Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
The design of this prophecy is to confirm the servants of God in their belief of His power, and reliance on His providence, as the Ruler and Disposer of the universe, notwithstanding the prosperity wherein wicked men are sometimes seen to flourish in the earth, while the pious and godly are tried with affliction and adversity. The practical principle of religious faith is that, let the probable consequences of present advantage or loss be what they may, it is our true wisdom always to hold fast by God, and put our trust in Him. Habakkuk prophesied in the reign of Jehoiakim, son of the pious Josiah. But he, instead of imitating the piety of his father, followed the Evil practices of his more distant ancestors, Amen and Manasseh. He and his subjects abandoned themselves to every sort of profaneness towards God, of violence, oppression, deceit, and dishonesty towards each other, and of sensuality and debauchery in their own lives. Such was the state of the kingdom of Judah when Habakkuk saw his "burden." He first inquires of God why injustice was suffered to prevail in Judah, and the wicked to oppress and get the advantage over upright and religious persons. The answer of God proclaims the speedy arrival of the Chaldeans, as a scourge of God. The mind of Habakkuk was even more disturbed with the expectation of the dreadful excesses of the Chaldeans, than it had been at the sight of the enormities already practised in Judea. He therefore, with all humility, proceeds to ask the reasons of so apparently strange a dispensation. He professes his own confidence in Cod, and his persuasion that the Chaldeans are not really the favorites of God, but only the executioners of His wrath. Having been allowed to put these questions, the prophet describes himself as anxiously waiting to have them answered. Here the second chapter opens. The "lifting up" in the text means the withdrawing of our trust in God, either through careless arrogance, which makes men forget their dependence upon Him, or through unsteadiness of faith, which leaves them to be tossed about, without stay or foundation, like a feather, a leaf, or any other light and worthless body, that is lifted up and whirled about in the air. "His soul which is lifted up," withdrawn from an entire dependence on God, "is not upright in him," for he murmurs and is discontented at the arrangements of God's providence in things, pertaining to this life." A man's soul is not upright in him, who makes light of the expectation of a future state, and of the rewards and punishments to be therein distributed by the righteous judgment of God. Or who cavils at, and finds fault with any of the commandments of God, as burthens grievous to be borne. Or who trusts to his own performance of the law for acceptance. "The just shall live by his faith." Faith has always been the support and comfort of the humble and confiding servants of God.
(James Randall, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.