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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Nahum 3

Verses 1-19

Chapter 3

Beyond Healing

Of Nineveh’s doom we have been reading. The last chapter continues the subject, and tells us that doom is irretrievable. But it does more. Its first four verses give us Jehovah’s terrible indictment, and show us why unsparing judgment had to fall upon it.

A city of blood, full of lies and robbery! Such is the divine description. All its glory was stained by the iniquity of its people (ver. 1). In cruel warfare and sanguinary carnage its haughty inhabitants delighted. The sight of armies rushing together in battle was their joy.25 Therefore others should exult over them when they fell beneath the power of their victorious enemies (vers. 2, 3). Uncleanness abounded; the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, prostitution and sorcery, were openly carried on, and linked with the worship of their demon-gods (ver. 4). Therefore was Jehovah’s face against them, and He had determined to make them a gazing-stock and a warning to all who should follow their pernicious ways (vers. 5, 6).

It was but a little before that their great king, Sargon, is reputed to have destroyed No Amon (called in the A. V. “populous No”), and carried her people into captivity. But Nineveh was equally guilty, and must herself become a prey. In that day the surrounding nations would take up a taunt against her, crying, “Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her?” Her course had left her friendless and alone in the day of the Lord’s anger. Imperious and vindictive, she sought only her own agrandizement, and in no sense the welfare of subject cities and provinces. So she must learn that “righteousness [alone] exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). No human power can long exist that persistently practises and encourages corruption and violence. The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men whether they own Him or not; and He puts down one people and exalts another at His own pleasure, taking into account all of their ways (vers. 7-10).

The 11th verse seems again to refer to the last drunken orgy, to which, history tells us, the whole city was given up on the night of its awful fall.

Unable in anywise to resist the invading hordes, the very strongholds poured forth their inebriated hosts for destruction like a fig tree casting her first ripe figs into the eater’s mouth when shaken (vers. 12, 13). Thus her ruin was complete in the day when the fire devoured her palaces (vers. 14, 15).

Eaten up as green leaves are destroyed by the locusts, so was Nineveh’s splendor to have an end. And if any might apply the locust-figure to the Assyrians themselves, they had become but as an insect host benumbed by cold, unable to pursue their prey, and who, when warmed by the rays of the sun, flee away, “and their place is not known where they are” (vers. 16, 17).

So should perish Saracus, grandson of the famous Esar-haddon, Assyria’s last king, together with all his nobles and his people; for the God whom he knew not, nor cared to know, had solemnly declared, “There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit (or, report) of these shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” (vers. 18, 19).

Nineveh has fallen to rise no more forever. Her mighty men have passed off the scene, together with all their guilt and sins, never more to be numbered among the living till that day

“When the sun is old, and the stars are cold,

And the leaves of the judgment-book unfold.”

But in the crisis of the last days a fierce and unholy power will occupy the land once dominated by Huzzab on the Tigris (chap. 2:7), who will have the traits and bitter hatred of God and His people once characteristic of Assyria, and, appearing in Asshur’s spirit and power, will be emphatically denominated “The Assyrian,” or “the king of the north,” whose final doom is prefigured in Nahum’s prophecy of the fall of Nineveh of old.

Thus this book has for us a double value; letting us know how completely inspired prophecy has been fulfilled in the past, and in this way assuring our hearts as to the literal carrying out of all God has caused to be spoken by His divinely-inspired seers. May it be ours to “eat the book” till our whole being is pervaded with its truth, that thus we may walk as strangers and pilgrims through a scene over which the Most High has written the awful word TEKEL! (Daniel 5:27).

24 I have even known prophetic lecturers to wax eloquent over “The valiant men are in scarlet;” applying the verse to the red-jerseyed soldiers of the Salvation Army!

25 Nineveh seems to have been inbred with the spirit of its founder, Nimrod, the Cushite, “a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10:8, Genesis 10:9), taking pleasure in the wanton chase of nations for prey.-[Ed.

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Nahum 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.