Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 35, “Habakkuk” pp. 517-524.
Lessing notes that Habakkuk seems very interested in a plain understanding of God’s revelation. The prophet, writing after 612 and maybe as late as 587 or 586, speaks of the terror brought upon Judah, reflecting on God’s answers (Lessing 2014, 517).
The various manuscripts of the book do have some differences. Particularly, some versions do not contain a psalm found in chapter 3. However, the text on both sides of the psalm is consistent, suggesting one author. The manuscripts affirm the author to be Habakkuk (Lessing 2014, 517).
The text is identified as an oracle with elements of lament (Lessing 2014, 518). The prayers and the psalm in chapter 3 are easily recognized as such. Text critics have, predictably, made numerous attempts to purify or correct the text (Lessing 2014, 519). Of more interest to Lessing is the question of the identity of the wicket attackers. Judah was under attack by various groupos, culminating in the Babylonian invasion (Lessing 2014, 519).
Habakkuk’s great question is the suffering of the righteous (Lessing 2014, 520). Why does God not seem to help? The evil in Judah were going to be destroyed by the evil invaders. There is no direct answer, but God assures Habakkuk that the Babylonians will also fall (Lessing 2014, 521). Meanwhile, God’s people are to live in faith. There will be a time of restoration. Lessing describes this as the message of Romans, some 600 years later (Lessing 2014, 522).
Lessing notes that Jesus is seen in the New Testament as a prophet who is moved to sorrow and laments over the hardship his people endure (Lessing 2014, 523). God is described in Habakkuk as the one who will eventually bring relief by his grace.