The burden which Habakkuk the prophet saw.
The Argument - The Prophet complains to God, considering the great felicity of the wicked, and the miserable oppression of the godly, who endure all types of affliction and cruelty, and yet can see no end. Therefore he had this revelation shown to him by God, that the Chaldeans would come and take them away as captives, so that they could look for no end of their troubles as yet, because of their stubbornness and rebellion against the Lord. And lest the godly should despair, seeing this horrible confusion, he comforts them by this, that God will punish the Chaldeans their enemies, when their pride and cruelty will be at height. And for this reason he exhorts the faithful to patience by his own example, and shows them a form of prayer, with which they should comfort themselves.
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! [even] cry out to thee (a) [of] violence, and thou wilt not save!
(a) The Prophet complains to God, and bewails that among the Jews is left no fairness and brotherly love: but instead of these reigns cruelty, theft, contention, and strife.
Therefore the law is feeble, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth (b) surround the righteous; therefore judgment goeth forth (c) perverted
(b) To suppress him, if any should show himself zealous of God's cause.
(c) Because the judges who should remedy this excess, are as evil as the rest.
Behold ye among the nations, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for [I] will work a work in your days, [which] (d) ye will not believe, though it be told [you].
(d) As in times past you would not believe God's word, so you will not now believe the strange plagues which are at hand.
They [are] terrible and dreadful: (e) their judgment and their dignity shall proceed from themselves.
(e) They themselves will be your judges in this cause, and none will have authority over them to control them.
They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up [as] the (f) east wind, and they shall gather the captives (g) as the sand.
(f) For the Jews most feared this wind, because it destroyed their fruits.
(g) They will be so many in number.
And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn to them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap (h) dust, and take it.
(h) They will cast up mounds against it.
Then shall [his] mind change, and he shall (i) pass over, and offend, [imputing] this his power to his god.
(i) The Prophet comforts the faithful that God will also destroy the Babylonians, because they will abuse this victory, and become proud and insolent, attributing the praise of this to their idols.
[Art] thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? we shall not (k) die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.
(k) He assures the godly of God's protection, showing that the enemy can do no more than God has appointed, and also that their sins require such a sharp rod.
And makest men as the (l) fishes of the sea, as the creeping animals, [that have] no ruler over them?
(l) So that the great devours the small, and the Chaldeans destroy all the world.
Therefore they sacrifice to their (m) net, and burn incense to their drag; because by them their portion [is] fat, and their food plenteous.
(m) Meaning that the enemies flatter themselves, and glory in their own strength, power, and intellect.
Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay (n) the nations?
(n) Meaning, that they would not.