Habakkuk — ‘I Will Rejoice in the Lord’
How long, O Lord, must I cry for help, and you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” and you do not intervene? ―Habakkuk 1:2
Habakkuk prophesied in the kingdom of Judah, most likely in the years between 605 and 597 B.C. Like a handful of the Old Testament prophets, almost nothing is known of Habakkuk. Only bits and pieces from his writings suggest who this prophet was. One curious attribute of Habakkuk is that he was a complainer; he felt compelled to question the ways of God. He was clearly frustrated with how wicked people seemed to thrive while many of the truly honorable suffered.
Habakkuk did not specify who the “wicked” people were in his writings; however, they could have been either many of the Judahites themselves, who had become immoral in their ways, or the growing Babylonian Empire, which was becoming a looming threat to the kingdom of Judah. Habakkuk simply could not understand why such evil was allowed to exist, so he asked God for an explanation.
Habakkuk’s writing style displays a bit of intriguing back-and-forth dialogue between Habakkuk and God, with Habakkuk complaining and questioning and God responding. At one point, this determined prophet vowed to stay put in one spot until he received a reply from God. Through his replies, God revealed to Habakkuk that a time of oppression was about to come to the Judahites. God was ready to allow the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to invade Judah. God did, however, promise Habakkuk that those with hearts of righteousness and faith would be given special consideration during the time of trouble.
This verse of compassion toward the just influenced St. Paul during his time of evangelization, for he quoted this prophecy of Habakkuk (2:4) in his Letter to the Romans (1:17) as well as in his Letter to the Galatians (3:11).
In his final chapter, Habakkuk broke from the dialogue and offered a canticle that praises the power, majesty, and justice of God. While some biblical historians suggest that this chapter was added on later by another, the section nonetheless wraps up the prophetic book by positively fostering a sense of eventual hope.
Getting to Know St. Habakkuk through the Bible
You will find St. Habakkuk on the Dec. 2 page of the Martyrologium Romanum. Because he is known as a bit of a complainer, nitpickers might lean on St. Habakkuk when feeling frustrated — or people struggling with quibblers might get some heavenly help from him! Try reading one passage a day for nine consecutive days — learn more about St. Habakkuk, spend time with his words, read some footnotes and correlating verses, pray about his messages. Can St. Habakkuk hearten your faith journey in some way?
- Day 1) Habakkuk 1:1–6
- Day 2) Habakkuk 2:1–3
- Day 3) Habakkuk 2:4
- Day 4) Romans 1:17
- Day 5) Galatians 3:11
- Day 6) Habakkuk 2:14
- Day 7) Habakkuk 3:1–2
- Day 8) Habakkuk 3:16–19
- Day 9) Daniel 14:33–39