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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Nahum 1

Verse 2

DISCOURSE: 1218
GOD A REVENGER OF SIN

Nahum 1:2; Nahum 1:6. 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..Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?

MEN have such ideas of God’s mercy, that they cannot persuade themselves he will ever execute judgment on impenitent transgressors. In fact, it is the hope of this which encourages men to go on in their sins: for, if once they could believe that they shall soon become monuments of God’s righteous indignation, they would consider their ways, and labour by all possible means to avert his displeasure.
About one hundred and forty years before this was written, the Prophet Jonah had been sent to warn the Ninevites of their impending destruction. But they had repented of their wickedness; and God, in his mercy, had withheld his threatened judgments. But now he warns them, that since they had filled up the measure of their iniquities, his wrath should come upon them to the uttermost. Now, I would ask, supposing God to be determined to convince men that he would execute vengeance on the impenitent, what could he add to what is here spoken? Methinks there is here such an accumulation of words, as must defy incredulity itself to question the truth contained in them. It is not a pleasing subject that we are now called to insist upon: but it is necessary; and the more necessary, because of men’s backwardness to give it the consideration it deserves. Let us, then, consider,

I.

The description here given of the Deity—

God is “a jealous God”—
[He has a claim to our undivided allegiance, and to all the affections of our souls. And when he sees how prone we are to set our affections on the creature rather than on him, it becomes him to be jealous. A man like ourselves would not do well to connive at the unfaithfulness of his wife, who was giving to others the affections which were his unalienable right: how much less, then, can God admit such an alienation of our hearts from him!. He cannot: indeed “his very name is Jealous [Note: Exodus 34:14.]:” and he must divest himself of his every perfection, before he can connive at the dishonour which our unfaithfulness reflects upon him.]

He will “take vengeance” on obstinate transgressors—
[“The Lord revengeth; yea, he revengeth, and is furious.” We are not indeed to conceive of him as feeling in his own bosom such emotions as constitute “fury” in man: in that sense “fury is not in him [Note: Isaiah 27:4.];” but, so far as the effects of his displeasure are felt, it will be the same to us, as if he were filled with the utmost rage. At present, indeed, he bears with sinners with all imaginable patience and long-suffering: but “he reserves them unto the day of judgment to be punished [Note: 2 Peter 2:9.].” In my text, the word “wrath” is in italics, to shew that it is not in the original. In truth, there is no word in any language that can express what God “reserveth for his enemies;” no, nor can any imagination conceive it. The Psalmist well says, “Who knoweth the power of thine anger? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath [Note: Psalms 90:11.]”]

And “who can stand before his indignation?”
[“Who indeed can abide the fierceness of his anger?” These pointed interrogations convey the most tremendous thoughts to our minds. Now we can “puff at God’s judgments,” as if they were scarcely worthy of a thought [Note: Psalms 10:5.]: but it will not be so when the time for the infliction of them is fully come. Then “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, no less than the poor bond-man, will hide themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and will cry to the mountains and rocks to fall upon them, and to hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. “The great day of his wrath being come, who shall be able to stand [Note: Revelation 6:15-17.]?” The wrath of man has been sustained, even when it raged to the utmost extent of human ingenuity to inflict pain: but who can sustain the wrath of God? The soul, aided by divine grace, has upheld the body: but who, or what, can uphold the soul, when it is God’s arm, too, that inflicts the punishment? Some will console themselves with the thought that they shall do as well as others. But if they could for one moment descend to hell, and see the agonies, and hear the cries, of a damned soul, methinks it would be little consolation to think that they shall do as well as others. If they were only to be racked upon a wheel, and to endure its agonies but for an hour, their prospect, methinks, would be but little cheered by this thought: how much less then, when the wrath of an offended God must be endured to all eternity!]

But, that we sink not into despondency, let us attend to,

II.

The advice, which one moment’s reflection on this subject must suggest—

The doom of Nineveh was fixed: but not so the doom of any amongst us. No, Brethren, there is yet hope concerning you; yes, concerning every one of you. Only,

1.

Abide not in impenitence—

[When Nineveh was warned by Jonah, though no encouragement was given them to repent, they humbled themselves, on a mere peradventure that God might possibly have mercy on them: and the mercy which they sought was accorded to them [Note: John 3:5-10.]. But to you I am authorized to proclaim mercy: for God’s gracious message to you is, “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin [Note: Ezekiel 18:30.].” Hear what God says to you by the Prophet Jeremiah: “Thus saith the Lord, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it [Note: Jeremiah 4:3-4.].” Yes indeed, by timely humiliation, you may yet avert the wrath of your incensed God; who, “if you forsake your evil ways, and turn unto him, will have mercy upon you, and abundantly pardon,” to the full extent of your multiplied transgressions [Note: Isaiah 55:7.].]

2.

Abide not in unbelief—

[God has provided a Saviour for you, even his only dear Son; who has, by his own obedience unto death, effected a reconciliation for you; and “has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation;” so that we are not only authorized, but commanded, to say to all of you, without exception, “Be ye reconciled to God [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.].” He has illustrated this to you in his word, by the appointment of cities of refuge for those who by any accident should slay a man. The very instant he should get within the gates of any one of these cities, he was safe; and the pursuer of blood, however enraged, could not get at him to hurt him [Note: Numbers 35:9-25.]. And who shall sustain any hurt, that flees to Christ for refuge? No: in him you will be safe. Once found in him, you have nothing to fear. You are as safe in him as you would be in heaven itself [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18. Romans 8:1.]. To every one of you, then, I give this counsel from the Lord: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast [Note: Isaiah 26:20.].”]

3.

Abide not in a proud defiance of your God—

[There were, in the days of old, some who, in answer to God’s threatenings, said, “Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it [Note: Isaiah 5:19.].” And such there are amongst ourselves, who, in reply to all that we say, exclaim, “Ah, Lord God, doth he not speak parables [Note: Ezekiel 20:49.]?” But indeed, my dear brethren, God’s patience will have an end; and the very exercise of it will only aggravate our condemnation, if it do not “prevail to lead us to repentance [Note: Romans 2:4-6.].” Be persuaded that God’s description of himself, in the words of our text, will be found true at the last. He is indeed “a consuming fire [Note: Hebrews 12:29.]:” and “can your heart endure, or your hands be strong, in the day that he shall deal with you [Note: Ezekiel 22:14.]?” “Have you an arm like God? and can you thunder with a voice like him [Note: Job 40:9.]?” No: it is in vain to contend with God: for “who shall set briers and thorns against him in battle? He will go through them, and burn them up together [Note: Isaiah 27:4.].” Verily, “it will be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God [Note: Hebrews 10:31.]” Be convinced of this; and “to-day, while it is called to-day,” implore mercy at his hands: so shall you find, that “he will pardon your iniquity, and pass by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage; for he retaineth not anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy [Note: Micah 7:18.].” And if the description of him in my text be true, you shall find that true also which is added in the seventh verse, “The Lord is good, a strong-hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”]


Verse 6

DISCOURSE: 1218
GOD A REVENGER OF SIN

Nahum 1:2; Nahum 1:6. 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..Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?

MEN have such ideas of God’s mercy, that they cannot persuade themselves he will ever execute judgment on impenitent transgressors. In fact, it is the hope of this which encourages men to go on in their sins: for, if once they could believe that they shall soon become monuments of God’s righteous indignation, they would consider their ways, and labour by all possible means to avert his displeasure.
About one hundred and forty years before this was written, the Prophet Jonah had been sent to warn the Ninevites of their impending destruction. But they had repented of their wickedness; and God, in his mercy, had withheld his threatened judgments. But now he warns them, that since they had filled up the measure of their iniquities, his wrath should come upon them to the uttermost. Now, I would ask, supposing God to be determined to convince men that he would execute vengeance on the impenitent, what could he add to what is here spoken? Methinks there is here such an accumulation of words, as must defy incredulity itself to question the truth contained in them. It is not a pleasing subject that we are now called to insist upon: but it is necessary; and the more necessary, because of men’s backwardness to give it the consideration it deserves. Let us, then, consider,

I.

The description here given of the Deity—

God is “a jealous God”—
[He has a claim to our undivided allegiance, and to all the affections of our souls. And when he sees how prone we are to set our affections on the creature rather than on him, it becomes him to be jealous. A man like ourselves would not do well to connive at the unfaithfulness of his wife, who was giving to others the affections which were his unalienable right: how much less, then, can God admit such an alienation of our hearts from him!. He cannot: indeed “his very name is Jealous [Note: Exodus 34:14.]:” and he must divest himself of his every perfection, before he can connive at the dishonour which our unfaithfulness reflects upon him.]

He will “take vengeance” on obstinate transgressors—
[“The Lord revengeth; yea, he revengeth, and is furious.” We are not indeed to conceive of him as feeling in his own bosom such emotions as constitute “fury” in man: in that sense “fury is not in him [Note: Isaiah 27:4.];” but, so far as the effects of his displeasure are felt, it will be the same to us, as if he were filled with the utmost rage. At present, indeed, he bears with sinners with all imaginable patience and long-suffering: but “he reserves them unto the day of judgment to be punished [Note: 2 Peter 2:9.].” In my text, the word “wrath” is in italics, to shew that it is not in the original. In truth, there is no word in any language that can express what God “reserveth for his enemies;” no, nor can any imagination conceive it. The Psalmist well says, “Who knoweth the power of thine anger? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath [Note: Psalms 90:11.]”]

And “who can stand before his indignation?”
[“Who indeed can abide the fierceness of his anger?” These pointed interrogations convey the most tremendous thoughts to our minds. Now we can “puff at God’s judgments,” as if they were scarcely worthy of a thought [Note: Psalms 10:5.]: but it will not be so when the time for the infliction of them is fully come. Then “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, no less than the poor bond-man, will hide themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and will cry to the mountains and rocks to fall upon them, and to hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. “The great day of his wrath being come, who shall be able to stand [Note: Revelation 6:15-17.]?” The wrath of man has been sustained, even when it raged to the utmost extent of human ingenuity to inflict pain: but who can sustain the wrath of God? The soul, aided by divine grace, has upheld the body: but who, or what, can uphold the soul, when it is God’s arm, too, that inflicts the punishment? Some will console themselves with the thought that they shall do as well as others. But if they could for one moment descend to hell, and see the agonies, and hear the cries, of a damned soul, methinks it would be little consolation to think that they shall do as well as others. If they were only to be racked upon a wheel, and to endure its agonies but for an hour, their prospect, methinks, would be but little cheered by this thought: how much less then, when the wrath of an offended God must be endured to all eternity!]

But, that we sink not into despondency, let us attend to,

II.

The advice, which one moment’s reflection on this subject must suggest—

The doom of Nineveh was fixed: but not so the doom of any amongst us. No, Brethren, there is yet hope concerning you; yes, concerning every one of you. Only,

1.

Abide not in impenitence—

[When Nineveh was warned by Jonah, though no encouragement was given them to repent, they humbled themselves, on a mere peradventure that God might possibly have mercy on them: and the mercy which they sought was accorded to them [Note: John 3:5-10.]. But to you I am authorized to proclaim mercy: for God’s gracious message to you is, “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin [Note: Ezekiel 18:30.].” Hear what God says to you by the Prophet Jeremiah: “Thus saith the Lord, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it [Note: Jeremiah 4:3-4.].” Yes indeed, by timely humiliation, you may yet avert the wrath of your incensed God; who, “if you forsake your evil ways, and turn unto him, will have mercy upon you, and abundantly pardon,” to the full extent of your multiplied transgressions [Note: Isaiah 55:7.].]

2.

Abide not in unbelief—

[God has provided a Saviour for you, even his only dear Son; who has, by his own obedience unto death, effected a reconciliation for you; and “has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation;” so that we are not only authorized, but commanded, to say to all of you, without exception, “Be ye reconciled to God [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.].” He has illustrated this to you in his word, by the appointment of cities of refuge for those who by any accident should slay a man. The very instant he should get within the gates of any one of these cities, he was safe; and the pursuer of blood, however enraged, could not get at him to hurt him [Note: Numbers 35:9-25.]. And who shall sustain any hurt, that flees to Christ for refuge? No: in him you will be safe. Once found in him, you have nothing to fear. You are as safe in him as you would be in heaven itself [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18. Romans 8:1.]. To every one of you, then, I give this counsel from the Lord: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast [Note: Isaiah 26:20.].”]

3.

Abide not in a proud defiance of your God—

[There were, in the days of old, some who, in answer to God’s threatenings, said, “Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it [Note: Isaiah 5:19.].” And such there are amongst ourselves, who, in reply to all that we say, exclaim, “Ah, Lord God, doth he not speak parables [Note: Ezekiel 20:49.]?” But indeed, my dear brethren, God’s patience will have an end; and the very exercise of it will only aggravate our condemnation, if it do not “prevail to lead us to repentance [Note: Romans 2:4-6.].” Be persuaded that God’s description of himself, in the words of our text, will be found true at the last. He is indeed “a consuming fire [Note: Hebrews 12:29.]:” and “can your heart endure, or your hands be strong, in the day that he shall deal with you [Note: Ezekiel 22:14.]?” “Have you an arm like God? and can you thunder with a voice like him [Note: Job 40:9.]?” No: it is in vain to contend with God: for “who shall set briers and thorns against him in battle? He will go through them, and burn them up together [Note: Isaiah 27:4.].” Verily, “it will be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God [Note: Hebrews 10:31.]” Be convinced of this; and “to-day, while it is called to-day,” implore mercy at his hands: so shall you find, that “he will pardon your iniquity, and pass by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage; for he retaineth not anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy [Note: Micah 7:18.].” And if the description of him in my text be true, you shall find that true also which is added in the seventh verse, “The Lord is good, a strong-hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”]


Verse 7

DISCOURSE: 1219
GOD A REFUGE IN TIME OF TROUBLE

Nahum 1:7. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

WHEN God interposed in a cloud between the camp of Israel and the camp of the Egyptians, the cloud was to those a pillar of fire, to give them light; but to these a cloud of darkness, to obstruct their way. And such is the varied aspect of Jehovah to his friends and enemies in all ages. Towards the Ninevites, who had now nearly filled up the measure of their iniquities, and forced, as it were, from Jehovah a decree of utter and everlasting excision, he is represented in terms the most awful that language could afford: “God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth, and is furious: the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies..…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 [Note: ver. 2, 6.]”. But, lest the Lord’s people should apply this description of Jehovah indiscriminately to all persons of whatever character, the prophet stops abruptly, and declares, that towards his own believing people Jehovah is of a very different character; for that “he is good, and a strong hold in the day of trouble, and knoweth them that trust in him.”

Let us for our comfort consider Jehovah as he is here depicted to us;

I.

In the perfections of his nature—

[“He is good;” every way “good;” and appears to be so in all that he has ever done. His works of creation were all, after an attentive survey of them by the Divine Artificer, pronounced to be “very good.” In the course of so many thousands of years there never has been found one single instance in which any work of his could be improved; so perfect has been the adaptation of every part to its respective use, and so complete the subservience of each to the good of the whole. His works of providence come less within the sphere of human observation, because we know not all the ends that are to be accomplished by them: but of those which have been the most dark or most calamitous we have had the unanimous testimony of the best judges, that “he has done all things well;” and that, however “clouds and darkness may have been round about him, justice and judgment have been the basis of his throne.” Of his works of redemption what shall we say? In what terms can we convey any just notion of them? Verily the tongue of an archangel is incapable of expressing the goodness of God in giving his only dear Son to die for us [Note: 1 John 4:8-10.]: this mystery far exceeds the comprehension of any finite intelligence: its “height and depth and length and breadth can never be explored:” suffice it to say, that the incarnation and death of the Son of God is the one subject of adoration amongst all the hosts of heaven, and will continue to be so through the countless ages of eternity [Note: Revelation 5:12-14.].

But, whilst the goodness of God is readily acknowledged in reference to those who are the objects of mercy, it may be doubted in reference to those who shall be the objects of his everlasting displeasure. It may be asked, How can his punitive justice be good? I answer, If he did not maintain the rights of justice he could not be “good.” Whatever ungodly men may imagine, justice is necessary in every government: and, if an earthly monarch would be thought essentially defective if he suffered all the laws of the realm to be outraged and set at nought with impunity, so would Jehovah, with reverence be it spoken, act unworthily as the Moral Governor of the universe, if he made no difference between the observers of his laws, and those who violated them without remorse. His law is a transcript of his holy will; and the honour of it must be maintained, either by the observance of its precepts, or by the execution of its penalties. Besides, if the justice of God were not displayed in the punishment of sin, he would neither be revered in heaven, nor feared on earth. In heaven, his justice and holiness and truth would be altogether darkened, and the radiance of all his other perfections obscured: and on earth, Satan would retain an undisputed sway over the hearts of men.
In every view therefore we must say, not only that God is good, but that his goodness, no less than “his greatness, is unsearchable.”]
We have a further insight given us into the character of God,

II.

In the provisions of his covenant—

[Sin has brought misery along with it: and since the first introduction of sin into the world, “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” But God has entered into covenant with his only dear Son as our head and representative; and has made over to us himself as our God, at the same time that he takes us to himself as his people. In the day of trouble we feel, that none but God can afford us any effectual help: and he engages at that season to be a very present help unto us. Whatever our affliction be, we may go to him with it, and find him “a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall [Note: Isaiah 25:4.].” What a strong-hold he is we see in the instance of Hezekiah, when surrounded by the Assyrian army, whom, according to all human appearance, it was impossible for him to withstand: one assurance of protection from Jehovah enabled that holy prince to despise all the menaces of his blaspheming adversary, and to rest as secure and as composed as if there had been no danger at hand [Note: Isaiah 37:21-33.].

But if in temporal troubles God is such a refuge, much more is he when the soul is oppressed with a sense of sin. Hear what he speaks to us by his beloved Son: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Yes: our adorable Saviour was fitly represented to us by the cities of refuge, which were open day and night to the manslayer, and which afforded him perfect security from the pursuer of blood, the very instant he entered within their gates. Such a city is the Lord Jesus, “whose name is a strong tower, to which the fighteous runneth and is safe.” Has he not himself said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out?” Let the afflicted sinner go to him, and he shall find that this “man,” this God-man, “will be to him as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land [Note: Isaiah 32:2.].” Verily “He will save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.”]

We shall have a yet deeper insight into his character, if we view him,

III.

In the dispensations of his grace—

[“He knoweth those who trust in him;” not merely as distinguishing them from others, but as feeling towards them the most affectionate regard: (in this sense the word “knoweth” is frequently used [Note: Psalms 1:6.].) He views them with the tenderest sympathy and compassion, being “touched with a feeling of all their infirmities [Note: Hebrews 4:15.],” and being “afflicted in all their afflictions [Note: Isaiah 63:9.].” Of his people, when suffering under their Egyptian task-masters, he said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their task-masters; for I know their sorrows [Note: Exodus 3:7.].” And the same tender regard is shown by him to a solitary individual as to a whole nation: for David says, “When my spirit was overwhelmed, thou knewest my path [Note: Psalms 142:3.];” and again, “Thou hast known my soul in adversities [Note: Psalms 31:7.].” The act of trusting in God is itself so pleasing and acceptable in his sight, that there is not any thing which he will not do for one who looks to him in such a frame [Note: Psalms 31:19.]. So abundantly will he communicate to such an one the riches of his grace, that he will make his soul like a well-watered garden, filled with the richest fruits, suited to every season of the year [Note: Jeremiah 17:7-8.]. Whatever enemies may assault him, God will “keep his soul in perfect peace [Note: Isaiah 26:3.],” and make him even as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever [Note: Psalms 125:1.].’]

What improvement shall we make of this subject?

I answer,

1.

“Acquaint yourselves with God”—

[Study the character of God as drawn in the Holy Scriptures. Some think of him as a God of all mercy; and others, as clothed only in the terrors of inexorable justice. But the true character of God is, that he is “a just God and a Saviour.” In the Lord Jesus Christ this union of justice and mercy is fully displayed. Once view him as dying, rising, reigning for sinful man, and then all the description given of God in our text will be seen in its true light, and all the brightness of the Godhead irradiate your souls.]

2.

Glorify him as God—

[As far as we know God, even though it be only in the notices which he has given us of himself in the works of creation, we ought to “glorify him as God [Note: Romans 1:21.].” How much more then ought we to do so, when all his glory is made to shine before us in the face of Jesus Christ! How should we love him, serve him, trust in him, and delight ourselves in him! O, beloved, let your hearts ascend to him, and your souls be devoted to him, as the occasion demands. Is he “good?” praise him for his goodness. Is he “a strong-hold?” flee to him, and dwell continually in him. Does he “know those who trust in him?” let him have joy over you as monuments of his grace, and delight in you as heirs of his glory [Note: Zephaniah 3:17.]. In a word, live but for him; and as he has “bought you with a price, see that ye glorify him with your bodies and your spirits, which are his [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:20.].”]


Verse 15

DISCOURSE: 1220
THE PROPER IMPROVEMENT OF GOD’S MERCIES
[Note: Thanksgiving Sermon for peace, in May 1802.]

Nahum 1:15. Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy rows.

IN the writings of the prophets there is an abruptness of style, which often renders them intricate, and almost unintelligible. The rapidity of their transitions from one person to another, from one period to another, and from one subject to another, tends to bewilder the mind, and operates as a discouragement to us, when we endeavour to investigate and comprehend their meaning. But when we are on our guard respecting this, we shall often discover beauties that will amply repay the labour of investigation, and shall be led to admire those passages, which at first sight appeared to be involved in impenetrable obscurity.
The subject of the prophecy before us is the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, as a prelude to the overthrow of the Assyrian empire, of which Nineveh was the capital. The prophet begins this chapter with expatiating in general terms on the power and vindictive justice of Jehovah [Note: ver. 2–7.]. He then speaks of these perfections with a more express reference to his main point [Note: ver. 8–10.]. After that, he proceeds to address himself to Nineveh, from whence that “wicked counsellor,” Sennacherib, should come [Note: ver. 11.]. Then, in Jehovah’s name, he addresses himself to the Jewish nation, to certify them, that, however greatly this formidable enemy should harass and distress them, they should be freed from his yoke [Note: ver. 12, 13.]. Then he addresses more immediately Sennacherib himself, and declares that he, his family, and his idols, should be signally and entirely cut off [Note: ver. 14.]. Lastly, beholding, as it were, his prophecy already accomplished, he points to the Messenger hastening over the mountains to announce the glad tidings: and he calls upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem to resume their wonted occupations, and especially their religious ordinances, in humble acknowledgment of the Divine goodness, and with a faithful regard to those vows which they had made in the day of their calamity [Note: ver. 15.].

The affinity between this subject, and that which calls for our attention this day, will more fully appear, while we consider,

I.

The tidings which are announced to us this day—

These certainly relate, in the first instance, to Hezekiah’s deliverance by the destruction of Sennacherib’s army—
[This was a great deliverance, wrought by God himself through the ministry of an angel [Note: Isaiah 37:36.]. And it may well serve to illustrate the blessings we this day commemorate [Note: If it be the Restoration of Peace, the parallel must be drawn between the dangers to which Jerusalem, and our nation, had been exposed. And, if there have been any signal interpositions of the Deity in favour of our land, the mention of them will mark the parallel more strongly. If it be the Restoration of King Charles the Second, the blessings of Hezekiah’s government, and the renewal of the established ordinances of religion, must rather be adverted to as the ground of the parallel.] — — —]

But they relate also to the deliverance of mankind from sin and death through the intervention of the Lord Jesus—
[The deliverances vouchsafed to the Jews, are constantly represented in Scripture as typical of the great work of redemption: and the very expressions in the text are used by Isaiah with a more direct reference to that event [Note: Isaiah 52:7.]. Nor is this idea founded in conjecture; for St. Paul, quoting the words of both the prophets, applies them directly to the proclaiming of salvation to the Gentile world [Note: Romans 10:13-15.]. If then the prophet mingled these two events, well may we do so too; and from contemplating the mercies vouchsafed to us in a temporal view, take occasion to reflect on the infinitely richer mercies which we obtain through Christ [Note: Here the destruction of our spiritual enemies by Christ, “the Angel of the Covenant,” may be announced, as joyful tidings to those who are “shut up under the Law,” the wretched expectants of death and judgment.] — — —]

We are at no loss how to improve these tidings, since the prophet himself suggests,

II.

The duties resulting from them—

In an encouraging yet monitory strain, he exhorts us to,

1.

A devout acknowledgment of the mercies received—

[The way to Jerusalem having been blocked up by the besieging army, the prophet tells the people, that now they may have free access to the temple, and come up at the appointed seasons to their solemn feasts. And should not we also now avail ourselves of the opportunities which are afforded us, and wait upon God without distraction [Note: Here, if the King’s Restoration be the subject of thanksgiving, reference may be made to the interruption of the established worship during the usurpation, and the danger of its entire abolition afterwards, during the time of the Revolution.]? We should at least spend this day, not in mere carnal mirth, but in solemn feasting before God, even in spiritual, and more appropriate joy.

The remembrance of the work of redemption more especially should kindle in our hearts a sacred flame of gratitude and thanksgiving, and should stimulate us to a more strict observance of the Sabbath, which, in commemoration of it, was made to supersede the original Sabbath, and was designated by that honourable appellation, The Lord’s Day.]

2.

A conscientious performance of the vows we have made—

[It is most probable, that many, during the siege of Jerusalem, would make vows to God, as the Jews from the beginning had been in the habit of doing under their calamities. Nor can we doubt but that many of ourselves, in seasons of sickness or trouble, have purposed, and perhaps vowed, to change the course of our lives, if we were delivered from the distresses which we either felt or feared. At this time in particular we have been making vows, which we are bound to perform [Note: Such vows are constantly offered to God, in the forms of prayer for the 29th of May, and the fast-days; and they may here be quoted from the one or other of those forms, as the occasion requires; and may be pressed on the conscience as obligatory at this time.]. But, alas! if we compare our petitions in the midst of trouble, with our lives when delivered from trouble, what an awful contrast does there appear! Let it not, however, be so on this occasion; but let us remember the vows that are upon us; for “better were it never to vow at all, than to vow and not pay [Note: Ecclesiastes 5:4-5.].”]

We conclude then with an address, both inspired and uttered by God himself; “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee! Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High [Note: Psalms 50:7; Psalms 50:14.].”

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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Nahum 1". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/nahum-1.html. 1832.