Habakkuk 1:13
Your eyes are too pure to look upon evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do You tolerate the faithless? Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
The Holiness of GodH. Raikes, A. M.Habakkuk 1:13
The Holiness of GodHomilistHabakkuk 1:13
Things that Suggest Mistrust of GodW. Talbot, D. D.Habakkuk 1:13
Wait, and You Will SeeGates of ImageryHabakkuk 1:13
The Eternity, Providence, and Holiness of JehovahD. Thomas Habakkuk 1:12, 13
Dark Problems and Man's True Attitude in Relation to ThemS.D. Hillman Habakkuk 1:13-15, 17; 2:1-4

Hope is the expectation of future good. The cherishing of this spirit, even as it respects the affairs of everyday life, yields strength and courage, whilst the centering this in the glorious realities God has revealed imparts joy and gladness to the heart. To the man of piety hope is the helmet, serving as a protection and defence in the day of conflict, and the anchor rendering his spirit Peaceful and secure amidst the storms of life.


1. The seer directed his thoughts to the contemplation of the character of his God. Two aspects of this were vividly present to his mind.

(1) God's eternal duration. "Art thou not from everlasting?" etc. (ver. 12).

(2) His infinite purity. "Mine Holy One" (ver. 12).

2. Associated with these thoughts concerning God in the mind of the prophet we have the recognition of the relationship sustained by this Eternal and Holy One to himself and the nation whose interests lay near and pressed with such weight upon his heart. He and his people were the chosen of Heaven. God had entered into covenant relations with them. They had been the objects of his ever gracious care and providential working. He had not dealt thus with any other people. They could call him theirs. "O Lord my God, mine Holy One" (ver. 12).

3. And by associating together these thoughts of God and of his relationship to his people he gathered, in the troublous times upon which he had fallen, the inspiration of hope. One great difficulty with him arose from the threatened extinction of his nation. He had mourned over the national guilt, and had sought earnestly in prayer the Divine interposition. The response, however, to his impassioned cry unto God was different from what he had expected. The revelation made to him of the approaching Chaldean invasion of his country seemed to carry with it the complete annihilation of the national anticipations, and the utter desolation and extinction of those who had been specially favoured of God. Surely, thought he, this cannot be. God is eternal; his purposes must be fulfilled. Then "we shall not die" (ver. 12). God is holy. Then evil cannot ultimately be victorious. It could only be for chastisement and correction that the threatened trials should come. "O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction" (ver. 12). And by such reasoning hope became the balm of healing to his troubled heart, the bow of promise cast across his stormiest cloud, the bright star kindled in his darkest sky.

II. OBSERVE THAT THE PROPHETS REASONING ADMITS OF A MORE EXTENDED RANGE OF APPLICATION, AND HAS AN IMPORTANT BEARING UPON THE IMMORTALITY OF MAN. Jehovah is "from everlasting." He is "the eternal God;" hence, our immortal destiny: "We shall not die." Surely the Divine Father will not allow his children to fade away and be no more. Certainly, he whose tender love to his children the love of human parents so faintly images, will not dwell through the eternal ages and "leave himself childless when time shall such"

"Souls that of his own good life partake,
He loves as his own self; dear as his eye
They are to him; he'll never them forsake;
When they shall die, then God himself shall die;
They live, they live in blest eternity."

(Henry More.) It may be said that this reasoning, however concise and seemingly conclusive, is after all based upon probability. We grant it, and whilst refusing to undervalue its worth, we thankfully turn even from these beautiful words of the noble prophet, "Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die," and fix our thoughts upon the assurances, so authoritative and so certain, of the world's Redeemer. "Let not your heart be troubled," etc. (John 14:1-8); "I am the Resurrection," etc. (John 11:25, 26); "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19) - S.D.H.

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity.
There is in our Maker a purity of nature, and an essential sort of holiness which render Him incapable of enduring sin in any person, or under any circumstances. I believe this is the very foundation of all religious feeling whatever. The true fear of God is the fear of His holiness.

1. This is no contradiction to the character in which God is exhibited to us in the Gospel, as a God of love. But we must notice the limits under which the love of God must be taken in application to ourselves. Only in the Gospel is it revealed.

2. God has always shown a sort of instinctive abhorrence of sin, which no worth of the individual sinner could induce Him to overcome. This holiness of God is opposed to sin in every form and degree. There is nothing in man which can reconcile the nature of God to sin. Is sin regarded by us, as we must know and believe it is regarded by God?

(H. Raikes, A. M.)


1. It is manifest to man.(1) In law. The principles of His moral law are holy, just, and good.(2) In providence. Justice is but holiness in action, and through all ages God has expressed His abhorrence of sin in the judgments He has inflicted.(3) In Christ. He sent His Son into the world. What for? "To put away sin." To cleanse humanity by His self-sacrificing life.(4) In conscience. The moral constitution of man, which recoils from the wrong and sympathises with the right, manifests God's holiness. There is no room for man, then, to doubt God's holiness.

2. It is manifest to angels. They live in its light. They are adorned with its beauties, they are inspired with its glories, and their anthem is, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty."

3. It is manifest to the lost. They are bound to exclaim, "Just and right are Thy ways, Thou King of saints."

II. HIS HOLINESS IS ETERNALLY ORIGINAL. The holiness of all holy intelligences is derived from Him.

III. HIS HOLINESS IS GLORIOUSLY EFFULGENT. "He is glorious in holiness." He is light, in Him there is no darkness at all.

IV. HIS HOLINESS IS ABSOLUTELY STANDARD. It is that to which the holiness of all other beings must come, and by which it must be tested. The law is, we are " to be holy as He is holy." But how can fallen man be raised to this standard of holiness? Here is the answer, and the only satisfactory answer: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men," etc.


Wherefore lookest Thou upon them that deal treacherously?
St. Hierom's opinion is that the name Habakkuk is derived from a word that signifies embracing, and may imply the embraces of a wrestler, who clasps his arms about the person he contends with. In this chapter we have the prophet contending with no less an antagonist than the great God, and upon no lower subject than His holiness, justice, and goodness. Is it not a very bold and daring thing for a creature thus to arraign the justice of His Creator? The father fore-mentioned explains that the prophet in his own person represents the frailty and impatience of man. We understand Habakkuk to be really saying, "True it is, O Lord, we are a very wicked and sinful people; but yet not so bad as the tyrannous Nebuchadnezzar, and his idolatrous Chaldeans. How then can it be consistent with Thy justice and hatred to sin, to permit the greater sinners to prosper in their oppression of the less, of those that are better than themselves?" "Why dost Thou favour them in their treacherous enterprises?" The words of the text contain an expostulation with God, concerning that seemingly strange dispensation of His providence in suffering the wicked to prosper and thrive, and that by the afflictions and oppressions of the righteous.

I. THE GROUND AND OCCASION OF THIS EXPOSTULATION OF THE TEXT. Good men cannot oppress, or take indirect methods to thrive; they have a God above, and a conscience within, which overawe them, and will not suffer them to do it. Nor can they be supposed to use such means as may effectually secure them from the violences and oppressions of others; for the good man, charitably measuring others by himself, does not stand upon a constant guard, nor use preventive methods to keep off those injuries that he is not apprehensive of. But a bad man has none of those restraints of God, or conscience, or charity, to hinder him from falling upon the prey that lies exposed to him. It is not then to be wondered at that "those who deal treacherously prosper," or "that the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he."

II. INQUIRE INTO THE OBJECTIONS THAT ARE MADE AGAINST GOD'S PERMISSION HEREOF. How comes it to pass that God does not interpose, that He does not hinder the evil and defend the good? This has been a stumbling-block in all ages. It was to holy Job; to Jeremiah; and to Asaph. It is a great argument of the atheists to banish the belief of a God and His providence out of the world. They say, If God would hinder them but cannot, then is He not omnipotent; if He can, but will not, then is He not just and good; so that either His power, or His justice and goodness, must be given up; or else those attributes must be salved by the imperfection of His knowledge. But the true notion of God is a Being infinite in all perfections, and therefore he that is defective in knowledge can no more be God than he that is not infinite in power, justice, or goodness. And so they would dispute God out of being.

III. VINDICATE THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE BY SHOWING THE WEAKNESS OF THESE OBJECTIONS. It may be very consistent with the justice and goodness of God to permit these things. The objection is built upon the contrary supposition.

1. It is not inconsistent with God's justice and goodness to suffer good men to be afflicted in this world, because —(1) Afflictions are not always punishments, but means whereby God does a great deal of good and benefit to them that are exercised with them. He weans them from the world, reduces them (leads them back) when they are going astray, tries and proves their faith, patience, submission, resignation, etc.

2. Supposing afflictions to be punishments, the best men will find failings and sins enough in themselves to make the punishment reasonable. They may well think God good and merciful in thus chastising them.

3. He has appointed a day wherein He will abundantly recompense all the troubles and sorrows and sufferings of pious men with joys unspeakable.

4. It is not inconsistent with God's justice and goodness to suffer bad men to be prosperous here.(1) Prosperity is not always a blessing. If the impunity of the wicked be their hardening and judgment, it is certainly not unjust with God to suffer it.(2) There is hardly any man so bad but has something of good in him, by which he is useful and serviceable to the world. For God to reward the natural or moral goodness of otherwise bad men, with outward temporal blessings, is agreeable to His rule of rewarding every one according to his works.(3) It cannot argue want of justice or goodness in God to try all means to reduce wholly wicked men and make them better.(4) There is a day of retribution coming.

5. It is not inconsistent with God's justice and goodness to suffer bad men to be the instruments whereby good men are afflicted. If a thing has to be done, and is right to do, it cannot matter whether the agent employed is good or bad, so long as he is efficient for the work. And can the good be employed in many of these judgments, or calamities, or wrongs? If God may work by such things, He must use the sort of people who can do them. Inferences —

1. This subject gives us an irrefragable assurance of a future judgment and state.

2. Learn not to "love the world, nor the things of the world."

3. The facts dwelt on should excite and inflame our desires and longings after the other world, where the wicked shall be made miserable, and the good man happy.

4. Learn not to think hardly of God, nor to envy wicked men when He permits them to persecute His Church, and to triumph in the miseries and ruin of His best servants.

(W. Talbot, D. D.)

Gates of Imagery.
Linnell, the artist, had a commission to paint a picture, for which he was to receive £1000. Not wishing any one to inspect it until perfected, he veiled it when not working at it, and wrote over it in Latin, "Wait, and you will see." The final issue of much of God's work is now hidden from us, but assured that, even in times of affliction, God is acting wisely, we must wait until He is pleased to let us see the finished glory of His work.

(Gates of Imagery.)

Babylonians, Habakkuk
Behold, Canst, Deal, Evil, Perversity, Purer, Righteous, Silent, Swallow, Swallows, Themselves, Tolerate, Treacherous, Treacherously, Wicked, Wrong
1. Unto Habakkuk, complaining of the iniquity of the land,
5. is shown the fearful vengeance by the Chaldeans.
12. He complains that vengeance should be executed by them who are far worse.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Habakkuk 1:13

     1065   God, holiness of
     1105   God, power of
     5149   eyes
     5562   suffering, innocent
     5950   silence
     6025   sin, and God's character
     6615   atonement, necessity
     8282   intolerance
     8321   perfection, divine
     8326   purity, moral and spiritual
     8341   separation
     8353   tolerance
     8672   striving with God
     8722   doubt, nature of
     9210   judgment, God's

Habakkuk 1:12-13

     5350   injustice, hated by God
     5499   reward, divine

Habakkuk 1:12-17

     5265   complaints
     5821   criticism, among believers

Habakkuk 1:13-17

     6691   mercy, human

Though These Eternal Moral Obligations are Indeed of Themselves Incumbent on all Rational Beings,
even antecedent to the consideration of their being the positive will and command of God, yet that which most strongly confirms, and in practice most effectually and indispensably enforces them upon us, is this; that both from the perfections of God, and the nature of things, and from several other collateral considerations, it appears, that as God is himself necessarily just and good in the exercise of his infinite power in the government of the whole world, so he cannot but likewise positively
Samuel Clarke—A Discourse Concerning the Being and Attributes of God

The End of the War
'And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. 44. And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. 'Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Holiness of God
The next attribute is God's holiness. Exod 15:51. Glorious in holiness.' Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of his crown; it is the name by which God is known. Psa 111:1. Holy and reverend is his name.' He is the holy One.' Job 6:60. Seraphims cry, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.' Isa 6:6. His power makes him mighty, his holiness makes him glorious. God's holiness consists in his perfect love of righteousness, and abhorrence of evil. Of purer eyes than
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

"But we are all as an Unclean Thing, and all Our Righteousnesses are as Filthy Rags,"
Isaiah lxiv 6, 7.--"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," &c. This people's condition agreeth well with ours, though the Lord's dealing be very different. The confessory part of this prayer belongeth to us now; and strange it is, that there is such odds of the Lord's dispensations, when there is no difference in our conditions; always we know not how soon the complaint may be ours also. This prayer was prayed long before the judgment and captivity came
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The precise interpretation of the book of Habakkuk presents unusual difficulties; but, brief and difficult as it is, it is clear that Habakkuk was a great prophet, of earnest, candid soul, and he has left us one of the noblest and most penetrating words in the history of religion, ii. 4b. The prophecy may be placed about the year 600 B.C. The Assyrian empire had fallen, and by the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C., Babylonian supremacy was practically established over Western Asia. Josiah's reformation,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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