan 1955)
Article: The Song of Habakkuk Part I
Author: J. Ellwood Evans

The Song of Habakkuk
Part I

J. Ellwood Evans

The song of Habakkuk is recorded in the third chapter of his brief book. The prophet pictures the deliverance of Israel in conjunction with a glorious theophany. The judgment of God is seen falling upon the pagan world and resulting in the triumph of Israel. The calm, joyous confidence of the prophet in his song is impressive. Habakkuk ends his short book with words of faith that are hardly exceeded anywhere in the Old Testament: “For though the fig-tree shall not flourish, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength; and he maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and will make me walk upon my high places” (Hab 3:17–19).

None but the most careless reader would fail to notice the contrast between the song that closes the book and the complaint that opens it. The contrast becomes more evident when the complaint is placed beside the song: “O Jehovah, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear? I cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save. Why dost thou show me iniquity, and look upon perverseness? for destruction and violence are before me; and there is strife, and contention riseth up. Therefore the law is slacked, and justice doth never go forth; for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore justice goeth forth perverted” (Hab 1:2–4).

The melancholy tenor of the complaint forms a dark background beside the bright hope and faith of the song. It is not difficult to read human experience into Habakkuk’s

outburst. The reader is tempted to seek a reason for the change from despair to faith.

The conditions of which Habakkuk complained in chapter 1 are not altered anywhere in the record that follows. Yet the prophet lifts his voice in song at the end. What was the path followed by Habakkuk that led him out of doubt and despondency into delight and confidence? The discovery of that path would give both present importance and abiding value to the song of Habakkuk.

The Prophet, His Times and His Prophecy

Nothing is known of Habakkuk outside of the book which bears his name. The fact that so little is known about him has led to speculation. He has been identified with the “watchman” of Isaiah 21:6, who was sent to disco...

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