THE JUDGMENT UPON
The book has a double title, the first giving the object of the prophecy, which otherwise
would not be evident; the second, its author, added to give confidence in its contents.
prophecy (Isaiah 13:1), though translated by the Septuagint λῆμμα – laemma –
burden; oracle - here, and elsewhere ὁράσις – horasis – vision and ῥῆµα – rhaema –
word. Some prefer to render it “utterance,” or “oracle.” The word is capable of either
meaning. It almost always (except, perhaps, in Zechariah 12:1) introduces a threat
of judgment. Of
prophecy. The effect of Jonah’s preaching had been only temporary; the
reformation was partial and superficial; and now God’s long suffering was
wearied out, and the time of punishment was to come. (For an account of
the title an interpolation; but the connection of the two portions is obvious,
and without the former we should not know the object of the prophet’s
denunciation till ch. 2:8. The book of the vision. This is the
second title, in apposition with the former, and defining it more closely as
the Book in which was written the prophecy of Nahum. It is called a
“vision,” because what the prophet foretold was presented to his mental
sight, and stood plainly before him (compare Isaiah 1:1). The Elkoshite;
i.e. native of Elkosh, or Elcesi, which, as Jerome says (‘Prol. in Nahum’), was
a small village in
very few traces of ancient buildings. It is supposed to be represented by the
modern El-Kauzeh, a village a little eastward of Ramah in Naphtali. That
Nahum was a native of
he shows special interest in the northern portion of the
of God. It is probable that, when Esarhaddon repeopled the northern
province with a mixed population imported from his own dominions,
Nahum with many of his countrymen removed to
given direction to his oracle. There is, however, nothing provincial in his
language to serve as an indication of his locality, but we should judge that
he must have removed from Galilee to
the latter province. A late tradition, mentioned by Asseman (‘Bibl. Orient.,’
1:525; 3:352), and adopted by some modern writers, maintains that Nahum
was born in
miles north of
the story goes, were buried Jonah, Obadiah, and Jephthah. “It is a place,”
says Layard (‘
and Christians, but especially by Jews, who keep the building in repair, and
flock here in great numbers at certain seasons of the year. The tomb is a
simple plaster box, covered with green cloth, and standing at the upper end
of a large chamber. The house containing the tomb is a modern building.
There are no inscriptions, nor fragments of any antiquity about the place.”
The story arose some two thousand years after the prophet’s time, and was
probably inverted to account for his knowledge of Assyrian affairs, which
was supposed to denote resident and eyewitness, or else was founded
simply on the similarity between the name of the village and that of his
birthplace. Elkosh and Alkush were near enough in sound to suggest
identity, and mediaeval tradition, credulous and uncritical, fastened upon
the Assyrian village as the scene of Nahum’s birth and labors, and it
became a shrine for pilgrims’ honor, with no more reason than in the case
of Jonah and Obadiah. And as to Ewald’s opinion that Nahum was born of
parents living in captivity there, we have only to say that the Israelites were
not deported to Assyria under Tiglath-Pileser,
but into Media,
exhibited Nahum’s acquaintance with
assertion utterly groundless. The knowledge displayed is not necessarily
that of an eyewitness, and was doubtless also possessed by many Jews who
had mixed with Gentiles, or had become acquainted with the foreign
soldiers who had too often forced their way into the
be said that the prophecy is concerned wholly with
little or no mention of
the writer had been resident in the latter country, it must be answered that
the whole tenor of the utterance is to demonstrate the destruction of the
power hostile to
and to comfort the Hebrews with the assurance of final victory. But, say
the critics, Nahum employs Assyrian words, which a Judaean could never
have used. It is true that three such expressions have been found in
ch. 2:7. and 3:17, but they prove nothing in favor of the
assumption. The first, huzzab, as it is given in our version, may be
considered a Hebrew word taken as a verb, and rendered, “it is decreed,”
or “it is decided,” but is more probably an appellative, as shown in the
Exposition; the second is probably also a Hebrew word, derived from
nazar, “to separate,” and meaning “the crowned,” or “the levied for war;”
the third, taphsar, occurs in Jeremiah 51:27, and is an Assyrian official
title, which might well be known in
appropriately. There is nothing, therefore, to negate the general opinion
that Nahum was a native of
in that country.
The burden of his prophecy is the destruction of
predicted by Jonah a century before,
fifty years after this prophecy was uttered, and so complete was its
overthrow that the very site where it stood is a matter of conjecture.
The point is that great sins of a people must ever bring upon them GREAT RUIN!
The population of
Scriptures as a “bloody city,” a “city full of lies and robberies;” its savage brutality
to captives is portrayed in its own monuments, and the Hebrew prophets dwell upon
its impious haughtiness and ruthless fierceness (Isaiah 10:7-8). In this book we
have its “burden,” that is, its sentence, its doom; and the doom is terrible
beyond description. It is ever so. Great sins bring great ruin.
crucifixion of our Lord, the Roman general, with a numerous army, laid
siege to their city, and converted it into a scene of the greatest horrors
ever witnessed on this earth. (I am not used to
list! I suppose
neither many of us consider
from “our sins finding us out” – Numbers 32:23 – CY – 2015)
The principle of moral causation and the eternal justice of the
universe demand that wherever there is sin there shall be suffering; and in
proportion to the amount of sin shall be the amount of suffering. “Unto
whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48)
Let us Beware of sin. RUIN must follow it. Again: “Be sure your sins
will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)
The Messenger of Judgment (v. 1)
The character of the message:
“The burden of
It was a message to be delivered to a heathen nation. Like the message
of Jonah, to which it has been fittingly described as being “the complement
and the counterpart,” it indicates that God holds wider relations with
mankind than the Jews were prepared to admit; and that all nations and
peoples lie within the range of His providence and power.
It was a message full of dark forebodings. It told of impending judgment
and of national destruction and desolation. The somber announcements
were unrelieved even by a single word of hope being addressed to the
guilty nation. The Ninevites had previously recognized the Divine
righteousness, and upon their repentance had experienced the Divine
clemency; but this had been followed by relapse into the grossest iniquity,
and there remained now only the experience of the threatened ruin — the
nation should be “utterly cut off.” “The burden of
burden of Nahum. His few words recorded here addressed to his own
people are sufficient to indicate that he was a man of refined
susceptibilities; and to such a man his commission must have been indeed
oppressive. Yet he would not shrink, but would faithfully fulfil his trust.
Whilst the mercy and love of God should be the constant theme of the
modern teacher, yet the great and solemn fact of His retributive justice must
not be ignored. There is to be declared “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
A plain man unfolding such teachings respecting a mighty heathen power
might well be required to furnish his credentials. And we have his authority
expressed in the words, “the vision of Nahum.” A Divine insight had been
imparted unto him; there had been given him “visions and revelations of the
Lord,” and of his terrible doings about to be wrought. Such apprehension
of spiritual realities is absolutely essential in order to constitute any man a
messenger of God to his age (I Corinthians 2:10-16; 1 Peter. 1:12; I John 4:14).
We have a permanent record of his teachings. “The book of the vision,” etc. (v. 1).
This is the only form in which mental thoughts and conceptions can be lastingly
perpetuated. The matchless works of the great, masters in painting, sculpture, and
architecture, which have excited the admiration of the whole world, can
have but a limited existence; no copy equal to the originals can be made;
and in the waste and wear of time these must inevitably pass away; whereas
the literary productions of men of genius will continue to live on; for time
does not impair that, art by which books are reproduced and the circle of
their influence extended. The Bible is a collection of books; and the
remarkable unity combined with progressiveness traceable therein furnish s
very convincing evidence of ITS DIVINE ORIGIN. Written prophecy forms a
most important feature in this development of truth. It was not only
necessary that the prophets should labor (as they did so earnestly) to
maintain religion amongst the people who had been chosen of God and
separated to His praise, but also that, as the work of prophecy advanced,
there should be indicated and recorded how that the Lord was working
among the nations, Hebrew and heathen alike, and bringing about the
fulfillment of His all-wise and gracious purposes. And viewed under this
aspect, “the book of the vision of Nahum tim Elkoshite” fills an important
niche, whilst its grave words of admonition and warning may well lead evil
doers to reflection and penitence, and its occasional words of hope to the
pious and God fearing may serve, in troublous times, to keep their hearts in
quietness and assurance.
A Vision and a Burden (v. 1)
Ø The person of the prophet.
o His name. Nahum, “Consolation” — fitly borne by one whose
mission was to be the comforter of God’s people. That so many
their future destinies points as its explanation to an overruling
providence, which in this way kept alive in the hearts of the
people a strongly operative belief in a Divine interposition in
human affairs. That names are not now in this fashion
significant does not prove that God is less cognizant of or
interested in mundane matters, but merely shows that such
devices are not now required to enable thoughtful persons to
detect God’s finger in the progress of history.
His birthplace. Elkosh; not to be sought for in
the modern Christian village of Elkosh, east of the
of Khorsabad, two days’ journey from
the tomb of the prophet is still shown, in the form of a simple
box of modern style; (but in
o His parentage. Unknown. Of this, Scripture affords no trace.
His time. Uncertain. According to Josephus (‘
Nahum prophesied in the reign of Jotham. But the prophecy itself
rather points to a later date — not to the earlier years of Hezekiah,
before the destruction of Sennacherib’s army (Jerome, Fausset),
but to a point of time after that event, and consequently after the
Hitzig, Delitzsch, Keil, Nagelsbach in Herzog), more particularly
an age after the destruction of No-Amon, or
(ch.3:8), which took place soon after Tirhakah’s death, in B.C.
664. Hence B.C. 660, or the last years of Manasseh, may be
accepted as the most probable date for Nahum’s prophecy.
Ø The nature of his vision.
foresight merely, since the
occurred in B.C. 609-606 (Schrader), i.e. a full half century later
than the days of Nahum, which is too broad a chasm to be
spanned by purely human sagacity. Nahum required more than
mere natural ability to enable him to predict the downfall of the
great Assyrian capital fifty years before it happened.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11; 8:7)
o Divine inspiration alone can explain the utterance of Nahum.
“The Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret
unto His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Compare the
examples of Abraham (Genesis 18:17), Moses (Numbers 12:6),
Samuel (I Samuel 3:11), Elijah (I Kings 18:36), Jeremiah
(Jeremiah 11:18), Daniel (Daniel 2:19), etc. The details given
Nahum’s prophecy concerning
must have been obtained either by direct personal
knowledge or by Divine revelation. But inasmuch as the
former hypothesis — the ground upon which some scholars
critics locate Elkosh in
by the time when Nahum lived (shortly after the destruction
of No-Amon), it can only have been by the latter
method that he acquired his information.
“Dwelling,” if the word be of Semitic origin; equivalent to “Fish house” if
derived from the Accadian (Delitzsch). A city remarkable for:
o Its antiquity. Founded by Asshur, who went forth out of the
Kouyunjik and Nebbi
(Layard, Smith, Schrader); Rehoboth Ir, the site of which is
(Layard, Smith, Schrader); and Resen, or Selamiyeh
(Layard, Smith, Schrader), between
10:11-12). “The foundation of
Kouyunjik, probably goes back to as early an age as that of
Assur (Kalah Shergat, the original capital), but it was not until
a much later period that it became an important city, and
supplanted the older capital of the kingdom’ (Sayce,
o Its size. Even from earliest times it was regarded as a great city,
proper. In Jonah’s day it was “a great city” (Jonah 1:2), “an
exceeding great city of three days’ journey” (ibid. ch.3:3). This
accords both with the statements of classical writers one of whom
gives its circumference as four hundred and eighty stadia, or
twelve geographical miles — and with the discoveries of modern
according to which
been used to designate at one time
the four large prominent cities —
Kouyunjik and Nebbi
and Dur-Sargina of the inscriptions, Khorsabad. These four cities
“formed a trapezium, the sharp angles of which lay towards the
and south, the long sides being formed by the
the mountains, the average length being about twenty-five English
miles, and the average breadth fifteen” (Delitzsch, on Jonah 1:1).
“The circumference of these four quarters or towns has been given
by the English Jones at almost ninety English miles, which may
correspond to a circuit of three days’ journey” (Schrader, ‘Die
Keilinschriften,’ p. 448).
o Its population. In Jonah’s time it contained over a hundred and
twenty thousand young persons at and under seven years of age
(Jonah 4:11), which would give a population of six hundred
thousand (Niebuhr, Delitzsch, Keil) or seven hundred thousand
(Schrader) souls — a number exceeded by many modern cities.
Its wealth. Nahum speaks of
merchants above the stars of heaven (ch.3:16); and that this was
so her situation “at the culminating point of the three quarters of
globe, Europe, Asia, and
one to expect. That
gold and silver (ch.2:9) accords with the statements of ancient
which represent the spoil of
unparalleled in extent. So completely also was it
plundered that “scarcely any fragments of gold and silver have
been found in its ruins” (Kitto’s ‘Cyclopaedia,’ 3:334), thus
verifying the prediction that she should be “empty, and void,
and waste” (ch. 2:10).
o Its power. The crowned ones, i.e. nobles, and the marshals, i.e.
great grasshoppers (ch.3:17); in which case what must have
been the number of the common soldiers? To these — the levied
and selected ones (for war) and the soldiery — rather than to the
princes and commanders, according to another interpretation
(Keil), the prophet’s language refers. The shields and
scarlet coats of her mighty men, the rattling of her war chariots,
and the prancing of her horses are vividly depicted (ch.2:3; 3:1);
(Our high school mascot was a “Warhorse” and during pep
rallies, we all liked to do the Warhorse Prance! – if interested
see fergusonschool.com - CY – 2015) as well as the fierceness
and destructiveness of her warfare (ch.2:11-12).
o Its wickedness. This, which in Jonah’s time was so aggravated
as to call forth against it a threatening of Divine punishment
(Jonah 1:2; 3:4, 8, 10), was not less conspicuous in the days of
Nahum. The “bloody city full of lies and rapine” (ch.3:1), had
fully justified her designation by the manner in which she had
and destroyed the nations,
The burden. This, which refers to Nahum’s oracle concerning
o Its momentous character. A burden on the prophet’s soul until
it was uttered, it forthwith became a weight of doom upon the
city against which it was pronounced.
o Its certain fulfillment. Laid upon the bloody city by Jehovah’s
hand (ch.2:13; 3:5), it would inflict a grievous wound and cause
a bruise for which there should be no healing (ch.3:19).
Ø The argument from prophecy for the inspiration of the Scriptures.
Ø The superiority of the Christian dispensation, whose messenger was not
a prophet of Jehovah, but THE SON OF GOD! (Hebrews 1:1).
Ø The excellence of the gospel, which contains a burden, not of wrath,
but of mercy.
In vs. 2-6, the prophet describes the inflexible justice of God, and
illustrates His irresistible power by the control which He exercises over the
2 “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth,
and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries,
and He reserveth wrath for His enemies.” God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth;
better, Jehovah is a jealous and avenging God, as Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24;
oshua 24:19. The threefold repetition of the name of Jehovah and the
attribute “avenging” gives a wonderful force to this sublime description of
the Divine character. God is here called jealous (ζηλωτὴς – zaelotaes - jealous,
Septuagint) anthropopothically, as ready to defend His honor against all who
oppose Him, as One who loves His people and punishes their oppressors. Is
furious; literally, master of fury, as Genesis 37:19, “master of dreams.”
The Lord is full of wrath (compare Proverbs 22:24; 29:22). The word
used implies a permanent feeling, like the Greek μῆνις – maenis. He reserveth
wrath. The Hebrew is simply “watching,” “observing” for punishment.
Septuagint, ἐξαίρων αὐτὸς τοὺς ἐχθροὺς αὐτοῦ - ezairon auton tous echthrous
autou - Himself cutting off His enemies. Vulgate, irascens ipse inimicis ejus.
God withholds His hand for a time, but does not forget. All this description
of God’s attributes is intended to show that the
doing, and that its accomplishment is certain.
3“The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all
acquit the wicked: the LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in
the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.”
Slow to anger (Exodus 34:6-7). Nahum seems to take up
the words of Jonah (Jonah 4:2) or Joel (Joel 2:13). God is long
suffering, not from weakness, but because He is great in power, and can
punish when He will. Will not at all acquit the wicked; literally, holding
pure will not hold pure; i.e. He will not treat the guilty as innocent. Ἀθωῶν
οὐκ ἀθωώσει - Athoon ouk athoosei – and will by no means leave the
guilty unpunished.(Septuagint); Mundans non faciet innocentem
(compare Exodus 20:7; 34:7). The Lord hath His way, etc.
The prophet grounds his description of the majesty and might of God upon
the revelation at the Exodus and at Sinai. (see Exodus 19:16-18; Psalms
18 and 97.). The clouds are the dust of His feet, Large and grand as the clouds
look to us, they are to God but as the dust raised by the feet in walking. As
an illustration of this statement (though, of course, the fact was utterly
unknown to Nahum), it has been remarked that recent scientific discovery
asserts that clouds owe their beauty, and even their very existence, to the
presence of dust particles in the atmosphere. The aqueous vapor, it is
said, condenses on these particles, and thus becomes visible.
“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power.” This is a remarkable expression.
It seems as if the prophet meant, God is “slow to anger” because He is “great
in power;” if he had less power He would be less patient. A man may be
“slow to anger,” slow to deal out vengeance, because he lacks power to do
so. But God is “slow to anger” because He has abundance of power. (One
other related truth: He is “abundant in TRUTH” – Exodus 34:6 – CY – 2015)
In order to see the power revealed in His forbearance towards sinners in this
world, think of four things.
have not the susceptibility of feeling an insult or offence; their patience,
such as it is, is nothing but a natural stoicism. Many men are lauded for their
calmness under insults, who are rather to be pitied for their natural insensibility,
or denounced for their moral callousness. But the great God is ineffably sensitive.
He is sensibility itself. He is love. He feels everything. Every immoral act
vibrates, so to speak, on His heart chord; and yet He is “slow to anger.”
emphatically hates. His whole nature revolts from it. He feels that it is
antagonism to His will and to THE ORDER AND WELL BEING
OF THE UNIVERSE!
by the countless millions of men that populate the globe; then you will have
some conception of the provocation that this God of exquisite sensibility,
of an ineffable hatred to sin, receives every day from this planet. One insult
often sets man’s blood ablaze. Surely, if all the patience of all the angels in
heaven were to be embodied in one personality, and that personality were
entrusted with the government of this world for one day, before the clock
struck the hour of midnight he would set the globe in flames.
He could show His anger if He pleased, at any time, anywhere, or anyhow.
He is absolutely responsible to no one! He has no one to fear. When men
feel anger there are many reasons to prevent them from showing it; but He
has no such reason. How great, then, must be His “power” in holding back
His anger! His power of self-control is infinite. “He is Slow… to anger,
and of great power.” “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as
some men count slackness; but is long suffering to usward, not willing
that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).
Also, His patience precludes not the punishment of the impenitent! “And will not
at all acquit the wicked.” That is, the impenitent wicked. However wicked a man is,
if he repents he will be acquitted. “Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the
unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will
have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
bound suffering to sin by a law as strong and as inviolable as that which
binds the planets to the sun. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23);
“Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).
Sin leads to ruin: THIS IS A LAW!
wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God;”
(Psalm 9:17) “Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;” (Luke 13:3,5)
“I will laugh at your calamities, and mock when your fear cometh.”
To “acquit” the impenitent would be to break the harmony of His
universe. If inveterate rebels and incorrigible sinners were acquitted,
what an impulse there would be given in God’s moral empire to anarchy
and rebellion! (Is not this the error of the world today, whether it be
the brat living down the street, the rebel rouser at school, the unchurched
profligate as an adult, the immoral politician, or a
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
see Ecclesiastes 8:11-13)
Let us not abuse the patience of God; nay, avail ourselves of it. While He forbears,
and because He forbears, repent! “Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and
forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth
thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
4 “He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers:
Bashan languisheth, and
Carmel, and the flower of
languisheth.” The great physical changes and convulsions in the world are
tokens of God’s wrath on sinful nations. He rebuketh the sea, as at the
passage of the
of omnipotence (compare Luke 8:24). All the rivers. A generalization
from the miracle at the Jordan (Joshua 3.; compare Psalm 107:33; Isaiah
1:2). Septuagint, ποταμοὺς ἐξερημῶν – potamous exeraemon - making
rivers desolate; Vulgate, flumina ad desertum deducens.
on Amos 4:1).
was famous, not only for its cedars, but also for its vines and flowers (compare
Hosea 14:7; Song of Solomon 4:11). These three regions are
mentioned as remarkable for their fertility, and they occur most naturally to
the mind of a native of
are the eastern, western, and northern boundaries of the land. They are
used here proverbially to express the truth that God can cause the most
luxuriant regions to wither at His word.
5 “The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is
burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
The mountains quake. The mountains, the very emblems of
stability, tremble before him (Amos 8:8). The hills melt; Οἱ βουνοὶ ἐσαλεύθησαν –
hoi bounoi esaleuthaesan - The hills were shaken (Septuagint). The hills dissolve
like wax or anew at His presence (see Amos 4:13; Micah 1:4).
Burned; Septuagint, ἀνεστάλη – anestalae – recoils; is upheaved; as by an
earthquake. This rendering has the greatest authority. The world; i.e. the
habitable world, and all living creatures therein (Joel 1:18-20). Nature
animate and inanimate is represented as actuated by THE TERROR
OF CONSCIOUS GUILT!
6“Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the
fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the
rocks are thrown down by Him.” Who can stand? (Psalm 76:7; Joel 2:11;
Malachi 3:2; compare Revelation 6:17). His fury is poured out like fire
(Deuteronomy 4:24); like the
brimstone and fire that destroyed
a volcano (Jeremiah 7:20). Septuagint (reading differently), ὁ θυμὸς αὐτοῦ τήκει
ἀρχάς – ho thumos autou taekei archas – His wrath is poured out like fire –
consumit principatus (Jerome). Are thrown down; rather, are rent asunder
(compare I Kings 19:11; Jeremiah 23:29). If such is the power of God, how s
“The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds
are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth
up all the rivers,” etc. Here is a description of God’s power unrivalled in its
sublimity and soul stirring force. “Power belongeth unto, God.” (Psalm 62:11)
It is absolute, inexhaustible, ever and everywhere operative. “He fainteth not,
neither is weary.” (Isaiah 40:28)
Ø God works in the air. “The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind
and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” He is in
the “whirlwind” and in the “storm,” and has His way in the clouds.
As men walk on the dust of the earth, He walketh upon the clouds
of heaven. He creates the whirlwind and the storm; He controls the
whirlwind and the storm; He uses the whirlwind and the storm.
(Many will not like this but what moral lesson or profit did we
get out of Hurricane Katrina? - CY – 2015) “He maketh the clouds
His chariot, and rideth upon the wings of the wind.” He awakes the
tornado and simoom
(sandstorm of Arabia and
the thunderbolts, and He kindles the lightnings.
Ø He works in the sea. “He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth
up all the rivers.”
There is undoubtedly an allusion to the
hollow of His hands.” His “way is in the sea,” and His “path in the
great waters.” (Psalm 77:19) The billows that rise into mountains,
as well as the smallest wavelets that come rippling softly to the shore,
are the creatures of His power and the servants of His will.
Ø He works on the earth. “Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the
fruitful than these three; they abounded in vigorous vegetation and
majestic forests. But their life and their growth depended on the
results of GOD’S POWER! All the blades in the fields, all the
trees in the forest, would languish and wither did His power cease
to operate. Nor is His power less active in the inorganic
parts of the world. (I recommend Fantastic Trip on the Internet.
“The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the
earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell
therein.” (v. 5) (There is a integral role that earthquakes will play
at the end of time. See Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11) “He looketh
on the earth, and it trembleth: He toucheth the hills, and they
smoke.” (Psalm 104:32) He piles up the mountains, and again makes
them a plain; He kindles the volcanoes and quenches them at His
pleasure. God’s power is seen in all the phenomena of the
MATERIAL WORLD! How graphically and beautifully is this
presented in Psalm 104:1. The fact that God’s power is ever acting
in the material universe is:
o The most philosophic explanation of all its phenomena.
The men who ascribe all the operations of nature to what they
call laws fail to satisfy my intellect. For what are those laws?
o The most hallowing aspect of the world we live in.
GOD IS IN ALL! “How dreadful is this place! it is none
other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven”
is what Jacob said. (Genesis 28:17)
Let us walk the earth with reverence. “Take your shoes from off your feet, for
the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)
before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?
His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him.”
(v. 6) The mightiest rocks are but as pebbles in His hands. “He taketh up
the isles as a very little thing; He weigheth the mountains in scales, and
the hills in a balance” (Isaiah 40:12, 15) His anger, as we have said, is His
determination to crush the wrong; and there is no power in the universe
that can thwart Him in this. Who can stand before this? Were all the
creatures in the universe to stand up against it, the attempt would be as
feeble and as futile as the attempt of a child to turn back the advancing
tides with his little spade. Sinner, why attempt to oppose Him? You must
submit, EITHER AGAINST YOUR WILL or by your will. If you continue
to resist, the former is a necessity. He will break you in pieces like a potter’s
vessel. The latter is your duty and your interest. Fall down in penitence before
Him, yield yourselves to His service, acquiesce in His will, TRUST JESUS
CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOUR and YOU ARE SAVED!
The Wrath of God — A Warning (vs. 2-6)
God as a jealous God. Jealous:
Ø For His own glory, and therefore admitting of no rival claimant to
man’s worship and homage (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24).
Ø For His holy Law, and therefore shut up to punish iniquity (Exodus
20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9; 29:20; Joshua 24:19).
Ø For His own people, and therefore impelled to take vengeance on
Ø Against His adversaries; i.e. against those who decline to do Him
homage, and show this by worshipping idols.
Ø Against those who dishonor His holy Law by their disobedience and
Ø Against those who oppress and tyrannize over His people, as the
Assyrians had done and were doing.
Nahum speaks of it as something that has fury in it (vs. 2, 6). The
prophets generally represented it as terrible in its forth flashing against sin
and sinners (Deuteronomy 29:28; II Chronicles 28:13; Isaiah 13:9;
Jeremiah 21:5; Zephaniah 1:18; Zechariah 7:12). Christ did not view it as
of small moment (Luke 21:23; 22:22). Reason does not warrant the idea
that it will be slight and easy to bear, it being the anger of A GREAT
AND HOLY GOD! (In the end, and I heard today that the goal of
at that time will come up in His face - Ezekiel 38:18 – CY – 2015)
Scripture distinctly testifies that God is slow to anger (v. 3).
Ø Jehovah Himself claimed that such was His character,
when He spake to the people at
o when He declared His Name to Moses (ibid. ch.34:6).
Ø The Bible throughout concedes to Him this character.
o Moses (Numbers 14:18),
o David (Psalm 86:15),
o Jonah (Jonah 4:2),
o Micah (Micah 7:18-20),
o Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:17),
alike proclaim it. In the New Testament, Paul (Romans 9:22)
and Peter (II Peter 3:9, 15) entertain the same idea.
Ø Experience sufficiently confirms the Divine claim and the Scripture
representation. The providential treatment:
o of the world,
o of the antediluvian race,
vengeance of eternal fire” – Jude 1:7)
o of unbelievers in Christendom and
o of idolaters in heathendom, —
the best evidence that God is not willing that any should perish
“but that ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE” –
(II Peter 3:9)
Ø His character such as to demand this. “He will by no means clear the
guilty.” If He did He would contradict the representations of His
character, falsify His word, and endanger His government. Hence His
long suffering cannot arise from any secret sympathy which He has with
sin, but must spring solely from HIS OWN INHERENT
Ø HIS POWER SUFFICIENT TO SECURE THIS. If Jehovah is slow
to anger, this proceeds not from any defect in His ability to execute wrath
upon His adversaries. He is of great power — a truth explicitly set forth in
Scripture (Genesis 18:14; Exodus 15:11; Deuteronomy 7:21; Job 9:4;
Psalm 89:8, etc.), and amplified and illustrated by Nahum, who depicts
that power in a threefold way.
o By its character as supernatural. “The Lord hath His way in the
whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His
feet” (v. 3). As such it is:
§ mysterious, violent, and swift,
§ inscrutable as to origin,
§ immeasurable as to vehemence, and
§ incalculable as to velocity.
o By its effects as irresistible. NOTHING CAN STAND
BEFORE IT; not the most uncontrollable element in nature,
the sea, which with its dashing billows and moaning waters
is to the human mind a striking emblem of power. “He
rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers”
4) — an allusion to the drying up of the
Jehovah’s supremacy over the sea a frequent theme with Scripture
writers (Job 9:4-12; 38:8, 11; Psalm 29:3; 65:7; 74:15;
Isaiah 44:27; 51:10-11). Not the freshest and most vigorous, of
these languish and fade, their beauty decaying and their
fruitfulness departing when He directs against them the fury of
His wrathful power (v. 4; compare Psalm 107:34). Not the most
solid and stable, the mountains, the hills, the earth, the world, all
of which quake, melt, and burn AT HIS PRESENCE! (v. 5;
compare Psalm 68:8; Micah 1:4; Isaiah 64:1). Not the most
exalted and wise, the living creatures that dwell upon the
surface of the globe, beasts and men, both of which are
upheaved with terror before the manifestations of Jehovah’s
power (Joel 1:18, 20; Hosea 4:3; Psalm 65:8).
abide in the fierceness of his anger?” (v. 6).
The Divine Vengeance (vs. 2-6)
In engaging in work for God, the worker must not be unmindful of the
terrible consequences resulting from despising THE RICHES OF THE
DIVINE MERCY AND GRACE! There is, assuredly, such a thing as retribution
following a course of alienation from God’s ways. It must be so. The very love of
God renders the punishment of the ungodly absolutely essential. Objectors
sometimes point to the scriptural teaching concerning the future of the
impenitent as indicating that the God of the Bible is unlovely and severe.
But surely, where there is love there will also be found regard for justice.
There is a mawkish sentimentalism about the teaching which dwells upon
the love of God to the exclusion of all regard for his rectoral character.
There is much of this teaching prevalent today. It is the recoil from extreme
Calvinism, and, as is usual in such cases, the very opposite extreme is
reached. It is impossible to indicate the extent to which the intense sense of
God possessed by the Reformer of Geneva gave strength to his work; and
let God be realized by us as “infinite Justice, infinite Love, and infinite
Truth, blended in one indivisible ray of whitest light,” and the thought of
His all-embracing sovereignty and wise and perfect administration will be
found full of comfort and inspiration to our hearts. And so long as He is
righteous, sin, unrepented of and unabandoned, must be followed by bitter
results; and hence, whilst joyfully proclaiming “the acceptable year of the
Lord,” we must also declare the coming of “the day of vengeance of our
God.” (Luke 4:18-19) In these verses:
VENGEANCE. Our conceptions of the Divine Being are sometimes
assisted by our ascribing to Him certain characteristics belonging to the
children of men. Analogy, however, in this direction must not be pressed
too far, or we may be led to form very erroneous views concerning our
God. We have in these verses a case in point. Nothing is more strongly to
be condemned in men than the cherishing by them of the spirit of jealousy
and of vengeance; yet this is here ascribed to God. “The Lord is jealous,
and the Lord revengeth,” etc. (v. 2). But then “jealousy” and
“vengeance” mean something very different when applied to man from
what is intended when the same terms are used in reference to God. By
jealousy on the part of man we understand envy, but by the same word in
reference to God we are reminded of His regard for the maintenance of
truth, His holy concern for the upholding of righteousness. And by
vengeance on the part of man we understand revenge, a determination that
satisfaction shall be given for the injury we consider has been done to us;
whereas the same word as applied to God carries with it no such idea of
vindictiveness, but simply a pure desire that the cause of justice and
rectitude may be established and secure complete vindication. Since this
brief book of prophecy has almost exclusive reference to the Divine
judgments to fall upon the Assyrians, it is all-important that we clearly
understand at the outset that Divine vengeance has absolutely no malice in
it, and is ever exercised in the maintenance of righteousness. This is
indicated in the next verse in three particulars (v. 3).
Ø The Divine slowness. “The Lord is slow to anger.” Vindictiveness
will not brook delay; human vengeance reckons with its victims at
the earliest moment; revenge burns; passion rages; but the Divine
vengeance delays, that perchance, through penitence, the blow may
not be required to fall.
Ø The restraining of Divine power. Man, cherishing the spirit of
vindictiveness, sometimes lingers because conscious of his want of
power to inflict the penalty; but God “great in power” (v. 3) restrains
His might, holds back His avenging hand, that “space for repentance”
may be given, and the fact be made manifest that He “desires not the
death of the wicked.”
Ø The Divine concern for the maintenance of His pure Law. “And will
not at all acquit the wicked” (v. 3). His vengeance is not vindictive,
but is exercised in order that the supremacy of His holy Law may be
asserted. He has graciously made provision for the forgiveness of sin
and the salvation of transgressors from condemnation (Romans 8:1),
and they who willfully persist in iniquity must bear the consequences,
which will light upon them, not because God is vindictive, but because
the honor of His pure Law must be sustained.
GRAPHIC IMAGERY. (vs. 3-6.) For sublimity and grandeur this
passage stands unrivalled. The Divine vengeance is presented to us here:
Ø In its irresistibleness. Like the whirlwind, it sweeps everything before
it (v. 3).
Ø In its terribleness. In vivid symbolical language all nature is represented
as full of terror at the Divine manifestations (v. 5).
Ø In its destructiveness. Desolation is brought about — the sea and the
rivers are dried up at the rebuke of the Lord; the rich
the beautiful gardens of
vines and stately trees of
vengeance consumes in every direction (vs 5-6); yea, so mighty is it that
the very rocks crumble to pieces when it is put forth (v. 6).
HEARTS BY EARNEST INQUIRY. “Who can stand before His
indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?” (v. 6).
The design of the questions is to quicken conscience. They contain and
suggest the answers. Humbled in the very dust of self-abasement, we cry,
“Enter not into judgment with thy servants, O Lord; for in thy sight shall
no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2).
In vs. 7-11, The prophet prepares the way for proclaiming the
those who trust in Him, but is reserved for His enemies.
7 “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He
knoweth them that trust in Him.” The Lord is good. The Targum adds
in the day of trouble, as in the perilous time when the Assyrians attacked
(compare Psalm 27:1; Jeremiah 16:19). He knoweth; loves and cares for
(Psalm 1:6; 37:18; compare II Timothy 2:19; and see note on Amos 3:2).
The Divine Goodness (v. 7)
“The Lord is good.” The word “good” is used herein the sense of the
desire to promote happiness. (I have heard that the word “blessed” means
Happy - CY – 2015) The prophet affirms that the Lord” possesses
this disposition — that whilst He is powerful He exerts this power in saving,
not in destroying, “judgment” being “his strange work” (Isaiah 28:21); that
whilst His presence fills all space, and His omniscient eye penetrates all, he is
concerned, in His watchfulness, that none of the creatures He has formed
should lack the blessings His bounteous hand has to bestow; and that as He
is eternal in His duration, so the streams of His bounty shall ever continue to
flow. “The Lord is good.” This inspiring truth was revealed even from the
earliest times, and is inscribed in Scripture upon EVERY PAGE! Abram in the
vision by night (Genesis 15.), Jacob in his weary wanderings (ibid. 28:10-22), and
Moses in “the holy mount” (Exodus 33:19), were alike favored with special revelations
of it. The very thought of God thus woke up within the psalmist the faculty of song,
and led him to strike his lyre and to sing with holy fervor, “Thou, Lord, art good
and ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5); “They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy
great goodness,” etc. (Psalm 145:7); “Oh, taste and see, THAT THE LORD IS
GOOD” etc. (Psalm 34:8). And prophets unite with psalmists in bearing this
testimony (Jeremiah 33:11; Isaiah 63:7). Very different was the conception
formed by the heathen. We think of the tyranny, caprice, and revenge
supposed to characterize heathen deities, the acts of cruelty ascribed to
them, the impurity of heathen rites, and the wearisomeness of heathen
penances, and we rejoice that the voice from heaven has spoken unto us,
and that the truth which heathen worshippers did not know has been so
clearly revealed to us in the bright assurance, “The Lord is good.” “The
Lord is good.” Nature, with her ten thousand voices, bears emphatic
testimony here. Benevolence marks all the operations of the Creator’s
hands. All His works DECLARE HIS GOODNESS! . The majestic sun, the
full-orbed moon, the stars countless in number and sparkling in the vault of
heaven, the refreshing and fertilizing shower, the gentle breeze, the woods
reechoing with the notes of little songsters, the varied landscape, the
carpeted earth, the tinted flowers, all seem to speak and to say, “The Lord
is good.” “O Lord, how excellent is thy Name in all the earth!” (Psalm
8:1); “O Lord, how manifold are thy works”! (Psalm 104:24). “The Lord is
good.” As in creation so in providence, the same testimony is borne.
Specially is this so in the Divine dealings with men, supplying his wants,
ministering to his necessities, scattering blessings in his path, and daily, yea,
hourly, sustaining and preserving him from peril and danger. (We have had
a week of snow – 10 inches or more – I stand on my steps and with
my hand throw food/seed out for the birds – God does this for all
mankind and His creatures, more easily than I can – CY – 2015) His goodness,
too, is seen in that He is “kind even to the unthankful,” and bestows His
flowers not only upon “the just” but also upon “the unjust,” sustaining even
these who live in rebellion against Him. (Matthew 5:45) Nor does the fact that
whilst the ungodly often seem to “prosper in their way,” “waters of a full cup are
wrung out to His people,” militate against the declaration of this text; for
God’s providence takes into account the entire welfare of His servants, and
adverse scenes may be necessary in order to the promotion of this; and, the
discipline accomplished, deliverance shall be theirs, whilst the arm of the
oppressor shall be broken (vs. 12-13). “The Lord is good.” This truth,
impressed upon the pages of the Old Testament, receives its highest
exemplification in the records of the New. In Him whose advent prophets
predicted, and whose work was shadowed forth in type and symbol, and in
the free redemption He has wrought; in the seeking and self-sacrificing love
and the compassionate mercy and grace of God as thus expressed, we see
the noblest, purest, brightest token that “the Lord is good.” In this Divine
goodness, ever watchful to guard us; almighty, and hence equal to every
emergency of our life; immutable too, and therefore an unfailing
dependence amidst the mutations and fluctuations of our earthly lot, — let
us rest with unswerving trust, until at length, every bond sundered, we, as
“the ransomed of the Lord, come to
upon our heads” (Isaiah 35:10), there with adoring gratitude to reflect upon
the memory of His great goodness, and to praise Him for His mercy and grace
and love FOREVERMORE!
God our Stronghold (v. 7)
Great, indeed, is the honor sustained by the man who fulfils the mission of
being a comforter to others, who is enabled to minister to sorrowing and
stricken ones, who watches with them in their Gethsemanes, and by his
gentle words and tender sympathy imparts consolation to their wounded
hearts. “I dwelt as a king in the army; as one that comforteth the
mourners” (Job 29:25). No service makes a greater demand upon a
man than this, yet he has an abundant reward for the self-sacrifice involved,
in beholding the objects of his regard no longer in “ashes,” but raised out
of the dust and made comely; no longer with disfigured countenance
through grief, but radiant with joy; no longer arrayed in gloom, but clad in
the beautiful garments worn on festal days (Isaiah 61:2-3). Nahum,
whilst the minister of condemnation to the Ninevites, was also the minister
of consolation to his own people in their sadness and sorrow. Only a few of
hope. Here he pointed to God as the Stronghold of His servants. “He is a
Stronghold in the day of trouble.” We have here:
this. (Job 5:7) Trials arise; conflicts must be engaged in; the cares and anxieties
of life press; hopes are frustrated; injustice triumphs; slander blights; sickness,
disease, death, prevail; our best and dearest pass away from our view;
graves are opened; the tears fail fast; and immunity from all this is granted
to none, each must pass through dark experiences and encounter adverse
influences: this is the discipline of life.
“In this vain world the days are not all fair;
To suffer is the work we have to do;
And every one has got a cross to bear,
And every one some secret heart, ache too.”
It is implied here that man circumstanced thus needs help. He knows not
how to bear the ills of life unaided and alone. He who has to face the
pitiless storm needs to be robed to resist the stress of adverse weather, and
he who has to confront the foe requires to be armor clad. This need of the
sorrowing heart cannot be supplied by earthly sources. The world’s cheer
then comes to the man like songs to a heavy heart, and he has no taste for
its music. Skepticism can cast no bow of promise across the cloud; whilst
human philosophy may counsel the cherishing of the spirit of indifference,
but which under the pressure it is impossible to cultivate. (God has
provided the armor to deal with this! (Ephesians 6:10-18)
of trouble.” The figure is a very striking one. There stands the castle with
its thick walls and buttresses and its brave defenders ready to resist any
attack. The foes attempt a landing, and the inhabitants, old and young,
hasten to the fortress. The drawbridge is lifted, the moat is filled with
water, and all are safely lodged in the stronghold, and in the day of
visitation are securely guarded and safely kept. Even thus is it with the
good in “the day of trouble.” So David cried, “Thou hast been a Shelter for
me and a
“Light and his Salvation” (Psalm 27:1), his “Pavilion” (ibid. v. 5),
the Solace of his every grief as well as the Center of his every joy. He
loved Him, he trusted Him, he knew that the dearest experience in life is the
experience of God’s love and care. So Hezekiah and his people when
threatened by Sennacherib. The Assyrian army gathered in all its strength
around “the city of
the swelling of the sea, portions of which were crumbling and falling
through the violence of the waves, and the whole of which seemed ready to
be borne entirely away; yet the king and his subjects were calm and
tranquil; they committed their cause to “the Strong One,” and rested in His
protection, and cried with holy fervor, “God is our Refuge and Strength,”
etc. (Isaiah 36.; 37.; Psalm 46.). And let us only realize that Jehovah is to
us a living Presence, the Source of our inspiration, the Strength of our
hearts and our abiding Portion, and we shall give to the winds all craven
fear, and in our darkest seasons shall sing:
“A sure Stronghold our God is He,
A timely Shield and Weapon;
Our Help He’ll be, and. set us free
From every ill can happen.
And were the world with devils filled,
All eager to devour us,
Our souls to fear shall little yield,
They cannot overpower us.”
The Divine Regard for Trusting Hearts (v. 7)
“And He knoweth them that trust in Him.” Something more than mere
acquaintance is involved here; the meaning undoubtedly is that He
intimately and lovingly regards those who commit themselves and their
way unto Him, and will tenderly care for them and promote their weal; yea,
still more, even that He knows and cares thus for such personally and
individually, not overlooking any of them in the multitude, but regarding
thus each and every such trusting heart.
something very wonderful in this thought. Is it not almost past conception
that He who has the direction of all worlds dependent upon Him, and whose
dominions are so vast, should look upon His servants in this small world of
ours, separately and with loving regard, and should interest Himself in our
personal concerns? So too, awed and humbled as we stand in the midst of
the vast and mighty works of God, we feel impelled to cry, “When I
consider thy heavens.” etc (Psalm 8:3) Yet that it is so is abundantly
confirmed in the teachings of Scripture.
Ø See this truth taught in type. Call to remembrance the breastplate of the
Jewish high priest, that splendid embroidered cloth which covered his
breast, and in which were set precious stones bearing the names of the
of the high priest, symbolize the truth that all sincere servants of God are
dear unto Him; that He not only bears them up in His arms with an
almighty strength, but bears them also upon His heart with the most
Ø See this truth taught in prophecy. It is therein declared that there is
nothing so impossible as that God should forget His trusting children.
(Isaiah 49:14-15). And in response to this fear the Lord declared that
this could never be, and that His love and care are even more enduring
than that of mothers. “Can a woman forget her suckling child?,” etc.?
(Isaiah 49:15); “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands”
(ibid. v.16). Undying remembrance surely! The name is inscribed there,
never to be obliterated, a ceaseless memorial before His face.
Ø The New Testament unites with the Old in bearing this bright testimony;
for does not Christ, as the good Shepherd, declare that “He calleth His
own sheep by name, and leadeth them out”? (John 10:3) Do we not
read also the assurance, “The Lord knoweth them that are His”
(II Timothy 2:19)? yea, is it not even affirmed that this Divine
knowledge and care respecting the good shall be PERPETUATED\
EVERMORE (Revelation 7:15-17; 21:3-4)?
STRENGTHENING AND STIMULATING INFLUENCE. This thought,
if more intensely realized by us, would prove helpful in many ways.
Ø It would render us less dependent than we are upon human supports.
What ever anxiety is felt by us at times in reference to the success of our
plans and projects, or for the continuance to us of those in whom our
prosperity, humanly speaking, centers! But if we grasped fully the
assurance here expressed, we should be led to depend less upon earthly
sources and more upon Him who has loved us with an everlasting love;
who, though unseen by us, ever encompasses our path, and who, in the
season of their deepest extremity, will guide and strengthen all who stay
themselves on Him.
Ø It would give increased reality to the sacred exercise of prayer. We too
often draw nigh unto God as though we were seeking One who, because
He is invisible, is necessarily at an infinite distance from us, and who
may or may not regard our cry, and perhaps it is not too much to say
that we sometimes draw nigh without any distinct apprehension of the
Being to whom we profess to come, and whose aid we invoke; but then
we should indeed feel prayer to be a reality and not a merely formal
exercise, and by such intimate and hallowed communion should renew
our spiritual strength.
Ø It would strengthen and aid us in our conflicts with sin. In this strife we
sometimes suffer defeat; and in our endeavors after the Christian
character and life we are painfully conscious at seasons of failure. How
cheering in such circumstances is the thought that all our aspirations after
truth and purity and goodness are known unto our God; that He is
acquainted with all t the circumstances of our case; that He is conscious
we have not designedly strayed from Him; and that He follows us, with
loving regard, in all our wanderings, with a view to bringing us back to
8 “But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the
place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies.”
With an overrunning flood. This may be merely a metaphor to
express the utter devastation which should overwhelm
invasion of a hostile army is often thus depicted (compare Isaiah 8:7;
Daniel 11:26, 40); or it may be an allusion to the inundation which
aided the capture of the city (see note on ch.2:6). Of the place
thereof; i.e. of
understood from the heading (v. 1). (For the utter destruction of
tous epeneiromenous - those that rise up). The Chaldee has a similar reading,
with the meaning that God would exterminate those who rise up against
Him. Darkness shall pursue His enemies. So the Septuagint and Vulgate.
But it is better rendered, He shall pursue His enemies into darkness, so
that they disappear from the earth. If this is the meaning of the clause, it
resembles the termination of many Assyrian inscriptions which record the
defeat of a hostile chieftain: “and no one has seen any trace of him since.”
Consolation in God (vs. 7-8)
Ø Revealed in His Word.
o Made known to Moses (Exodus 33:19; 34:6);
o proclaimed by David (Psalm 52:1; 100:5; 119:68);
o announced by Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:25);
o confirmed by Christ (Matthew 19:17).
Ø Attested by His works.
o In creation, God having made the earth to be an abode of
happiness for innumerable myriads of creatures: “the earth
is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 33:5).
o In providence, by His being good unto all (Psalm 145:9), and
making all things work together for good to his people (Romans
o In grace, by the gift of his Son to be man’s Redeemer (ibid. v.32;
II Corinthians 9:15), and by the various blessings of salvation He
for Christ’s sake bestows upon them:
Ø Experienced by his saints. From the beginning of time downwards,
good men have been partakers of, and delighted to bear testimony to,
the goodness of God, saying, like David, “The Lord is my Shepherd,”
(Psalm 23:1); “He hath dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6);
confessing, like Solomon, “There hath not failed one word of all His
good promise” (I Kings 8:56); acknowledging, like Jacob, “He hath
fed me all my life long unto this day” (Genesis 48:15).
Ø Illustrated by His Son. The highest, clearest, and fullest evidence that
God is good was furnished by JESUS CHRIST, who was good in
Himself (John 10:11), and went about continually doing good (Acts
o To all troubled ones, amongst His believing people (Psalm 46:1;
Proverbs 14:26; Isaiah 25:4), and amongst mankind generally, if
they care to avail themselves of it (Psalm 91:9).
o From every quarter of the globe, from every rank and condition of
society. Jehovah the God, not of the Jew only, but also of the
Gentile (Romans 3:29); not of the rich and learned and outwardly
virtuous, to the exclusion of the poor, ignorant, and degraded, nor
of these to the disadvantage of those — with Him is no respect of
persons (II Chronicles 19:7; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9;
o In every form of calamity — in the day of national adversity,
as had often befallen
6:1-2; 10:9; I Samuel 4:2), and
(II Chronicles 14:9; 20:1; 32:1), and such as was soon to
threaten the latter again, if not from the Assyrian, from the
Babylonian power; in the day of domestic tribulation, such
as overtook Job (1:13-19), David (II Samuel ch.15-18),
Jacob (Genesis 42:36), Jairus (Matthew 9:18), the centurion
(Luke 7:2), the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12), the nobleman
(John 4:46), and the household of Bethany (John 11:1); in the
day of personal affliction, which may be either spiritual like the
distress which fell on David (Psalm 38:3), or material like that
struck Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:1), or mental like that which crushed
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:1), occasional like that which happened to
Manasseh (II Chronicles 33:12), or perpetual like that which was
the lot of Paul (II Corinthians 4:10).
Ø Impregnable. This inevitable, considering what kind of a fortress it is —
Divine, and by what munitions it is guarded, the royal battalion of the
Divine attributes, BY JEHOVAH’S:
o holiness, and
Against this manifestly no weapon can prevail. “Mine omnipotency shall be your
guard. I am God Almighty, your Almighty Protector, your Almighty Benefactor.
What though your enemies are many? More are they that are with you than they
that are against you; for I am with you. What though they are mighty? they are not
almighty,” tc. (Alleine’s ‘Heaven Opened,’ pp. 256, 257).
Ø Sufficient. Every succor the soul needs in its day of trouble is found in
God, and found completely:
o for the soul’s guilt, pardon (Isaiah 1:16; 43:25);
o for its pollution, cleansing (Ezekiel 36:25);
o for its anxiety, peace (Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 11:28);
o for its weakness, strength (Isaiah 45:24);
o for its darkness, light (Psalm 118:27; I Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5);
o for its death, life (Isaiah 25:8; Romans 4:17).
Him.” He knoweth them:
Ø Collectively. All that belong to the body of His believing people He
exactly and always knows, so that He can think and speak of them
as His people (Isaiah 32:18; II Timothy 2:19), as Christ does of those
who are His (John 10:14).
Ø Individually. Not in the mass merely, but separately and singly,
(“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father
will love him, and we will come unto him, and MAKE OUR
ABODE WITH HIM!: (John 14:23) He knows them (II Samuel
7:20; Psalm 139:1-12; I Corinthians 8:3, Hebrews 4:13), as Christ also
calls His own sheep by name (John 10:3).
o Their characters — seeing that He searches the heart (I Kings
8:39; Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 139:2; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8;
I Thessalonians 2:4). Hence He can never err as to their persons.
o Their conditions — since nothing can be hid from Him, neither
person (Jeremiah 23:24; Hosea 5:3) nor thing (Psalm 139:15;
Jeremiah 16:17), but both alike are manifest in His sight
(Hebrews 4:13). Hence He can never mistake as to their
circumstances, but must always understand precisely what
Ø Efficiently. Different from the wicked, whom He knows afar off
(Psalm 138:6), i.e. as persons estranged from and hostile to Himself,
them that put their trust in Him He knows appreciatively and
helpfully, so as to love, cherish, protect, and assist them. “Though
the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly” — to their
persons to love them, to their characters to admire them, to their
wants to supply them, to their souls to save them.
The characters of those for whom this consolation exists are they who put
their trust in God. Beware of the evil fate of them who, being destitute of
faith, are His enemies:
Ø they shall be destroyed by an overrunning flood,
Ø their habitations swept away,
Ø their persons engulfed,
Ø their hopes disappointed,
Ø their projects defeated,
Ø their ambitions scattered to the winds;
they shall be pursued by (or into) darkness (see next homily).
Pursued by (Authorized Version), into (Revised Version), Darkness (v. 8)
Ø The picture. That of a defeated enemy pursued by a victorious general
who comes up behind his foes like the shades of night upon a wearied
and dispirited traveler stumbling forward upon an uncertain and perilous
way, as Abraham fell upon the kings by night and smote them, and
pursued them unto Hobah (Genesis 14:15); or, who drives them on before
him into the gloom of night, where they encounter unforeseen dangers and
as the kings of
Chedorlaomer’s troops (ibid. v.10).
Ø The interpretation. The defeated enemy is the sinner; the pursuing
conqueror is either darkness, meaning those calamities which God has
ordained to follow sin, or God Himself, by whom the sinner shall be
chased into such disastrous overthrow. In either case, with darkness
behind or darkness before — and, in reality, it is both behind and
before — the condition of God’s enemy is pitiful indeed.
“peradventure” about the lot of the ungodly. What is here predicted is not
contingent, but absolute; not what ought to be merely, or what may be
only, but what shall be.
Ø God’s Word hath declared it. “The wicked shall be silent in darkness,”
etc. (I Samuel 2:9); “The eyes of the wicked shall fail,” etc. (Job 11:20);
“He shall be driven from light into darkness AND CHASED OUT OF
THE WORLD!” (Job 18:18); “Let their way be darkness and slippery
places” (Psalm 35:6); “The candle of the wicked shall be put out”
(Proverbs 24:20); “The children of the kingdom [who have become
God’s enemies] will be cast into outer darkness,” etc. (Matthew 8:12) —
“And the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
Ø God’s character requires it. If His love and mercy make it sure that
none who return to Him will be rejected (Isaiah 55:7; Jeremiah 3:22;
Hosea 14:4), His holiness and justice render it equally imperative that
the impenitent and unbelieving, the rebellious and disobedient,
should be punished with everlasting destruction from FROM THE
PRESENCE OF GOD AND THE GLORY OF HIS POWER.”
(Romans 1:18; I Corinthians 6:9-10; I Peter 3:12).
Ø Sin itself ensures it. Every action that a man performs carries in its
own bosom its reward or punishment., “The wages of sin is death”
just as certainly as “the fruit of holiness” is EVERLASTING
LIFE! (Romans 6:21-23).
fitting lot for those who in their lifetime have loved the darkness rather
than the light.
Ø The law of moral retribution demands that this shall be so.
“Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). He
that walks in darkness here cannot hope to walk in light yonder; he who
does the deeds of darkness on earth will not likely begin to do deeds
of light in heaven.
Ø The character of the wicked makes it certain that this shall be so. No
being can act otherwise than in accordance with its nature. Mere change
of place suffices not to alter one’s nature. No reason to think that
passing from one form of existence to another will effect any radical
transmutation of one’s being. Hence they who have died in darkness
will continue to DWELL IN DARKNESS!
(Hebrews 12:14). “Walk as children of the light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
Opposite Types of Human Character
Opposite Lines of Divine Procedure (vs. 7-8)
“The Lord is good, a Stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth
them that trust in Him. But with an over-runing flood He will make an utter
end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies.” The
previous verses were introductory to the subject which the prophet now
takes up, namely, the safe keeping of the Jews by Jehovah, in view of the
tremendous attack the King of Nineveh was about to make on their country
their city, and also to announce the terrible doom of
capital of the Assyrian foe. In these verses there is a very striking and
(1) between the characters of men, and
(2) between the lines of Divine procedure in relation to them.
Ø Here we have the friends of God. There is here a twofold description
o “They trust in Him.” This is the universal character of the good
in all ages. Instead of placing their chief confidence in the ever-
changing creature, they center it in the immutable Creator. They
trust His love ever to provide for them, His wisdom as their
infallible guide, and His power as their strength and their shield.
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7)
o He acknowledges them. “And He knoweth.” This means that He
recognizes them as His loyal subjects and loving children, His
people. In Hosea 13:5 He saith, “I did know thee in the
wilderness,” which means, “I did acknowledge thee, and took
care of thee!” The words imply the cognizance of special sympathy
with the just. He knows them; they are always in His mind, His
heart. “Can a mother forget her sucking child,” etc.?
Ø Here we have the enemies of God. “Darkness shall pursue His
enemies.” The men who misrepresent our characters, oppose our
expressed wishes, seek to undermine our influence, and are ever in
association with those who are opposed to us — such men, whatever
may be their professions of regard and friendship, we are bound to
regard as enemies. Is it not so with men in relation to God? Those who
pursue a course of life directly opposite to the moral laws of Heaven,
whatever they may say, are His enemies. How numerous are God’s
enemies! These two great classes comprehend the human race today.
The race may be divided into very numerous classes on certain
adventitious principles, but on moral grounds there are but two —
God’s friends and God’s enemies.
is very different towards these two opposite classes of men.
Ø He affords protection to the one. When the hosts of Sennacherib were
said to the people, “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor
dismayed for the King of
with him: for there be more with us than with him: with him is
an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and
to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words
of Hezekiah King of
God is always the Refuge and Strength of His people in times of
tribulation. As a Refuge, He is:
o Ever accessible. However suddenly the storm may come, the
refuge is at your side, the door is open. “I will never leave thee,
nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5)
o Ever secure. The sanctuary once entered, no injury can follow.
Amidst the most violent convulsions of nature, the wreck of
worlds, the shatterings of the universe, there is no endangering
the security of those who avail themselves of this refuge.
Ø He sends destruction to the other. “But with an overrunning flood he
will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue
His enemies.” The image of a flood which breaks through every barrier
is not unfrequently used in the Bible to represent overwhelming armies
of invasion. The primary allusion here, no doubt, is to the way which
in the river, we are told, broke down the wall for twenty furlongs. The
rolling tide burst its barriers, bore away the defenses of the city, and
opened an easy and unexpected way for the invading armies. On all
finally impenitent men destruction must come as irresistibly as a flood.
The destruction, however, of existence, conscience, or moral obligations
would be the destruction of all that would make existence worth having.
CONCLUSION. The grand question of every man is — How do I stand
in relation to God? If I am His friend, His procedure is in my favor, it
guards me and blesses me every step. It I am His enemy, His procedure is
not in my favor, not because He changes, but because I put myself against
Him, and it must be my ruin if I change not. As He proceeds in His
beneficent and undeviating march, He showers blessings on the good, and
Nmiseries on the evil, AND THIS FOR EVERF!
9 “What do ye imagine against the LORD? He will make an utter end:
affliction shall not rise up the second time.” The prophet suddenly addresses both
Jews and Assyrians, encouraging the former by the thought that God can perform
what He promises, and warning the latter that their boasting (compare Isaiah 10:9,
etc.; 36:20) was vain. What do ye imagine against the Lord? Quid
cogitatis contra Dominum? (Vulgate). This rendering regards the question
as addressed to the Assyrians, demanding of them what it is that they dare
to plot against God; do they presume to fight against Him, or to fancy that
His threats will not be accomplished? But the sentence is best translated,
What think ye of the Lord? Τί λογίζεσθε ἐπὶ τὸν Κύριον – Ti logizesthe epi
ton Kurion - What devise ye against the Lord? (Septuagint). This is addressed
not only to the Jews in the sense, “Do ye think that He will not accomplish His
denunciation is repeated from v. 8 to denote the absolute certainty of the
doom. Affliction shall not rise up the second time. The Assyrians shall
never again have the power of oppressing
there shall be no repetition of Sennacherib’s invasion. Septuagint, Οὐκ ἐκδικήσει
δὶς ἐπιτοαυτὸ ἐν θλίψει - Ouk ekdikaesei dis epitoauto en thlipsei – affliction
will not rise up a second time. Non vindicabit bis in idipsura
(Jerome). From this text the Fathers take occasion to discuss the question
how it is that God does not punish twice for the same sin.
10 “For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are
drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.”
While they be folden together as thorns. The clause is
conditional: “Though they be interwined as thorns.” Though the Assyrians
present an impenetrable front, which seems to defy attack. (For the
comparison of a hostile army to briers and thorns, see Isaiah 10:17;
27:4) And while they are drunken as drunkards; and
though they be drunken with their drink, regarding themselves as
invincible, and drenched with wine, and given up to luxury and excess.
There may be an allusion to the legend current concerning the destruction
repulsed, the King of Nineveh was so elated that he gave himself up to
festivity, and allowed all his army to indulge in the utmost license, and that
it was while they were occupied in drunkenness and feasting they were
surprised by the Medes under Cyaxares, and their city taken. An account of
such a feast, accompanied with sketches from the monuments, is given in
fate of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1, etc.). They shall be devoured as
stubble fully dry; like worthless refuse, fit only for burning (Exodus 15:7;
Isaiah 5:24; Joel 2:5; Obadiah 1:18). The Septuagint renders this verse
differently, “Because to its foundation it shall be dried up
(χερσωθήσεται – chersothaesetai - redigentur in vepres, Jerome), and as bind
weed (σμῖλαξ - smilax) intertwined it shall be devoured, and as stubble fully dry.”
Sin (vs. 9-10)
“What do ye imagine against the Lord? He will make an utter end:
affliction shall not rise up the second time. For while they be folden
together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be
devoured as stubble fully dry.” These words suggest a few thoughts
GOD. It is something directed against the Lord: it is opposition to the
laws, purposes, and spirit of God. “The carnal mind is enmity against God;
for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).
Ø The basest ingratitude; for to Him we owe everything.
Ø The greatest injustice; for He has supreme claims to our devotion
Ø Impious presumption. Frail worms raising their heads against the
do ye imagine against the Lord?” Sin is not language, however bad; not
actions, however apparently wicked. Words and deeds are no more sin
than branches are the sap of the tree. They are the mere effects and
expression of sin. Sin is in the mind — in the deep secret, mute thoughts of
the heart. God’s legislation extends to thought, reaches it in the
profoundest abyss. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs
23:7). Christ, in His sermon on the mount, taught this. Adultery, robbery,
murder, are all perpetrated on the arena of the heart. How necessary the
prayer, “Create within us clean hearts, O God”! (Psalm 51:10)
OMNIPOTENCE. “What do ye imagine against the Lord? He will make an
utter end: affliction shall not rise up a second time.” “How mad is your
attempt, O Assyrians, to resist so powerful a God! What can ye do against
such an Adversary, successful though ye have been against all other
adversaries? Ye imagine ye have to do merely with mortals, and with a
weak people, and that so you will gain an easy victory; but you have to
encounter God, the Protector of His people.” In opposing Him:
Ø He will completely ruin you. “He will make an utter end: affliction
shall not rise up the second time.” The literal meaning of this is that
the overthrow of Sennacherib’s host was so complete that
affliction caused by this invasion would never be repeated. The man
who opposes God will be utterly ruined.
Ø He will completely ruin you, whatever the kind of resistance you may
offer. “For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are
drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.”
You may be combined like a bundle of thorns, offering resistance;
you may have all the daring and temerity of drunkards, albeit you
“shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.” All this was realized in
the destruction of his enemy. Oh the folly of sin! Fighting against
God is a mad fight. “What do ye imagine against the Lord,” then?
11 “There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the
LORD, a wicked counselor.” The reason of the destruction and of the punishment
is told. There is one come out of thee.
refer the words entirely to Sennacherib and his impious threats, but may
take them generally as expressing the arrogant impiety of the Assyrians and
their attitude towards Jehovah. A wicked counselor; literally, a counselor
of Belial; i.e. of worthlessness. The expression, perhaps primarily applied
to Sennacherib, also regards the plans prepared by the Assyrians for
destroying the people of God, a type of the world arrayed against piety.
In vs. 12-15, he destruction of
12 “Thus saith the LORD; Though they be quiet, and likewise many,
yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through.
Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.”
Thus saith the lord. An expression used to introduce a
solemn declaration. Though they (the Assyrians) be quiet. Shalem has
this meaning elsewhere, as Genesis 34:21; but this is unsuitable here,
where it must be translated, “in full strength,” “unimpaired,” “complete,”
like the thorn hedge in v. 10. Vulgate, Si perfecti fuerint. Though they be
unbroken in strength, and likewise (on that account) many in number.
Septuagint, Τάδε λέγει Κύριος κατάρχων ὑδάτων πολλῶν – Tade legei
Kurios katarchon hudaton pollon – Thus saith the Lord, ruling over many
waters. So the Syriac and Arabic. Jerome interprets “the waters” to mean the
heavenly powers (Psalm 148:4). Yet thus (though such is their state) shall they
be cut down. The verb is used of the mowing of a field or the shearing of sheep,
and implies complete destruction. When he shall pass through; better, and he shall
pass away. The number is changed, but the same persons are meant,
spoken of as one to show their insignificance and complete annihilation.
Septuagint “Thus shall they be dispersed [διασταλήσουται – diastalaesoutai –
dividentur, Jerome], and the report of thee shall no more be heard therein.” The
following clause is not translated. Though I have afflicted thee. The Lord
the times of Ahaz and Hezekiah (II Kings 16:18; II Chronicles 28:20; ch.32.).
I will afflict thee no more; according to the promise in v. 9. This is further
confirmed in what follows.
13 “For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy
bonds in sunder.” His yoke. The yoke of
metaphor of “yoke” denoting subjugation, compare Leviticus 26:13;
Jeremiah 27:2; Ezekiel 34:27.) Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:8) seems
to use these words of Nahum to announce the deliverance of
captivity. Burst thy bonds in sunder; by the final overthrow of the
Assyrian power (Psalm 2:3; Jeremiah 2:20).
14 “And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, that
no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I
cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy
grave; for thou art vile.” Concerning thee. The prophet addresses the Assyrian,
and announces God’s purpose concerning him. That no more of thy name be
sown. There is no special reference to Sennacherib in this or the next
clause, but the prophet means that the Assyrian people and name shall
become extinct. Out of the house of thy gods (Isaiah 37:38, where
the murder of Sennacherib in the
account of the religion of the Assyrians will be found in Layard, ‘
and its Remains,’ vol. 2 ch. 7. Graven image; carved out of wood or
stone. Molten; cast in metal. The two terms comprise every kind of idol, as
in Deuteronomy 27:15; Judges 17:3. The Assyrians used to destroy
the images of the gods worshipped by conquered nations (II Kings
19:18). Bonomi (‘
soldiers cutting up the image of some foreign deity, and carrying away the
pieces. So should it now be done unto their gods. I will make thy grave. I
will consign thee, O Assyrian, and thy idols to oblivion (Ezekiel 32:22,
etc.). It is not, “I will make it, the temple, thy grave,” as those who see a
reference to the death of Sennacherib (II Kings 19:37) render it; but, “I
prepare thy grave” — I doom thee to destruction. The reason is given: For
thou art vile; quia inhonoratus es (Vulgate): ὅτι ταχεῖς – hoti tacheis - for they are
swift (Septuagint). The word is also translated “light,” weighed in the
balances, and found wanting, as Daniel 5:27.
A Wicked Counselor (vs. 9-14)
Ø The Assyrian power. Represented in Hezekiah’s reign by Sennacherib;
in Manasseh’s (Nahum’s time) by Esar-haddon or Assurbanipal; in each
successive reign by the ruling sovereign.
The unbelieving world. Of this
James 4:4). (In my
day it has been
descendants time, at the rate we are going, it will be the United
thing standing in our way, since Satan is leading our leaders
and those who like to have it so [Jeremiah 5:31] by the nose.
CY – 2015)
Ø The unrenewed heart. The carnal mind is enmity against God
(Romans 8:7). (Carnality is one of the main tools Satan is
using on the
Ø Powerful. The Assyrian in Nahum’s age was “in full strength” (v. 12),
a well organized and firmly knit confederacy like “tangled thorns”
(v. 10), which were dangerous to touch, and a multitudinous people
12) in comparison with which
elements of power coexist in the unbelieving world force (Ephesians
2:2), order (ibid. ch. 6:12), numbers (I John 5:19) — in comparison with
transgressor also not unfrequently exhibits an energy, a determination,
and a capacity to enlist others upon his side which are lacking in the
followers of God and Christ.
Ø Self-reliant. Like drunkards drenched in drink (v. 10), the Assyrians
were foolishly confident, and believed themselves to be invincible. In
like manner, the unbelieving world in general and the individual sinner in
particular, are of opinion that they are more than sufficient to cope with
any form of calamity that may assail them, and to ensure their own safety
against any foe, bodily or ghostly, earthly or unearthly, human or Divine.
o The Assyrian court was notorious for its gluttony and revelry,
especially in the days of Assurbanipal. The world also runs to
strange excess of riot in eating and drinking (Romans 13:13;
I Peter 4:4).
o The Assyrian people were worshippers of idols (v. 14); and the
world of today has its idols before which it delights to prostrate
itself and present homage.
o The Assyrian kings were tyrannical, cruel, and oppressive; and so
also is the world.
Ø Evil. “He counselleth wickedness” (v. 11) — in particular oppression
the people of Jehovah (v. 13). Such was the aim of
unbeliever towards the believer.
Ø Impious. His wicked counsels are also directed “against the Lord”
9, 11). This was the spirit of
in the time of Hezekiah (II Kings 18:28-35; II Chronicles 32:11-17;
Isaiah 36:7, 14-15, 18-20; 37:10-13); and of Herod, Pontius Pilate, the
Gentile world, and the unbelieving Jews in the days of Christ (Psalm
2:1; Acts 4:25-28); and is the spirit still of the unrenewed heart
Ø Vain. The fruits of a corrupt “imagination” (vs. 9, 11), they will
prove idle and worthless.
Pilate, of the Jews and of the Gentiles against the holy Child Jesus;
and so will terminate in shame those of wicked men generally
against the truth. (“But they shall proceed no further: for their
folly shall be manifested to all men…..” II Timothy 3:9)
Certain. The decree had gone forth against
“The Lord hath given commandment concerning thee, that no more
of thy seed be sown” (v. 14). A similar decree has gone forth against
the ungodly world (II Peter 3:7; I John 2:15-17), and against
unbelievers as individuals (Philippians 3:19; I Thessalonians 1:9).
second affliction should be required to destroy them, or
be able to proceed from them against
the Assyrians were to be “destroyed utterly as dry stubble” (v. 10),
“to be cut down and pass away,” so that Jehovah should no more
(at least by their hand) afflict His people (v. 12); the royal house was
to come to an end, no more of that name being sown (v. 14); the very
of Assyria and
More complete ruin was inconceivable; so will all the enemies of God
and Christ be utterly destroyed (Jeremiah 12:17; Psalm 37:38; Matthew
21:41; II Peter 2:12).
Ø The danger of forming designs against either God or His people.
Ø The wisdom of taking warning in time before it is too late.
Ø The certainty that, when God begins the work of judgment, He will
also make an end.
15 “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good
tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts,
perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee;
he is utterly cut off.” The second chapter commences here in the Hebrew and
Syriac; the Anglican follows the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Chaldee
Versions. This seems most agreeable to the method of the prophecy,
wherein threat is succeeded by promise, denunciation of the enemy by
declaration of comfort to
here vs. 14 and 15). The prophet announces the joy with
receives the news of the overthrow of
mountains, etc. Isaiah (Isaiah 52:7) uses these words to proclaim the
coming of Messiah (compare Isaiah 40:9; Romans 10:15). The
messengers come from the East across the mountains of
announcing the fall of
Church. There may be an allusion to the custom of spreading tidings by
beacon fires. Keep
thy solemn feasts.
observation of her solemnities, which were interrupted during the enemy’s
occupation of the country, or which could not be properly attended by the
deliverance, and perform the vows which she made unto the Lord in the
time of peril. The wicked (Hebrew, Belial) shall no more pass through
thee. Belial is here the adversary, the opposing army (see v. 11).
The first clause of this verse is applied in Isaiah 52:7 to the message of peace brought
to the world through Jesus Christ. There are three things here worthy of note.
that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.” Glorious to the ears of
the men of
was destroyed, that the Assyrian hosts were crushed, and now peace was
come. A proclamation of peace is indeed “good tidings.” A proclamation
of national peace is “good tidings.” What country that has been engaged in
a bloody campaign, in which its commerce has been all but ruined, the
flower of its manhood destroyed, and its very existence imperiled, does
not hail with rapture the proclamation of peace? But the proclamation of
moral peace is still more delightful. Paul quotes these words, and applies
them to the ministers of the gospel. “How beautiful are the feet of them
that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
(Romans 10:15). As there is no war so painful, so terrible, as a moral
war, the war of a soul with itself, with the moral instincts of the universe,
and with the will of its God; so no tidings are so delightful to it as the
tidings of peace, peace brought through Jesus Christ, the “peace that
passeth all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) “My peace I give unto you,…
not as the world giveth give I unto you.” (John 14:27)
vows.” During the Assyrian invasion the inhabitants
from all access to the metropolis; now they would be at liberty to proceed
thither as usual, in order to observe their religious rites, and they are here
commanded to do so. Observe:
Ø War disturbs religious observances. War, which had been called the
totality of all evil, is an enemy to the progress of religion. It not merely
arrests the march of the cause of truth and godliness, but throws it back.
It is said in Acts 9:31, “Then had the Churches rest throughout all
Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking
in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were
multiplied.” The storm of persecution which Stephen had invoked
and Saul aided had abated, and the Christian religion advanced.
As peace in nature is the time to cultivate your ground and sow
your seed, peace in the nation is the time to promote growth in
religion and virtue.
Ø In war men are disposed to make religious vows. When dangers thicken
around, and death seems close at hand, the soul naturally turns to
Heaven, and vows that, if life is preserved, it shall be devoted to God.
When peace comes they are called upon to “perform” their “vows.”
But alas! how often are such vows neglected! and we are told
(Ecclesiastes 5:5) it is better not to vow, than to vow and not pay.
Worship is a duty ever binding.
through thee; he is utterly cut off.” Here is encouragement. Sennacherib is
time will come with all good men when their enemies shall be utterly
vanquished. “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”
(Romans 16:20) What a blessed time for the world, when the wicked shall
no more “pass through” it! This will be its millennium.
“Peace is the end of all things — tearless peace;
Who by the immovable basis of God’s throne
Takes her perpetual stand; and, of herself
Prophetic, lengthens age by age her scepter.
The world shall yet be subjugate to love,
The final form religion must assume;
Led like a lion, rid with wreathed reins,
In some enchanted island, by a child.”
Glad Tidings for God’s People (v. 15)
Ø The historical allusion. The “wicked one” whom Nahum represents as
cut off” was the power of
annihilation he has just predicted (v. 14), and now depicts as
Ø The spiritual application. Capable of being applied to every
deliverance wrought by Jehovah for
deliverance from Babylonian captivity, it is specially true of that
emancipation which was wrought for mankind sinners by the
destruction of the Church’s greatest foe, the prince of the power
of the air, over whom Christ triumphed through His cross.
This the first note of the gospel message that Christ hath
destroyed death, and him that hath the power of death, the devil
Ø The scene depicted. The prophet represents heralds as appearing on the
ancient and terrible enemy she feared was overthrown, and could no
more invade her land or oppress her people, and that henceforth she
might dismiss all anxiety and be at peace.
Ø The sense intended. The prophet wished to convey the thought that
once the power of
without fear of being disturbed by hostile invasion.
The symbol interpreted. As the destruction of
peace for God’s believing people. This the second note of the gospel
message. After the work of redemption the publication of peace
peace messengers upon
the mountains of
message, so the duty of the New Testament Church is to recognize
Him whom God hath sent, and to receive His gospel of peace.
Ø The feasts referred to. These were the three principal feasts enjoined
of the nation’s deliverance from
Harvest, in which the first-fruits of the field were presented to the Lord;
and the Feast of Ingathering, when the labors of the year were happily
concluded by the safe storing of the well filled sheaves. In addition were
other feasts which need not now be mentioned. The above named three
were pre-eminently gladsome in their causes and their forms. They gave
expression to the nation’s thankful joy in thinking of:
o the Divine mercifulness,
o the Divine faithfulness, and
o the Divine goodness —
first, in sparing them and making them a nation; next, in faithfully
keeping with them His covenant of seed time and harvest; and,
thirdly, in making such abundant provision for their wants, of all
which they had been made partakers. Hence they fitly stood as types
of THE GREAT FEAST OF SALVATION to which God’s believing
people are invited in consequence of CHRIST’S ATONING AND
REDEEMING WORK and in which God’s mercy, faithfulness, and
goodness are expressed — that feast of fat things full of marrow, and of
wines on the lees well refined, of which Isaiah speaks (25:6), that feast to
which Christ alluded in His parables of the wedding banquet (Matthew
22:2) and of the great supper (Luke 14:16-24), and that feast which is
symbolized in the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 5:8).
Ø The invitation given.
o To whom addressed? To Judah, God’s ancient people; and,
while in one sense the overtures of the gospel are extended to all,
in another they belong only to them who believe and are God’s
people through faith in Christ Jesus.
o On what based? Not on any merit or good works on the part of
but solely on the fact that Jehovah had done so; and the people of
banquet of salvation, and to celebrate their New Testament feast,
not because of any worthiness in themselves, or because of any
share they have had in overthrowing their arch foe (since they have
had none), but exclusively because their adversary hath been
destroyed for them — because God’s right hand alone hath gotten
Him the victory (Psalm 98:1).
A becoming duty. The payment of
of the engagements she had come under to be faithful and obedient to
Jehovah, observing His worship, and keeping His commandments. To do
this had been her duty from the first, though she had often failed in it; to
return to it now after experiencing Jehovah’s mercy was in the highest
A necessary duty. Without this
deliverance, her outward observance would be insincere and hypocritical,
and her inner life would be practically unchanged. So the highest evidence
a soul can give of its thankfulness for Divine mercy, of its own heartfelt
sincerity, and of its genuine conversion and regeneration, is obedience.
Ø An agreeable duty. What should be easier or more delightful than
service which springs from love? So to gracious souls God’s
commandments are not grievous, and hearts constrained by the love of
Christ find that his yoke is easy and His burden is light. (I John 5:3;
I Corinthians 5:14; Matthew 11:30)
Antagonism to God and His Rule (vs. 8-15)
Nahum doubtless prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah, and shortly
after the defeat of Sennacherib by the destroying angel of the Lord
(Isaiah 37:36). That memorable event, it would appear, was present to
his mind and is referred to in these verses, although his thoughts were also
carried on to the future and to the complete and final overthrow of the
Assyrian power in the destruction of the capital, and which forms the
theme of the succeeding chapters. The latter part of this first chapter may
be regarded as introductory to the description to be given of the ruin of
which had recently transpired and darker events yet to come were
associated together. The significance of the conflicts waged by Sennacherib
against Hezekiah lies very materially in the fact that his enterprises were
designedly antagonistic to the God of the Hebrews. It is not simply an
ambitious sovereign seeking to extend his dominions and to spread his
conquests that is presented to us here, but a mortal man, invested with
regal honor, resolved upon measuring his strength with that of the
Supreme Ruler. The historical records we possess bearing upon the career
of this Assyrian king present him to us as one who thought he could
“outwit Divine wisdom, and conquer omnipotence itself” (II Kings
19:10-13; Isaiah 36:13-20; - both chapters are identical – CY – 2015);
and viewed thus they become suggestive to us of important teachings
bearing upon that moral antagonism to God and His authority which
unhappily prevails in every age. Concerning this opposition to the
Most High and His rule, note:
HEART. Evil thoughts and vain imaginings, self-sufficiency and self-
conceit, revellings and drunkenness, all betoken an evil heart, and these are
here associated with the action of
wicked counselor” (v. 11), etc. So in every age. Men with hearts
alienated from all that is true and right desire not the knowledge of His
ways, and say unto Him, “Depart from us;” and “they set themselves
against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their
bands asunder, and let us cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2-3).
ACTIVE OPERATIONS OF EVIL MEN. As here:
Ø Unprincipled leaders are forthcoming (v. 11).
Ø Combinations are formed. “Though they be entire, and likewise
many” (v. 12); “While they be folden together” (v. 10).
Ø Plots are conceived. “They imagine evil against the Lord” (v. 11).
Mischief is wrought. “The
yoke” of Assyria was upon
because of the threatened invasion the hearts of the good Hezekiah
and his subjects failed, and were in sore distress. The Assyrians
were as “thorns” to
to God and to the principles of His rule, are ever a blight and a curse.
DISHONOR. In the case of
Ø Divinely inflicted. “I will make thy grave” (v. 14).
Ø Sudden — so far as the proud, vaunting Sennacherib and his hosts
were concerned (Isaiah 37:36).
Ø Complete. “He will make an utter end” (v. 9).
Ø Permanent. “The Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee,
that no more of thy name be sown” (v. 14). “So let all thine enemies
perish, O Lord; but let them that love Him be as the sun when he
goeth forth in his might” (Judges 5:31).
Spiritual Redemption Symbolized (vs, 8-15)
The expression in v. 11, “a wicked counselor,” is rendered in the margin
“counselor of Belial.” “Belial” is used in the Old Testament to indicate
sensual profligacy (Judges 19:22; 22:13; I Samuel 2:12); and in the New
Testament as a synonym for Satan (II Corinthians 6:15). The term was
here (v. 11) applied to Sennacherib; and the deliverance of
the vauntings and oppressions of this mighty and evil Assyrian monarch
described in these verses (8-15) may be taken as serving to illustrate the
spiritual deliverance of men. There is thus suggested —
himself the vassal of this heathen power, and his attempts to free himself
from the yoke had only resulted in his fetters being fastened the more
securely; until now, by Divine interposition, the power of the oppressor
was broken (v. 13). So sin yielded to becomes a tyranny, It gains an
ever-increasing power over its subjects. The fetters of habit become forged
about them that they cannot release themselves. There is no slavery like
that of sin — only the grace of God can sunder the fetters and free us from
the galling yoke; but “made free” thus, we become “free indeed” (John
8:34-36). The chains of sin [habit] are too light to be felt until they are
too strong to be broken. (If a man would get as angry at the domination
of sin as of domination of his fellow man, this would be a much better
world! Why is this? Our pride is more influential than the Word of God?
The same for slavery to drugs, alcohol, sensuality! CY – 2015)
second time” (v. 9); “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no
more” (v. 12). The promise was conditional. The people humbled
themselves before God in penitence, and it was implied that they should
not be afflicted again if they continued in God’s ways. In this they failed —
the reformation proved but partial; still, God never afflicted them again
there accompanies this deliverance from sorrow. The character of life’s
trials become changed to the good; they are not looked upon as harsh
inflictions, but as lovingly designed by the All-wise and All-gracious.
solemn feasts, perform thy vows” (ver. 15). Whilst under the yoke of
these could be renewed and enjoyed without restraint, and the ransomed of
the Lord could return to
Lord, and keep the sacred festivals. Spiritual freedom is with a view to
holy and joyous service. The Emancipator becomes enthroned in the hearts
of the enfranchised; they love Him supremely; His service is their delight;
they become bound to Him in loving loyalty and devotion forever.
GLADNESS. (v. 15.) Let the countenance be lighted up with joy as the
announcement of the “good tidings” is made. With a glad heart let the
proclamation be published that, through the abounding mercy and grace of
God, it is possible for sinful men to become delivered from condemnation
and freed from the slavery of sinful habit, and to soar to that higher and
holier realm where God is, and to exchange the miserable chains of evil for
those golden fetters which only bind to the holy and the heavenly. There
can be no more exalted or joyous service than that engaged in by the man
who stands upon the mountains ringing this great bell, that, guided by its
sound, the imperiled traveler may make his way across the snowy wastes,
to find in Christ a sure and safe retreat from the storm and tempest.
“Behold upon the mountains,” etc. (Isaiah 40:9).
When Nahum uttered these fearful predictions in relation to
in unabated splendor, and stood in unabated strength; but after a very few generations
passed away the predicted ruin came, and
the oblivion of centuries. Have faith in the Word of God. Heaven and earth
shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of His Word shall fail to be accomplished.
(Matthew 5:18; 24:35)
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If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.
I have not got chapters 2 or 3 completed. If interested, I recommend
www.biblehub.com and type in Pulpit Commentary Nahum 2, etc.
and it will be same material but in a different format. I hope to
complete Nahum 2 and 3 in the future. CY - 2015