Posted on Leave a comment

A Journey through Habakkuk

Historical Setting & Literary Genre

Historical Setting of Habakkuk

Based on Habakkuk 1:6, that mentions the rise of the Babylonians – or Chaldeans – Habakkuk’s conversation with God occurs in the latter third of the seventh century B.C., the final decades of the kingdom of Judah. The nation had just experienced the glorious days of King Josiah, who had instituted reforms that brought revival to the people and restored the worship of Yahweh among the people in 641-609 B.C (see 2 Kings 22-24). However, Josiah died in battle in 609 B.C. at the hand of Necho II, the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Who’s on the throne of Judah during Habakkuk’s book?

Following Josiah’s death, the Egyptians placed Josiah’s son, Jehoiakim, on the throne. During his reign (609-597 B.C.), Habakkuk witnessed his people waver in their loyalty to God. Thomas writes in Faith Amid the Ruins: The Book of Habakkuk, “Based on the dark, negative tone of Habakkuk 1:2-4, it is most likely that Habakkuk’s prophecies fit within the general time period of Jehoiakim’s reign. In this waning phase of the Judaean kingdom, the prophet gets a fresh word that God will bring judgment against his people and city and that this judgment will be a ‘work’ no one will believe (1:5).”[1]

God’s plan for judgment raises questions for Habakkuk as he wonders how God could use the Babylonians – a nation that will not give God the glory but will attribute their success to their false gods (Habakkuk 1:15-17) –  as His form of judgment and prompts Habakkuk to cry out to God in his distress for God to help and to act.

Literary Genre

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Revised and Expanded indicates that “Habakkuk is written in Hebrew poetry. The Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook explains that the book contains prophetic dialogue, woes, and prayer written in Hebrew poetry. The handbook states:

As a prophetic writer, Habakkuk included materials in an unusual format, although he included classic elements of “forth telling” and “foretelling. His “forth telling” included great declarations of God’s attributes as well as woes on the wicked. His “foretelling” predicted both near events (Judah’s devastation by Chaldea, fulfilled in 586 B.C.), as well as the more remote event of the destruction of Chaldea (fulfilled in 539 B.C. by the Persians).[2]

Habakkuk has a variety of literary genres

However, in Tyndale’s Old Testament Commentary, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: An Introduction and Commentary, the authors indicate a variety of literary genres are used in the book of Habakkuk. They write:

The headings for the two main parts of the book (1:1 and 3:1) indicate the genres used as being a prophetic announcement in 1:2-2:20 and a psalm of complaint in 3:1-19. Other literary genres found in the first part of the book are the complaints of the prophet (1:2-4, 12-17) and the woe oracles (2:5-19); and in the second part of book, a psalm of complaint or lament (3:1-19).[3]

What about the 3rd Chapter of Habakkuk?

Other issues related to literary construction of Habakkuk include whether the third chapter was part of the original book or if it was added later. Snyman writes in Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: An Introduction and Commentary:

In the Qumran manuscripts written as a pesher (IQpHab) on the book of Habakkuk there is commentary on only the first two chapters; chapter 3 is omitted. This has given rise to the question whether the last chapter of the book should be viewed as a later addition. It has been argued that the last verse of chapter 2 can be viewed as a perfect ending to the book: after all the complaints voiced by the prophet have been answered extensively by yhwh in chapter 2, and the book concludes that it is now best to be silent in the awesome presence of yhwh in his temple. A second argument is that the style and literary genre used in chapter 3 is totally different from that in the first two chapters.[4]

Habakkuk as Poetry

Thomas writes in his commentary, Habakkuk: Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary [THOTC]:

Several features in the poetry— form, repetition, use and adaptation of traditional material, and imagery— inform the meaning of Habakkuk. Unlike Haggai and Zechariah 9– 14, our book is entirely composed in poetic verse. Meier rightly says that poetry in prophetic texts is significant for several reasons, not the least being that poetic form is informative for comprehension of the prophetic message. Attending to the poetry of Habakkuk remains vital for comprehension of its theology.[5]

Literary genres within the Poetry of Habakkuk

The book of Habakkuk, while its overall genre is poetry, contains several different literary genres within the poetry.

  • There is prophetic writing in that a prophet, namely Habakkuk, communicates God’s message to the people of Judah.
  • One can also find wisdom literature in that Habakkuk addresses some of the deep question of life, including his attempt to understand God’s character and actions in light of the evil and suffering that Judah would face.
  • There is also a feeling of lamentation as Habakkuk cries out to God in his grief and sorrow.
  • The reader also finds a complaint in the book as the writer complains that God has failed to judge the unrepentant and disobedient people of Judah. But then when God tells Habakkuk that He has chosen the Babylonians to carry out His judgement against Judah, Habakkuk complains about God’s plans for judging the nation.
  • Then at the end of book, there is prayer that closely resembles many of the Psalms.

[1] Thomas, Faith Amid the Ruins, 8.

[2] Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook, 278.

[3] S. D. Snyman, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: An Introduction and Commentary, edited by David G. Firth and Tremper Longman III. (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020), 49

[4] Ibid., 48-49.

[5] Thomas, Habakkuk, 35

One Year Bible Reading Plan: March 1

Download the full one-year Bible reading plan here:

[Download not found]

Deuteronomy 29-30

Mark 16

Praying, Meditating, and Journaling the Psalms:

Choose one of the following Psalms: Psalm 17, 47, 77, 107, or 137.

1: Read the psalm through in its entirety.

2: Take one verse at a time and pray the verse back to God as it applies to your life.

3: Meditate on the verse and ask the Holy Spirit what He is trying to teach you about God, your Christian walk, or about yourself.

4: Journal what you prayed about and the results of your meditation.

5: Move to the next verse. Continue through the entire psalm this way.

6: Write down one verse that stood out the most to you today on a 3X5 card and carry it with you throughout the day. Memorize the verse and hide it in your heart.

Now you can enhance your Bible Reading with the Verse Mapping Template

Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.

Week 11: March 13-19

Visit our three retail experiences:

Bible study and Self Care Resources
Christian Tees, Bags, Mugs & More
We are an affiliate of CBD. We earn a commission on any purchase you make when you enter the store through this link. However, your CBD price is the same. Visit CBD for Bibles, Bible studies, gifts & more

We Recommend:

Clicking the link on our recommended resources will take you to Christianbook Distributors’ website.

NET, The TEXT Bible, Hardcover, Comfort Print
By Thomas Nelson

The NET The Text Bible is a new approach to engaging God’s Word, with the attention and in-depth nature of your favorite podcast, as if you’re in such a thought-provoking conversation with a friend that you lose all track of time because you are communicating on a level that piques your interest on multiple subjects and emotions.

With a four step Bible study approach: Talk to God; Encounter God and humanity; eXamine your heart; Talk to others, this Bible features study notes, questions and articles all designed to get you to dwell on the biblical stories; to let your heart and mind truly soak in the warmth of God’s wisdom and truth found in the Scriptures.

Focus on the Text:

  • Text-ing the Text: use the 4-step process of Scripture engagement
  • Big Q of the Text: big life questions with short answers
  • Praying the Text: learn how to start praying God’s Word right back to Him
  • Get to Know the Text: provides concise history of a major event or character
  • Follow the Thread: navigate the Bible across topics
  • Anatomy of the Text: describes parts of speech or important types of literature such as parables or apocalyptic books
  • Terms of the Text: what you need to understand about some of the unique words in the Bible
  • “Who is God?”: 100 short devotions on the person and character of God

More Features:

  • Book introductions
  • 8 full-color maps
  • Clear and readable 9-point NET Comfort Print
Spiritual Formation Is…: How to Grow in Jesus with Passion and Confidence – eBook
By Rod Dempsey & Dave Earley / B&H Academic

Rod Dempsey and Dave Early draw on years of experience as pastors, church planters, professors, and transformed believers to equip readers to grow in their spiritual walk with Christ.Spiritual Formation Is… challenges believers to grow upward, inward, and outward in their spiritual formation by loving God, loving one another, and loving our neighbors. Written in a down-to-earth, approachable style that invites readers to come as they are, Spiritual Formation Is… introduces the principles, philosophy, and practice of sanctification.

Wellspring Christian Ministries is a proud Affiliate of Christianbook Distributors.

Romans 8:37 – Kneels Before God

Romans 8:37 says, “No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.” Our victories come when we are on our knees praying.

True Story

Scatter Kindness

Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Kindness never goes out of style. Scatter some wherever you go.

Visit our YouTube Channels for Christian playlists and our short animated devotionals.

Animated Devotionals

Contemporary Christian Music Playlist

Southern Gospel Playlist

Just Hymns

God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars

by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars?

This book includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on
  • Conversation Starters
    • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages
    • Romance Builders
    • Relationship Builders
    • Personal reflections
    • Date ideas
    • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples

Now in the WCM Store! Buy your copy today for only $24.95

paperback edition

Also available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

Westbow logo
Christian book logo
amazon logo
Barnes and Nobel logo
walmart logo

 Join the community of couples on Facebook who are committed to intentionally growing their marriage and learning how to have a marriage that honors God. Here you can post photos of the different activities as you do them, ask questions of other couples, share how God is using this book to strengthen your marriage, and grow with other Christian couples. We’ll see you in the community.

Bible Studies, Bibles, Books & More

Christianbook Distributors logo
Everything Christian for less!

Looking for a Bible Study, Bible, book or Christian gift? We are an affiliate with Christianbook Distributors and receive an 8% commission on any item purchased through one of our links. However, the commission never increases your cost of any item. View some of our favorite items by clicking on the logo and thank you for supporting our ministry.

Christianbook Distributors Search:

Wellspring Christian Ministries receives an 8% commission on any purchased made from Christian Book Distributors through any affiliate link on this site. Your price for any item is the same as purchasing from CBD directly.

See our other recent posts:

A non-profit ministry located in Jacksonville, FL 
Follow us on:

facebook logo link on Bible reading post
LinkedIn logo link on Bible reading post
Twitter logo link on Bible reading post
Instagram logo link on Bible reading post
YouTub logo link on Bible reading post
Pintrest logo link on Bible reading post

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.