1 December 2015

Habakkuk 1:12 - 2:4

"I will stand at my watch-post, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint." (2:1)

Psalm: Psalm 136:1-9


The opening verse of this book identifies the author as "the prophet Habakkuk", but nothing else is known of him as a historic figure. In verse 6 of chapter 1 there is a reference to the Chaldeans, and this is the only clue to the possible dating of the book. The Chaldeans normally refers to the Neo-Babylonian Empire of the late 7th century BC that controlled Jerusalem until 538 BC. The setting for the work is therefore likely to be that of a time of turmoil in Judah at the end of the 7th and going into the 6th century BC.

Central to the book is the theme of justice and the plight of God's people. In verse 2 of chapter 1 Habakkuk begins the complaint against God with an echo of the psalms: "O LORD, how long shall I cry for help and you will not listen?". There then begins a conversation between Habakkuk and God concerning the nature of God's response, or apparent lack of it, to injustice. The passage for today contains a snippet of that conversation.

Habakkuk, in his altercation with God, draws his complaint from what he believes to be true about God, contrasted with what he experiences as the lot of his people. This echoes those psalms which are psalms of lament. What he sees and experiences doesn't match with what he believes about God and so Habakkuk enters into this dialogue with God.

To Ponder

  • How does your understanding of God shape what you long to see in the world
  • What do you want to say to God in the light of what is happening in the world? How do you think God might answer?
  • Try to develop a pattern of dialoguing with God. It will take time but may prove a stimulating way to develop your spirituality.

Bible notes author

The Revd Peter Barber

Peter Barber is an ordained Methodist presbyter currently serving as the chair of district for the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District of the Methodist Church in Britain. Previously he has served in circuits in Cornwall, Aberystwyth, and Harpenden.