Habakkuk 1:12

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? .... The prophet, foreseeing these calamities coming upon his nation and people, observes some things for their comfort in this verse; and expostulates with God in the following verses Habakkuk 1:13 about his providential dealings, in order to obtain an answer from him, which might remove the objections of his own mind, and those of other good men he personates, raised against them; being stumbled at this, that wicked men should be suffered to succeed and prosper, and the righteous should be afflicted and distressed by them: but for his own present consolation, and that of others, in a view of the worst that should befall them, he strongly asserts,

we shall not die; meaning not a corporeal death, for that all men die, good and bad; and this the Jews did die, and no doubt good men among them too, at the siege and taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldean army, either by famine, or pestilence, or sword: nor a death of affliction, which the people of God are subject to, as well as others; is often their case, and is for their good, and in love, and not wrath: but a spiritual death, which none that are quickened by the Spirit and grace of God ever die; though grace may be low, it is never lost; though saints may be in dead and lifeless frames, and need quickening afresh, yet they are not without the principle of spiritual life; grace in them is a well of living water, springing up to everlasting life; their spiritual life can never fail them, since it is secured in Christ: and much less shall they die the second, or an eternal death; they are ordained to eternal life; Christ is come, and given his flesh for it, that they might have it; it is in his hands for them; they are united to him, and have both the promise and pledge of it: and this may be argued, as by the prophet here, from the eternity of God, art "thou not from everlasting?" he is from everlasting to everlasting, the Ancient of days, that inhabits eternity, is, was, and is to come: therefore "we shall not die"; none of his people shall perish, because he loves them with an everlasting love; has made an everlasting choice of them; has set up Christ from everlasting as their surety and Saviour; entered into an everlasting covenant with them in Christ; is their everlasting Father, and will be their everlasting portion; is the unchangeable Jehovah, and therefore they shall not be consumed: this may be concluded from their covenant interest in God, "O Lord my God"; they are his peculiar people, given to Christ to be preserved by him, and covenant interest always continues; he that is their God is their God and guide unto death: and also from the holiness of God, "mine holy One"; who has sworn by his holiness to them, and is faithful to his covenant and promise; and is the sanctifier of them, that has sanctified or set them apart for himself; made Christ sanctification to them, and makes them holy by his Spirit and grace, and enables them to persevere in grace and holiness: moreover, this may be understood of the people of the Jews, as a church and nation; who, though they would be carried captive into Babylon, yet would still continue as such, and be returned again as such, and not die, sink, and perish; since the Messiah was to spring from them; and they might be assured of their preservation for that purpose, from the perfections of God, his covenant with them, and their relation to him: nor shall the church of Christ in any age die and perish, though in ever so low a state; a particular church may, but the interest and church of Christ in general, or his spiritual seed, never shall. This is one of the eighteen passages, as Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech observe, called "Tikkun-Sopherim", the correction of the scribes, of Ezra, and his company; it having been written, in some copies, "thou shall not die" {a}; asserting the immortality of God, or his eternity to come; and that, as he was from everlasting, so he should continue to everlasting; and to this sense the Targum paraphrases the words,

"thy Word remaineth for ever;''

and so the Syriac version follows the same reading:

O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment: that is, the Chaldeans; either to be judged and punished themselves for their sins, as all wicked Christless sinners are, even righteously foreordained to condemnation for their sins; or rather to be the instruments of punishing the wicked among the Jews; for this purpose were these people ordained in the counsels of God, and raised up in his providence, and constituted a kingdom, and made a powerful nation:

O mighty God; or "rock" {b}; the rock and refuge of his people:

thou hast established them for correction; or "founded" {c} them, and settled them as a monarchy, strong and mighty for this end, that they might be a rod in the hand of the Lord, not for destruction, but for correction and chastisement; and from hence it might be also comfortably concluded that they should not die and utterly perish.

{a} twmt al "non morieris", Vatablus, Drusius, Grotius.
{b} rwu "O rupes", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Van Till; "O petra", Drusius.
{c} wtdoy "fundasti eum", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Cocceius, Van Till; "constituisti", Vatablus.