Habakkuk 2


The prophet, waiting for an answer to his expostulation, is bidden to write the oracle

in plain characters, because its fulfillment is certain.  (vs. 1-3)


1 “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to

see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.”

Habakkuk speaks with himself, and, mindful of his office, waits

for the communication which he confidently expects (Jeremiah 33:3).

I will stand upon my watch (Isaiah 21:6, 8). As a watchman goes to a

high place to see all around and discern what is coming, so the prophet

places himself apart from men, perhaps in some secluded height, in

readiness to hear the voice of God and seize the meaning of the coming

event. Prophets are called “watchmen” (compare Ezekiel 3:17; 33:2, 6;

Micah 7:4). The tower; i.e. watch tower, either literally or metaphorically, as in the

first clause. Septuagint, πέτραν petran -  rock.  What He will say unto me;

quid dicatur mihi (Vulgate); τί λαλήσει ἐν ἐμοί - ti lalaesei en emoi - what He will

speak in me (Septuagint). He watches for the inward revelation which God makes

to his soul. When I am reproved; ad arguentem me (Vulgate); ἐπὶ τὸν ἔλεγχόν μου

epi ton elegchon mou - (Septuagint); rather, to my complaint, referring to his

complaint concerning the impunity of sinners (ch. 1:13-17). He waits till

he hears God’s voice within him what answer he shall make to his own

complaint, the expostulation which he had offered to God. There is no

question here concerning the reproofs which others leveled against him, or

concerning any rebuke conveyed to him by God — an impression given by

the Anglican Version.


2 “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make

it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”  Jehovah answers the

prophet’s expostulation (ch.1:12, etc.). Write. That it may remain permanently

on record, and that, when it comes to pass, people may believe in the prophet’s

inspiration (John 13:19; compare Isaiah 8:1; 30:8; Jeremiah 30:2; Revelation 1:11).

The vision (see ch. 1:1: Obadiah 1:1). The word includes the inward revelation as

well as the open vision. Upon tables; upon the tables (Deuteronomy 27:8); i.e.

certain tablets placed in public places, that all might see and read them (see Isaiah,

loc. cit.); Septuagint, εἰς πυξίον eis puxion -  a boxwood tablet. The summary of

what was to be written is given in v. 4. This was to be “made plain,” written large

and legibly. Septuagint, σαφῶς saphos.   That he may run that readeth it. The

common explanation of these words (unfortunately perpetuated by Keble’s

well known hymn, “There is a book, who runs may read”), viz. that even

the runner, one who hastens by hurriedly, may be able to read it, is not

borne out by the Hebrew, which rather means that every one who reads it

may run, i.e. read fluently and easily. So Jerome, “Scribere jubetur planius,

ut possit lector currere, et nullo impedimento velocitas ejus et legendi

cupido teneatur.” Henderson, comparing Daniel 12:4, “Many shall run

to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased,” interprets the clause to

signify that whosoever reads the announcement might run and publish it to

all within his reach. “‘ To run,’” he adds, “is equivalent to ‘to prophesy’ in

Jeremiah 23:21,” on the principle that those who were charged with a

Divine message were to use all dispatch in making it known. In the

passage of Daniel, “to run to and fro,” is explained to mean “to peruse.”


3 “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall

speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely

come, it will not tarry.”  For. The reason is given why the oracle is to be

committed to writing. Is yet for an (the) appointed time. The vision will not be

accomplished immediately, but in the period fixed by God (compare Daniel

8:17,19; 11:27,35). Others explain, “pointeth to a yet future time.” But at the

end it shall speak. The verb is literally “breathes,” or “pants;” hence the clause

is better rendered, and it panteth (equivalent to hasteth) towards the end. The

prophecy personified yearns for its fulfillment in “the end,” not merely at the

destruction of the literal Babylon, but in the time of the end — the last time,

the Messianic age, when the world power, typified by Babylon, should be

overthrown (see Daniel, loc cit.). And not lie; it deceiveth not; οὐκ εἰς κενόν

ouk eis kenon -  not in vain (Septuagint). It will certainly come to pass.

Wait for it. For the vision and its accomplishment. Because it will surely come.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (10:37) quotes the Septuagint Version

of this clause, applying it to the last coming of Messiah - Ὅτι (plus , Hebrew)

ἐρχόμενος ἥξει καὶ οὐ μή χρονίσῃ (οὐ χρονιεῖ Hebrew); hoti erchomenos haexei

kai ou mae chronisaeit surely will come – it won’t delay -  so the Vulgate,

Veniens veniet, et non tardabit. The original passage does not primarily refer to

the coming of Messiah, but as the full and final accomplishment of the prophecy

doubtless belongs to that age, it is not a departure from the fundamental idea to

see in it a reference hereto. It will not tarry; it will not be behindhand; it will

not fail to arrive (Judges 5:28; II Samuel 20:5).



                                     The Prophet upon His Watch Tower (vs. 1-3)


  • THE OUT LOOKING PROPHET. (v. 1.) Having spread out before

            Jehovah his complaint, Habakkuk, determined to stand upon his watch

            tower or station himself upon his fortress, and to look forth to see what

            Jehovah would speak within him, and what reply in consequence he should

            give to his own complaint. The words indicate the frame of mind to be

            cherished and the course of conduct to be pursued by him who would hold

            communion with and obtain communications from God. There must be:


Ø      Holy resolution. No soul can come to speaking terms with God without

                        personal effort. Certainly God may speak to men who make no efforts to

                        obtain from Him either a hearing or an answer, but in general those only

                        find God who seek Him with the whole heart (Psalm 119:2). Prophets

                        frequently received revelations which they had not sought (Genesis

                        12:7; Exodus 3:2; 24:1; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:1; Daniel 7:1),

                        but as often the Divine communications were imparted in answer to

                        specific seeking (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 33:18-23; Daniel 9:2;

                                                Acts 10:9) In the same way may God discover Himself, disclose His

                        truth, and dispense His grace to individuals, as He did to Saul of Tarsus

                        (Acts 9:1-6), without their previous exertions to procure such

                        distinguished favors; but in religion, as in other matters, it is the hand

                        of the diligent that maketh rich (II Peter 1:10).


Ø      Spiritual elevation. He. who would commune with God must, like

                        Habakkuk, “stand upon his watch tower, and station himself upon his

                        fortress,” not literally and bodily, but figuratively and spiritually. It is not

                        necessary to suppose that Habakkuk went up to any steep and lofty place

                        in order the better to withdraw himself from the noise and bustle of the

                        world, and the more easily to fix his mind on heavenly things and direct

                        his soul’s eye Godward. Abraham certainly was on the summit of Moriah

                        when Jehovah appeared to him; Moses was called up to the top of Sinai to

                        meet with God (Exodus 24:1; 34:2); Jehovah revealed Himself to Elijah

                        upon the mount of Horeb (I Kings 19:11); Balaam went to “an high

                        place” to look out for a revelation from God (Numbers 23:3); the

                        disciples were on the crest of Hermon when Christ was transfigured

                        before them (Matthew 17:1); and even Christ Himself spent whole

                        nights in prayer with God among the hills (John 6:15). Local elevation

                        and corporeal isolation may be usefully employed to aid the heart in

                        abstracting itself from mundane things; yet this only is the elevation

                        and isolation that brings the soul in contact with God (Matthew 6:6-7).

                        When David prayed he retired into the inner chamber of his heart

                        (Psalm 19:14; 49:3) and lifted up his soul to God (Psalm 25:1).


Ø      Confident expectation. Habakkuk believed that his prayers and

                        complaints would not pass unattended to by God. He never doubted

                        that God would reply to his supplications and interrogations. So he

                        that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is the

                        Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). It was

                        David’s habit, after directing his prayer to God, to look up expecting

                        an answer (Psalm 5:3), and it ought to be the practice of Christians first

                        to ask in faith (James 1:6), and then to confidently hope for an answer

                        (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; I John 5:14).


Ø      Patient attention. Though Habakkuk had no doubt as to the fact that

                        God would speak to him, he possessed no assurance either as to the time

                        when or as to the manner in which that speaking would take place.

                        Hence he resolved to possess his soul in patience and keep an attentive

                        outlook.  So David waited on and watched for God with patient hope

                        and close observation (Psalm 62:5; 130:5). So Paul exhorted Christians

                        to “continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving”

                        (Colossians 4:2). Many fail to obtain responses from God, because they

                        either are not sufficiently attentive to discern the tokens by which God

                        speaks to His people, or lack the patience to wait till He chooses to break



Ø      Earnest introspection. The want of this is another frequent cause of

                        failure on the part of those who would but do not hear God speak.

                        Habakkuk understood that if God answered him it would be by His Spirit

                        speaking in him, and that accordingly he required not to watch for “signs”

                        in the firmament, in the earth, or in the sea, but to listen to the secret

                        whisperings that he heard within himself. So David exhorted others to

                        commune with their own hearts upon their bed (as doubtless he himself

                        did), if they would know the mind of God (Psalm 4:4); and Asaph,

                        following his example, observed the same godly practice (Psalm 77:6).

                        While God has furnished lessons for all in the pages of nature and

                        revelation, it is in the domain of the inner man, enlightened by His

                        Word and taught by His Spirit, that His teaching for the individual

                        is to be sought.


  • THE IN-SPEAKING GOD. (v. 2.) Habakkuk had not long to wait

            for the oracle he expected; and neither would modern petitioners be long

            without answers were their waiting more like Habakkuk’s. Three things

            were announced to the prophet.


Ø      That he should receive a vision. Jehovah would not leave his dark

                        problem unsolved, would afford him such a glimpse into the future of

                        the Chaldean power as would effectually dispel all his doubts and fears,

                        would unveil to him the different destinies of the righteous and the

                        wicked in such a way as to enable him calmly to endure until the end;

                        and exactly so has the Christian obtained in the Bible such light upon

                        the mystery of Providence as helps him to look forward to the future

                         for its full solution. The vision about to be granted to Habakkuk was:


o       definite, i.e. for an appointed time, and so is the vision now

      granted to the Christian for a time as well known to God

      (though not to the Christian) as any moment in the past has been;


o       distant, i.e. to be fulfilled after a longer or shorter interval, and so

      has the day of the clearing up of the mystery of providence for

      the Christian been “after a long time;” but still


o       certain, i.e. it would surely come to pass, and so will all that God

      has revealed in Scripture concerning the different destinies of the

      righteous and the wicked come to pass. Heaven and earth may

      pass away, but not God’s Word (Matthew 24:35).


Ø      That he should write the vision. Whether a literal writing upon a tablet

                        was intended, as Isaiah (Isaiah 8:1; 30:8) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:2)

                        were directed to write down the communications received by them from

                        God; or whether it was merely a figurative writing that was meant, as in

                        the case of Daniel (Daniel 12:4); the intention manifestly was that

                        Habakkuk should publish the vision he was about to receive — publish

                        it in terms so clear and unambiguous that persons who only gave it a

                        casual glance would have no difficulty in understanding it. This has

                        been done, not with reference to Habakkuk’s vision merely, but as

                        regards the whole Bible, which is not only “all plain to him that

                        understandeth (Proverbs 8:9), but is able to “make wise the

                        simple” (Psalm 19:7), and guide in safety “the wayfaring man,

                        though a fool” (Isaiah 35:8). The object contemplated by the writing

                        (literal or figurative) of Habakkuk’s vision was:


o       the comfort of God’s people in Judah during the period of

      waiting that should intervene between then and the day of

      their enemy’s overthrow; and


o       the interpretation of the vision when the incidents occurred to

      which it referred. The same purposes are subserved by the

      Word of God, and especially by those prophetic parts which

      foretell the destruction of the enemies, and the salvation of

      the people, of God.


Ø      That he should wait for the vision. It might be delayed, but it should

                        come. Hence he should possess his soul in patience. So should

                        Christians wait patiently for the coming of the Lord for their

                        final redemption and for the overthrow of all the Church’s foes

                        (James 5:8; Luke 21:10-19). The contents of the vision are narrated

                        in the verses which follow.




Ø      The dignity of man, as a being who can converse with God; the

                        condescension of God in that He stoops to talk with man.


Ø      The duty and the profit of reflection and meditation; the sin and loss

      of those who never commune with their own hearts.


Ø      The simplicity of the Bible a testimony to its divinity; had it been man’s

                        book it would not have been so easy to understand.


Ø      The certainty that Scripture prediction will be fulfilled; the expectation

                        of this should comfort the saints; the realization of this will vindicate




                                    Waiting for the Vision (vs. 1-3)


In this chapter we have set forth the doom of Babylon. The prophet had

given to him glimpses of the future as affecting the adversaries of his

people. The Divine voice within him gave assurance that the power of the

oppressor should at length be broken. He saw the solution of the dark

problem which had perplexed him so much concerning the victory to be

gained over his people by the Chaldeans. The triumphing of the wicked

should be short, and should be followed by their UTTER COLLAPSE. Yet

there would be delay ere this should come to pass. The darkness which

brooded over the nation should not be at once dispersed; indeed, it should

even become more dense in the working out of the Divine purposes. Defeat

must be experienced, the Captivity must be endured, and the faithful and

true must suffer in consequence of sins not their own. Still, ultimately,

light should arise,” and meanwhile, so long as the gloom continued, it

behoved him and his people to trust and not be afraid, assured that in

God’s time the vision of peace and prosperity should dawn upon them.

“Though it tarry, wait for it,” etc. (v. 3). The truth suggested is that even

the best of men have to experience seasons of darkness — times when

everything appears adverse to them, but that it shall not be ever thus with

them, that brighter scenes are before them, and that hence their duty in the

present is tranquilly and trustfully to wait the development of God’s all-wise

and gracious purposes. This teaching admits of various applications.


  • TEMPORAL CIRCUMSTANCES. These are not always easy and

            prosperous. Sources of perplexity may at any moment arise. There may

            come slackness of trade; new rivals may appear, causing sharp and severe

            competition; losses may have to be sustained; and in this way, from a

            variety of causes, “hard times” may have to be passed through. And under

            such circumstances we should trust and not be afraid, knowing that all our

            interests are in our loving Father’s keeping. He has promised us a

            sufficiency. His mercies are not the swift, but they are the sure, mercies of

            David.  (Isaiah 55:3)  We must not be less hopeful and trustful than the little

            robin red breast chirping near our window pane, even in the wintry weather.

            Behold  the fowls of the air,” etc. (Matthew 6:26). Then, “though the vision,”



  • LIFE’S SORROWS. These have fallen upon men at times with a

            crushing weight. All has appeared dark; not a ray of light has seemed to

            penetrate the gloom. Yet still they have found that, whilst the vision of

            hope has been deferred, it has been realized at last, filling their hearts with

            holy rapture. Jacob lived long enough to see that neither Joseph nor

            Benjamin had been really taken from him, and that those circumstances

            which he regarded as being against him were all designed to work out his

            lasting good. Elijah cast himself down in the wilderness and slept. And, lo!

            angel guards attended him and ministered unto him, new supplies of

            strength were imparted, the sunshine of the Divine favor beamed upon

            him, and he who thought he ought to die under a lonely tree in the desert

            was ultimately altogether delivered from experiencing the pangs of the last

            conflict, and was borne in triumph to the realms of everlasting peace.

            II Kings 2:11)  The Shunammite had her lost child restored; the exiled

            returned at length with songs unto Zion. We should seek to be in reality,

            unmoved and unruffled by the tempests which arise in the sea of life,

            assured that there awaits us a peaceful and tranquil haven.  “Though the

            vision tarry, wait for it,”  (v. 3).



  • SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION. The Christian life is not all shadow. It

            has its sunny as well as its shady side. The good have their seasons of joy

            — seasons in which, believing, they can rejoice with joy unspeakable and

            full of glory. Yet they have also their seasons of depression. There is “the

            midnight of the soul,” when the vision of spiritual light and peace and joy

            tarries; and it is then their truest wisdom to trust and to wait, assured that

            in due time God will make them glad by lifting upon them “the light of His

            countenance.” Who is among you that feareth the Lord?” etc. (Isaiah

            50:10); “Though the vision tarry, wait for it,  (v. 3).


  • CHRISTIAN WORK. The great purpose of this is the deliverance of men

      from the thraldom of sin. The vision we desire to behold an accomplished

      reality is that of the dry bones clothed afresh, inspired with life, and standing

      upon their feet, an exceeding great army (Ezekiel 37), valiant for God

            and righteousness. But the vision tarries! Spiritual death and desolation

            reign! What then? Shall we despair? Shall we express doubt as to whether

            the transformation of the realm of death into a realm of spiritual life shall

            ever be effected? No; though the vision tarry, we will wait for it, knowing

            that it will surely come; for “the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” So

            Robert Moffat labored for years without gaining any converts from

            heathenism, but at length a few were won, and he commemorated with

            these the death of Christ. “Our feelings,” he wrote, “were such as pen

            cannot describe. We were as those that dreamed while we realized the

            promise on which our souls often hung (Psalm 126:6). The hour had

            arrived on which the whole energies of our souls had been intensely fixed,

            when we should see a Church, however small, gathered from amongst a

            people who had so long boasted that neither Jesus nor we His servants

            should ever see Bechuanas worship and confess him as their King.” And so

            shall the faith and patience of all workers for God be rewarded, since the

            issue is guaranteed and the harvest home of a regenerated world shall be

            celebrated amidst rapturous joy.



Man’s Moral Mission to the World.  (vs. 1-3)


“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to

see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain

upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an

appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry,

wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” The prophet, after

his supplicatory cry, receives a Divine command to write the oracle in plain

characters. because it was certain, although it would not be immediately

fulfilled. The first verse is a kind of monologue. The prophet holds

conversation with himself; and he resolves to ascend his watch tower, and

look out for a Divine revelation. It is thought by many critics that the

watch tower is not to be regarded as something external, some lofty place

commanding an extensive view and profound silence, but the recesses of

his own mind, into which he would withdraw himself by devout

contemplation, I shall use the words of the text to illustrate man’s moral

mission to the world. Wherefore are we in this world? Both the theories

and the practical conduct of men give different answers to this all important

problem. I shall take the answer from the text, and observe:



FROM THE ETERNAL MIND. “I will stand upon my watch, and sot me

upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me.” That man

is constituted for and required to receive communications from the Infinite

Mind, and that he cannot realize his destiny without this, appears evident

from the following Considerations.


Ø      From his nature as a spiritual being.


o       He has an instinct for it. He naturally calls out for the living God.

As truly as the eye is made to receive light, the soul is made to

receive thought from God.

o       He has a capacity for it. Unlike the lower creatures around us,

we can receive the ideas of God.

o       He has a necessity for it. God’s ideas are the quickening powers

      of the soul.


Ø      From his condition as a fallen being. Sin has shut out God from the

soul, created a dense cloud between us and Him.


Ø      From the purpose of Christs mediation. Why did Christ come into the

world? To bring the human soul and God together, that the Lord might

dwell amongst men.”


Ø      From the special manifestations of God for the purpose. I say special,

for nature, history, heart, and conscience are the natural orders of

communication between the human and the Divine. But we have

something more than these — the Bible; this is special. Here He speaks

to man at sundry times and in divers manners, etc. (Hebrews 1:1)


Ø      From the general teaching of the Bible. “Come now, and let us reason

together,”  (Isaiah 1:18); “Behold, I stand at the door,” (Revelation 3:20)

But how shall we receive these communications? We must ascend the

tower of quiet, earnest, devout thought, and there must “watch to see

what He will say.”



FROM THE ETERNAL MIND. Write the vision, and make it plain upon

tables, that he may run that readeth it.” From this we may conclude that

writing is both an ancient and a divinely sanctioned art. Thank God for

books! That we have to impart as well as to receive is evident:


Ø      From the tendency of Divine thoughts to express themselves. It is of the

nature of religious ideas that they struggle for utterance. What we have

seen and heard we cannot but speak.  (Acts 4:20)


Ø      From the universal adaptation of Divine thoughts. Thoughts from God

are not intended merely for certain individuals or classes, but for all the

race in all generations.


Ø      From the spiritual dependence of man upon man. It is God’s plan, that

man shall be the spiritual teacher of man.


Ø      From the general teaching of the Bible. What the prophets and apostles

received from God they communicated. “When it pleased God to reveal

His Son in me, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood,” etc.

(Galatians 1:16).




wait for it,” etc. The Divine thoughts which we receive we are to realize in

our daily life, practically to work out. Here, then, is our moral mission. We

are here, brothers, for these three purposes; not for one of them only, but

for all. God is to be everything to us; he is to fill up the whole sphere of

our being, our “ALL IN ALL.” 


Ø      we are to be His auditors, hearing His voice in everything;

Ø      we are to be His organ, conveying to others what He has

conveyed to us;

Ø      we are to be His representatives, manifesting him in every act of

our life. All we say and do, our looks and mien, are to be rays

reflected from the Father of lights.


  • CONCLUSION. From this subject we may learn:


Ø      The reasonableness of religion. What is it? Simply to receive,

propagate, and develop communications from the Infinite Mind.

What can be more sublimely reasonable than this?


Ø      The grandeur of a religious life. What is it? The narrowness, the

intolerance, the bigotry, the selfishness of many religionists lead

skeptics to look upon religion with derision. But what is it? To be:


o       a disciple of the All-knowing, Omniscient God,

o       a minister of the All-ruling God,

o       a representative of the All-glorious God!


Is there anything grander?


Ø      The function of Christianity. What is it?


o       To induce,

o       to qualify, and

o       enable men to receive, communicate, and to live



4 “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the

just shall live by his faith.”  The great principle is taught that the proud shall not

continue, but the just shall live by faith. The prophecy commences with a

fundamental thought, applicable to all God’s dealings with man. Behold,

his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; literally, behold, puffed

up, his soul is not upright in him. This is a description of an evil character

(especially of the Chaldean) in opposition to the character delineated in the

following hemistich. One who is proud, presumptuous, thinks much of

himself, despising others, and is not straightforward and upright before

God, shall not live, shall not have a happy, safe life; he carries in himself

the seeds of destruction. The result is not expressed in the first hemistich,

but may be supplied from the next clause, and may be inferred from the

language in Hebrews 10:38-39, where, after quoting the Septuagint rendering

of this passage, Ἐὰν ὑποστείληται οὐκ εὐδοκεῖψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ - Ean

huposteilaetai ouk eudokei hae psuchae mou en auto – behold, his soul is

puffed up -  the writer adds, “But we are not of them that shrink back (ὑποσταλῆς

hupostalaesof shrinking back) unto perdition.” Vulgate, Ecce, qui

incredulus est, non erit recta anima ejus in semetipso, which seems to

confine the statement to the case of one who doubts God’s word. But the

just shall live by his faith. The “faith” here spoken of is a loving trust in

God, confidence in His promises, resulting in due performance of His will.

This hemistich is the antithesis to the former. The proud and perverse,

those who wish to be independent of God, SHALL PERISH,  but, on the other

hand, the righteous shall live and be saved through his faith, on the

condition that he puts his trust in God. The Hebrew accents forbid the

union, “the just by faith,” though, of course, no one can be just, righteous,

without faith. The passage may be emphasized by rendering, “As to the

just, through his faith he shall live.” This famous sentence, which Paul

has used as the basis of his great argument (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11;

compare Hebrews 10:38), in its literal and contextual application

implies that the righteous man will have perfect trust in God’s promises

and will be rewarded by being safe in the day of tribulation, with reference

to the coming trouble at the hands of the Chaldeans. When the proud,

greedy kingdom shall have sunk in ruin, the faithful people shall live secure.

But the application is not confined to this circumstance. The promise looks

beyond the temporal future of the Chaldeans and Israelites, and unto a

reward that is eternal. We see how naturally the principle here enunciated

is applied by the apostle to teach the doctrine of justification by faith in

Christ. The Septuagint gives, δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται – Ho

de dikaios ek pisteos mou zaesetai -  i,e. by faith in me. The Speaker is God. 

Paul omits μου.  Habakkuk gathers into one sentence the whole principle of

the Law, and indeed all true religion.



Dark Problems and Man’s True Attitude in Relation to Them.

(ch. 1:13-15, 17; vs. 1-4.)



(ch. 1:13-15, 17.) The prophet in these words expressed the perplexity of

his mind and the consequent sadness of his heart. He had bitterly mourned

over the prevailing guilt of his people, and had earnestly appealed to

Heaven to vindicate the right. The Divine response, however, filled him

with distress. That Divine chastisement should be inflicted upon his country

he understood and approved, but that the Chaldeans, who were still greater

transgressors, should be permitted to run over the land, and to lead his

people into captivity, baffled and perplexed him. Yea, more; whilst the

good in his land were but few, yet there were to be found such; and how

could it be that these should suffer, and suffer at the hands of the heathen

who were so gross and iniquitous? Surely, thought he, this scarcely

accorded with the thought of the Divine purity, and of the rectitude of

God’s providential government. And hence he cried in his perplexity,

“Thou art,” etc. (ch. 1:13,15,17) There is mystery in the Divine

operations; dark problems confront us as we reflect upon the Divine

working. “How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding

out!” (Romans 11:33); “Thy way is in the sea;” i.e. “far down in secret

channels of the deep is his roadway;” “Thy footsteps are not known;” i.e.

“none can follow thy tracks” (Psalm 77:19). One man enjoys the

endowment of reason; another is left a helpless lunatic. One has all things

and abounds; another is well nigh destitute of the common necessaries of

life. One has “no changes;” another is being continually subjected to

adverse influences. We see the mother dying just after she has given birth

to her child; we behold the young and the beautiful passing “out of

sunshiny life into silent death;” we behold the earnest toiler stricken down

in the very prime of life, whilst useless and injurious lives are preserved and

“burn to the socket.” The skeptic asks us to reconcile all this with the

thought of God’s wise and loving rulership, and, failing this, to join him in

his indifference and practical atheism; but to do so would be to go contrary

to the deepest convictions of our hearts, and to the clearest testimony of

our consciences. We will rather seek to cherish a faith which will pierce the

mists, and enable us, despite such anomalies, to recognize the goodness

and the love of God.





Ø      The attitude of prayer. The seer took all his fears and forebodings, his

                        difficulties and discouragements, his doubts and perplexities, to God

                        in prayer (ch. 1:13-15, 17). As we pray light often is cast upon the

                        hidden path.   


Ø      The attitude of expectancy. “I will stand upon my watch,” etc. (v.1).

                        We are to “wait patiently for the Lord,” and there is ever to enter into this

                        waiting the element of watchfulness. We are to look for further light, even

                        here, upon the works and ways of our God, and we shall assuredly miss

                        this unless we cherish the spirit of holy expectation. “Many a proffered

                        succour from heaven goes past us because we are not standing on our

                        watch tower to catch the far off indications of its approach, and to fling

                        open the gates of our hearts for its entrance” (Maclaren).


Ø      The attitude of trust. “The just shall live by his faith” (Jeremiah 2:4).

                        It is not in the process, but in the issue, that the wisdom and rightness of

                        the Divine operations will be fully manifested, and for the issue we must

                        trustfully wait. Tennyson sings —


“Who can so forecast the years,

And find in loss a gain to match?

Or reach a hand through time to catch

The far off interest of tears?”       


In God’s economy there is a gain to match every loss. Tears do bear

interest; only we cannot “forecast the years,” and see the gain; we cannot

reach forth and seize in advance “the interest of tears.” But however far

off, it is there. We shall know more and more, even in the present life, as

God’s purposes concerning us develop, that all things are working together

for our good (Romans 8:28), whilst at length standing upon the heights

of eternity, and gazing back upon the past and seeing in the perfect light,

the perfect wisdom,, and the perfect love, we shall cry with adoring

gratitude, “He hath done all things well!”  (Mark 7:37)



                                                The Life of Faith (v. 4)


There are two forms of life referred to in Scripture — the life of sense, and

the life of faith. These differ in their bent (Romans 8:5), and also in the

issues to which they tend (ibid. v.13). The sincerely righteous man,

the just,” has tested both these. Time was when he lived the former, but,

satisfied as to its unreality, he now looks not at the things which are seen,

but at those which are unseen (I Corinthians 6:11; II Corinthians 4:18). His motto

is Galatians 2:20. “The just shall live by his faith.” These words are

quoted by St. Paul (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11), and also by the

writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (10:38). The New Testament writers

were diligent students of the Old Testament, and we may learn from their

example not to treat those more ancient writings as being of comparative

unimportance They, however, use this expression of the Prophet Habakkuk

in a somewhat different sense from that in which he employed it, and apply

it to the exposition and enforcement of the important doctrine of

justification by faith.” The thought possessing the mind of the seer was

that the righteous man exercises an implicit confidence in God; and

adopting this course is preserved and protected, and experiences

tranquility and happiness under every circumstance of life. In reflecting

upon his words our attention may appropriately be directed to some of the

circumstances in which “the just” may be placed, with a view to indicating

how that, under these, their faith in God strengthens and sustains them, and

enables them truly to live.


  • “The just shall live by their faith” IN TIMES OF  DECLENSION IN

            RELIGION. Such declension prevailed in the age to which this prophet

            belonged. The mournful words with which his prophecy commences

            indicate this (ch.1:2-4). Many similar times of declension have

            risen among the nations, and when the falling away from the true and the

            right has been widespread. So also has it been with Christian communities.

            Watchfulness has been neglected, and prayer has been restrained; there has

            been a lack of the spirit of Christian unity and concord; there has been the

            fire upon the altar, but, alas? it has been in embers; the lamp has been

            burning, but it has given only a flickering light. “The just,” under such

            circumstances, are grieved as they view the state of religion around them,

            but whilst sad at heart in view of such declension and of the way in which it

            dishonors God, they are also inspired with confidence and hope. Their

            trust is in Him. They know that with Him is the residue of the Spirit. Whilst

            praying the prayer of this prophet, “O Lord, revive thy work” (ch.3:2), they

            can also, like him, express this confident assurance, “For the earth shall be

            filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the

            sea.,  (ch. 2:14). And so it comes to pass that in the season of declension

            in religion, when many around have lost the fervor of their love and loyalty to

            God and to righteousness, “the just shall live by his faith.”  (see Ezekiel 9:4)


  • “The just shall live by their faith” IN TIMES OF  NATIONAL

            CALAMITY. Chastisement follows transgressions to nations as well as to

            individuals. Judah had wandered from God, and, lo! He permitted them to

            fall into the hands of the Chaldeans; and it was the mission of Habakkuk to

            foretell the approaching Captivity. National calamities have been

            experienced by our own people. Sometimes it has come to us in the form

            of war. The appeal has been made to the arbitrament of the sword; and

            even although we have been victorious, the triumph has been secured at an

            enormous sacrifice of life, with all the bitter suffering to survivors thus

            involved. Or pestilence has prevailed. The destroying angel has swept over

            the land, sparing neither the old nor the young, and numbering thousands

            among his victims. And in the midst of these faith grasps the rich promises

            of God and RESTS UNSWERVINGLY ON HIM!   Let the Chaldean

            warriors come on horses swifter than the leopards and more fierce than the

            evening wolves, let them in bitterness and haste traverse the breadth of the

            land, resolved to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs, let them

            scoff at kings and scorn princes and gather the captivity as the sand, still

            the hearts of the faithful shall be borne upward, for in the time of national

            calamity, and when hearts not centered from God are breaking, “THE






            HERE. Take the two extremes of prosperity and adversity.


Ø      Some enjoy great temporal prosperity. The temptations of such are

o       pride,

o       worldliness,

o       indolence,

o       selfishness,

                        and yielding to which they lack those higher joys and nobler

                        aspirations in which consists the true life!  Walking by faith,

                        the good man is preserved from yielding to the influence of these

                        temptations. Strong in faith, he will see that all his prosperity is to

                        be ascribed to Him who giveth power to get wealth, and thus pride

                        will be laid low. Strong in faith, he will realize that there are other

                        treasures, incorruptible and unfading, and with mind and heart

                        directed to the securing of these, he will think less of this world’s

                        pomp and vanity and show. Strong in faith, he will feel that he has

                        a work to do for God, and that the additional influence prosperity

                        has secured to him ought to be held as a sacred trust to be used to

                        God’s glory, and hence he will be preserved from seeking merely his

                        own ease and enjoyment. And strong in faith, he will view himself

                        as a steward of all that he has, and will therefore seek to be God’s

                        almoner to the needy around him. So shall he live BY HIS FAITH!


o       Others have to pass through adverse scenes; and the faith that

                        strengthens in prosperity wilt also sustain amidst life’s unfavorable

                        influences. Resting in the Lord and in the glorious assurances of His

                        Word, His servants can outride the severest storm, quietly acquiescing

                        and bravely enduring. Ruskin remarks that there is good in everything

                        in God’s universe, that there is hardly a roadside pond or pool which

                        has not as much landscape in it as above it, that it is at our own will that

                        we see in that despised stream either the refuse of the street or the image

                        of the sky, that whilst the unobservant man knows simply that the

                        roadside pool is muddy, the great painter sees beneath and behind the

                        brown surface what will take him a day’s work to follow, but he follows

                        it, cost what it will, and is amply recompensed, and that the great

                        essential is an eye to apprehend and to appreciate the beautiful which

                         lies about us everywhere in God’s world. And this is what we want

                        spiritually the eye of faith, and then shall we see, even in the most

                        opposite of the experiences which meet us in life, God’s gracious

                        operation, and the vision shall thrill us with holy joy. “The just shall

                         live by his faith.”  This life of faith is a life characterized by true

                        blessedness. There can be no real happiness whilst we are opposing

                        our will to the will of God; but if our will is renewed by His grace, if

                        we are trusting in the Saviour and following Him along the way of

                        obedience to the Divine authority and of resignation to the Divine

                        purpose, then amidst all the changing scenes of our life our peace

                        shall flow like a river, and we shall experience joy LASTING

                        AS GOD’S THRONE!



The Portraiture of a Good Man.  (v. 4)


“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall

live by his faith.” Whether the man whose soul is represented as “lifted up”

refers to the unbelieving Jew or to the Babylonian, is an unsettled question

amongst biblical critics; and a question of but little practical moment. We

take the words as a portraiture of a good man.


  • A GOOD MAN IS A HUMBLE MAN. This is implied. His soul is not

lifted up.” Pride is not only no part of moral goodness, but is essentially

inimical to it. It is said that St. Augustine, being asked, “What is the first

article in the Christian religion?” replied, “Humility.” “What is the second?”

“Humility.” “And the third?” “Humility.” A proud Christian is a solecism.

Jonathan Edwards describes a Christian as being such a “little flower as we

see in the spring of the year, low and humble in the ground, opening its

bosom for the beams of the sun, rejoicing in a calm rapture, suffusing

around sweet fragrance, and standing peacefully and lowly in the midst of

other flowers.” Pride is an obstruction to all progress and knowledge and

virtue, and is abhorrent to the Holy One. “He resisteth the proud, but

giveth grace to the humble.”  (James 4:6)


“Fling away ambition,

By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then,

The image of his Maker, hope to win by ‘t?”



  • A GOOD MAN IS A JUST MAN. “The just shall live by his faith.” To

be good is nothing more than to be just.


Ø      Just to self. Doing the right thing to one’s own faculties and affections

as the offspring of God.


Ø      Just to others. Doing unto others what we would that they should do

unto us.


Ø      Just to God. The kindest Being thanking the most, the best Being loving

the most, the greatest Being reverencing the most. To be just to self,

society, and God, — this is religion.


  • A GOOD MAN IS A CONFIDING MAN. He lives “by his faith.”

This passage is quote! by Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11;

it is also quoted in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:38). What

is faith? Can you get a better definition than the writer of the Hebrews has

given in the eleventh chapter and first verse? — “Faith is the substance of

things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This definition replies

three things.


Ø      That the things to which faith is directed are invisible. “Things not seen.”

These things include things that are contingently unseeable and things

that are essentially unseeable, such as thought, mind, God.


Ø      That some of the invisible things are objects of hope. “Things hoped

for.” The invisible has much that is very desirable to us — the society of

holy souls, the presence of the blessed Christ, the manifestations of the

infinite Father, etc.


Ø      That these invisible things faith makes real in the present life. “The

substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The

realization of the hopeable. Now, it is only by this faith that man can live

a just life in this world; the man who lives by sight must be unjust. To be

just, he must see Him who is invisible.


5“Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man,

neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as

death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations,

and heapeth unto him all people:” The character of the Chaldeans in some

particulars is here intimated. The general proposition in the former hemistich of

v. 4 is here applied to the Chaldeans, in striking contrast to the lot of the just in

the latter clause. Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine. This should

be, And moreover, wine is treacherous. A kind of proverbial saying

(Proverbs 20:1). Vulgate, Quomodo vinum potantem decipit. There is

no word expressive of comparison in the original, though it may be

supplied to complete the sense. The intemperate habits of the Babylonians

are well attested (see Daniel 5:3-4; Quint. Curt., 5:1, “Babylonii

maxime in vinum et quae ebrietatem sequuntur effusi sunt;” comp. Her.,

1:191; Xen., ‘Cyrop.,’ 7:5. 15). They used both the fermented sap of the

palm tree as well as the juice of the grape, the latter chiefly imported from

abroad. “The wealthy Babylonians were fond of drinking to excess; their

banquets were magnificent, but generally ended in drunkenness”

(Rawlinson, ‘Anc. Men.,’ 3:450, edit. 1865). Neither the Septuagint, nor

the Syriac, nor the Coptic Version has any mention of wine in this passage.

The Septuagint gives, δὲ κατοιόμενος καὶ καταφρονητής – ho de katoiomenos

kai kataphronaetaesthe arrogant and the scorner. He is a proud man, neither

keepeth he at home; a haughty man, he resteth not. His pride is always impelling

him to new raids and conquests. This is quite the character of the later Chaldeans,

and is consistent with the latter part of the verse. The comparison, then, is

this: As wine raises the spirits and excites men to great efforts which in the

end deceive them, so pride rouses these men to go on their insatiate course

of conquest, which shall one day prove their ruin. The verb translated

keepeth at home” has the secondary sense of “being decorous;” hence the

Vulgate gives, Sic erit vir superbus, et non decorabitur; i.e. as wine first

exhilarates and then makes a man contemptible, so pride, which begins by

exalting a man, ends by bringing him to ignominy. Others take the verb in

the sense of “continueth not,” explaining that the destruction of Babylon is

here intimated. But what follows makes against this interpretation. The

Septuagint gives, 'Ανὴρ ἀλαζὼν οὐθὲν μὴ τεράνηAnaer alazon outhen

mae teranaea haughty man who doesn’t stay at home - which Jerome,

combining with it his own version, paraphrases, “Sic vir superbus non

decorabitur, nec voluntatem suam perducet ad finem; et juxta Symmachum,

οὐκ εὐπορήσειouk euporaesi -  hoc est, in rerum omnium erit penuria.”

Who enlargeth his desire as hell; Hebrew, Sheol. Hell is called insatiable

(Proverbs 27:20; 30:16; Isaiah 5:14). Is as death, which seizes all creatures and

spares none. People; peoples.



                        The Unjust Man and the Just: A Contrast.  (vs. 4-5)




Ø      The unjust man.


o       Proud or “puffed up” in soul. The heart the seat and source

      of all sin (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23); pride its origin and

      essence (Psalm 10:4; 52:7; Proverbs 16:5; Malachi 4:1). Arrogant

      haughtiness and self-sufficiency characteristic of the carnal heart

      (Romans 1:30; Ephesians 4:17). These qualities had marked the

      Assyrian (Isaiah 10:12), and were to distinguish the Chaldean

      (v. 5) conqueror. They discover themselves in all who oppose or

      decline from the spirit of Christ (I Corinthians 5:2; Philippians

      2:3; III John 1:9). They will eventually culminate in antichrist

      (II Thessalonians 2:4).


o       Wicked or ungodly in life. His soul, being thus puffed up with

      pride, is not “upright” or “straight” within him; is not free from

      turning and trickery; does not in its thoughts, feelings, words,

      and actions adhere to the straight path of integrity, but loves

      “crooked ways” and devious roads, and thus turns aside unto

      iniquity (Psalm 125:5). Again true of the Chaldean,

                                    whose iniquities — drunkenness, boasting, restless ambition,

                                    insatiable lust of conquest, relentless oppression — are

                                    specifically enumerated (v. 5), it holds good also of the

                                    natural heart and carnal mind (Jeremiah 13:10; II Timothy 3:2).


o       Rejected or “condemned” by God. This implied in the fact that

      he is not a just or “justified” man.


Ø      The just man.


o       Believing in soul. As pride or trust in self is the animating

      principle of the wicked, so is faith or trust in God that of the

      good. Faith the root of all moral and spiritual excellence in

      the soul. As the proud soul stands aloof from God, the

      humble heart cleaves to Him, as “that which is straight,

                                    being applied to what is straight, touches and is touched

                                    by it everywhere.”


o       Upright in life. As pride leads to disobedience, faith leads

      to obedience. Hence Paul speaks of “the obedience of faith”

      (Romans 1:5), i.e. such obedience as is inspired by faith. The

      soul that trusts God, walks in His ways, avoids sin, and

      endeavors to order his conversation aright (Psalm 50:23;

      I Peter 2:5). Faith and holiness are in the gospel scheme

      inseparably connected (John 15:8; Romans 2:13;

                                                                        Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8).


o       Accepted by God. Paul in Romans (Romans 1:17), and the

      writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:38), by quoting this

      statement from Habakkuk, teach that the “just” and the

      “justified” are one — that the just in the Scripture sense of

      that expression are those legally and spiritually righteous

      before God.




Ø      That of the unjust death. Though not stated, this may be inferred.


o       The soul of which the inward essence is pride and self-sufficiency

      is destitute of spiritual life, is dead. “Swollen with pride, it shuts

      out faith,and with it the presence of God; and “without faith it is

                                    impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).


o       The man who lives in sin is dead while he liveth (I Timothy 5:6);

                                    dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), and so long as he

                                    remains a stranger to the principle of faith which the breath of

                                    God’s Spirit alone can awaken in the unrenewed, he must

                                    continue “DEAD” -  i.e. incapable of actions spiritually good.


o       The sinner not accepted before God is of necessity condemned

      by God; and to be under condemnation is to be “legally dead.”


Ø      That of the just life. Not necessarily life physical and temporal,

                        because the “justified” die no less than their neighbors (Hebrews

                        9:27); but:


o       life legal and judicial“he that believeth shall never come

       into condemnation” (John 3:18; 5:24; Romans 8:1);


o       life moral and spiritual, which Scripture connects with faith

      in God and in His Son Christ Jesus as a stream with its fountain,

      as a tree with its root, as an effect with its cause (Acts 15:9; 26:18;

      II Thessalonians 1:11; Galatians 2:20); and


o       life indestructible and eternal, this being always a quality

      ascribed to the life which the justified man receives through

      his faith (John 3:36 5:24; 11:25-26; I John 2:25; 5:11; I Timothy

      1:16; 6:12; Titus 1:2; 3:7).


All other life BUT THAT WHICH CHRIST BESTOWS is temporal and perishing!




Moral Wrong: Some of its National Phases.  (v.5)


“Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither

keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and

cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto

him all people.” No doubt Habakkuk was reviled like the other prophets on

account of his terrible predictions, as recorded in the preceding chapter

(vs. 6 and 11). From this verse to the nineteenth the prophet unfolds new

visions concerning the national crimes committed by Babylon, and the

consequent national calamities approaching. This verse gives some of the

national phases of moral wrong as they appeared in Babylon. Evil, like

good, is one in essence, but it has many forms and phases. The branches

that grow out of the root, whilst filled with the same sap, vary widely in

shape and hue. In this verse we have three of its forms.


  • DRUNKENNESS. He transgresseth by wine;” or, as some render it,

moreover, the wine is treacherous.” This is one of the most loathsome,

irrational, and pernicious forms which it can assume. Drunkenness puts the

man or the woman absolutely into the hands of Satan, to do whatsoever he

wills — lie, swear, rob, murder, and luxuriate in moral mud.


            “A drunken man is like a fool, a madman, a drowned man;

one draught too much makes him a fool,

the second roads, and the third drowns him”



It is the curse of England. It fills our workhouses with

paupers, our hospitals with patients, our jails with prisoners, our mad

houses with lunatics, our cemeteries with graves. Moral wrong took this

form in ancient Babylon, and it takes this form in England today to an

appalling extent. Woe to our legislators, if they do not put it down by the

strong arm of the law! Nothing else will do it.


  • HAUGHTINESS. “Is a proud man.” Babylon became inspired with a

haughty insolence. She regarded herself as the queen of the world, and

looked down with supercilious contempt upon all the other nations of the

earth, even upon the Hebrew people, the heavenly chosen race.

Nebuchadnezzar expresses the spirit of the kingdom as well as his own,

when he says, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of

the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my

majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). It is suggested that the Chaldeans’ love of

wine had much to do in the developing of this haughty spirit. We read

(Daniel 5.) that Belshazzar at his feast drank wine with the thousands of his

lords, his princes, his wives, his concubines. “Wine is a mocker;” it cheats a

beggar into the belief that he is a lord. “Strong drink is raging;” (Proverbs 20:1);

it lashes the passions into furious insolence. It is fabled that Aceius the poet,

though he was a dwarf, would be pictured a giant in stature. Pride is an evil that

leads to ruin. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a

fall.”  (Proverbs 16;18)


  • RAPACITY. Two things are suggested concerning the rapacious form

it assumed in Babylon.


Ø      It was restless. “Neither keepeth at home.” Not content with its own

grandeur, wealth, and luxuries, it goes from home in search of others;

goes out into other countries to rifle and to rob.


Ø      It is insatiable. “Who enlargeth his desire as hell [that is, ‘as Sheol, the

grave’], and is as death, and cannot be satisfied.” “Hell and destruction,”

that is, the grave and death, says Solomon, “are never full.” The grave

cries for more and more, as its tenants multiply by millions. The earth

seems to hunger and to gape for all the dust that enters into the frames

of men. So it was with the Babylonian despot, though he gathered unto

him all nations and heaped unto him all peoples, his greed and ambition

remained unsatiated and insatiable. “This,” says an old writer, “is one of

the crying sins of our land, insatiable pride. This makes dear rents and

great fines; this takes away the whole clothing of many poor to add one

lace more in the suits of the rich; this shortens the laborer’s wages, and

adds much to the burden of his labor. This greediness makes the market

of spiritual and temporal offices and dignities, and puts well deserving

virtue out of countenance. This corrupts religion with opinions, justice

with bribes, charity with cruelty; it turns peace into schism and

contention, love into compliment, friendship into treason, and sets the

mouth of hell yet more open, and gives it an appetite for more souls.”

Such are some of the forms that moral wrong took in Babylon, as

indicated in these words. But these are not the only forms, as we shall

see in proceeding through the chapter.  Does not moral wrong assume

these very forms here in America?  Drunkenness, haughtiness, rapacity,

these fiends show their hideous shapes everywhere, and work their

demon deeds in every circle of life.


The destruction of the Babylonians is announced by the mouth of the vanquished

nations, who utter five woes against their oppressor. The first woe: for their rapacity.


6 “Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting

proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that

which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with

thick clay!” All these. All the nations and peoples who have been

subjugated and barbarously treated by the Babylonians (compare Isaiah 14:4).

A parable. A sententious song (see note on Micah 2:4). A taunting proverb.

The Anglican Version combines the two Hebrew words, which stand unconnected,

into one notion. So the Vulgate, loquelam aenigmatum. The latter of the two generally

means “riddle,” “enigma;” the other word (melitzah) is by some translated, “a derisive

satirical song,” or “an obscure, dark saying;” but is better understood of a bright, clear,

brilliant speech. So the two terms signify “a speech containing enigmas,” or a song

which has double or ambiguous meanings (compare Proverbs 1:6). Septuagint,

Πρόβλημα εἰς διήγησις, αὐτοῦ - Problaema eis duaegaesis autoua taunting

proverb against him.  Woe (Nahum 3:1). This is the first of the five “woes,”

which consist of three verses each, arranged in strophical form. Increaseth that

which is not his. He continues to add to his conquests and possessions, which

are not his, because they are acquired by injustice and violence. This is the first

denunciation of the Chaldeans for their insatiable rapacity. How long? The

question comes in interjectionally — How long is this state of things to continue

unpunished (compare Psalm 6:3; 90:13)? That ladeth himself with thick clay;

Septuagint, βαρύνων τὸν κλοιὸν αὐτοῦ στιβαρῶςbarunon ton kloion autou

stibaros - who loadeth his yoke heavily; Vulgate, aggravat contra se densum lutum.

The renderings of the Anglican and Latin Versions signify that the riches and spoils

with which the conquerors load themselves are no more than burdens of clay, which

are in themselves worthless, and only harass the bearers. The Greek Version

seems to point to the weight of the yoke imposed by the Chaldeans on

them; but Jerome explains it differently, “Ad hoc tantum saevit ut devoret

et iniquitatis et praedarum onere quasi gravissima torque se deprimat.” The

difficulty lies in the ἄπαξ λεγόμενον  apax legomenon (one time use) abtit,

which forms an enigma, or dark saying, because, taken as two words, it might

pass current for “thick clay,” or “a mass of dirt,” while regarded as one word it

means “a mass of pledges,” “many pledges.” That the latter is the signification

primarily intended is the view of many modern commentators, who explain the

clause thus: The quantity of treasure and booty amassed by the Chaldeans

is regarded as a mass of pledges taken from the conquered nations a

burden of debt to be discharged one day with heavy retribution. Pusey, “He

does in truth increase against himself a strong pledge, whereby not others

are debtors to him, but he is a debtor to Almighty God, who careth for the

oppressed (Jeremiah 17:11).”


7 “Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that

shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?”

That shall bite thee. As thou hast cruelly treated others, so

shall they, like fierce vipers (Jeremiah 8:17), bite thee. Henderson,

Delitzsch, Keil, and others see in the word a double entendre connected

with the meaning of “lending on interest,” so the “biting” would signify

“exacting a debt with usury.” Such a term for usury is not unknown to

classical antiquity; thus (quoted by Henderson) Aristoph., ‘Nub.,’ 12 —


                         “By the expenditure deep bitten,

                        And by the manger and the debts”

Lucan, ‘Phars.,’ 1:181,” Hinc usura vorax, avidumque in tempore faenus.”

The “biters” rising up suddenly are the Persians who destroyed the

Babylonian power as quickly and as unexpectedly as it had arisen. Vex;

literally, shake violently, like διασείσητε diaseisaeteye should be

intimidating -  (Luke 3:14), or like the violent arrest of a creditor

(Matthew 18:28); Septuagint, οἱ ἐπίβουλοί σουoi epibouloi sou - thy plotters;

Vulgate, lacerantes te. So of the mystic Babylon, her end comes suddenly

(Revelation 18:10, 17-18).


8 “Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the

people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the

violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.”

The law of retaliation is asserted. All the remnant of the

people (peoples) shall spoil thee. The remnant of the nations subjugated

and plundered by the Chaldeans shall rise up against them. The downfall of

Babylon was brought about chiefly by the combined forces of Media,

Persia, and Elam (Isaiah 21:2; Jeremiah 1:9- 10); and it is certain

that Nebuchadnezzar, at one period of his reign, conquered and annexed

Elam; and there is every probability that he warred successfully against

Media (see Jeremiah 25:9, 25; Judith 1:5, 13, etc.); and doubtless many

of the neighboring tribes, which had suffered under these oppressors,

joined in the attack. Because of men’s blood. Because of the cruelty and

bloodshed of which the Babylonians were guilty. For the violence of (done

to) the land, of the city (see v. 17). The statement is general, but with

special reference to the Chaldeans’ treatment of Judaea and Jerusalem, as

in Isaiah 43:14; 45:4; Jeremiah 51:4, 11. Jerome takes “the violence

of the land,” etc., to mean the wickedness of the Jews themselves, which is

to be punished. He is led astray by the Septuagint, which gives, διὰ... ἀσεβείας γῆς

through… the iniquity of the land.



            A Parable of Woes: 1. Woe to the Rapacious! (vs. 6-8)




Ø      The Chaldean nation, in its kings and people, who were animated by a

                        lust of conquest, which impelled them upon wars of aggression.

Ø      The enemies of the Church of God and of Jesus Christ, whether national

                        or individual, in whom the same spirit dwells as resided in the Babylonian

                        power. God’s promises and threatenings in the Bible have almost always a

                        wider sweep and a larger reference than simply to those to whom they

                        were originally addressed.


  • THEIR SIN SPECIFIED. Spoliation, robbery, theft, plunder. A



Ø      Unjust; as all theft is. In heaping up the spoils of plundered nations, the

                        Chaldean was increasing what was not his; and the same is done by those

                        who store up money or goods gotten by fraud or oppression. What men

                        acquire by violence or guile is not theirs. How much of the wealth of

                        modern nations and of private persons is of this character may not be told;

                        to assert that none is may be charity, but is not truth. The practices

                        complained of by James (James 5:4-6) have not been unknown since his


Ø      Insatiable; as the lust of possession is prone to be. The plundered nations

      are depicted as asking — How long is this devastating power to go

                        on despoiling peoples weaker than himself? Is his career of rapine never

                        to be arrested? Will his thirst for what belongs to others never be

                        quenched?  So “he that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver,

                        nor he that loveth abundance with increase” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

                        The passion for heaping up ill-gotten gains grows by what it feeds on.

                        Those who determine to enrich themselves at the expense of others

                        seldom know when to stop.  Almost never do they cry, “Enough!”

                        till retribution, overtaking them, strips them of all.

Ø      Vain; as all sin will ultimately prove to be. The foreign property taken by

                        the Chaldean from other nations, the prophet characterizes as “pledges”

                        exacted from them by an unmerciful creditor, perhaps intending thereby to

                        suggest that the Chaldean would be compelled to disgorge them in due

                        time. The idea, true of all man’s earthly possessions (Job 1:21)


                                                “Whate’er we fondly call our own

                                                    Belongs to heaven’s great Lord;

                                                The blessings lent us for a day

                                                    Are soon to be restored,”


                        — is much more applicable to wealth acquired by fraud or oppression

                        (Jeremiah 17:11). The day will come when, if not by the robbed

                        themselves, by God the rightful Owner of the wealth (Haggai 2:8) and

                        the strong Champion of the oppressed (Psalm 10:18), it will be

                        demanded back with interest (Job 20:15).




Ø      Certain. “Shall not all these take up a parable against him?” The

                        overthrow of the Chaldean is so surely an event of the future that the very

                        nations and peoples he has plundered, or the believing remnant amongst

                        them, will yet raise a derisive song over his miserable and richly merited

                        fall; and just as surely will the rapacious plunderer of others be destroyed,

                        and his destruction be a source of satisfaction to beholders (Proverbs


Ø      Heavy. The wealth he has stolen from others will be to him as a “burden

                        of thick clay” that will first crush him to the earth, making the heart within

                        him wretched and the spirit sordid and groveling, and finally sink him into

                        a hopeless and cheerless grave (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23; 6:2; Psalm 49:14).

Ø      Sudden. Retribution should fall upon the Chaldean in a moment — his

                        biters should rise up suddenly, and his destroyers wake up as from a sleep

                        to harass him (v. 7); and in such fashion will the end be of “everyone that

                        is greedy of gain and taketh away the life of the owners thereof”

                        (Proverbs 1:19); he may “spend his days in wealth,” but “in a moment

                        he shall go down to the grave” (Job 21:13); he may “heap up silver as

                        the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay,” but he shall “lie down and

                        not be gathered;” he shall “open his eyes, and behold! he is not”

                        (Job 27:16, 19).

Ø      Retributive. The Chaldean should be spoiled by the nations he had

                        spoiled. So will violent and rapacious men reap what themselves have

                        sowed. How often is it seen that money goes as it comes! Acquired by

                        speculation or gambling, it is lost by the same means. He who robs others

                        by violence or fraud not unfrequently is himself robbed by another

                        stronger or craftier than he. “Whatsoever a man soweth,” (Galatians 6:7).




Ø      Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17).

Ø      “Do violence to no man” (Luke 3:14).

Ø      “If thou do that which is evil, be afraid” (Romans 13:4).



                                    Covetousness. (vs. 6-8)


In the remaining portion of this chapter the prophet dwells upon the sins

prevailing amongst the Chaldeans, and indicates the misery these should

entail. His utterances, taken together, form a satirical ode directed against

the Chaldeans, who, though not named, are yet most clearly personified. In

the general statement respecting them in v. 5 allusion is made to their

rapacity, and the first stanza in the song is specially directed to this greed,

which was so characteristic of that nation. The words of the prophet

suggest to us respecting the sin of covetousness, that:


  • IT IS UNSATISFYING IN ITS NATURE. It is compared (v. 5) to

            Hades and death, that crave continually for more. “The covetous man is

            like Tantalus, up to the chin in water, yet thirsty.” Necessarily it must be

            so, for “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he

            possesseth(Luke 12:15). Wealth can only yield satisfaction in

            proportion as it is acquired, not for its own sake, but to be consecrated to

            high and holy purposes. George Herbert sings —


                        “Be thrifty, but not covetous. Get, to live;

                        Then live and use it: else it is not true

                        That thou hast gotten.”



            increaseth that which is not his” (v. 6). He disregards the rights of

            others. He uses all who come within his power with a view to his own

            aggrandizement. Self is the primary consideration with him, and influences

            all his movements. “He oppresseth the poor to increase his riches,” and out

            of their grinding poverty and want he grows fat. He is ready to take any

            mean advantage so as to add to his own stores. He demands heavy security

            of the debtor, and exacts crushing interest, and ladeth himself with thick

            clay(v. 6), i.e. loadeth himself with the burden of pledges.”


  • IT INCURS SURE RETRIBUTION. Whether this sin is committed

            by individuals or nations, it is alike “woe” unto such; for there shall

            assuredly follow Divine judgments. Habakkuk represents the Chaldeans as

            one who had gathered men and nations into his net (ch.1:14-17),

            and as having “spoiled many nations” (v. 8), and Jeremiah confirms

            these representations of their rapacity by describing them as “the hammer”

            (Jeremiah 50:23) and the destroyer (ibid. ch. 51:25) of the whole

            earth; and they also declare that there should overtake them certain

            retribution for the wrongs they had thus done and the sorrows they had

            thus occasioned, and that the spoiler should be at length spoiled (vs. 7-8).

            In the destruction of the Chaldean empire by the Medes and Persians

            we have the fulfillment of the threatenings, whilst, at the same time, we

            hear the voice of God speaking to us in the events of history and saying,,

            “Take heed, and beware of covetousness!”   (Luke 12:15)



National Wrongs Ending in National Woes. No. 1.  (vs. 6-8)


“Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb

against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how

long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! Shall they not rise up

suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt

be for booties unto them?” etc. In these verses, up to the nineteenth

inclusive, the prophet denounces upon the Chaldeans and Babylonians five

different woes.


1.  One for their pride and insatiableness (vs. 6-8);

2.  Another for their covetousness, etc., which would become the cause of their

     corruption (vs. 9-11);

3.  Another for the bloody and cruel means which they had employed for gratifying

     their thirst for acquiring possessions not their own (vs. 12-14); and

4.  fourth, for their wickedness, etc., which would be recompensed to them (vs. 15-17); and

5.  the fifth, for their trust in idols, which would redound to their shame (vs. 18-19).


We shall take each of the five sections separately under the title, National wrongs ending

in national woes. Notice:




Ø      Dishonest accumulation. “Woe to him that increaseth that which is not

his!” Babylon grew wealthy. Its treasures were varied and all but

inexhaustible. But whence came they? Came they by honest industry? Were

they the home produce of diligent and righteous labor? No; from other

lands. They were wrested from other countries by violence and fraud. Even

the golden and silver vessels used at the royal feast were taken out of the

temple which was at Jerusalem. “No more,” says an old writer, “of what

we have is to be reckoned ours than what we came honestly by. Nor will it

long be ours, for wealth gotten by vanity will soon diminish.” Take away

the ill-gotten wealth of the nations of Europe — wealth gotten by fraud

and violence — and how greatly will they be pauperized! How much of our

national wealth has come to us honestly? A question this worth the

impartial investigation of every man, and which must be gone into sooner

or later.


Ø      Dominant materialism. “And to him that ladeth himself with thick clay.”

Although some render this “ladeth himself with many pledges,” our

version, which gives the word “clay,” will cover all. The burning and

insatiable desire of Babylon was for material wealth; and the men or the

nation who succeed in this, only lade themselves with “thick clay” It is a

bad thing for moral spirits to be laden with “thick clay.” See the individual

man who so pampers his animal appetites until he becomes a Falstaff. His

spirit is laden with “thick clay.” See the nation whose inspiration is that of

avaricious merchandise, and whose god is mammon; its spirit is laden with

thick clay.” Ah me! what millions are to be found in all civilized countries

who are buried in “thick clay”! Clay is everything to them.


Ø      Extensive plunder. Thou hast spoiled many nations.” The first

monarchy we read of in Holy Scripture is that of the Assyrians, begun by

Ninus, of whom Nineveh took name, and by Nimrod, whom histories call

Belus, and after him succeeded Semiramis his wife. This monarchy grew,

by continual wars and violences on their neighbors, to an exceeding

height and strength; so that the exaltation of that monarchy was the ruin

of many nations, and this monarchy lasted, as some write, annos 1300.


Ø      Ruthless violence. “Because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the

land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.” “The terms ‘men,’ ‘land,’

earth,’ ‘city,’” says Henderson, “are to be understood generally, not

restricted to the Jews, their country and its metropolis.” What oceans of

the blood of all countries were shed by these ruthless tyrants of Babylon!


  • THE NATIONAL WOES. All these wrongs, as all other wrongs, run

into woes. Crimes lead to calamities. What are the woes connected with

these wrongs, as given in these verses?


Ø      The contempt of the injured. “Shall not all these take up a parable

against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him

that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth

himself with thick clay!” The woe comes out in a derisive song, which

continues to the end of the chapter. Dishonesty and low animalism must

ever sink the people amongst whom they prevail into bitter contempt.

Scarcely can there be anything more painful than the contempt of others

when it is felt to be deserved. To be sneered at, laughed at, ridiculed,

scorned, — is not this bitterly affictive? Jeremiah predicted that one

part of the punishment should be that he should be laughed to scorn.


Ø      The avenging of the spoiled. “Because thou hast spoiled many nations,

all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee.” Here is retaliation —

plunder for plunder, blood for blood. Divine retribution often pays man

back in his own coin. “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured

 to you again.”  (Matthew 7:2)


  • CONCLUSION. Ever under the righteous administration of Heaven woes

tread closely on the heel of wrongs. More certainly than the waves of the

ocean follow the moon must SUFFERING ollow SIN. To every crime there is

linked a curse, to every sin a suffering, to every wrong a woe. Be sure that

your sins will find you out.”   (\Numbers 32 :23)


The second woe: for their avarice, violence, and cunning.  (vs. 9-11)


9 “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he

may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power

of evil!”  That coveteth an evil covetousness to his house; better,

gaineth evil gains for his house. The “house” is the royal family or

dynasty, as in v. 10; and the Chaldean is denounced for thinking to

secure its stability and permanence by amassing godless gains. That he

may set his nest on high. This is a figurative expression, denoting security

as well as pride and self-confidence (compare Numbers 24:21; Job 39:27-30;

Jeremiah 49:16; Obadiah 1:4), and denotes the various means which the

Chaldeans employed to establish and secure their power

(compare Isaiah 14:14). Some see in the words an allusion to the

formidable fortifications raised by Nebuchadnezzar for the protection of

Babylon, and the wonderful palace erected by him as a royal residence (see

Rawlinson, ‘Ant. Men.,’ 3:340, etc., edit. 1865). It is certain that

Nebuchadnezzar and other monarchs, after successful expeditions, turned

their attention to building and enriching towns, temples, and palaces (see

Josephus, ‘Cont. Ap.,’ 1:19, 7, etc.). From the power of evil; from the

hand of evil; i.e. from all calamity.


10 “Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and

hast sinned against thy soul.”  The very means he took to secure  his power shall

prove his ruin. Thou hast consulted shame to thy house. By thy measures thou

hast really determined upon, devised shame and disgrace for thy family;

that is the result of all thy schemes, By cutting off many people (peoples).

This is virtually correct. The verb in the present text is in the infinitive, and

may depend upon the verb in the first clause. The versions read the past

tense.  So the Chaldee and Syriac. This may be taken as the prophet’s explanation

of the shameful means employed. Hast sinned against thy soul (Proverbs 8:36; 20:2).

Thou hast endangered thy own life by provoking retribution. The Greek and Latin

Versions have, “Thy soul hath sinned.”


11 “For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the

timber shall answer it.”  Even inanimate things shall raise their voice to denounce

the Chaldeans’ wickedness. The stone shall cry out of the wall. A proverbial

expression to denote the horror with which their cruelty and oppression

were regarded; it is particularly appropriate here, as these crimes had been

perpetrated in connection with the buildings in which they prided them.

selves, and which were raised by the enforced labor of miserable captives

and adorned with the fruits of fraud and pillage. Compare another

application of the expression in Luke 19:40.  Wordsworth sees a literal

fulfillment of these words in the appalling circumstance at Belshazzar’s

feast, when a hand wrote on the palace wall the doom of Babylon (Daniel

5.). And the beam out of the timber shall answer it. “The tie beam out

of the timber work shall” take up the refrain, and “answer” the stone from

the wall. The Hebrew word (Kaphis) rendered “beam” is an ἄπαξ λεγόμενον

 apax legomenon (one time use)  It is explained as above by St. Jerome, being

referred to a verb meaning “to bind.” Thus Symmachus and Theodotion

translate it by σύνδεσμοςsundesmosband; bond.   Henderson and others

think it means “a half brick,” and Aquila renders it by μᾶζαmaza - something

baked.  But we have no evidence that the Babylonians in their sumptuous edifices

interlaced timber and half bricks (see Pusey, p. 419, note 23). The Septuagint gives,

κάνθαρος ἐκ ξύλουkantharos ek xulou -  a beam out of the woodwork. Hence,

referring to Christ on the cross, St. Ambrose (‘Orat. de Obit. Theod.,’ 46) writes,

Adoravit ilium qui pependit in ligno, illum inquam qui sicut scarabaeus clamavit,

ut persecutoribus suis peccata condonaret.” St. Cyril argues that tie beams

were called κάνθαροιkantharoi - from their clinging to and supporting wall

or roof.  Some reason for this supposition is gained by the fact that the word

canterius, or cantherius, is used in Latin in the sense of “rafter.”



                        A Parable of Woes: 2. Woe to the Covetous!  (vs. 9-11)




Ø      Personal comfort. Suggested by the term “nest,” which for the Chaldean

                        meant Babylon with its palaces, and for the individual signifies his

                        mansion or dwelling place (Job 29:18). Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 10:11, 1) states

                        that Nebuchadnezzar built for himself a palace “to describe the vast

                        height and immense riches of which would be too much for him

                        (Josephus) to attempt;” and Nebuchadnezzar himself tells us in his

                        inscription that he constructed “a great temple, a house of admiration

                        for men, a lofty pile, a palace of his royalty for the land of Babylon,”

                        “a large edifice for the residence of his royalty,” and that within it

                        were collected as an adornment “trophies, abundance, royal treasures”

                        (‘Records of the Past,’ 5:130, etc.).  Men who set their hearts on

                         riches mostly do so under the impression that these will add in

                        their comfort and increase their happiness — to them comfort

                        and happiness being synonymous with large, beautiful, and well

                        plenished houses (Psalm 49:11).


Ø      Social distinction. Pointed at by the word “high,” in which notions of

                        elevation and visibility are involved. For one rich man that covets

                        wealth to augment his bodily comfort or mental gratification, then

                        seek it for the luster in others’ eyes it is supposed to give. The upper

                        classes in society are the wealthy; the under or lower classes are the

                        poor. None notice the wise man who is poor (Ecclesiastes 9:16);

                        the rich fool stands upon a pedestal and receives the homage of

                        admiring crowds (Proverbs 14:20). The same delusive standard is

                        employed in estimating the greatness of nations. Wealth is commonly

                        accepted by the world as the true criterion of rank. Rich nations take

                        precedence of poor ones. In God’s sight money is the smallest

                        distinction that either country or person can wear.


Ø      Permanent safety. Stated by the clause, “that he may be delivered from

                        the power [or, ‘the hand’] of evil” The Babylonian sovereigns as

                        individuals and as rulers held the delusion that the best defense against

                        personal or national calamity was accumulated treasure (Proverbs

                        10:15; 18:11). Nebuchadnezzar in particular used his “evil gain” for the

                        fortification of his metropolis, building around it “the great walls” which

                        his father Nabopolassar had begun but not completed, furnishing these

                        with great gates of ikki and pine woods and coverings of copper, to keep

                        off enemies from the front, and rearing up a tall tower like a mountain,

                        so rendering it, as he supposed, “invincible” (‘Records of the Past,’ 5:126,

                        etc.). In a like spirit men imagine that “money is a defense”

                        (Ecclesiastes 7:12), and that he who has a large balance at his banker’s

                        need fear no evil. But “riches profit not in the day of wrath” (Proverbs

                        11:4); and just as certainly as Nebuchadnezzar’s “eagle’s nest” was not

                        beyond the reach of the Persian falconer, so neither will the wicked man’s

                        silver and gold be able to deliver him when his end is come (Jeremiah

                        51:13; Ezekiel 7:19; Zephaniah 1:18).




Ø      Against God. This evident from the nature of the offence, which God’s

                        Law condemns (Exodus 20:17), as well as from the evils to which it

                        leads — oppression, pride, self-sufficiency, and self-destruction.

Ø      Against others. In carrying out its wicked schemes covetousness usually

                        involves others in ruin. It impelled the Chaldean to cut off many peoples.

                        It drives those whom it inspires to deeds of violence, robbery, oppression,

                        and murder (Proverbs 1:19; I Timothy 6:10).

Ø      Against themselves. The covetous burden their own souls with guilt; and

                        so, while professing to seek their own happiness and safety, are in reality

                        accelerating their own misery and destruction.




Ø      Disappointment. Whereas the covetous man expects to set his house on

                        high, he usually ends by involving it in shame (Proverbs 15:27); instead

                        of promoting its stability, as the result of all his scheming he commonly

                        accomplishes its overthrow (ibid. 11:28).


Ø      Vengeance. Likening the covetous nation or man to a house builder, the

                        prophet says that “the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out

                        of the timber shall answer it,” as it were uniting their voices in a solemn

                        cry to Heaven for vengeance on the avaricious despoiler. Almost literally

                        fulfilled in the history of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:24-28), the words are often

                        verified in the experiences of communities and individuals who are

                        destroyed by that very prosperity in which they have trusted (Proverbs



LESSON, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness” (Luke 12:15).



                                    Corrupt Ambition. (vs. 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.


  • 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” (v. 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



  • ITS UNSCRUPULOUSNESS. “They coveted an evil covetousness to

            their house” (v. 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”

            (v. 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.”


  • ITS ISSUE. The prophet indicates that all this self-seeking and self-glorying

            must end in disgrace and dishonor.


Ø      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

                        (v. 11).


Ø      Shame and ruin should overtake the schemers and plotters themselves.

                        “Thou hast sinned against thy soul” (v. 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



Ø      All connected with them should share in the disgrace and dishonor.

                        “Thou hast consulted shame to thy house” (ver.10); “God visits 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 thetabernacle of the upright shall flourish” (Proverbs 14:11).



National Wrongs Ending in National Woes. No. 2.  (vs. 9-11)


Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may

set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou

hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast

sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the

beam out of the timber shall answer it.” Notice:




Ø      Coveting the possessions of others. “Woe to him that coveteth an evil

covetousness to his house!” “An evil covetousness!” There is a good

covetousness. We are commanded to “covet earnestly the best gifts”

(I Corinthians 12:31). But to hunger for those things which are not our own,

but the property of others, and that for our own gratification and

aggrandizement, is the sin which is prohibited in the Decalogue, which is

denounced in the Gospel as a cardinal sin, and which is represented as

excluding from the kingdom of heaven. The covetous man is a thief in

spirit and in reality.


Ø      Trusting in false securities. So “that he may set his nest on high, that he

maybe delivered from the power of evil.” The image is from an eagle

(Job 39:27). The royal citadel is meant. The Chaldeans built high

towers like the Babel founders, to be delivered from the power of evil.

They sought protection, not in the Creator but in the creature, not in

moral means but in material. Thus foolishly nations have always acted

and are still acting; they trust to armies and to navies, not to

 righteousness, truth, and God. A moral character built on justice, purity,

and universal benevolence is the only right and safe defense of nations.

“Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest

against the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord”

(Obadiah 1:4).


Ø      Sinning against the soul. And hast sinned against thy soul,” or against

thyself. Indeed, all wrong is a sin against one’s self — a sin against the

laws of reason, conscience, and happiness. “He that sinneth against me

wrongeth his own soul.” (Proverbs 8:36)  Such are some of the wrongs

implied by these verses. Alas! they are not confined to Babylon or to

any of the ancient kingdoms. They are too rife amongst all the modern

kingdoms of the earth.



coveteth an evil covetousness to his house!” etc. What is the woe

connected with these evils? It is contained in these words, “The stone shall

cry out of the wail, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.” Their

guilty conscience will endow the dead materials of their own dwellings

with the tongue to denounce in thunder their deeds of rapacity and blood.

Startling personification this! The very stones of thy palace and the beams

out of the timber shall testify. “Note,” says Matthew Henry, “those that do

wrong to their neighbor do a much greater wrong to their own souls. But

if the sinner pleads, ‘Not guilty,’ and thinks he has managed his frauds and

violence with so much art and contrivance that they cannot be proved upon

him, let him know that if there be no other witnesses against him, the stone

shall cry out of the wall against him, and the beam out of the timber in the

roof shall answer it, shall second it, shall witness it, that the money and

materials wherewith he built the house were unjustly gotten (v. 11). The

stones and timber shall cry to Heaven for vengeance, as the whole creation

groans under the sin of man, and waits to be delivered from that bondage

of corruption.   (Romans 8:22)  Observe:


Ø      That mind gives to all the objects that once impressed it a mystic power

of suggestion. Who has not felt this? Who does not feel it every day? The

tree, the house, the street, the lane, the stream, the meadow, the mountain,

that once touched our consciousness, seldom fail to start thoughts in us

whenever we are brought into contact with them again. It seems as if the

mind gave part of itself to all the objects that once impressed it. When we

revisit, after years of absence, the scenes of childhood, all the objects

which impressed us in those early days seem to beat out and revive the

thoughts and feelings of our young hearts. Hence, when we leave a

place which in person we may never revisit, we are still tied to it by

an indissoluble bond.  Nay, we carry it with us and reproduce it in



Ø      That mind gives to those objects that impressed us when in the

commission of any sin a terrible power to start remorseful memories.

This is a fact of which, alas! all are conscious. And hence those stones

and timbers, stolen from other people, that went to build the palaces,

temples, and mansions in Babylon, would not fail to speak in thunder

to the guilty consciences of those who obtained them by violence or

fraud. No intelligent personal witness is required to prove a sinner’s guilt.

All the scenes of his conscious life vocalize his guilt.


(vs. 12-14)  The third woe: for founding their power in blood and devastation.


12 “Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city

by iniquity!”  The Chaldeans are denounced for the use they make of the

wealth acquired by violence. That buildeth a town with blood (Micah 3:10,

where see note). They used the riches gained by the murder of conquered

nations in enlarging and beautifying their own city. By iniquity.

To get means for these buildings, and to carry on their construction, they

used injustice and tyranny of every kind. That mercy was not an attribute

of Nebuchadnezzar we learn from Daniel’s advice to him (Daniel 4:27).

The captives and deported inhabitants of conquered countries were used as

slaves in these public works (see an illustration of this from Koyunjik,

Rawlinson’s ‘Anc. Men.,’ 1:497). What was true of Assyria was no less

true of Babylon. Professor Rawlinson (2:528, etc.) tells of the extreme

misery and almost entire ruin of subject kingdoms. Not only are lands

wasted, cattle and effects carried off, the people punished by the beheading

or impalement of hundreds or thousands, but sometimes wholesale

deportation of the inhabitants is practiced, tens or hundreds of thousands

being carried away captive. “The military successes of the Babylonians,” he

says (3:332), “were accompanied with needless violence, and with outrages

not unusual in the East, which the historian must nevertheless regard as at

once crimes and follies. The transplantation of conquered races may,

perhaps, have been morally defensible, notwithstanding the sufferings

which it involved. But the mutilations of prisoners, the weary

imprisonments, the massacre of non-combatants, the refinement of cruelty

shown in the execution of children before the eyes of their fathers, — these

and similar atrocities, which are recorded of the Babylonians, are wholly

without excuse, since they did not so much terrify as exasperate the

conquered nations, and thus rather endangered than added strength or

security to the empire. A savage and inhuman temper is betrayed by these

harsh punishments, one that led its possessors to sacrifice interest to

vengeance, and the peace of a kingdom to a tiger-like thirst for blood…we

cannot be surprised that, when final judgment was denounced against

Babylon, it was declared to be sent in a great measure ‘because of men’s

blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwelt



13 “Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labor in

the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very

vanity?” Is it not of the Lord of hosts? Hath not God ordained that

this, about to be mentioned, should be the issue of all this evil splendor?

That the people shall labor in the very fire; rather, that the peoples

labor for the fire; i.e. that the Chaldees and such like nations expended all

this toil on cities and fortresses only to supply food for fire, which, the

prophet sees, will be their end (Isaiah 40:16). Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:58)

applies these and the following words to the destruction of

Babylon. This is indeed to weary themselves for very vanity. Babylon,

when it was finally taken, was given over to fire and sword (compare

Jeremiah 50:32; 51:30, etc.).


14 “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,

as the waters cover the sea.”  The prophet now gives the reason of the vanity of

these human undertakings. For the earth shall be filled, etc. The words are from

Isaiah 11:9, with some little alterations (compare Numbers 14:21).

This is cue of the passages which attests “the community of testimony,” as

it is called, among the prophets. To take a few out of many cases that

offer, Isaiah 2:2-4 compared with Micah 4:1-4; Isaiah 13:19-22

with Jeremiah 50:39, etc.; Isaiah 52:7 with Nahum 1:15; Jeremiah 49:7-22 with

Obadiah 1:1-4; Amos 9:13 with Joel 3:18. All the earth is to be filled

with, and to recognize, the glory of God as manifested in the overthrow of

ungodliness; and therefore Babylon, and the world power of which she is a

type, must be subdued and perish. This announcement looks forward to the

establishment of Messiah’s kingdom, which “shall break in pieces and

consume all these kingdoms, and shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). We

must remember how intimately in the minds of Eastern heathens the

prosperity of a nation was connected with its local deities. Nothing in their

eyes could show more perfectly the impotence of a god than his failing to

protect his worshippers from destruction (compare I Kings 18:40).

The glory of Jehovah and His sovereignty over the earth would be seen and

acknowledged in the overthrow of Babylon, the powerful, victorious

nation. As the waters cover the sea. As the waters fill the basin of the sea

(Genesis 1:22; I Kings 7:23, where the great vessel of ablution is called

“the sea”).



                        A Parable of Woes: 3. Woe to the Ambitious!  (vs. 12-14)




Ø      The object aimed at. To build towns and establish cities. Not necessarily

                        a sinful project, unless the motive or the means be bad. City building may

                        have originated in a spirit of defiance against Jehovah (Genesis 4:17),

                        though this is not certain; but cities may be, as they often are, centers and

                        sources of incalculable blessing to mankind. If they help to multiply the

                        forces of evil, they also serve to intensify those of good. Cities promote

                        the good order of society, stimulate intellectual life, increase the

                        privileges, opportunities, and comforts of individuals, and so tend to

                        accelerate the march of civilization, by quickening movements of reform

                        and combining against public evils. Hence, though “God made the

                        country,” and “man made the town” (Cowper), it need not be assumed

                        that city founding is against the Divine will — it can hardly be, since

                        He Himself has prepared for us a city (Hebrews 11:16). Only as there

                        are cities and cities, so are there diversities in the modes of their



Ø      The means resorted to. Blood and iniquity. Murder, bloodshed,

                        transportation, and tyranny of every kind the Babylonian sovereigns

                        employed to enrich their capital and strengthen their empire; and one is

                        not sure whether in modern times cities are not sometimes built and

                        kingdoms strengthened by similar methods, viz. by wars of aggression

                        against foreign peoples, and by the enforcement of sinful treaties upon

                        unwilling but weak governments. With regard to individuals, there is

                        no room for doubt that often they build the houses of which a city

                        consists in the way here indicated, if not by bloodshed exactly, at

                        least by iniquity, paying for them by ill-gotten gains, and erecting

                        them by means of under paid labor.




Ø      The fact of it. They, i.e. the peoples (nations or individuals), who build

                        towns and cities as above described, “labor for the fire” and “weary

                        themselves for vanity;” i.e. exert themselves to erect buildings that the

                        fire will one day consume, and weary themselves in producing structures

                        that will one day be laid in ruins. What is here said about Babylon is true

                        of all earthly things (II  Peter 3:10), and ought to moderate the strength

                        of men’s desires in running after them.


Ø      The certainty of it. It is already determined of the Lord of hosts. It is

                        part of His counsel that permanence shall not attach to anything here

                        below (I John 2:17), and least of all to the productions of iniquity.

                        Individuals may be allowed to wait for their ultimate overthrow till

                        the day of death or the end of the world, but cities and nations, having

                        no future, are usually visited with doom in the present. The overthrow

                        in time of nations and empires that are built up by bloodshed and

                        iniquity may be safely counted on. Nineveh, Babylon, Rome, are



Ø      The reason of it. “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the

                        glory of God.” That is to say, because this is the destiny of the world,

                        the goal towards which all things terrestrial are moving, it is impossible

                        that the ambitious projects of man should be allowed permanently to

                        succeed.  All superstructures, however solidly built, must be overthrown,

                        all organizations, however compactly formed, must be broken up, that

                        hinder the advancement of that happy era which Jehovah has promised.

                        Hence the triumph of Babylon will come to an end, and with that the

                        glory of Jehovah will shine forth with a brighter degree of effulgence.

                        Men will see in that a display of Jehovah’s character and power never

                        witnessed before. The knowledge of His glory will take a wider sweep

                        and extend over a larger area than before. The same principle demanded

                        the overthrow of Rome, and demands the final destruction of all God’s

                        enemies, that the knowledge of His glory may cover the earth as the

                        waters cover the sea.


  • Learn:

            1. The sin and folly of ambition.

            2. The beauty and wisdom of humility.



The Two Kingdoms: A Contrast. (vs. 12-14)


Reference is made in these verses to two kingdoms — the kingdom of

Babylon and the kingdom of God; and this association serves to indicate

several points of contrast.




SPIRITUAL. The glory of Chaldea centered in its magnificent city of

Babylon, so grand in its situation, its edifices, it defences, and in the stores

of treasure it contained, its greatness consisting thus in its material

resources; but the glory of the kingdom of God is spiritual. It is “the glory

of the Lord” that constitutes its excellence — all moral beauty and spiritual

grace abounding therein.






their superior might and powers, conquered other tribes, and with the

spoils of war and the forced labor of the conquered they reared their

cities. They “built a town with blood, and established a city by iniquity”

(v. 12); but “a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of God’s kingdom.”

(Psalm 45:6; Hebrews 1:8)



yet notice, by way of contrast;


Ø      Toil in the interests of earthly kingdoms is often compulsory and is

rendered reluctantly — aliens who had fallen as captives into the power of

the Chaldeans were made to labor and serve; but toil in the interests of

God’s kingdom is ever voluntary and is rendered lovingly and without



Ø      Toil in the interests of earthly kingdoms is often toil for that which shall

be destroyed, and which shall come to nought. “The people shall labor in

the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity”

(v.13), i.e. they should labor in erecting edifices which should be

consumed by fire, and thus their toil prove in vain; but toil in the interests

of Gods kingdom shall prove abiding and eternal in its results.


Ø      The workers of iniquity, no matter how earnest their toil, should be

covered eventually with dishonor and shame “Woe to him!” etc.

(v.12) — but all true toilers for God and righteousness shall be

divinely approved and honored.




KINGDOM IS ASSURED. “The knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall

cover the earth.”




UNIVERSAL DOMINION. “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge

of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.



National Wrongs Ending in National Woes. No. 3.  (vs. 12-14)


“Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by

iniquity! Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labor

in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? For

the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the

waters cover the sea.” Notice:



great wrong referred to in these verses is the accumulation of gain by

wicked means. “Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth

a city by iniquity!” In itself there is nothing improper in building towns,

establishing cities, and accumulating wealth. Indeed, all these things are both

legitimate and desirable. But it is stated that these Babylonians did



Ø      By violence. “With blood.” Men’s lives were sacrificed for the purpose.

“By iniquity.” Justice was outraged in the effort.


Ø      By cruelty. “Labor in the very fire.” These wrongs we have already

explained in the preceding sections. (But see a different explanation of

labor in the fire” in the Exposition.)



the woe? Disapprobation of God.


Ø      These wrongs are contrary to His nature. “Is it not of the Lord of

hosts?” or, as Keil renders it, “Is it not beheld from Jehovah of hosts

that the people weary themselves for fire, and nations exhaust themselves

from vanity?” He does not desire it. Nay, it is hostile to His will, it is

displeasing to His nature. The benevolent Creator is against all social

 injustice and cruelty. His will is that men should “do unto others as

they would that  men should do unto them.”


Ø      These wrongs are contrary to His purpose for the world. His purpose is

that the “earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the

Lord.”  To this end the kingdom of the world which is hostile to Him

must be destroyed. This promise involves a threat directed against the

Chaldean, whose usurped glory must be destroyed in order that the glory

of the universe may fill the whole earth.  What a glorious prospect!


o       This world, in the future, is to enjoy the greatest blessing. What

     is that? The knowledge of the glory of God. Knowledge in itself

     is a blessing.  The soul without it is not good (Proverbs 19:2). It is

     not the mere knowledge of the works of God. This is of

     unspeakable value.  Not merely the knowledge of some of the

     attributes of God.  This is of greater value still. But the knowledge

     of the glory of God, which means the knowledge of God Himself,

     whom to know is LIFE ETERNAL!”


o       This world, in the future, is to enjoy the greatest blessing in the

greatest abundance. “As the waters cover the sea.” He shall

flood all souls with its celestial and transporting radiance.


(vs. 15-17) The fourth woe: for base and degrading treatment of subject nations.


15 “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle

to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on

their nakedness!”  Not only do the Chaldeans oppress and pillage the peoples, but

they expose them to the vilest derision and contumely. The prophet uses

figures taken from the conduct produced by intemperance. That giveth his

neighbour drink. The Chaldeans behaved to the conquered nations like

one who gives his neighbor intoxicating drink to stupefy his faculties and

expose him to shame (compare v. 5). The literal drunkenness of the

Chaldeans is not the point here. That puttest thy bottle to him. If this

translation is received, the clause is merely a strengthened repetition of the

preceding with a sudden change of person. But it may be rendered,

“pouring out, or mixing, thy fury,” or, as Jerome, “mittens fel suum,”

“adding thy poison thereto.” This last version seems most suitable,

introducing a kind of climax, the “poison” being some drug added to

increase the intoxicating power. Thus: he gives his neighbor drink, and

this drugged, and in the end makes him drunken also. For the second

clause the Septuagint gives, ἀνατροπῇ θολερᾷ  - anatropae tholera

subversione turbida and the versions collected by Jerome are only

unanimous in differing from one another.  That thou mayest look on their

nakedness. There seems to be an allusion to the case of Noah (Genesis 9:21-24);

but the figure is meant to show the abject state to which the conquered nations

were reduced, when, prostrated by fraud and treachery, they were mocked and

spurned and covered with ignominy (compare Nahum 3:5, 11). So the

mystic Babylon is said to have made the nations drink of her cup

(Revelation 14:8; 17:2; 18:3).


16 “Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy

foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD’s right hand shall be

turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.”

Just retribution falls on Babylon. Thou art filled with shame

for glory. Thou art satiated, indeed, but with shame, not with glory. Thou

hast reveled in thy shameless conduct to the defenseless, but this redounds

to thy dishonor, and will only add to the disgrace of thy fall The

Septuagint joins this clause with part of the following: Drink thou also

fullness of shame for glory. Drink thou also the cup of wrath and

retribution. Let thy foreskin be uncovered. Be thou in turn treated with

the same ignominy with which thou hast treated others, the figure in v.15

being here repeated (compare Lamentations 4:21). It is otherwise

translated, “Be thou,” or “show thyself, uncircumcised.” This, in a Jew’s

eyes, would be the very climax of degradation. The Vulgate has consopire,

from a slightly different reading. The Septuagint, Καρδία σαλεύθητι καὶ

σείσθητι  - Kardia saleuthaeti kai seisthaeti - Be tossed, O my heart, and shaken.

The present text is much more appropriate, though the Syriac and Arabic follow

the Greek here. The cup of the Lord’s right hand. Retributive vengeance is often

thus figured (compare Psalm 60:3; 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 25:15-16).

Shall be turned unto thee. God Himself shall bring round the cup of suffering and

vengeance to thee in thy turn, and thou shalt be made to drink it to the dregs, so

that shameful spewing (foul shame) shall be on thy glory. The ἄπαξ λεγόμενον

 apax legomenon (one time use) kikalon is regarded as an intensive signifying

the utmost ignominy (ἀτιμία  - atimia - indignity, (objective) disgrace;

dishonor, reproach, shame, vile;  Septuagint), or as two words,

or a compound word, meaning vomitus ignominiae (Vulgate). It was

probably used by the prophet to suggest both ideas.


17 “For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of

beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for

the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.”

For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee;  Septuagint,

ἀσέβεια τοῦ Λιβάνουasebeia tou Libanouviolence on Lebanon

 iniquitas Libani (Vulgate). It would be plainer if translated, “the violence

against,” or “practiced on, Lebanon,” as the sentence refers to the devastation

 inflicted by the Chaldeans on the forests of Lebanon (compare Isaiah 14:8; 37:24).

Jerome confines the expression in the text to the demolition of the temple at

Jerusalem in the construction of which much cedar was employed; others take

Lebanon as a figure for Palestine generally, or for Jerusalem itself; but it is best

understood literally. The same devastation which the Chaldeans made in Lebanon

shall “cover,” overwhelm, and destroy them. And the spoil of beasts, which

made them afraid. The introduction of the relative is not required, and the

passage may be better translated, And the destruction of beasts made them

(others read “thee”) afraid. Septuagint, “And the wretchedness of the

beasts shall affright thee.” Jerome, in his commentary, renders, “Et vastitas

animalium opprimet te.” The meaning is that the wholesale destruction of

the wild animals of Lebanon, occasioned by the operations of the

Chaldeans, shall be visited upon this people. They warred not only against

men, but against the lower creatures too; and for this retributive

punishment awaited them. Because of men’s blood, etc. The reason

rendered in v. 8 is here repeated. Of the land, etc., means “toward” or

“against” the land.



                        A Parable of Woes: 4. Woe to the Insolent! (vs. 15-17)




Ø      Symbolically set forth. The image employed is that of giving to one’s

                        neighbor drink from a bottle with which “vengeance,” “fury,” or

                        “wrath,” or, according to another interpretation, “poison,” has been

                        mixed, in order to intoxicate him, that one might have the devilish

                        enjoyment of looking on his nakedness, as Ham did on that of Noah,

                        or generally of glorying in his shame. To infer from this that the bare act

                        of giving to a neighbor drink is sinful, is not warranted by Scripture

                        (Proverbs 31:6; Ecclesiastes 9:7; I Timothy 5:23), and is going beyond

                        the intention of the prophet, who introduces the “picture from life,”

                        not as an instance of one sort of wickedness in itself, but as a symbol

                        of another sort of wickedness on the part of the Chaldean. Still, the

                        action selected by the prophet has in it several elements of wickedness

                        which are worthy of consideration. If the mere giving of drink to

                        another is not sinful (Proverbs 31:6), the doing so out of malice

                        (“adding venom or wrath thereto”) is, while the sin is aggravated

                        by practicing deception in connection therewith (“mixing poison

                        therewith” — “drugging the wine,” as the modern phrase is), and

                        intensified further by the motive impelling thereto (to be able to gloat

                        over the neighbor’s degradation), and most of all condemned by being

                        done against a neighbor to whom one owes not wrath but love, not

                        casting down but lifting up, not exulting in his shame but rejoicing

                        in his welfare.  The words can hardly be construed into a condemnation

                        of those who give and take wine or other drinks in moderation and to

                        the glory of God; but they unquestionably pronounce him guilty in God’s

                        sight who deliberately and maliciously makes his fellow man drunk in

                        order to enrich or amuse himself at that fellow man’s expense.


Ø      Historically acted out.


o       By the Chaldean, who drew the nations of the earth into his

      power by means of poisoned flatteries.  Enticed to place

      themselves beneath his tutelage, these nations ultimately fell

      into his power, and were by him oppressed, degraded, and


o       By modern nations, who to enrich themselves enforce upon

      weaker tribes treaties and traffic (whether of opium or of

      strong drink) which lead to their moral enfeeblement.

o       By private individuals, who for their own gain or pleasure hurl

      their neighbors with sublime indifference into gulfs of misery

      and shame.




Ø      Of Divine sending. Jehovah’s goblet, of which He had caused the nations

                        to drink, should be handed round to the Chaldeans and other guilty nations

                        and individuals, who should all be compelled to drink of it (Psalm 75:8).


Ø      Of terrible severity. It should be as shameful as that which the

                        Chaldeans had inflicted upon the nations. It should cause him also to be

                        drunken, and should expose his foreskin to others (compare Isaiah 47:3).

                        It should cover his glory with shame as when the attire of a drunken man

                        is bespattered with his vomiting. Of sinners generally it is written that

                        “shame shall be the promotion of fools” (Proverbs 3:35).


Ø      Of retributive character. The wickedness of the Chaldean should return

                        upon his own pate. The violence he had done to Lebanon (the Holy Land

                        or the fair regions of the earth generally) should rebound upon himself.

                        The destruction of the beasts, i.e. practiced upon wild animals which, by

                        their incursions, cause men to assemble against them, should crush the

                        Chaldean who had become as a ferocious beast; or the destruction

                        inflicted by the Chaldean on the wild beasts of Lebanon and other

                        districts by cutting down the wood thereof for military purposes or for

                        state buildings, should return upon them with avenging fury. The same

                        law of retribution obtains in the punishment of sinners generally

                        (Matthew 7:2).


  • Learn:


Ø      The sin of drunkenness.

Ø      The greater sin of making others drunk.

Ø      The acme of sin, exulting in the moral overthrow of others.

Ø      The certainty that none of these acts of sin will go unpunished.

Ø      The fitness that this should be so.



God’s Retributive Justice. (vs. 15-17)


It is a Divine law that “whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap

(Galatians 6:7). God is just, and hence will cause retribution to be

experienced by evil doers. A striking illustration of the operation of this

great law is presented in these verses. Consider:



OTHERS. (v. 15.) The reference in this verse is not to the sin of

drunkenness. That sin is a distressing and degrading one, and they are true

lovers of their kind who seek to lessen its ravages, to deliver men from its

thraldom. It has proved a blight to the children of men all down the ages.

The Chaldeans were notorious for it; revelings, banquetings, excess of

wine, marked them all through their history, and specially signalized the

close of their career. The prophet, however, here simply used this vice as a

symbol in order to set forth vividly the course the Babylonians had adopted

towards others, and specially to indicate their deceitfulness. Drink drowns

the reason, and places its victim at the mercy of any who are mean enough

to take advantage of him. And the thought the prophet wished to convey

here (v. 15) seems to be that as a man, desiring to injure another,

persuades him to take stimulant, and thus, whilst professing good

intentions, effects his evil purpose, so had the Chaldeans intoxicated feebler

powers by professions of friendship and regard, drawing them into alliance,

and then turning upon them to their discomfiture and ruin. And he

proceeds to indicate:



And in this he traced the Divine retribution of their iniquity. He saw

prophetically that:


Ø      As they had taken advantage of others, so others should in due course

take advantage of them (v. 16) and bring them to shame.


Ø      As they would lay waste his country and take his people into captivity,

so subsequently they should themselves be brought to naught, and their

empire pass out of their hands (v. 17; compare Isaiah 14:8, in which the

fir trees and cedars are made to rejoice in the overthrow of Babylon). Our

prophet had been perplexed at the thought of the Chaldeans as being the

instruments of the Divine justice in reference to his own sinful people, but

the mystery was clearing away, and in the final overthrow of Babylon he

here foreshadowed, he traced another token that “the Lord is righteous in

all His ways.”



National Wrongs Ending in National Woes. No. 4.  (vs. 15-17)


“Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to

him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their

nakedness! Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let

thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned

unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory,” etc. This is the

commencement of the fourth stanza. Though the idea of

the shameless conduct of drunkards here depicted may have been

borrowed from the profligate manners of the Babylonian court, yet the

language is not to be taken literally, as if the prophet were describing such

manners, but, as the sequel shows, is applied allegorically to the state of

stupefaction, prostration, and exposure to which the conquered nations

were reduced by the Chaldeans (see Isaiah 51:17-20; and compare

Psalm 75:8; Jeremiah 25:15-28; 49:12; 51:7; Ezekiel 23:31-32;

Revelation 14:10; 16:19; 18:6). Notice:


  • THE NATIONAL WRONGS. What are the wrongs referred to in this



Ø      The promotion of drunkenness. “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor

drink!” The Babylonians were not only drunkards, but the promoters of

drunkenness. The very night on which this prophecy was fulfilled,

Belshazzar drank wine with a thousand of his lords. (Daniel 5)  More than

once in these homilies we have had to characterize and denounce this sin.

Who are the promoters of drunkenness? Brewers, distillers, tavern keepers,

and, I am sorry to add, doctors, all of whom, with a few exceptions,

recommend intoxicating drinks. In doing so these men inflict a thousand

times as much evil upon mankind as they can accomplish good.


Ø      The promotion of drunkenness involves indecency. “That thou mayest

look on their nakedness.” It is the tendency of drunkenness to destroy

all sense of decency. A drunkard, whether male or female, loses all

sense of shame.


  • THE NATIONAL WOES. “Woe unto him that giveth strong drink!,

What will come to those people?


Ø      Contempt. “Thou art filled with shame for glory! the cup of the Lord’s

right hand shall be turned unto thee.” As the Chaldeans had treated the

nations they had conquered in a most disgusting manner, so they in their

turn should be similarly treated. “With what measure ye mete, it shall be

measured to you again.”  (Matthew 7:2)


Ø      Violence. “For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee.” Stripped of all

figure, the meaning of this is that the sufferings which Babylon inflicted

upon Palestine, represented here by Lebanon, would return to them. Here

is retribution. Babylon had given the cup of drunkenness, and in return

should have the cup of fury and contempt.


(vs. 18-20)  The fifth woe: for their idolatry.


18 “What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven

it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth

therein, to make dumb idols?”  The final woe is introduced by an ironical

question.  The Chaldeans trusted in their gods, and attributed all their success to the

divine protection; the prophet asks — What good is this trust? What

profiteth the graven image? (compare Isaiah 44:9-10; Jeremiah 2:11).

What is the good of all the skill and care that the artist has lavished

on the idol? (For “graven” or “molten,” see note on Nahum 1:14.) And

a (even the) teacher of lies. The idol is so termed because it calls itself

God and encourages its worshippers in lying delusions, in entire contrast to

JEHOVAH WHO IS TRUTH!   From some variation in reading the Septuagint

gives, φαντασίαν ψευδῆ  - phantasian pseudaefalse fantasies - and Jerome,

imaginem falsam” (compare Jeremiah 10:14). Trusteth therein. The prophet

derides the folly which supposes that the idol has powers denied to the man

who made it (Isaiah 29:16).  Dumb idols; literally, dumb nothings. So

I Corinthians 12:2 εἴδωλα τὰ ἄφωνα eidola ta aphonathese dumb,

voiceless idols - (compare I Corinthians 10:19; Psalm 115:5-8). There is a

paronomasia in the Hebrew, elilim illemim.


19 “Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone,

Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver,

and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.”  The prophet now denounces

the folly of the maker and worshipper of idols. With this and the following

verses compare the taunts in Isaiah 44:9-20. The wood. From which he carves

the image.  Awake! Come to my help, as good men pray to the living God

(compare Psalm 35:23; 44:23; Isaiah 51:9). Arise, it shall teach! The

Hebrew is bettor rendered, Arise! it teach! i.e. shall this teach? — an

emphatic question expressing astonishment. Vulgate, Numquid ipse docere

poterit? The Septuagint paraphrases, καὶ αὐτό ἐστι φαντασία -  kai auto esti

phantasia - and itself is a phantasy. It is laid, over. “It” is again emphatic,

as if pointed at with the finger. Hence the Vulgate, Ecce iste coopertus est;

and Henderson, “There it is, overlaid,” etc. The wooden figure was encased

in gold or silver plates (see Isaiah 40:19; Daniel 3:1).



            A Parable of Woes: 5. Woe to the Idolatrous! (vs. 18-19)


  • IDOLATRY AN ABSURDITY. It must ever be so. The notion that any

            figure fashioned by man out of wood or stone, silver or gold, however

            carved or gilded, can either be or represent the Infinite and Eternal One,

            carries the stamp of unreason on the face of it (Psalm 115:4-8; Isaiah 44:19;

                        Jeremiah 10:5).


  • IDOLATRY A FRAUD. Set up as gods, and worshipped as such,

            graven and molten images are a hideous imposition upon man’s credulity,



Ø      lifeless,“There is no breath at all in the midst of them;”

Ø      speechless, — the carved wood and graven stone are alike

      “dumb” (I Corinthians 12:2), and only fools would say to them,

      “Arise, and teach!”

Ø      truthless, — in so far as they can be supposed to impart instruction

                        being veritable “teachers of lies;” and

Ø      valueless, — of no use or profit to any one on earth and beneath the

                        sun (Jeremiah 10:5).


  • IDOLATRY A RUINATION. It brings with it a woe upon all who

            are deluded by it. It entails upon them God’s curse (Deuteronomy

            27:15) and endless sorrow (Psalm 16:4) and everlasting death

            (Revelation 21:8).


LESSON. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21).


20 “But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence

before Him.”  The prophet contrasts the majesty of Jehovah with these dumb

and lifeless idols. His holy temple. Not the shrine at Jerusalem, but heaven

itself (see Psalm 11:4, and note on Micah 1:2). Let all the earth

keep silence before Him. Like subjects in the presence of their king,

awaiting his judgment and the issue to which all these things tend (compare

v. 14; Psalm 76:8-9; Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 2:13). Septuagint,

Eλαβείσθω ἀπὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ - Eulabeistho apo prosopou autou

Let all keep silent before Him.



                                    The Temple of Jehovah  (v. 20)




Ø      Its material dimensions. The universe. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?

                        saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24). “The Lord of heaven and earth

                        dwelleth not in temples made with hands,” but in that which his own

                        hands have fashioned (Acts 17:24). He “filleth all in all” (Ephesians



Ø      Its inner shrine. Heaven, the habitation of His holiness

                        (Deuteronomy 26:15; Isaiah 63:15), His dwelling place (I Kings 8:43;

                        II Chronicles 6:33), the throne of His glory (Psalm 11:4; Isaiah 66:1),

                        the place of His immediate presence (Psalm 16:11; 17:15), the

                        abode of the redeemed (Psalm 73:24; Revelation 4:4), His temple

                        proper (Revelation 7:15; 16:1).


Ø      Its distinctive designation. Holy, as being the temple of a holy God,

                        which only the holy in spirit can enter, and in which holy services

                        alone can be performed.




Ø      His name. Jehovah, the Self-existent and Immutable One. “I am t

      that I am” (Exodus 3:14).


Ø      His attributes. Omnipresence, since He is in His holy temple (Exodus

                        20:24; Jeremiah 23:24); omniscience, since all are before Him

                        (Psalm 66:7; Proverbs 5:21; 15:3).


Ø      His character. Gracious, since He condescends to receive the homage

      of worshippers, and to hold communication and correspondence with





Ø      Their persons. “All the earth;” i.e. all the inhabitants thereof, if all are

                        not as yet (Psalm 74:20; I Corinthians 10:20), all ought to be

                        (Exodus 20:3; 34:14; Matthew 4:10), and all one day will be

                        (Psalm 22:27; Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Revelation 15:4)

                        worshippers of the one living and true God.


Ø      Their attitude. “Before Him” — in His presence, beneath His eye,

      before His throne, at His footstool. God’s worshippers should strive

      to realize the immediate presence of Him whom they worship

      (Psalm 51:11; 95:2; 100:2).


Ø      Their devotion. “Silence;” expressive of reverence before His majesty

                        (Psalm 89:7), of submission beneath His authority (Psalm 31:2), of

                        trust in His mercy (Psalm 130:5), of expectant waiting for His

                        utterances whether of commandment or promise (Psalm 85:8).


  • Learn:


Ø      That the highest glory of the universe is GOD’S PRESENCE

      IN IT!

Ø      That man’s truest hope springs from the vicinity of God.

Ø      That the finest worship may at times be inaudible.

That God oftenest speaks to those who are waiting to hear Him.



National Wrongs Ending in National Woes. No. 5.  (vs. 18-19)


“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the

molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth

therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake;

to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold

and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.” We have said that

the prophet denounces upon the Chaldeans, in vs. 6-19 of this chapter,

five different woes of a most terrible nature. We have noticed four of them.

This is the fifth and the last; and it is denounced on account of their

idolatry. We have seen no translation of the text more faithful to the

original than this, the Authorized Version.These verses expose the folly of

idolatry, to which the Babylonians were wholly addicted. It might be

supposed, from all the other stanzas having been introduced by a denunciatory

ywh, ‘woe!’   That a transposition has here taken place, and that the nineteenth

verse ought to be read before the eighteenth; and Green has thus placed them in

his translation. But there is a manifest propriety in anticipating the inutility

of idols, in close connection with what the prophet had just announced

respecting the downfall of Babylon, before delivering his denunciation

against their worshippers themselves.  Now, idolatry, as it prevails in

heathen lands, idolatry proper as we may say, is universally denounced by

the professors of Christianity everywhere. We need not employ one word

to expose its absurdity and moral abominations. But its spirit is rampant in

all Christendom, is rife in all “Christian Churches,” as they are called; and it

is the spirit, not the form, that is the guilty and damnable part of idolatry.

We raise, therefore, three observations from these verses.




Chaldean idolaters gave their devotions to the “graven image” and to the

molten image” that men had carved in wood and stone or molded from

molten metals. It was the works of their own hands they worshipped. They

made gods of their own productions. This was all they did; and are not the

men of the world, as a rule, doing the same thing? They yield their devotions

to the works of their own hands. It may be wealth, fame, fashion, pleasure,

or power. It is all the same. Are men’s sympathies in their strong current

directed towards God or towards something else? Do they expend the

larger portion of their time and the greater amount of their energies in the

service of the Eternal, or in the service of themselves? This is the question;

and the answer is too palpable to the eye of every spiritual thinker.  Churches

may “weep and howl” over the idolatry prevailing in India, China, and

other heathen parts; but thoughtful Christ-like souls are showering in

silence and solitude their tears on the terrible idolatry that reigns

everywhere in their own country.




These old idolaters said to the “wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise!”

They invoked the dead forms they themselves had made, to help them, to

give them relief, to render them happy. Now, it is true that men do not say

formal prayers to wealth, or fashion, or fame, or power; yet to these they

look WITH ALL THEIR SOULS for happiness. A man’s prayer is the

deep aspiration of his soul, and this deep aspiration is being everywhere

addressed to these dead deities; men are crying for happiness to objects


gods of heathendom.  “There is no breath at all in the midst of it.” Men

who are looking for happiness to any of these objects are like the devotees

of Baal, who cried from morning to evening for help, and NO HELP

CAME!  (I Kings 18:26-29)




That saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise!”


Ø      It is the woe of outraged reason. What help could they expect of the

molten image, and a teacher of lies”? What answer could they expect

From the “dumb idols” that they themselves had made? What relief

from any of the idols, though overlaid with gold and silver? “There is

no breath at all in the midst of it.” How irrational all this! Equally

unreasonable is it for men to search for happiness in any of the works

of their bands, and in any being or in any object INDEPENDENT



Ø      It is the woe of insulted justice. What has God said? “Thou shalt have no

other gods before me;” “Thou shalt worship no graven image;” “Thou

shalt love me with all thy heart,” etc. All this devotion, therefore, to the

works of our own hands, or to any other creature, is an infraction of man’s

cardinal obligation. “Will a man rob God?” (Malachi 3:8)  Go, then, to

the men on Wall Street (CY), who are seeking happiness from wealth —

to the men in scenes of fashionable and worldly amusements, who are

seeking happiness from sensual indulgences and worldly applause —

and thunder, “Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the

dumb stone, Arise!”


“And still from Him we turn away,

And fill our hearts with worthless things

The fires of avarice melt the clay,

And forth the idol springs!

Ambition’s flame and passion’s heat

By wondrous alchemy transmute

Earth’s dross, to raise some gilded brute

To fill Jehovah’s seat.”




Silence in the Temple (v. 20)


“The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

In striking contrast with the utter nihility of idols, Jehovah is here introduced,

at the close of all the prophecy, as the invisible Lord of all, occupying His celestial

temple, whence He is ever ready to interpose His omnipotence for the deliverance

and protection of His people and the destruction of their enemies (compare

Isaiah 26:21).  Such a God it becomes all to adore in solemn and profound silence

(Psalm 76:8-9; Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 2:13).  We take these words as

suggesting three great subjects of thought.


  • THE UNIVERSE IS THE TEMPLE OF GOD. Men practically ignore

this fact. To some the world is only as a great farm to produce food; to

others, a great market in which commodities are to be exchanged in order

to amass wealth; to others, a great chest containing precious ores which

are to be reached by labor, unlocked and brought into the market; to

others, a great ballroom in which to dance and play and revel in sensuous

enjoyment. Only a few regard it as a temple. But few tread its soil with

reverent steps, feeling that all is holy ground. What a temple it is! how vast

in extent! how magnificent in architecture! how stirring are its national

appeals!  (Below is evidence of God’s great artistry, taken Sunday

            at dusk, April 19, 2015)         





Lord is in his holy temple.” He is in it, not merely as a king is in his

kingdom or the worker in his works; but He is in it as the soul is in the

body, the fountain of its life, the spring of its activities. Unlike the human

architect, He did not build the house and leave it; unlike the author, He did

not write his volume and leave his book to tell its own tale; unlike the

artist, He did not leave his pictures or his sculpture to stand dead in the hall.

HE IS IN ALL,  not as a mere influence, but as AN ABSOLUTE,

ALMIGHTY PERSONALITY!   “Do not I fill the heaven and earth?

saith the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 23:24)



“Keep silence before Him.” It would seem as if the Divine nature revolted

from bluster and noise. How serenely He moves in nature! As spring by

universal life rises out of death without any noise, and as the myriad orbs

of heaven roll with more than lightning velocity in a sublime hush. How

serenely He moves in Christ! He did not cause His voice to be heard in the

streets. His presence, consciously realized, will generate in the soul feelings

too deep, too tender for speech. Were the Eternal to be consciously felt by

the race today, all the human sounds that fill the air and deaden the ears of

men would be hushed into profound silence.


“Never with blast of trumpets

And the chariot wheels of fame

Do the servants and sons of the Highest

His oracles proclaim;

But when grandest truths are uttered,

And when holiest depths are stirred,

When our God Himself draws nearest,

The still, small voice is heard.

He has sealed His own with silence:

His years that come and go,

Bringing still their mighty measures

Of glory and of woe —

Have you heard one note of triumph

Proclaim their course begun?

One voice or bell give tidings

When their ministry was done?”



Worship, False and True.  (vs. 18-20)


The prophet, in recounting the sins of the Chaldeans, finally recalled to

mind the idolatry prevailing amongst them. He thought of the temple of

Bel, “casting its shadow far and wide over city and plain,” and of the

idolatrous worship of which it was the center, and he broke forth in words

expressive of the utmost scorn and contempt, and then closed his song by

pointing to Him who alone is worthy to receive the devout adoration and

adoring praise of all the inhabitants of the earth. Notice:



IDOLATRY. vs. 18-19)


Ø      He appealed to experience. His own people unhappily had been betrayed

into idolatry, and he asked them whether they had ever profited thereby

(v. 18).  “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now

ashamed?  For the end of those things is death.”  (Romans 6:21)


Ø      He appealed to reason. The maker of anything must of necessity be

greater than that which he fashions with his own hands and as the result

of his own skill; hence what greater absurdity could there be than for the

maker of a dumb idol to be reposing his trust in the thing he has formed

(v. 18)?  (Think how great God must be!  Isaiah 55:9 – CY – 2015)


Ø      He denounced the idol priests, who, by using dumb idols as their

instrument, made these “teachers of lies” (v. 18).


Ø      He declared the hopelessness resulting from reposing trust in these.

“Woe unto him!” etc. (v. 19).


Ø      He indulged in scornful satire (v. 19). This verse may be fittingly

compared with Elijah’s irony of speech addressed in Carmel to the

prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:27). The verse is more effectively

rendered in the Revised Version —


Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake!

To the dumb stone, Arise!

Shall this teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver:

And there is no breath at all in the midst of it.”


The weakness and folly of idolatry as practiced in heathen lands is readily

admitted by us; yet we are prone to forget that the idolatrous spirit may

prevail even amongst those who are encompassed by influences eminently

spiritual. Love of the aesthetical may lead us to become sensuous rather

than spiritual in worship. (Contemporary Christianity? – CY – 2015)

Attachment to science may cause us to slight the supernatural and to deify

nature. Desire for worldly success may result in our bowing down in the

temple of Mammon; so that the counsel is still needed, “Little children,

keep yourselves from idols (I John 5:21).




HEARTS. “But the Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence

before Him.”


Ø      The contrast presented here is truly sublime. From impotent idols the

seer raises his thoughts and directs attention to the living God.


Ø      The temple in Jerusalem was the recognized dwelling place of God. The

prophet saw looming in the distance the invasion of his country by the

idolatrous Chaldeans, followed by the destruction of the temple and the

desecration of all he held so sacred in association with it. Still he was

assured that through all the coming changes Jehovah would remain the

Supreme Ruler and Controller. Unconfined to temples made with hands,

their overthrow could not affect His role. “His throne is in the heavens;”

He reigns there; and fills heaven and earth, dominating the universe, and

guiding and overruling all to the accomplishment of His all-wise and

loving purposes. “The Lord is in his holy temple.”


Ø      Our true position as His servants is that of reverentially waiting before

Him, acquiescing in His will, trusting in His Word, assured that, despite the

prevailing mysteries, the end shall reveal His wisdom and His love. He says

to us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  Then let no

murmuring word be spoken, even when clouds and darkness seem to be

round about Him; the processes of His working are hidden from our

weak view, but the issue is sure to vindicate the unerring wisdom and

infinite graciousness of His rule.  Happy the man who is led from

doubt to faith, who, like this seer, beginning with the complaint,

“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!” etc. (ch. 1:2),

is led through calm reflection and hallowed communion to cherish the

conviction that “the Lord is in His holy temple, and that all the earth

should keep silence before Him.”



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