“Introduction to the Book of Habakkuk,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Habakkuk,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
The book of Habakkuk contains an exchange between Habakkuk and the Lord that is “similar to those in Jeremiah 12 and D&C 121” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Habakkuk”; scriptures.lds.org). Like Jeremiah and Joseph Smith, Habakkuk asked God sincere and bold questions that reflected concern for his people and for the Lord’s plans for them. By studying the book of Habakkuk, students can learn about the value of taking their troubles and questions to Heavenly Father in honest prayer.
This book is attributed to a prophet named Habakkuk (see Habakkuk 1:1; 3:1). Little is known about Habakkuk except that he was a prophet who lived in the kingdom of Judah, “possibly in the reign of Josiah or of Jehoiakim (about 600 B.C.)” (Bible Dictionary, “Habakkuk”). If this dating is correct, he would have been a contemporary of the prophets Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Obadiah, and Ezekiel.
We do not know exactly when or where this book was written. The date of Habakkuk’s ministry is uncertain, but it likely took place shortly before the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 597 B.C. (see Habakkuk 1:6).
Habakkuk’s dialogue with God takes the form of alternating speeches in Habakkuk 1–2. Some of Habakkuk’s petitions take the form of a grievance, such as “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!” (Habakkuk 1:2). These reflect the deep emotion and desperation the righteous may feel in times of great suffering (see Psalms 6:3; 13:1; 35:17; 74:10; 79:5; D&C 121:1–6) and can remind us that even in our anguish, we may turn to Heavenly Father and pour out our troubles in honest, heartfelt prayer.
In response to Habakkuk’s prayer, God counseled him to be patient and faithful and reassured him of God’s justice, concern, and plans. The poetic prayer in Habakkuk 3 contains Habakkuk’s praises to the Lord for the miraculous ways He has protected and delivered His people.
Habakkuk 1 Habakkuk learns that the kingdom of Judah will be conquered by the Chaldeans (Babylonians). In his distress, he asks why the Lord would allow a wicked nation to destroy Judah.
Habakkuk 2 The Lord reminds Habakkuk that His plans are not yet completed but will be fulfilled at a later time. God’s justice will eventually come upon the wicked.
Habakkuk 3 Habakkuk offers a prayer or poetic psalm of praise to God and His majesty.