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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Habakkuk 1:4

 

 

Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.

Adam Clarke Commentary

The law is slacked - They pay no attention to it; it has lost all its vigor, its restraining and correcting power, it is not executed; right judgment is never pronounced; and the poor righteous man complains in vain that he is grievously oppressed by the wicked, and by those in power and authority. That the utmost depravity prevailed in the land of Judah is evident from these verses; and can we wonder, then, that God poured out such signal judgments upon them? When judgment doth not proceed from the seat of judgment upon earth, it will infallibly go forth from the throne of judgment in heaven.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/habakkuk-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Therefore - i. e., Because God seemed not to awake to avenge His own cause, people promised themselves that they might sin on with impunity. Sin produces sin, and wrong produces wrong; it spreads like an infectious disease, propagating itself, and each, to whom it reaches, adds to its poison. At last, it reached those also, who should be in God‘s stead to restrain it. The divine law itself is silenced, by the power of the wicked, by the sin of the judge, the hopelessness of all. When all around is evil, even those not yet lost are tempted to think; “Why should I be other than they? What evil befalls them? Why stand alone?” Even a Psalmist Psalm 73:15, Psalm 73:12-13 speaks as if tempted to “speak even as they. These are the ungodly who prosper in the world; they increase in riches; verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency;” and Solomon Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

The law is slacked - literally “is chilled” (as we say, “is paralyzed”), through lack of the fire of love. This is what our Lord says Matthew 24:12, Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. The divine law, the source of all right, being chilled in people‘s hearts, “judgment,” i. e., the sentence of human justice, as conformed to divine justice, “doth never go forth.” Human sense of right is powerless, when there is not the love of God‘s law. It seems always ready to act, but always falls short, like an arrow from an unstrung bow. The man seems always about to do right; he judges, sees, aright - all but does it - yet, at last, he always fails. “It goes not forth. The children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth” Isaiah 37:3.

For the wicked doth compass about the righteous, laying snares for him, as the Jews for our Lord; evil is too strong for a weak will to do right, and overbears it. Pilate sought in many ways, how he might deliver Jesus, yet he finally did deliver Christ into their hands.

Therefore wrong judgment proceedeth - literally, “judgment proceedeth wrested.” He had said, “it never goes forth;” never, that is, in its true character; for, when it does “go forth,” it is distorted. Dion.: “For gifts or favor or fear or hate the guiltless are condemned trod the guilty acquitted, as saith the Psalmist Psalm 82:2, ‹How long will ye judge unjustly and accept the persons of the ungodly?‘” Theoph.: “‹Judgment goes forth perverted‘ in the seat of man‘s judgment (the soul), when, bribed by the pleasures of sense, it leans to the side of things seen, and the ungodly one, the rebel angel, besets and overpowers him who has the sense of right; for it is right that things seen should give way to things unseen 2 Corinthians 4:18; ‹for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.‘” Why then all this? And how long? Why does God bring it before him and He who “is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, behold grievance,” which His Holy Eyes could not endure? Neither the unseen presence of God nor the mission of the prophet checks. If he rebukes, no one hearkened; if he intercedes for sinners, or against sin, God made as though He would not hear. God answers that, though to man‘s impatience the time seems long, judgment shall come, and that, suddenly and speedily. While the righteous is enquiring, “how long?” and the wicked is saying Matthew 24:48, “My Lord delayeth His coming,” He is come, and seen in the midst of them.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/habakkuk-1.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"Therefore the law is slacked, and justice doth never go forth; for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore justice goeth forth perverted."

"The law is slacked ..." "The commandments of the Pentateuch, in other words, are not kept."[10] This reference to God's law indicates positively that the people who were supposed to keep that law were the ones addressed in these verses. "The courts fail to meet the problem posed by violence."[11] A certain indication of the decadence of a society and its approaching ruin is always a breakdown of the system for administering justice.

"The wicked doth compass about the righteous ..." Watts identified the persons meant by these words as "the guilty" and the "innocent,"[12] basing his view upon the emergence here of opponents "in a legal contest."

The purpose of Habakkuk 1:2-4 in Habukkuk's prophecy was that of citing the reason why God was sending punishment and doom upon them. That basis having been adequately stated, he announced the doom.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/habakkuk-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Therefore the law is slacked,.... Is not put into execution against offenders: the civil magistrates, whose office it is to do justice according to law, are dilatory, and do not proceed with vigour and spirit against the transgressors of it, and in favour of honest and good men oppressed: or "it intermits"F18תפוג "intermittitur", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Burkius; פוג "est, animi deliquium pati", Tarnovius. , or is "intermitted"; it is like a man whose pulse beats low, and is scarce perceived, which is a sign that he is not in good health as the body politic is not, when the law, which is the soul of it, is not suffered to take place, and do its office. So the Targum,

"the law languishes;'

loses its force and vigour, and is ready to expire; which is a sad symptom of the bad estate of a commonwealth.

And judgment doth never go forth; at least not right, to the justifying of the righteous, acquitting the innocent, and giving the cause on the right side; condemning the wicked, and punishing offenders as their crime deserves: it never appears as it should do; it is either not done at all, or done badly and perversely:

for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; to hurt him or ensnare him, and by frauds and wicked artifices, and false witnesses, to carry a cause against him:

therefore wrong judgment proceedeth; the cause is given on the wrong side, against a good man, and for a wicked man; all these things the prophet saw with grief, and complained of to the Lord, from whom he has an answer in the following words:


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/habakkuk-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Therefore the law is feeble, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth b surround the righteous; therefore judgment goeth forth c perverted

(b) To suppress him, if any should show himself zealous of God's cause.

(c) Because the judges who should remedy this excess, are as evil as the rest.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/habakkuk-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Therefore — because Thou dost suffer such crimes to go unpunished.

law is slacked — is chilled. It has no authority and secures no respect.

judgment — justice.

wrong judgment proceedeth — Decisions are given contrary to right.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/habakkuk-1.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Therefore — Because the wicked go on with impunity.

The law — The whole law, moral, ceremonial, and judicial.

Is slacked — Is slighted, and not observed.

Go forth — From magistrates, judges, and public officers.

Doth compass about — As it were besieges, with design to oppress and ruin.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/habakkuk-1.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The Prophet confirms here what I have already said, and brings an excuse for his zeal; he proves that he was not without reason led to so great a warmth; for he saw that the law of God was trodden as it were under foot; he saw men so hardened in every kind of sin, that all religion and the fear of God had nearly been extinguished. Hence I have already said, that the Prophet was not here impelled by a carnal passion, as it often happens to us, when we defend ourselves from wrongs done to us; for when any one of us is injured, he immediately becomes incensed, while, at the same time, we suffer God’s law to be a sport, His whole truth to be despised, and everything that is just to be violated. We are only tender on what concerns us individually, and in the meantime we easily forgive when God is wronged, and His truth despised. But the Prophet shows here that he was not made indignant through a private feeling, but because he could not bear the profanation of God’s worship and the violation of His holy law.

He therefore says, that the law was dissolved or weakened, as though he said that God’s law had no longer any authority or regard. Let us hence learn to rouse up ourselves, for we are very frigid, when the ungodly openly despise and even mock God. As, then, we are too unconcerned in this respect, let us learn, by the Prophet’s example, to stimulate ourselves. For even Paul also shows, in an indirect way, that there is just reason for indignation—‘Be ye angry,’ he says, ‘and sin not,’ (Ephesians 4:26); that is, every one ought to regard his own sins, so as to become an enemy to himself; and he ought also to feel indignant whenever he sees God offended.

This rule the Prophet now follows, Weakened, he says, is the law (9) We know that when a sinful custom prevails, there is but little authority in what is taught: nor are human laws only despised when men’s audacity breaks through all restraints, but even the very law of God is esteemed as nothing; for they think that everything erroneously done, by the consent of all, is lawful. We now then see that the Prophet felt great anguish of mind, like holy Lot (Genesis 19:1.), when he saw every regard for God almost extinct in the land, and especially among the chosen people, whom God had above all others consecrated to himself.

He then adds, judgement goes not forth perpetually. Absurdly do many regard this as having been said in the person of foolish men, who think that there is no such thing as divine providence, when things in the world are in a disordered state: but the Prophet simply says, that all justice was suppressed. We have nearly the very same complaint in Isaiah 59:4. He then says, that judgement did not go forth perpetually, because the ungodly thought that no account was to be given by them. When, therefore, any one dared to say a word against them, they immediately boiled with rage, and like wild beasts fiercely attacked him. All then were silent, and nearly made dumb, when the ungodly thus prevailed and gathered boldness from the daily practice of licentiousness. Hence, ‘Go forth perpetually does not judgement;’ that is, “O Lord, things are now past hope, and there appears to be no end to our evils, except thou comest soon and applies a remedy beyond what our flesh can conceive.” For the wicked, he says, surround the righteous; that is, when there was any one who continued to retain some regard for religion and justice, immediately the wicked rose up against him on every side and surrounded him before and behind; so it happened, that no one dared to oppose the torrent, though frauds, rapines, outrages, cruelty, and even murders everywhere prevailed; if any righteous men still remained, they dared not come forth into the public, for the wicked beset them on all sides.

He afterwards adds, Therefore perverted judgement goes forth. The Prophet now rises higher, that even the rulers themselves increased the rage for evils, and as it were supplied fuel to their wickedness, as they confounded all distinction between right and wrong: for the Prophet speaks not here of private wrongs which any one might have done, but he speaks of the very rulers, as though he said, “There might have been one remedy, the judges might have checked so great an audacity; but they themselves stretch out their hands to the wicked and help them.” Hence the tribunals, which ought to have been sacred, were become as it were dens of thieves. The word משפט, meshiphith is taken properly in a good sense: Is not judgement then a desirable thing? Yes, but the Prophet says, that it was perverted. It was then by way of concession that judgement is mentioned; for he afterwards adds a word to it, by which he shows that the administration of the laws was evil and injurious: for when any one oppressed had recourse to the assistance of the laws, he was plundered. In short, the Prophet means, that all things in private and in public were corrupt among the people. It now follows—

On this account the law fails,
And judgment goeth not forth to victory,

Because wickedness surrounds the righteous;
Yea, on this account perverted judgment goeth forth.

The expression, [ לא לנצח ], is rendered “never” in our version, and by Newcome; but it never means this: “not for ever, or not always,” it is rendered in other places. See Psalms 9:19. But [ נצח ] means as a noun, superiority, excellency, strength, victory; and this, according to Parkhurst, is what it means here. It seems better to render [ רשע ], wickedness, than wicked. It means injustice, the perversion of right, and by this the just man was surrounded or completely beset, so that he had no chance of having justice done to him.—Ed.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/habakkuk-1.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Habakkuk 1:4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Ver. 4. Therefore the law is slacked] Defluit lex. An elegant metaphor from the pulse, which, in a dying man, beateth faintly. The law is the pulse of the commonwealth. If it stir not at all, the commonwealth is dead. If it have but slow motion, the commonwealth is weak. But if it keep an equal course, the commonwealth is in good constitution. Lex lux, the law is a light, saith Solomon; but the deluge of sin had well nigh put out this light in Israel; who was now grown in a manner lawless, through long impunity.

And judgment doth never go forth] Or, it goeth not forth to the utmost, to victory; it is not carried on to a right upshot, as the Septuagint and Latin render it, Usque ad finem, εις τελος.

For the wicked doth compass about the righteous] As a crown compasseth the head; he surroundeth and circumventeth him to his hurt. "The children of this world are wiser in their generation," &c. The Midianites outwitted the Israelites, Numbers 25:18. The Pharisees hemmed in our Saviour to insnare him; but were disappointed.

Therefore wrong judgment proceedeth] Distorted judgment. So Ezekiel 9:9, the city was full of Mutteh, that is, of (mishpat din mitteh, as Kimchi expoundeth it, κατα προσκλισιν), judgment turned from the bias; the balance of justice was tilted on the one side, 1 Timothy 5:21. A judge is to retain the decency and gravity of the law; to do nothing of partiality or popularity; to proceed, not according to opinion or appearance; but as a just law is a heart without affection, an eye without lust, a mind without passion, &c., so should he. Else wrong and wrested judgment will soon proceed, to the prejudice of the righteous.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/habakkuk-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Habakkuk 1:4. And judgment doth never go forth, &c.— And judgment goeth not forth to victory or perfection, for the wicked overbeareth the righteous. Houbigant. See Isaiah 42:3.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/habakkuk-1.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Therefore; because the wicked go on with impunity, and the punishment they deserve is deferred.

The law of God, given to this people by the hand of Moses, the whole law, moral, ceremonial, and judicial.

Is slacked; is slighted, weakened, and little studied, and less obeyed by all sorts.

And judgment; not only private men neglect the law, but magistrates, judges, and public officers pervert, or divert, or obstruct it also.

Doth never go forth, Heb. to the end, or, unto victory, with prevalence to restrain the unjust, and to protect the innocent, which is the end of magistracy, Romans 13:3.

The wicked; the unjust and violent man. Doth compass about; as it were besiegeth, surroundeth, with design to oppress and ruin by false witness, interest, or bribery.

Wrong judgment; perverse judgment, wherein innocence is condemned and the guilty are acquitted: so the judges are swords in the bowels, when they should be shields over the bodies of the righteous.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/habakkuk-1.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Since God had not intervened to stem the tide of evil, as He had threatened to do in the Mosaic Law, the Judeans were ignoring His law. They did not practice justice in their courts, the wicked dominated the righteous, and the powerful perverted justice. These conditions were common in Judah.

It is clear from the Lord"s reply that follows that others in the nation beside Habakkuk were praying these prayers and asking these questions. The prophet spoke for the godly remnant in Judah.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/habakkuk-1.html. 2012.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

slacked = benumbed.

judgment = justice.

the wicked = a lawless one: looking forward from the Chaldeans to the future Antichrist. Hebrew. rasha". App-44.

the righteous = the just one (Art. with Hebrew. "eth)

wrong = perverted.

proceedeth = goeth forth.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/habakkuk-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Therefore - because thou dost suffer such crimes to go unpunished.

The law is slacked - is chilled [ taapuwg (Hebrew #6313)]. It has no authority, and secures no respect.

And judgment doth never go forth - "judgment," justice.

Wrong judgment proceedeth - decisions are given contrary to right.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/habakkuk-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) The law—the Mosaic tôrâh—which ought to be a bond of security and social welfare is “slacked” or “paralyzed;” and is, therefore, unable to do its work. “Judgment” (mishpât, i.e., “redress of evils “) “doth never go forth,” for the wicked have hemmed the righteous in; and, therefore, there are no judicial sentences, save such as favour the wicked.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/habakkuk-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
the law
Psalms 11:3; 119:126; Mark 7:9; Romans 3:31
for
1 Kings 21:13; Job 21:7; Psalms 22:16; 58:1,2; 59:2,4; 82:1-5; 94:3,20,21; Isaiah 1:21-23; 59:2-8,13-15; Jeremiah 5:27-29; 12:1,6; 26:8,21-23; Jeremiah 37:14-16; 38:4-6; Ezekiel 22:25-30; Hosea 10:4; Amos 5:7,12; Micah 2:1,2; Micah 3:1-3; 7:2-4; Matthew 23:34-36; 26:59-66; 27:1,2,25,26; Acts 7:52,59; Acts 23:12-14; James 2:6,7
wrong
or, wrested.
Exodus 23:2,6; Deuteronomy 16:19; Ezekiel 9:9

Copyright Statement
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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Habakkuk 1:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/habakkuk-1.html.

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