Habakkuk 2:4
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
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(4) Behold his soul. . . .—Better, Behold his soul within him is puffed up, it is not upright. The soul of the Chaldæan invader is inflated with pride, self-dependence ousting from his mind all thoughts of God. It is therefore unsound and distorted. Habakkuk leaves the inference “and therefore it shall die” to be imagined, and hastens to the antithesis, “But the righteous man shall live by his faith.” The word live is emphatic. The reward promised to patient waitings on God is life—deliverance from destruction. How far the promise extends, and whether it includes that aspiration after future life which is plainly expressed by many Hebrew poets and prophets, we cannot determine. The student must be cautioned against such renderings as “he that is righteous-by-faith shall live,” or, “he that is justified-by-faith shall live,” which have been suggested by the Pauline quotations Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11. If the adjective could be taken in this close collocation with the substantive, “he that is consistent in-his-confidence shall live” would be the only possible rendering. Thus whatever force we assign to St. Paul’s citation, here, at least, the words have no doctrinal significance. Their ethical importance is, however, undeniable. (See Introduction 4)

Habakkuk 2:4. Behold, his soul which is lifted up — That does not humbly adore and acquiesce in the justice and wisdom of the divine dispensations, but contends against them, and provides for his safety in a way of his own devising. The Vulgate renders this clause, Ecce qui incredulus est, non erit recta anima ejus in semetipso, “Behold he who is unbelieving, his soul will not be right in him.” And the version of the LXX. differs still more from our translation, Εαν υποστειληται, ουκ ευδοκει η ψυχη μον εν αυτω, If he (that is, the just man, as it follows) draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. As these translations do not accord with the present Hebrew text, it is supposed by some learned men that it was written otherwise in the ancient copies; especially as the rendering of the LXX. is sanctioned by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews 10:38. According to this translation the sense of the passage is, that God having, in the foregoing verse, ordered the Jewish nation confidently to expect the fulfilling of the prophecy, and assured them that it would most certainly come to pass, he in this verse declares that his soul should have no pleasure in the man who should draw back, or whose faith should fail him in waiting for the fulfilling of the prophecy; but that the just should live by his faith — That is, that the truly righteous man, as both the Hebrew and Greek expression signifies, namely, the humble and upright one, who, adoring the depths of the divine dispensations, and being persuaded of the truth of God’s promises, should confide in him for the fulfilment of them, and remain constant in the expectation thereof, as well as of whatever else God had spoken; that he should thereby be supported under all the seeming irregular and trying dispensations of providence, and also be blessed with God’s favour and peculiar love, through the means of his faith. Our rendering, however, (namely, his soul which is lifted up, &c.,) “furnishes,” as Bishop Newcome observes, “a good sense, if we understand the passage of the Chaldeans; who, as appears from Habakkuk 1:7; Habakkuk 1:12; Habakkuk 1:15-17, may be addressed in the singular number throughout this chapter, though Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar (Daniel 5.) may be alluded to at the same time. But the idea of elation of mind does not occur in the ancient versions or paraphrase.”

2:1-4 When tossed and perplexed with doubts about the methods of Providence, we must watch against temptations to be impatient. When we have poured out complaints and requests before God, we must observe the answers God gives by his word, his Spirit, and providences; what the Lord will say to our case. God will not disappoint the believing expectations of those who wait to hear what he will say unto them. All are concerned in the truths of God's word. Though the promised favour be deferred long, it will come at last, and abundantly recompense us for waiting. The humble, broken-hearted, repenting sinner, alone seeks to obtain an interest in this salvation. He will rest his soul on the promise, and on Christ, in and through whom it is given. Thus he walks and works, as well as lives by faith, perseveres to the end, and is exalted to glory; while those who distrust or despise God's all-sufficiency will not walk uprightly with him. The just shall live by faith in these precious promises, while the performance of them is deferred. Only those made just by faith, shall live, shall be happy here and for ever.Behold, his soul which is lifted up - literally, swollen

Is not upright in him - The construction is probably that of a condition expressed absolutely. Lo, swollen is it, not upright is his soul in him. We should say, "His soul, if it be swollen , puffed up, is not upright in him." The source of all sin was and is pride. It is especially the sin of all oppressors, of the Chaldee, of antichrists, and shall be of the antichrist. It is the parent of all heresy, and of all corruption and rejection of the gospel. It stands therefore as the type of all opposed to it. Of it he says, it is in its very inmost core ("in him") lacking in uprightness. It can have no good in it, because it denies God, and God denies it His grace. And having nothing upright in it, being corrupt in its very inmost being, it cannot stand or abide. God gives it no power to stand. The words stand in contrast with the following, the one speaking of the cause of death, the other of life. The soul, being swollen with pride, shuts out faith, and with it the Presence of God. It is all crooked in its very inner self or being. Paul gives the result, Hebrews 10:39, "if any man draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him." The prophet's words describe the proud man who stunts aloof from God, in himself; Paul, as he is in the Eyes of God. As that which is swollen in nature cannot be straight, it is clean contrary that the soul should be swollen with pride and yet upright. Its moral life being destroyed in its very inmost heart, it must perish.

Alb.: "Plato saith, that properly is straight, which being applied to what is straight, touches and is touched everywhere. But God is upright, whom the upright soul touches and is touched everywhere; but what is not upright is bent away from God, Psalm 73:1. "God is good unto Israel, the upright in heart;" Sol 1:4, "The upright love thee;" Isaiah 26:7, "The way of the just is uprightness, Thou, most Upright, doth weigh the path of the just."

But the just shall live by his faith - The accents emphasize the words , "The just, by his faith he shall live." They do not point to an union of the words, "the just by his faith." Isaiah says that Christ should "justify" many by the knowledge of Himself," but the expression, "just by his faith," does not occur either in the Old or New Testament. In fact, to speak of one really righteous as being "righteous by his faith" would imply that people could be righteous in some other way. "Without faith," Paul says at the commencement of his Old Testament pictures of giant faith, Hebrews 11:6, "it is impossible to please God." Faith, in the creature which does not yet see God, has one and the same principle, a trustful relying belief in its Creator. This was the characteristic of Abraham their father, unshaken, unswerving, belief in God who called him, whether in leaving his own land and going whither he knew not, for an end which he was never to see; or in believing the promise of the son through whom theft Seed was to be, in whom all the nations of the world should be blessed; or in the crowning act of offering that son to God, knowing that he should receive him back, even from the dead.

In all, it was one and the same principle. According to Genesis 15:6, "His belief was counted to him for righteousness," though the immediate instance of that faith was not directly spiritual. In this was the good and bad of Israel. Exodus 4:31 : "the people believed." Exodus 14:31 : "they believed the Lord and His servant Moses." Psalm 106:12 : "then believed they His word, they sang His praise." This contrariwise was their blame Deuteronomy 1:32 : "In this ye did not believe the Lord." Deuteronomy 9:23 : "ye rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God, and believed Him not, nor hearkened to His voice." Psalm 106:21, Psalm 106:24 : "they forgat God their Saviour; they despised the pleasant land, they believed not His word." And God asks, Numbers 14:11, "How long will it be, ere this people belove Me, for all the signs which I have shown among them?" Psalm 78:21-22 : "anger came upon Israel, because they believed not in God, and in His salvation trusted not."

Psalm 78:32 : "for all this they sinned still, and believed not His wondrous works." Even of Moses and Aaron God assigns this as the ground, why they should not bring His people into the land which He gave them, Numbers 20:20, "Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel" (at Meribah). This was the watchword of Jehoshaphat's victory, 2 Chronicles 20:20, "Believe in the Lord your God and ye shall be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper." This continued to be one central saying of Isaiah. It was his own commission to his people; Isaiah 6:9, "Go and say to this people; hear ye on, and understand not; see ye on and perceive not." In sight of the rejection of faith, he spake prominently of the loss upon unbelief; Isaiah 7:9, "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established;" and, Isaiah 53:1, "Who hath believed our report?" he premises as the attitude of his people toward him, the Center of all faith - Jesus. Yet still, as to the blessings of faith, having spoken of Him, Isaiah 28:16, "Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone," he subjoins, "he that believeth in Him shall not make haste."

So it had been the keynote of Habakkuk to his people, "Ye will not believe when it is declared unto you." Here he is told to declare contrariwise the blessing on belief. "The just shall live by his faith." The faith, then, of which Habakkuk speaks, is faith, in itself, but a real, true confiding faith. It is the one relation of the creature to the Creator, unshaken trust. The faith may vary in character, according as God reveals more or less of Himself, but itself is one, a loving trust in Him, just as He reveals Himself. Lap. (in Romans 1:17): "By this faith in God, each righteous person begins to live piously, righteously, holily, peacefully and divinely, and advanceth therein, since in every tribulation and misery, by this faith and hope in God he sustains, strengthens, and increases this life of the soul. He says then, "the just lives by faith," i. e., the unbelieving and unrighteous displeases God, and consequently will not live by the true, right, peaceful and happy life of grace, present righteousness, and future glory because God is displeased with him, and He places his hopes and fears, not in God, but in human beings and man's help and in created things. But the righteous who believeth in God shall live a right, sweet, quiet, happy, holy, untroubled life, because, fixed by faith and hope in God who is the true Life, and in God's promises, he is dear to God, and the object of His care.

"This sentence, 'the just shall live by faith,' is universal, belonging at once to Jews and Christians, to sinners who are first being justified, as also to those who are already justified. For the spiritual life of each of these begins, is maintained and grows through faith. When then it is said, 'the just shall live by his faith,' this word, his, marks the cause, which both begins and preserves life. The just, believing and hoping in God, begins to live spiritually, to have a soul right within him, whereby he pleases God; and again, advancing and making progress in this his faith and hope in God, therewith advances and makes progress in the spiritual life, in rightness and righteousness of soul, in the grace and friendship of God, so as more and more to please God."

Most even of the Jewish interpreters have seen this to be the literal meaning of the words. It stands in contrast with, illustrates and is illustrated by the first words, "his soul is swollen, is not upright in him." Pride and independence of God are the center of the want of rightness; a steadfast cleaving to God, whereby "the heart" (as Abraham's) "was stayed on God," is the center and cause of the life of the righteous. But since this stayedness of faith is in everything the source of the life of the righteous, then the pride, which issues in want of rightness of the inmost soul, must be a state of death. Pride estranges the soul from God, makes it self-sufficing, that it should not need God, so that he who is proud cannot come to God, to be by Him made righteous. So contrariwise, since by his faith doth the righteous live, this must be equally true whether he be just made righteous from unrighteous, or whether that righteousness is growing, maturing, being perfected in him.

This life begins in grace, lives on in glory. It is begun, in that God freely justifies the ungodly, accounting and making him righteous for and through the blood of Christ; it is continued in faith which worketh by love; it is perfected, when faith and hope are swallowed up in love, beholding God. In the Epistles to the Romans Rom 1:17 and the Galatians Gal 3:11 Paul applies these words to the first beginning of life, when they who had before been dead in sin, began to live by faith in Christ Jesus who gave them life and made them righteous. And in this sense he is called "just," although before he comes to the faith he is unjust and unrighteous, being unjustified. For Paul uses the word not of what he was before the faith, but what be is, when he lives by faith. Before, not having faith, he had neither righteousness nor life; having faith, he at once has both; he is at once "just" and "lives by his faith." These are inseparable. The faith by which he lives, is a living faith, Galatians 5:6, "faith which worketh by love." In the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 10:38, Paul is speaking of their endurance in the faith, once received, whose faith is not shaken by the trial of their patience. They who look on beyond things present, and fix their minds steadfastly on the Coming of Christ, will not suffer shipwreck of their faith, through any troubles of this time. Faith is the foundation of all good, the beginning of the spiritual building, whereby it rests on The Foundation, Christ. "Without faith it is impossible to please God," and so the proud cannot please Him. Through it, is union with Christ and thereby a divine life in the soul, even a life, Galatians 2:20, "through faith in the Son of God," holy, peaceful, self-posessed Luke 21:19, enduring to the end, being "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" 1 Peter 1:5.

4. his soul which is lifted up—the Chaldean's [Maurer]. The unbelieving Jew's [Henderson].

is not upright in him—that is, is not accounted upright in God's sight; in antithesis to "shall live." So Heb 10:38, which with inspired authority applies the general sense to the particular case which Paul had in view, "If any man draw back (one result of being 'lifted up' with overweening arrogancy), my soul shall have no pleasure in him."

the just shall live by his faith—the Jewish nation, as opposed to the unbelieving Chaldean (compare Hab 2:5, &c.; Hab 1:6, &c.; Hab 1:13) [Maurer]. Henderson's view is that the believing Jew is meant, as opposed to the unbelieving Jew (compare Ro 1:17; Ga 3:11). The believing Jew, though God's promise tarry, will wait for it; the unbelieving "draws back," as Heb 10:38 expresses it. The sense, in Maurer's view, which accords better with the context (Hab 2:5, &c.). is: the Chaldean, though for a time seeming to prosper, yet being lifted up with haughty unbelief (Hab 1:11, 16), is not upright; that is, has no right stability of soul resting on God, to ensure permanence of prosperity; hence, though for a time executing God's judgments, he at last becomes "lifted up" so as to attribute to his own power what is the work of God, and in this sense "draws back" (Heb 10:38), becoming thereby a type of all backsliders who thereby incur God's displeasure; as the believing Jew is of all who wait for God's promises with patient faith, and so "live" (stand accepted) before God. The Hebrew accents induce Bengel to translate, "he who is just by his faith shall live." Other manuscripts read the accents as English Version, which agrees better with Hebrew syntax.

Behold; note it: there are two sorts of persons who concern themselves in this puzzling question of the Divine providence; some object. and quarrel contest with God, proudly, discontentedly, and impatiently; others inquire humbly, submitting themselves to God, and waiting for him.

His soul, the heart and mind of every such one, which is lifted up; that proudly contests with the justice and wisdom of the Divine Providence, that slights promises of deliverance at so great a distance, and provides for his own safety by his own wit;

is not upright; is very corrupt and wicked, full of (not only distrusts, but) positive conclusions against God’s future punishing the wicked: such a one is so wicked that he thinks God will not punish the violent and bloody, the superstitious and idolatrous Babylonian.

The just; the humble, upright, and comparatively righteous one, who adores the depth of Divine providence, and is persuaded of the truth of Divine promises, and doth approve the season God chooseth.

Shall live; supports himself, and quiets his own heart, whilst he foreseeth the approaching deliverance of Zion.

By his faith; his well-grounded dependence on a persuasion of the truth of God’s promises touching the relief of the faithful servants of God, whose deliverance he believes to be certain, and so waits for the performance of promises made to him and them.

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him,.... This and the following clause describe two sorts of persons differently affected to the Messiah, and the promise of his coming. Here it points at such as were "incredulous", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; that disbelieved his coming, and mocked and scoffed at the promise of it; as well as those that did not believe in him when he came, though he had all the characteristics of the Messiah; and damnation was the certain consequence of their unbelief. The proud and haughty Scribes and Pharisees are here plainly described, whose minds were elated with themselves; whose hearts were like bubbles, blown up, full of wind; whose souls swelled with pride and vanity, and a high conceit of themselves; of their merit and worth; of their holiness and works of righteousness; and treated those they thought below them in these things with the utmost disdain and contempt; and trusted in themselves, and to their own righteousness, to the great neglect of the true Messiah and his righteousness (g). The word for "lifted up" has in it the signification of a hill, mountain, fortress, or tower; see Isaiah 32:14 as Aben Ezra observes. So R. Moses Kimchi interprets the passage,

"he whose soul is not right in him places himself in a fortress or tower, to set himself on high there from the enemy, and does not return to God, nor seek deliverance of him; but the righteous has no need to place himself on high in a fortress, for he shall live by his faith.''

Ophel was part of the hill of Zion, on which the temple was built; and Cocceius thinks there is a reference in the words to Mount Moriah, on which the temple stood: and in this sense the words aptly agree with the pharisaical Jews, who boasted of their temple, and gloried in it, and trusted in the service and sacrifices of it; and betook themselves to the observance of rites and ceremonies, and the traditions of their elders, and to their moral works of righteousness, for their justification and salvation, as their tower of safety, and place of defence; neglecting the Messiah, the Rock of salvation, the Rock of Israel, the munition of rocks, the strong hold and tower, where only safety and salvation are. The apostle, following the Greek version, renders the word in Hebrews 10:38, "if any man draw back", &c. and De Dieu (h) observes, that the word in the Arabic language signifies to neglect or withdraw the mind from a person or thing; and may be fitly applied to the same persons who neglected Christ, and the great salvation by him; hid their faces from him; would not look at him, nor converse with him, nor attend his ministry, nor suffer others to do it; they withdrew from his apostles and ministers, and the Christian churches, and persecuted them both in Judea and in the Gentile world; and many of the Jews that did make a profession, and joined themselves to Christian churches, after a time separated from them; being sensual, and not having the Spirit, went out from among them, not being truly of them, and forsook the assembling of themselves together with them; and to these the apostle applies the words in the aforementioned place. Now of every such person it may be said, "his soul is not upright in him"; either "in himself", as the Vulgate Latin version, and so Kimchi; he is not a just man, not truly upright and righteous, though he may think he is, and may be thought so by others; yet he is not in the sight of God; his heart is not sincere; he has not the truth of grace in him; a right spirit is not created and renewed in him; he never was convinced by the Spirit of God of sin and righteousness, or he would not be thus elated with himself: his soul is not upright towards God; he seeks himself, and his own applause, in all he does, and not the honour and glory of God, and the magnifying of his grace and goodness; he has no right notions of the righteousness of God, and of his holy law; nor of Christ, his person, and offices; nor indeed of himself. Or "his soul is not right in him" (i); that is, in Christ, who was to come, nor when he was come; that is, he is not rightly, sincerely, and heartily affected to him; he has no true knowledge of him, real desire unto him, hearty affection for him, or faith in him, or regard unto him, his Gospel and his ordinances; all which was most clearly true of the carnal Jews, and is of all self-righteous persons. The apostle, in Hebrews 10:38 seems to understand it of the soul of God, that that, or he, was not affected to, and pleased with, persons of such a character and complexion; see Luke 14:11.

But the just shall live by faith; the "just" man is the reverse of the former; he is one that believed in the coming of Christ, and believed in him when come; who has no overweening opinion of himself, and of his own righteousness; nor does he trust in it for his justification before God, and acceptance with him; but in the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, from whence he is denominated a just man: and such an one "shall live", not merely a corporeal life, for righteous men die as well as others; nor an eternal life, though such shall live this life, and have it now in some sense, for this life is enjoyed not by faith, but by sight; but a spiritual life, begun in regeneration, and maintained by the Spirit and grace of God; such live a life of justification on Christ, of sanctification from him, and of communion with him; they live cheerfully, comfortably, and delightfully, a life of peace, joy, and comfort; which is greatly the sense of the word here, as in Psalm 22:26 and this is "by his faith"; his own faith, and not another's; which though for its kind is the same in all, alike precious faith, yet as to its actings is peculiar to one, and is not another's: or by the faith of God; that is, by that faith which is the gift of God, and of his operation, and has him for its object; such live by faith upon a promising God, and so live comfortably: or by the faith of Christ, promised to come in the preceding verse Habakkuk 2:3; by that faith, of which he is the object, author, and finisher: just men live not upon their faith, but by it on Christ, as crucified for them, as the bread of life, and as the Lord their righteousness; and so have joy and peace in believing. There is a different accentuation of this clause. Some put the stop after "just", and read the words, "the just, by his faith shall live"; that is, he who is a just man, in an evangelical sense, he shall live by his faith, in the sense before explained; not that he is a just man that lives righteously and unblamably before men; but who lives a life of faith on Christ, and whose hope of eternal life is not founded upon his holy life and conversation, but upon the righteousness of Christ, which he by faith lives upon; for neither eternal life, nor the hope of it, are to be ascribed to faith in itself, but to the object of it. But the most correct Hebrew copies unite, by the accent "merca", the words "by his faith", to the "just man"; and so they are to be read, "the just by his faith, he shall live"; that is, the man who is just, not by the works of the law, but by faith in the righteousness of Christ, or through the righteousness of Christ received by faith; for it is not faith itself, or the act of believing, that is a man's justifying righteousness, or is imputed to him for righteousness, or denominates him righteous, but the righteousness of Christ he lays hold on by faith; and such a man shall live both spiritually and eternally. And this manner of accenting the words is approved of by Wasmuth (k), and by Reinbeck (l). Burkius, a late annotator thinks, it might be safest to repeat the word that is controverted, and read it thus, "the just in" or "by his faith": "in" or "by his faith he shall live"; which takes in both senses, and either of which rightly explained may be admitted. Junius, with whom Van Till agrees, is of opinion that respect is had to the example of Abraham, of whom we read Genesis 15:6 and "he believed in the Lord", and "he counted it to him for righteousness"; not his faith, but the object of it, or what he believed, the promised seed. And so the ancient Jews compare this faith with Abraham's; for, mentioning the text in Genesis 15:6, say they (m),

"this is the faith by which the Israelites inherit, of which the Scripture says, "and the just by his faith shall live".''

And they have also a saying (n), that the law, and all the precepts of it, delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai, are reduced by Habakkuk to one, namely this, "the just by his faith shall live"; which is true, if rightly understood; for the righteousness of Christ, the just man becomes so by, and which by faith he lives upon, is answerable to the whole law. The apostle produces this passage three times to prove that the righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel is to faith; that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God; that the just man shall live, and not die; shall not draw back to perdition, but believe to the saving of the soul, Romans 1:17 which shows that it belongs to Gospel times and things. The Targum of the whole is,

"behold, the wicked say all these things "shall not be", but the righteous shall remain in their truth.''

Kimchi interprets the former part of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar his son; and the latter part of the Israelites carried into captivity with Zedekiah; but very wrongly.

(g) So Kimchi and Ben Melech observe the word has the signification of haughtiness of heart, and of pride; and Jarchi of impudence; and the Arabic word "muthaphilin", in Schindler, is rendered "despisers". (h) So according to Castel is "neglixit", Act. vi. 1. "substraxit se", Judges 20.36. and so it is used in the Alcoran, Surat. Joseph. ver. 13. and in the Arabic version of Psal. xxviii. 1. Matt. xxiii. 23. Hebrews 12.5. (i) "non recta (est) anima ejus in eo", Montanus, Calvin, Drusius, Burkius. (k) Vindiciae Hebr. par. 2. c. p. 322. (l) De Accent. Hebr. p. 488, 489. So Boston. Tract. Stigmologic. p. 33, 34. (m) Shemot Rabba, sect. 23. fol. 107. 3.((n) T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 24. 1.

Behold, {d} his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

(d) To trust in himself, or in any worldly thing, is never to be at peace: for the only rest is to trust in God by faith; Ro 1:17, Ga 3:11, He 10:38.

4. Habakkuk 2:4 gives the contents of the vision. The present text reads:

Behold his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him;

But the righteous shall live by his faithfulness.

The term “puffed up” is perhaps properly said of ground, and means to be uneven, to have swelling heights, and when applied to the mind to swell, be puffed up or arrogant. The opposite idea is “upright,” properly even, without ruggedness or heights (Isaiah 40:3-4). Cf. Proverbs 30:32; Psalm 131:2.

Instead of “is puffed up” the parallelism of the verse would naturally require a noun as subject, opposed to “the righteous” of next clause: Behold the …, his soul is not upright in him, but the righteous &c. No acceptable suggestion has been made. The Sept. took the clause as a conditional, if he draw back; reading also my soul for his soul.

The term “faithfulness” is used in the sense of physical steadiness or firmness, as Exodus 17:12 of the hands of Moses (cf. Isaiah 33:6); then in the sense of trueness, e.g. as opposed to falsehood or lies in speech, Jeremiah 5:3; Jeremiah 7:28; and as equivalent to trustworthiness, honesty in conduct, 2 Kings 12:15-16. The word is often coupled with “righteousness,” as 1 Samuel 26:23; Isaiah 59:4; Jeremiah 5:1. In Isaiah 11:5 it is said of the Messiah: “righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” So far as the expression is used of men it appears to mean integrity of character and conduct, and differs little from righteousness. Such a character has in it the principle of permanence, while the Chaldean, whose soul is not upright in him, shall perish. Comp. Proverbs 10:25, “when the whirlwind passeth the wicked is no more, but the righteous is an everlasting foundation” (Proverbs 10:2). Sept. rendered “faith,” and read in this way the passage became the text for St Paul’s doctrine of faith. The Heb. language has no word for “faith” as an active principle, though the term “believe” is derived from the same root as the present word. The situation here is similar to that described in Isaiah 8:17, “Bind up the testimony … and I will wait for Jehovah, who hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him”; cf. here Habakkuk 2:3 “though it tarry wait for it.”

Verse 4. - § 6. The great principle is taught that the proud shall not continue, but the just shall live by faith. The prophecy commences with a fundamental thought, applicable to all God's dealings with man. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; literally, behold, puffed up, his soul is not upright in him. This is a description of an evil character (especially of the Chaldean) in opposition to the character delineated in the following hemistich. One who is proud, presumptuous, thinks much of himself, despising others, and is not straightforward and upright before God, shall not live, shall not have a happy, safe life; he carries in himself the seeds of destruction. The result is not expressed in the first hemistich, but may be supplied from the next clause, and, as Knabenbauer suggests, may be inferred from the language in Hebrews 10:38, 39, where, after quoting the Septuagint rendering of this passage, Ἐὰν ὑποστείληται οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ, the writer adds, "But we are not of them that shrink back (ὑποσταλῆς) unto perdition." Vulgate, Ecce, qui incredulus est, non erit recta anima ejus in semetipso, which seems to confine the statement to the case of one who doubts God's word. But the just shall live by his faith. The "faith" here spoken of is a loving trust in God, confidence in his promises, resulting in due performance of his will. This hemistich is the antithesis to the former. The proud and perverse, those who wish to be independent of God, shall perish; but, on the other hand, the righteous shall live and be saved through his faith, on the condition that he puts his trust in God. The Hebrew accents forbid the union, "the just by faith," though, of course, no one can be just, righteous, without faith. The passage may be emphasized by rendering, "As to the just, through his faith he shall live." This famous sentence, which St. Paul has used as the basis of his great argument (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; comp. Hebrews 10:38), in its literal and contextual application implies that the righteous man will have perfect trust in God's promises and will be rewarded by being safe in the day of tribulation, with reference to the coming trouble at the hands of the Chaldeans. When the proud, greedy kingdom shall have sunk in ruin, the faithful people shall live secure. But the application is not confined to this circumstance. The promise looks beyond the temporal future of the Chaldeans and Israelites, and unto a reward that is eternal. We see how naturally the principle here enunciated is applied by the apostle to teach the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. The LXX. gives, Ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται ι,ε. "by faith in me." The Speaker is God. St. Paul omits μου. Habakkuk gathers into one sentence the whole principle of the Law, and indeed all true religion. Habakkuk 2:4With these verses the prophecy itself commences; namely, with a statement of the fundamental thought, that the presumptuous and proud will not continue, but the just alone will live. Habakkuk 2:4. "Behold, puffed up, his soul is not straight within him: but the just, through his faith will he live. Habakkuk 2:5. And moreover, the wine is treacherous: a boasting man, he continues not; he who has opened his soul as wide as hell, and is like death, and is not satisfied, and gathered all nations to himself, and collected all peoples to himself." These verses, although they contain the fundamental thought, or so to speak the heading of the following announcement of the judgment upon the Chaldaeans, are nevertheless not to be regarded as the sum and substance of what the prophet was to write upon the tables. For they do indeed give one characteristic of two classes of men, with a brief intimation of the fate of both, but they contain no formally rounded thought, which could constitute the motto of the whole; on the contrary, the description of the insatiable greediness of the Chaldaean is attached in Habakkuk 2:5 to the picture of the haughty sinner, that the two cannot be separated. This picture is given in a subjective clause, which is only completed by the filling up in Habakkuk 2:6. The sentence pronounced upon the Chaldaean in Habakkuk 2:4, Habakkuk 2:5, simply forms the preparatory introduction to the real answer to the prophet's leading question. The subject is not mentioned in Habakkuk 2:4, but may be inferred from the prophet's question in Habakkuk 1:12-17. The Chaldaean is meant. His soul is puffed up. עפּלה, perf. pual of עפל, of which the hiphil only occurs in Numbers 14:44, and that as synonymous with הזיד in Deuteronomy 1:43. From this, as well as from the noun עפל, a hill or swelling, we get the meaning, to be swollen up, puffed up, proud; and in the hiphil, to act haughtily or presumptuously. The thought is explained and strengthened by לא ישׁרה, "his soul is not straight." ישׁר, to be straight, without turning and trickery, i.e., to be upright. בּו does not belong to נפשׁו (his soul in him, equivalent to his inmost soul), but to the verbs of the sentence. The early translators and commentators have taken this hemistich differently. They divide it into protasis and apodosis, and take עפּלה either as the predicate or as the subject. Luther also takes it in the latter sense: "He who is stiff-necked will have no rest in his soul." Burk renders it still more faithfully: ecce quae effert se, non recta est anima ejus in eo. In either case we must supply נפשׁ אשׁר after עפּלה. But such an ellipsis as this, in which not only the relative word, but also the noun supporting the relative clause, would be omitted, is unparalleled and inadmissible, if only because of the tautology which would arise from supplying nephesh. This also applies to the hypothetical view of הנּה עפּלה, upon which the Septuagint rendering, ἐὰν ὑποστείληται, οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῶ, is founded. Even with this view nephesh could not be omitted as the subject of the protasis, and בּו would have no noun to which to refer. This rendering is altogether nothing more than a conjecture, עפל being confounded with עלף, and נפשׁו altered into נפשׁי. Nor is it proved to be correct, by the fact that the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:38) makes use of the words of our verse, according to this rendering, to support his admonition is to stedfastness. For he does not introduce the verse as a quotation to prove his words, but simply clothes his own thoughts in these words of the Bible which floated before his mind, and in so doing transposes the two hemistichs, and thereby gives the words a meaning quite in accordance with the Scriptures, which can hardly be obtained from the Alexandrian version, since we have there to take the subject to ὑποστείληται from the preceding ἐρχόμενος, which gives no sense, whereas by transposing the clauses a very suitable subject can be supplied from ὁ δίκαιος.

The following clause, וצדּיק וגו, is attached adversatively, and in form is subordinate to the sentence in the first hemistich in this sense, "whilst, on the contrary, the righteous lives through his faith," notwithstanding the fact that it contains a very important thought, which intimates indirectly that pride and want of uprightness will bring destruction upon the Chaldaean. בּאמוּנתו belongs to יחיה, not to צדּיק. The tiphchah under the word does not show that it belongs to tsaddı̄q, but simply that it has the leading tone of the sentence, because it is placed with emphasis before the verb (Delitzsch). אמוּנה does not denote "an honourable character, or fidelity to conviction" (Hitzig), but (from 'âman, to be firm, to last) firmness (Exodus 17:12); then, as an attribute of God, trustworthiness, unchangeable fidelity in the fulfilment of His promises (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 33:4; Psalm 89:34); and, as a personal attribute of man, fidelity in word and deed (Jeremiah 7:28; Jeremiah 9:2; Psalm 37:3); and, in his relation to God, firm attachment to God, an undisturbed confidence in the divine promises of grace, firma fiducia and fides, so that in 'ĕmūnâh the primary meanings of ne'ĕmân and he'ĕmı̄n are combined. This is also apparent from the fact that Abraham is called ne'ĕmân in Nehemiah 9:8, with reference to the fact that it is affirmed of him in Genesis 15:6 that האמין בּיהוה, "he trusted, or believed, the Lord;" and still more indisputably from the passage before us, since it is impossible to mistake the reference in צדּיק בּאמוּנתו יחיה to Genesis 15:6, "he believed (he'ĕmı̄n) in Jehovah, and He reckoned it to him litsedâqâh." It is also indisputably evident from the context that our passage treats of the relation between man and God, since the words themselves speak of a waiting (chikkâh) for the fulfilment of a promising oracle, which is to be preceded by a period of severe suffering. "What is more natural than that life or deliverance from destruction should be promised to that faith which adheres faithfully to God, holds fast by the word of promise, and confidently waits for its fulfilment in the midst of tribulation? It is not the sincerity, trustworthiness, or integrity of the righteous man, regarded as being virtues in themselves, which are in danger of being shaken and giving way in such times of tribulation, but, as we may see in the case of the prophet himself, his faith. To this, therefore, there is appended the great promise expressed in the one word יחיה" (Delitzsch). And in addition to this, 'ĕmūnâh is opposed to the pride of the Chaldaean, to his exaltation of himself above God; and for that very reason it cannot denote integrity in itself, but simply some quality which has for its leading feature humble submission to God, that is to say, faith, or firm reliance upon God. The Jewish expositors, therefore, have unanimously retained this meaning here, and the lxx have rendered the word quite correctly πίστις, although by changing the suffix, and giving ἐκ πίστεώς μου instead of αὐτοῦ (or more properly ἑαυτοῦ: Aquila and the other Greek versions), they have missed, or rather perverted, the sense. The deep meaning of these words has been first fully brought out by the Apostle Paul (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 : see also Hebrews 10:38), who omits the erroneous μου of the lxx, and makes the declaration ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται the basis of the New Testament doctrine of justification by faith.

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