In English, we have a construct to demonstrate a diminutive. John becomes Johnny. Bob becomes Bobby. Mike becomes Mickey. Etc.
In Hebrew you accomplish the same thing with the suffix “kuk.” So the name Habakkuk is a diminutive of Habak. And habak means a hug. So by extension, this name is probably more of a nickname but it means “The Little Hugger.”
My guess is that Habakkuk was a Mercy gift who never turned down a good hug when he was a little guy and probably asked for more than were offered. He loved to snuggle.
Based on the fact that his poetry is second only to Isaiah’s in terms of depth, complexity and elegance, we assume he was born into an upper middle class home and had access to a superlative education. He seems to be from the tribe of Levi and was part of the choir at the Temple, writing both the music and the lyrics on at least this one occasion, but probably more regularly.
Even though Habakkuk was at his prime during the reign of Josiah, one of the finer of Judah’s kings, he still struggled with the corruption in the courts and the prevalence of gratuitous violence in the community. As a Mercy, it violated his desire for safety for all.
He queried God, requesting an explanation for God’s passivity in the situation. Clearly a good king was on the throne, so why was God not investing in solving the problems in the culture?
God replied that far from being passive, He had been actively growing a fairly obscure tribe into a vicious military powerhouse that would come spank the nation with intensity.
The Little Hugger was horrified at the plans and desperately appealed to God that it was not right to use a really unholy people to spank a moderately unholy people.
God was unmoved by the argument, simply assuring Habakkuk that when He was quite done using Babylon for His purposes, He would spank them much more savagely than they had spanked Israel.
So much for world history from God’s point of view.
The Mercy musician was understandably rocked. His theology got shattered. His sense of national security was obliterated. His personal safety was totally stripped away.
In the place of extreme shock, he wrote one of the most majestically defiant pieces of poetry in world history.
“I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.” Habakkuk 3:16-19 NIV
Where did that come from?
At the risk of making some people mad at me, the stereotype of middle age Mercy artists who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth tends a bit more toward being pansies than towering spiritual giants.
But The God Who Plans Ahead was preparing The Little Hugger for such a time as this, when he didn’t even know he was being prepared.
So what about you? Got some weird chapters in your life’s journey that just don’t make sense? Have you been drug through the rat hole backward when you were doing everything right and you never were able to understand how things turned so ugly so fast? Do you have a finely honed body of knowledge that there seems to be no place to use?
What if The God Who Plans Ahead has read the story of your life and He was meticulously preparing you for something you never imagined could happen, and in the moment, you will find within your core wisdom and strength that came with God-speed in your time of need?
Copyright July 2015 by Arthur Burk
From The Hub