Habakkuk – Chapter 2 – The Proud and the Just

In Habakkuk 2:4 God contrasts the “proud” and the “Just”. Interestingly, I would have thought the contrast to be between the proud and the humble, not proud and just. Wouldn’t it make more literary sense to contrast two opposites? Maybe it would if we were scrutinizing a human literary work. However, God’s word always makes sense given the right context. By inspiration, the human author used the exact word God wanted him to use. I almost missed this nuance while studying this passage. The reason it came to light is I made an unconscious word replacement from just to humble and was writing it that way in my notes.

Habakkuk 2:4

          4 “Behold the proud,

   His soul is not upright in him;

   But the just shall live by his faith.

 

You may be asking yourself, “Maybe a different translation uses the word humble? Is it really a big deal whether the word humble or just is being used in verse four?”  A quick comparison of twelve different translations answers the first question. No, the word humble is not used. Each of the translations I looked at translate either the word just or righteous. It does matter which word is used because words have meaning and the meaning conveys a message.

As modern-day Bible readers, we constantly struggle (whether we realize it or not) to understand the Hebrew message using our translated English words. This is why it important to look up certain words in a source language Lexicon. In addition to understanding the target language (English) word just, we really need to define and comprehend the source language (Hebrew) word selected by the author.

Included in the Hebrew range of meaning for the word “just” is blameless. This becomes important as we work our way further down into chapter two.

  1.      צַדִּיק tsaddiq (843a); from the same as 6664; just, righteous:—blameless(1), innocent(1), just(5), man that the righteous(1), one in the right(1), right(2), righteous(164), righteous man(19), righteous men(2), Righteous One(2), righteous one(2), righteous ones(3), righteously(1), who are in the right(1).

Thomas, Robert L. New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition 1998 : n. pag. Print.

 

The Biblical word righteous can be accurately defined as without sin. The Hebrew word for proud means swollen. It’s not hard to understand that the proud man is swollen, which is not a healthy condition. His image or opinion of himself is inflated to unhealthy proportions. The righteous man is healthy, the proud man is not. The righteous man is innocent (also part of the range of meaning), the proud man is guilty. The proud man in his “swollen” perspective of himself exalts himself above God – this is the sin of pride. Exalting oneself above God got Lucifer kicked out of heaven and Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden.

You may recall that the book of Habakkuk was penned around 605BC. The book of Daniel describes certain details of the Babylonian captivity of Judah that occurred in 586BC. Although Daniel comes before Habakkuk in our Bibles the events of Habakkuk happened first. I find it fascinating that in the first chapter of Daniel we are introduced to both a proud man, Nebuchadnezzar and a righteous man, Daniel. Do you think maybe God had these two men specifically in mind when He inspired Habakkuk to write?

Look again at Habakkuk 2:4

          4 “Behold the proud,

   His soul is not upright in him;

   But the just shall live by his faith.

 

You notice that the “just shall live by his faith”. Last time we discovered that Upright יָשַׁר means straight or direct. The proud man’s way is not upright (straight or direct), but rather crooked. Keeping it in context and working backward in the verse we can see the proud man lives by his crooked ways, which is the reason for the five “woes” issued to him, which we will, God willing, take a look at next time.

Words mean things. You might say each word in context communicates something specific. God chose His words carefully and intentionally, and I think we should do the same.

Proverbs 15:1-2

          15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath,

   But a harsh word stirs up anger.

          2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,

   But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

 

We should make Psalm 19:14 our prayer.

          14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

   Be acceptable in Your sight,

   O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

God is truly worthy of all our praise, worship, obedience, and service. There is joy unspeakable in the presence of the Lord. Walk with Him.

 

All Scripture Quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.


1 Reply to "Habakkuk - Chapter 2 - The Proud and the Just"

  • Roger Streifel
    May 22, 2019 (2:15 pm)
    Reply

    Well done Mark


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