Habakkuk: Introduction

Habakkuk - Introduction

The Author.  The writer of this book is clearly identified as Habakkuk.  Apart from the three chapters that comprise the book nothing is known about him.  Even the meaning of his name is uncertain.  It is indeed an unusual Hebrew name.  Some scholars think that his name is derived from the verb habaq, which means embrace.  They cannot agree as to who is embracing whom.  We'll leave that debate to others.

The Book of Habakkuk reveals four truths about this man of God.  First, he was a prophet, unlike any other.  Old Testament prophets were commissioned by the Lord to call a sinful people to repentance.  Habakkuk was different in that he spoke only with God.  The backslidden nation of Judah was not addressed.  Instead, the prophet had a dialogue with the Lord.  Other prophets preached judgment from God; Habakkuk pleaded for justice from God.

Second, he was a prayer warrior.  In the first chapter he infers that he has been praying for a long time.  "O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?"  Then we find the entire last chapter devoted to prayer.

Third, he was a poet.  Hebrew poetry is unlike English poetry that has rhythm and rhyme.  The most common expression of Hebrew poetry is found in poetic parallelism.  Sometimes two sentences will convey similar thoughts.  Other times the parallelism will be displayed in opposites.  Those who are familiar with Bible languages testify that Habakkuk exhibited extraordinary literary talent.  Much of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon) contains poetry.

Finally, he was a musician.  The book ends, "To the Chief Musician.  With my stringed instruments."  To what extent Habakkuk was involved in temple worship is unclear.


The Date of Writing.  Habakkuk wrote in a time of international conflict and national corruption in Judah and Jerusalem.  The Chaldeans (also known as Babylonians) had just emerged as a world power.  They had defeated the Assyrians and Egyptians.  Habakkuk 1:5-11 makes reference to the powerful Chaldeans.

The book was probably written after Jehoiakim rose to the throne in Judah.  King Jehoiakim was an evil ruler.  As background to the man and the times read 2 Kings 23:36-24:7; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8.  The Book of Habakkuk was most likely written around 605 b.c.  Some Bible teachers assign an earlier date, but that is not consistent with the content of the book, especially the rising up of the Chaldeans.


The Message.  The book begins with perplexity before God, and ends with prayer and praise to God.  Worry is transformed into worship.  Fear turns to faith.  Terror gives way to trust.  Anguish is replaced with adoration.  From Tragedy to Triumph is clearly the message of the book.


Key Verse.  In Habakkuk 2:4 we read, "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith."  Faith in the Lord is always relevant.  Faith is the bridge between despair and deliverance, sin and salvation.  This one verse played a significant role in the history of the Protestant Reformation and Christianity.


An Outline

  • The Prophecy of Habakkuk.  1:1-2:20.
    • The First Dialogue Between Habakkuk and God.  1:1-11.
    • The Second Dialogue Between Habakkuk and God.  1:12-2:20.
  • The Prayer of Habakkuk.  3:1-19.
    • A Prayer for Revival from the Lord.  3:1, 2.
    • A Prayer of Reflection upon the Lord.  3:3-16.
    • A Prayer of Rejoicing in the Lord.  3:17-19.


The Prophecy of Habakkuk - Habakkuk 1 and 2



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Scripture taken from the
New King James Version.
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by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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