Why are You Silent While the Wicked Swallow up those More Righteous than Themselves?



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A Prayer of Habakkuk
(Habakkuk, ch. 3)

By James Vasquez

An invading army of Assyrians was devastating the land and Habakkuk asked God this question, "Why do you make me look at injustice?" When God told him He was raising up the Babylonians to punish the invading force Habakkuk then asked, "Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" Habakkuk finally comes to a place of rest and confidence, as expressed in this prayer which concludes his book.

Your fame, O Lord, has filled my ear,
In awe your deeds I scan,
In wrath remember mercy, Lord,
And in our brief life’s span,

Renew your marvels, make them known,
To us midst all our fright,
As when, in glory, you appeared,
From distant Teman’s height.

Like sunrise was your splendor then,
And flashing from your hand,
Effulgent rays in vain concealed,
The power you e’er command.

Such glory all the heavens veiled,
While praises filled the earth,
Before you plague and pestilence,
Brought famine, blight and dearth.

You stood, the earth was shaken well,
You looked, the nations feared,
And mountains of a hoary age,
And hills, then disappeared.

The tents of Cushan cried aloud,
And Midian’s dwellings wailed,
Your ways from all eternity,
Have ever, Lord, prevailed.

But were you angry with the streams?
‘Gainst rivers was your wrath?
And was it with the sea you raged,
When on your conquering path,

You ventured forth with chariot,
And rode upon the horse,
O’er waves while calling for your bow,
And arrows on your course?

The earth by rivers’ flood was split,
And waves were lifted high,
While deep roared unto boundless deep,
And mounts did writhe and sigh.

The heav’ns were stilled by sun and moon,
Beholding flashing spear,
And glint of arrows you unleashed,
That traced their passage near.

The nations then were threshed anew,
The earth in wrath you strode,
You came your people to redeem,
Th’ anointed one’s abode.

The leader of the wicked you,
Did crush and strip him well,
And with his spear you pierced his head,
Who tottered there and fell,

Just as his gloating warriors rushed,
To scatter us abroad,
From where we fled to hide ourselves,
In cave or field or sod.

Your horses, Lord, the raging sea,
Their trampling hooves subdued,
While churning waters violently,
For their belligerent mood.

My lips then quivered and my heart,
Beat louder at the sound,
Decay beset my bones, my legs,
In trembling plight were found.

And I, for all, will yet await,
And patiently abide,
Till great calamity shall turn,
Th’ invading foe aside.

Though the fig tree has no blossom,
The vine bears naught of grape,
The olive only failure yields,
Each field a barren scape,

No sheep within the pen are found,
Nor cattle in the stall,
Yet in my God will I rejoice,
As on him I shall call.

My strength is in the Sovereign Lord,
My feet, as from a deer,
He makes to bear me swift above,
And on the heights appear.




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