Habakkuk only appears here in the Protestant Old Testament. If you’re a Catholic, you would have an additional chapter (14) in the book of Daniel that mentions Habakkuk. It’s interesting, so I’ll quote the whole thing, verses 34-39. It says, “Now, the prophet Habakkuk was in Judaea: he had been making a stew and breaking up bread into a basket. He was on his way to the fields, taking this to the harvesters, when the angel of the Lord spoke to him, ‘Take the meal you are carrying to Babylon, and give it to Daniel in the lion pit.’ ‘Lord,’ replied Habakkuk, ‘I have not even seen Babylon and know nothing about this pit.’ The angel of the Lord took hold of his head and carried him off by the hair to Babylon where, with a great blast of his breath, he set Habakkuk down on the edge of the pit. ‘Daniel, Daniel,’ Habakkuk shouted, ‘take the meal that God has sent you.’ And Daniel said, ‘You have kept me in mind, O God; you have not deserted those who love you.’ Rising to his feet, he ate the meal, while the angel of God carried Habakkuk back in a moment to his own country.” Since this Apocryphal addition to Daniel has him slaying a dragon, I’ll have to remain Protestant in my understanding and reject this story as legitimate scripture. Yet, we must acknowledge that Habakkuk was not an unknown prophet outside of this small Old Testament record. It simply begins, “The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.”

 We really don’t know who Habakkuk was. There are many speculations. Blue recounts an early Jewish tradition, “It has been suggested by Rabbinic tradition that Habakkuk was the son of the Shunammite woman mentioned in 2 Kings 4, whom Elisha restored to life. This is apparently based solely on the meaning of Habakkuk’s name, ‘embrace,’ and Elisha’s words to the Shunammite, ‘You shall embrace a son’ (2 Kings 4:16).”[1] One other point: The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered at Qumran in 1947 (and later) had a commentary on the first two chapters of Habakkuk. I’ll consider the content of that commentary during my study of Habakkuk.

 I really like the way Blue explains the central message of Habakkuk. He writes, “Habakkuk is a unique book. Unlike other prophets who declared God’s message to people, this prophet dialogued with God about people. Most Old Testament prophets proclaimed divine judgment. Habakkuk pleaded for divine judgment. In contrast with the typical indictment, this little book records an intriguing interchange between a perplexed prophet and his Maker. This is not merely a little on-the-street interview with God, however. Habakkuk went beyond that.” The book is full of “why” questions addressed to God. We can all remember times when we’ve asked God, “why?” I think of the school shootings, the terrorist attacks, the invasion of Ukraine, and many personal, painful experiences during which I ask God, “why?” Blue concludes, “The ever-present ‘Why?’ is best answered by the everlasting ‘Who!’ Though the outlook may elicit terror, the uplook elicits trust. The prophet’s complaints and fears were resolved in confidence and faith. This is the heart of the message of Habakkuk: ‘The righteous will live by his faith’ (2:4).” This is the heart of the message for you and I as well.

[1] Blue, J. Ronald. 1985. “Habakkuk.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, 1:1506. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.