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You will find and introduction and outline here.

A prayer to use as you read:

 A prayer of John Calvin:
May the Lord grant that we may engage in the heavenly contemplation of the mysteries of God’s heavenly wisdom with ever increasing devotion to God’s glory and our edification. Amen.

Outline of Habakkuk: after O’Brien

1:1 Superscription: Like Nahum, this is an oracle. Habakkuk is called a prophet but that is all we are told about him.

1:2-17 First interaction between God and the Prophet: Verses 2-4 is Habakkuk’s protest and complaint. We don’t know who the “wicked” are, but perhaps  is Jehoiakim and his officials. Or perhaps the wicked are the Babylonians. Verses 5-11 are God’s response. The “you” here is plural, the community and not just the prophet are being addressed. God is in charge of all the nations, whether the nation knows that or not. Notice that Habakkuk’s concerns are not directly answered. Verses 1:12-17 are Habakkuk speaking. He continues asking his question.

2:1-20 Second interaction between God and the Prophet: In verse 1 the prophet waits for a response. Verses 2-5 God answers. The prophet is to write the vision and wait for it to come to pass. The New Testament books of Romans, Hebrews, and Galatians all use the idea found in this verse, the righteous live by their faith (or faithfulness). The rest of the chapter is God’s extended response in the form of five “woes”, each beginning with “alas”.  What is being condemned in these woes? Scholars tell us these “woes” are addressing the actions of Babylon but at the same time there is a universal aspect to them.

3:1-19 Prayer of Habakkuk: Habakkuk moves from complaint to prayer. Verse 1 is another superscription. We don’t know exactly what “Shigionoth” means. Notice the use of “selah” as in the Psalms suggesting that this may originally have been a musical composition. The prayer begins with the prophet asking God to revive God’s saving work in the prophet’s time. Verses 3-15 portray God as a divine warrior. Notice the cosmic scope of God’s actions and yet the prayer ends personally as the prophet trusts in God’s saving power and waits for God to act.

Read More About It:

Here are several good sources to aid your reading of Habakkuk.

Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.

Hiebert, Theodore, “Habakkuk” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 7, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 2001.

O’Brien, Julia M., “Habakkuk” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Sweeney, Marvin A. “Habakkuk” in  HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.

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