‘The burden which Habakkuk the prophet saw.'
This description of a prophecy as a ‘burden' occurs regularly. This was firstly because it burdened the prophet's soul. He could not forebear to speak because the message lay heavily on him. And, secondly, it was a burden because he found it very difficult to deliver. It was rarely a happy message, even though usually containing comfort for the future of God's people. And yet he had to deliver it because God had told him to, we may assume in the face of fierce opposition. Being a true prophet was by no means an easy task.
This designation as "the prophet" as an opening designation is found in two other prophetic books, Haggai and Zechariah. This is probably because they were official prophets, belonging to the recognised order of prophets and connected with the central sanctuary (see Zechariah 11:12 where Zechariah is due his wages).