Habakkuk lived in the seventh century BCE, during a time the Chaldeans had already engaged in military conquests and the kingdom of Judah was in a state of moral decay. (Compare Habakkuk 1:6, 17.) These circumstances would fit the period of Jehoiakim’s reign. (2 Chronicles 36:5; Jeremiah 22:17)
Rampant injustice, oppression, and violence greatly distressed the prophet. He found it extremely difficult to reconcile how God, the Holy One, could allow a deplorable situation to continue.
Upon receiving a revelation that the Chaldeans would be used as the instrument for inflicting punishment, Habakkuk was troubled to an even greater degree, wondering how God could permit an aggressive military power to treat people like fish that are caught in a net and like mere creeping things without any leadership to launch an effective defense. The response to his objection came in another revelation: For their ruthless warring, the Chaldeans would face a day of reckoning.
The poetic composition forming the concluding part of this book highlights God’s past activities and his future coming to execute judgment. Realizing what this would mean, Habakkuk was seized by a sickening dread. Still, in the face of the impending Chaldean invasion, the prophet resolved to maintain his trust in God. Habakkuk concluded with an expression of unshakable faith in YHWH as the unfailing source of strength.
As in the case of Habakkuk, believers throughout the centuries have cried out about oppression and violence and, by clinging to their faith in God, have been sustained. Like the prophet, they have found the Almighty to be the only dependable source of strength in situations that appeared hopeless.