Habakkuk 2:11
For the stones will cry out from the wall, and the rafters will echo it from the woodwork.
RetributionCharles Wadsworth, D. D.Habakkuk 2:11
The Handwriting on the WallHugh Macmillan, D. D.Habakkuk 2:11
Corrupt AmbitionS.D. Hillman Habakkuk 2:9-11
Covetousness and Self-TrustHomilistHabakkuk 2:9-11
Deceitful RichesHabakkuk 2:9-11
National Wrongs Ending in National Woes. No. 2D. Thomas Habakkuk 2:9-11

Ambition may be pure and lofty, and when this is the case it cannot be too highly commended. It is "the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds." "It is to the human heart what spring is to the earth, making every root and bud and bough desire to be more." Headway cannot be made in life apart from it, and destitute of this spirit a man must be outstripped in the race. Ambition, however, may take the opposite form, and it is to ambition corrupt and low in its nature that these verses refer. Observe indicated here concerning such unworthy ambition.

I. ITS AIM. The concern of the rulers of Babylon was to secure unlimited supremacy, to reach an eminence where, secure from peril and in the enjoyment of ease and luxury, they might, without restraint, exercise despotic control over the nations. "That he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil" (ver. 9). False ambition, whether in individuals or nations, is directed to the attainment of worldly distinction, authority, and power, and has its foundation in pride and selfesteem.

II. ITS UNSCRUPULOUSNESS. "They coveted an evil covetousness to their house" (ver. 9), totally disregarding the sacredness of property and the rights of man. Their acts were marked by oppression, plunder, and cruelty; they impoverished feebler nations and even "cut off many people" (ver. 10) in seeking the accomplishment of their selfish purposes. So is it ever that such ambition breaks the ties of blood and forgets the obligations of manhood."

III. ITS ISSUE. The prophet indicates that all this self-seeking and self-glorying must end in disgrace and dishonour.

1. The very monuments reared thus in the spirit of pride should bear adverse testimony. In the language of poetry he represents the materials which they had obtained by plunder and which they had brought from other lands into Chaldea, to be used in the construction of their stately edifices, as protesting against the way in which they had been obtained and the purposes to which they had been applied (ver. 11).

2. Shame and ruin should overtake the schemers and plotters themselves. "Thou hast sinned against thy soul" (ver. 10). Whatever their material gain, they had become spiritually impoverished by their course of action. They had degraded their higher nature and had incurred guilt and condemnation.

3. All connected with them should share in the disgrace and dishonour. "Thou hast consulted shame to thy house" (ver. 10); "God visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him" (Exodus 20:5); "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house" (Proverbs 15:27). Men who have sought, by grasping and extortion, or by war and conquest, to establish and perpetuate a high reputation, have, through their unrighteous deeds, passed away in ignominy, leaving to their posterity a tarnished and dishonoured name. "The house of the wicked shall be overthrown; but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish" (Proverbs 14:11). - S.D.H.

The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
The prophet in this connection is declaring that the Chaldeans shall be punished for their cruel rapacity. Retribution is everywhere assumed as a great first-truth, which nature itself constantly teaches, and to which man's universal conscience as constantly responds.

I. THE SIN. What was the iniquity for which the Chaldean monarch is here so solemnly denounced? Not the mere outer act of building a great city, but in the manner and motive of his doing it. "He had built his city in blood, and established it in iniquity." There was sin in the motive, for the monarch only built for his selfish aggrandisement. We perceive, then, glaring ungodliness in both manner and motive of this great work of Babylon.

II. THE PUNISHMENT. The Bible does not teach that men are punished eternally for the sins committed in time. Man goes on sinning for ever, and therefore is punished for ever. By a law of a man's own mental constitution, memory and conscience are summoning from the past both ministry and material of a righteous retribution. This is retribution — a punishment really more dreadful than any material imagery whereby the Bible sets it forth — a retribution which becomes, of itself, eternal torment. We do not say that in this is all of retribution.

(Charles Wadsworth, D. D.)

Very startling was the vision which appeared to Belshazzar and his courtiers when their feasting and mirth were at their height. But not in terrible omens and supernatural visions alone do we see the Divine handwriting. To thoughtful men on every wall by the wayside appear mystic letters of profound significance. The hand itself is unseen behind the veil of nature, but the words are formed clear and distinct upon the stones of the wall, and they remain as if graven with a pen of iron. Botanists are familiar with a peculiar genus of lichen called Opegrapha, from the resemblance which the fructification of all its species bears to written characters. On the surface are numerous dark intricate lines, like Arabic, Hebrew, or Chinese letters. The likeness in some instances is remarkably close. Nature has thus mimicked in almost every wood, and on almost every rock and wall, the latest and highest result of man's civilisation; and in her humblest plant forms has written her wonderful runes. It can, indeed, be said in the highest sense of the whole family of lichens that they are God's handwriting on the wall. Lichens form the nebulae, so to speak, of the firmament of life. Lichens are in the ocean of air that covers the dry land what seaweeds are in the ocean of waters that covers the depths of the sea. They are as the pioneers of vegetation, climbing the bare crag, and penetrating into the lonely wilderness, and planting there the flag of life. As elements in the picturesque, lichens have long held a high place in the estimation of all lovers of nature. What would a ruin be without them? Lichens run through the whole chromatic scale, and show what striking effects nature can produce by an harmonious combination of a few simple lines and hues. Not less worthy of examination is the specialised organ with which the lichen decks itself than the blossom of the brightest flower. Nothing is lost in nature. God's hand. writing on the wayside wall and the weather-beaten rock writes no sentence — "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting."

(Hugh Macmillan, D. D.)

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