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God’s Vengeance on His People’s Enemies. Deliverance for Judah
1, 2. Superscription: ’Oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of prophesying of Nahum the Elkoshite.’ A. theological introduction describing a theophatty or a coming of Jehovah to judgment. Cp. the brief statements in à similar spirit, Amos 1:2; Micah 1:3, Micah 1:4. The whole should be printed as verse:
A jealous and avenging God is Jehovah; Jehovah is avenging and wrathful; Jehovah taketh vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserveth wrath for His enemies.
3-6. The prophet sketches the character of Jehovah in terms suitable to his general theme; it is the vengeance of God upon Israel’s enemies, who are also His enemies, that we are here invited to consider: Cp. Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24. Note the terrible manner of His appearance when He comes to judgment.
3. He is slow to anger, and great in power, yet He will not absolve the guilty, etc.
The Lord hath his way] ’The meaning is not so much that Jehovah uses the whirlwind and storm as the vehicle of His movement as that these commotions and terrors in nature are created by His presence. The splendid words clouds are the dust of his feet, like the others, “the earth is His footstool,” need to be conceived not explained’ (A.B. Davidson). The doings of God in history (Psalms 114) and His appearances in nature’s most awful moods are mingled in this sublime description of His irresistible strength and impetuous fury.
7-15. Jehovah will completely destroy the enemies of His people.
7. Bead, ’Jehovah is good towards those who hope in Him. A stronghold in the time of need.’ An everlasting truth, but particularly appropriate in times of great shaking: cp. Psalms 25:3; Psalms 37:9. In the following vv. the text is difficult; if we follow AV we must find a reference to Nineveh.
8. The place thereof] If this poem is an original part of the book we expect such references, though it comes abruptly here: cp. Nahum 1:14. On this view, the line of thought is the opposition of Jehovah to the proud oppressor and his favour towards judgment, with emphasis laid on the radical nature of the judgment.
9, 10. ’Not twice does He take vengeance on His enemies; He makes a full end of them for ever.’ You cannot easily set fire to the damp, closely packed thorns, but the fire of His vengeance will burn them up as dry stubble.
13-15. These vv., along with Nahum 2:2, must be grouped together. Read the last of these four vv., as in RV, ’For Jehovah bringeth again the excellency of Jacob,’ etc. In these four vv. we have evidently an address to Judah; she is called upon to rejoice over her ancient foe to keep the feasts and carry out the vows made in the days of sorrowful oppression: cp. Isaiah 52:7. Nahum 1:14 is a denunciation of the Assyrian.
The whole chapter is difficult from the linguistic point of view; the technical problems have called forth much ingenuity, but the main outline is clear. Jehovah is coming to judgment; this Coming means a day of terror and darkness for the proud oppressors, but the lowly believers shall find new hope. When freed from narrow patriotism and sectarian bitterness this is a great and abiding truth; behind it there lies a keen faith in the true meaning of history and a righteous order of the world.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Nahum 1". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany