God's Retributive Justice
Habakkuk 2:15-17
Woe to him that gives his neighbor drink, that put your bottle to him, and make him drunken also, that you may look on their nakedness!…

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 -

I. THE COURSE THE CHALDEANS HAD ADOPTED TOWARD OTHERS. (Ver. 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; revellings, 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 (ver. 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 -

II. THE COURSE GOD WOULD ADOPT TOWARDS THEM. (Vers. 16, 17.) And in this he traced the Divine retribution of their iniquity. He saw prophetically that:

1. As they had taken advantage of others, so others should in due course take advantage of them (ver. 16) and bring them to shame.

2. As they would lay waste his country and take his people into captivity, so subsequently they should themselves be brought to nought, and their empire pass out of their hands (ver. 17; comp. 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." - S.D.H.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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!

WEB: "Woe to him who gives his neighbor drink, pouring your inflaming wine until they are drunk, so that you may gaze at their naked bodies!

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