A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
“The descriptions given by Nahum are exceedingly fine and vivid, and the book is deservedly classed among the finest productions of Old Testament literature.”
–C. H. H. Wright
Nahum had a message of consolation to Judah since he foretold the doom of the Assyrians and the restoration of God’s people. His prophecy supplements the book of Jonah. In Jonah we see Ninevah’s repentance, but in Nahum the Ninevites have returned to their old ways and have incurred God’s wrath. This little book is also a classic rebuke of militarism. The Assyrians were ruthless with their enemies. Their inscriptions of military victories gloated over hanging the skins of their conquered enemies on the tents and walls.
The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh
2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
and vents his wrath against his enemies.
3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
5 The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it.
6 Who can withstand his indignation?
Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
the rocks are shattered before him.
It was common practice for peoples in the ancient world to identify their deities with observable, awe-inspiring natural phenomena.
7 The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
8 but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.
After describing the character of God, the prophet addresses the Assyrians and tells them that God will destroy them.
9 Whatever they plot against the Lord
he will bring to an end;
trouble will not come a second time.
10 They will be entangled among thorns
and drunk from their wine;
they will be consumed like dry stubble.
11 From you, Nineveh, has one come forth
who plots evil against the Lord
and devises wicked plans.
12 This is what the Lord says:
“Although they have allies and are numerous,
they will be destroyed and pass away.
Although I have afflicted you, Judah,
I will afflict you no more.
Just as the weights of a grandfather clock, or the stabilizers in a ship, are necessary for them to work properly, so are troubles to the soul. The sweetest perfumes are obtained only through tremendous pressure, the fairest flowers grow on the most isolated and snowy peaks, the most beautiful gems are those that have suffered the longest at the jeweler’s wheel, and the most magnificent statues have endured the most blows from the chisel. All of these, however, are subject to God’s law. Nothing happens that has not been appointed with consummate care and foresight.
–Streams in the Desert
13 Now I will break their yoke from your neck
and tear your shackles away.”
14 The Lord has given a command concerning you, Nineveh:
“You will have no descendants to bear your name.
I will destroy the images and idols
that are in the temple of your gods.
I will prepare your grave,
for you are vile.”
15 Look, there on the mountains,
the feet of one who brings good news,
who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, Judah,
and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
they will be completely destroyed.
This verse describes the messenger who brings the good tidings of Assyria’s destruction and the resulting peace in Judah. Paul quotes similar words in Romans 10:15, but there they are used in a gospel context.
God is our refuge, Joel says in verse 7, our safe place, our shelter in the time of storm. HERE is GLAD (a progressive Christian rock band. They got together on the campus of West Chester State University, near Philadelphia, in the early l970’s. Early on the predilection toward complex vocals with classical and jazz overtones began to distinguish the band) singing a stunning arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”