Habakkuk 2:15
Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin until they are drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness!
God's Retributive JusticeS.D. Hillman Habakkuk 2:15-17
National Wrongs Ending in National Woes. No. 4D. Thomas Habakkuk 2:15-17

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.

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
There shall be such a revelation of God's character and attributes as shall win the faith and love and adoration of the human family. Now, where is that revelation made? In nature you get only glimpses of God; it tells us something of His wisdom and His power, but it tells us nothing about His mercy and His forgiving love. Every word that nature utters to a sinner is a word of terror. God has so loved us that He has sent His "only-begotten Son," through whom we may learn to know the Father. This knowledge of God in Christ meets every want. It is of this knowledge the text speaks — an experimental knowledge of Christ which brings us to God, and fits us for heaven. This knowledge gives us lie. It has a quickening power. The man that knows and receives Christ lives — lives a spiritual life that shall last for ever. This knowledge also produces love. And it produces holiness in the heart and life. It prepares us for heaven, which is the home of love. This knowledge is to be universal! Reason teaches us to expect it.

2. The Bible proclaims it.

3. There are signs of the near approach of this glorious day. The first sign is the decay of idolatry; the second is the decline of popery. A third is the increase of knowledge. A fourth is the uprising of humanity. A fifth is the condition of Christianity.

(Charles Garrett.)

The prophet teaches here, that so remarkable would be God's judgment on the Babylonians that His name would thereby be celebrated through the whole world. There is in the verse an implied contrast; for God appeared not in His own glory when the Jews were led away into exile; the temple being demolished and the whole city destroyed; and also when the whole eastern region was exposed to rapine and plunder. When, therefore, the Babylonians were, after the Assyrians, swallowing up all their neighbours, the glory of God did not then shine, nor was it conspicuous in the world. The Jews themselves had become mute; for their miseries had, as it were, stupefied them; their mouths were at least closed, so that they could not from the heart bless God, while He was so severely afflicting them. And then, in that manifold confusion of all things the profane thought that all things here take place fortuitously, and that there is no Divine providence. God, then, was at that time hid; hence the prophet says, "Filled shall be the earth with the knowledge of God."; that is, God will again become known when, by stretching forth His hand, He will execute vengeance on the Babylonians; then will the Jews, as well other nations, acknowledge that the world is governed by God's providence, as it had been once created by Him. We now understand his meaning, and why he says that the earth would be filled with the knowledge of God's glory; for the glory of God previously disappeared from the world, with regard to the perceptions of men; but it shone forth again when God Himself had erected His tribunal by overthrowing Babylon, and thereby proved that there is no power among men which He cannot control. We have the same sentence in Isaiah 11:9. The prophet then speaks, indeed, of the Kingdom of Christ; for when Christ was openly made known to the world, the knowledge of God's glory at the same time filled the earth; for God then appeared in His own living image. But yet our prophet uses a proper language when he says that the earth shall then be filled with the knowledge of God's glory, when He should execute vengeance on the Babylonians. Hence incorrectly have some applied this to the preaching of the Gospel, as though Habakkuk made a transition from the ruin of Babylon to the general judgment. This is (surely) a strained exposition. It is, indeed, a well known mode of speaking, and often occurs in the Psalms, that the power, grace, and truth of God are made known through the world, when He delivers His people and restrains the ungodly. The same mode the prophet now adopts; and he compares his fulness of knowledge to the waters of the sea, because the sea is so deep that there is no measuring of the waters. So Habakkuk intimates that the glory of God would be so much known that it would not only fill the world, but in a manner overflow it; as the waters of the sea by their vast quantity cover the deep, so the glory of God would fill heaven and earth, so as to have no limits. If, at the same time, there be a wish to extend this sentence to the coming of Christ, I do not object; for we know that the grace of redemption flowed in a perpetual stream until Christ appeared in the world. But the prophet, I have no doubt, sets forth here the greatness of God's power in the destruction of Babylon.

( John Calvin.)

If we seek at all times to trace the providences of God we shall often find that He makes His throne darkness to us; and from the thick darkness we hear a voice saying, "What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." But in tracing the operations of the word of His grace, and the state of His Church, we find this clearly made known. The eternal fiat has gone forth, "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."

I. THE SUBJECT-MATTER OF THIS PROPHECY. The "glory of the Lord" has various meanings. A grand display of it was made when Moses and Aaron and the seventy elders were called up into the mount. Any particular visible display of God's presence was His glory. But the term has also reference to the Gospel. There was a glory attending the law, but this was much more glorious. It is more glorious than the law in its Author, His Person, and His work. The Gospel is peculiarly glorious above the law —

1. In its extent. If we look at former times we might perhaps think that God had selected a few — one family — as His peculiar treasure; but now we find this was only that the coming of the Messiah might be more clearly marked.

2. It re presents the Divine attributes more gloriously than the law. Majesty, justice, hatred of sin were shown. Here is the richest display both of grace and justice. Here God's glory is concentrated as in a focus.

3. It is more glorious as life and immortality are more clearly revealed "The knowledge," etc; This word has also various meanings. Sometimes it means "discrimination;" at others, "publication"; and when applied by a believer, it is full assurance. The knowledge in the text implies —


(2)impression.All the theoretical displays of the Gospel are of no avail without the impression of its truth. The design of the Gospel is to change him who heartily believes it into its own nature. It is the glory of God, and it changes the soul from glory to glory, and makes it partaker of the Divine nature.

3. Performance. Believe and obey the Gospel. The sinner believes; the believer works.

4. This leads us to the universal tendency of this knowledge. Like leaven, it will work its way.

II. WHAT IS SAID CONCERNING THIS GLORY. The margin of some Bibles reads, "the channels of the sea."

1. Clearness. These channels are very deep; so is Divine science — not superficial.

2. Experience. The waters do touch every surface of land; they wash every shore. The glory of God shall be felt by every people.

3. Universal. The channels are effectually covered; so shall the world be filled.


1. God's covenant with Abraham. "All the families of the earth were to be blessed in him."

2. It was renewed to Isaac, Jacob, etc.; but especially to Jesus Christ.

3. It was the burden of all the prophecies.

4. See the commission of the apostles.

5. We may refer the accomplishment of this to the promised agency of the Holy Ghost.

6. We argue it from the effects which have been produced. Application —

(1)You are interested in this individually.

(2)See what God expects from us.

(J. Summerfield, A. M.)

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