Book summary

Instead of addressing the people of Judah, Habakkuk records conversations he has with God in which he wrestles with difficult questions about God’s nature.

Not much is known about Habakkuk’s identity or when he lived. The song in the last chapter suggests he might have been a Levite and temple prophet. In verse 6 he references the rise of the Chaldeans, which is a term that became synonymous with the Babylonians in the late 7th century BC when Babylon was ruled by a series of Chaldean kings.

Chapters 1-2 — Habakkuk’s complaints and God’s answers

Ch 1:2-11 — Habakkuk’s first complaint

Why does Judah’s wickedness go unpunished?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (Hab. 1:3)
God’s answer: I will raise the Chaldeans to punish Judah
“Look at the nations and watch —
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.” (Hab. 1:5-6)

Ch 1:12-2:20 — Habakkuk’s second complaint

But your instrument of judgment is even more wicked than Judah!
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Hab. 1:12-13)
God’s answer: The righteous will prevail, and I will punish the Chaldeans.
Because you have plundered many nations,
the peoples who are left will plunder you. (Hab. 2:8)

Chapter 3 — The Song of Habakkuk

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy. (Hab. 3:2)
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (Hab 3:19)