Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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.The Free-thinker Among the Prophets
Tradition has much to tell of Habakkuk the Prophet, but history has nothing. He belongs to a class who have made history; he is the kind of man whom God sends to usher in new stages, and launch new epochs of knowledge and action. Look at the spirit of his questioning.
I. It was a temper which, with all its daring, was always reverent, and in its utter frankness was completely sincere. This man never rails against God; he is never irreverent, much less blasphemous. But he is always unmuzzled. His questions are not against God, but to God. This man cannot square his belief in a good and righteous God with the facts of life as he sees them, and he feels that he has right of inquiry when he thus finds his faith baffled by his experience. God counts no question heterodox which comes out of an orthodox life.
II. It was a temper which, amid its questionings, was steadied by a sense of personal responsibility. He feels that he is a man with a responsibility to discharge and only from the standing-ground of his own faithfulness does he feel that he has a right to ask and expect light. 'I will stand to my post.' There is no better vantage-ground for a man who watches for the dawn.
III. This is a temper which seeks the highest truth in the highest spirit. Divine verities are only revealed to the gaze of the uplifted life. High truth is not to be found on a low plane of thinking and feeling. Character is the chief condition of illumination; lofty conduct is the kindler of the light The only house of life which can stand against storm and tide is a building whose every stone is squared to the plummet of righteousness.
—T. Yates, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiv. 1908, p. 321.
References.—II. 1.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (6th Series), p. 109. II. 1-4.—J. Bowstead, Practical Sermons, vol. ii. p. 177. II. 2.—J. P. Chown, Old Testament Outlines, p. 276. II. 3, 4.—J. Vaughan, Sermons (9th Series), p. 229.
The Necessity of Faith to Morality
Is not this a singular statement? Is not the just man—the man of practical morality—the last man in the world whom we should expect to live by his faith.
I. There are classes of men whom we should expect to live by their faith. The poet lives by his faith, for he aspires after an unearthly ideal. The painter lives by his faith, for there floats before him a superhuman beauty. The musician lives by his faith, for his inner ear catches melodies which his instruments cannot express. Even the husbandman lives by his faith, for he commits the seed to a life underground. But the just man—the man of practical morality—how can he be said to live by his faith? Is he not building his trust upon definite outward acts, on obedience to a command? Yes, but whose command? To a command which is inaudible to the outer ear.
II. The voice of conscience is not uttered by anything within the world. It is not uttered by beauty; you may gaze on the woods and fields without hearing it. It is not uttered by prudence; you may study your own interests for days without meeting it. It is not uttered by law; you may be condemned by a criminal court without receiving its message. This mysterious voice is independent of places and times. It comes at the most unlikely moment; it fails to come at the most likely. It may be absent during the most solemn religious service; it may be heard in the whirl of the dance and in the vortex of gay society. The Garden of Eden may be deaf to it; the haunts of corruption may ring with it. It may elude the thunder, the earthquake, and the fire; it may breathe in the still small sound of a human word. The stars of night may fail to declare it; the streets of the garish day may resound with its solemn refrain. The man who listens to it is walking by faith. It has no mandate from the world; it has no reward from the world; it has no promise from the world. It is a message from an unearthly sphere sent for an unearthly reason and accompanied by the offer of an unearthly recompense. No poet or painter or musician lives more by faith than the man of outward virtue.
—G. Matheson, Messages of Hope, p. 15.
References.—II. 4.—J. Keble, Miscellaneous Sermons, p. 428. C. Kingsley, Village Sermons, p. 34. F. D. Maurice, Prophets and Kings, p. 360. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No. 1749. T. Hammond, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx. p. 246. II. 20.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (8th Series), p. 225. III. 2.—J. N. Norton, Every Sunday, p. 129. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No. 725.
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.
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
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:
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?
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.
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.
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 labour 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.
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour 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.
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.
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.
But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.