The Word Made Fresh
1An enemy has arisen to scatter you.
Guard the walls! Watch the road!
Tighten your belts! Be strong!
2The LORD is going to restore the majesty of Jacob and Israel,
even though they have been ravaged and their branches ruined.
3The shields of the LORD’s soldiers are red,
and they are clothed in crimson.
The metal of their chariots flash when they are mustered;
the cypress trees brandish their spears.
4Chariots charge through the streets,
rushing here and there through the city.
They are like burning torches and flash like lightning.
5The LORD calls the officers, who stumble as they approach.
They hurry to the wall and place the shields.
6The gates of the river are opened,
and the palace is shaken.
7A decree is issued: the city will be sent into exile.
The women slaves will be led away,
wailing like doves, beating their breasts.
8Nineveh is nothing but a puddle, its water seeping away.
“Stop!” they cry. “Stop!” But none return.
9“Take the silver and gold! There is much treasure;
every valuable thing is abundant!”
10They are devastated, made desolate and utterly destroyed.
Their hearts faint and their knees tremble.
Their bellies shake and their faces turn white!
11Whatever became of the lions’ den –
the place where the lion goes with its cubs
where they cannot be bothered?
12The lion has butchered enough for his cubs
and has killed his prey for his lionesses.
He has filled his lairs with his prey
and his dens are full of raw meat.
13“You see, I am against you,” says the LORD Almighty. “I will burn your chariots with fire. The sword will destroy your young lions. Your prey will disappear from the earth. The voices of your messengers will no longer be heard.”
1: Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, fell in 612 B.C. at the hands of an alliance of Babylonians, Medes, Cimmerians, and Scythians. Nahum challenges the Assyrians to defend themselves, believing their defense will be in vain.
2: Nahum sees the approaching destruction of Nineveh and the collapse of the Assyrian Empire as a sign that God will restore Israel and Judah to their former greatness.
3-10: He paints a picture of the siege and conquest of Nineveh. Nineveh was sacked and burned, and the populace either killed or exiled into slavery by the Babylonians and Medes.
11-13: Assyrian art often depicts lion hunts with kings and royals in pursuit of the noble beasts. In these verses Nahum turns the tables: the Assyrians are themselves the lions that are being hunted, and Nineveh is the lion’s den that is being devastated by the scarlet clad army.
No matter how bleak the situation became for Israel, the prophets never let them despair, always insisting that God would come to their rescue and restore them. And God did just that, over and over. The Bible is the living testimony that God will come to our aid as well – in God’s way, and in God’s time. What an awesome God we worship!