The Vision of Nahum

Chapter 1

The majesty of God in goodness to his people and severity against his enemies, 1-15.

1 [The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.]

2 God is jealous, and the LORD avenges. The LORD avenges and has indignation. The LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries and he reserves wrath for his enemies.

3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel languish, and the flower of Lebanon languishes.

5 The mountains quake at him and the hills melt. The earth is upheaved at his presence, even the world and all who dwell therein.

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 broken apart by him.

7 The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knows those who trust in him.

8 But with an over-running flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.

9 What do you devise against the LORD? He will make an utter end. Affliction shall not rise up the second time.

10 For while they are tangled together as thorns and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as fully dried stubble.

11 There is one gone out of you who devises evil against the LORD, a wicked counselor.

12 Thus says the LORD: "Though they are quiet and likewise many, yet thus they shall be cut down, and he shall pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will no longer afflict you.

13 For now I will break his yoke from off you and will tear off your bonds."

14 And the LORD has given a commandment concerning you, that no more of your name be sown. "Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the engraved image and the molten image. I will make your grave, for you are vile."

15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace! O Judah, keep your solemn feasts and perform your vows, for the wicked shall no longer pass through you. He is utterly cut off.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Nahum, Chapter 1


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

This chapter begins with the title of the book, showing the subject matter of it; and describing the penman of it by his name and country (verse 1); which is followed with a preface to the whole book; setting forth the majesty of a jealous and revenging God; the power of his wrath and fury; of which instances are given in exciting tempests; drying up the sea and the rivers; making the most fruitful mountains barren, which tremble before him; and even the whole world, and the inhabitants thereof, his indignation being intolerable; and yet he is slow to anger, good to those who trust in him, whom he knows, and whose protection he is in a time of trouble (verses 2-7). Next the destruction of the Assyrian empire, and of the city of Nineveh, is prophesied of; and is represented as an utter and an entire destruction, and which would come upon them suddenly and without warning, while they were in drunkenness (verses 8-10). A particular person among them is spoken of, described as a designing wicked man, an enemy to the Lord and his people, thought to be Sennacherib king of Assyria (verse 11); from whose evil designs, yoke and bondage, the Jews should be delivered; and he and his posterity be cut off, because of his vileness (verses 12-14); and the chapter is concluded with tidings of joy to Judah, who are exhorted to keep their feasts and perform their vows on this occasion (verse 15).

[v.1] - "Nahum" - In Hebrew, ‫‫נ‬‫ח‬‫ו‬‫ם‬‬, Nachum (Nakh-oom'), which means either comfort, comforter, or consolation.

[v.2] - "God is jealous, and the LORD avenges" - This can also be read as, "The LORD is a jealous God, and a revenger."

[v.5] - "upheaved" - Literally, "lifted up."

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1-5:

Grant, Almighty God, that as you set before us here as in a mirror how dreadful your wrath is, we may be humbled before you, and of our own selves cast ourselves down, that we may not be laid prostrate by your awful power,— O grant, that we may by this instruction be really prepared for repentance, and so suppliantly deprecate that punishment which we daily deserve through our transgressions, that in the meantime we may be also transformed into the image of your Son, and put off all our depraved lusts, and be cleansed from our vices, until we shall at length appear in confidence before you, and be gathered among your children, that we may enjoy the eternal inheritance of your heavenly kingdom, which has been obtained for us by the blood of your Son. Amen.

[v.6] - "abide" - Literally, "stand up."

[v.8] - "of the place thereof" - Literally, "of her place." This is referring to Nineveh. The feminine pronoun is used to refer to cities and nations.

[v.11a] - This verse can also be read as, "From you has gone forth a deviser of evil against Yahweh, an impious adviser." The Assyrians are spoken of here. From John Calvin's Commentary: "For why did God threaten the Assyrians with a sudden inundation and with perpetual darkness (verse 8)? The reason is here subjoined,— because they consulted against him and his Church."

[v.11b] - "wicked counselor" - Literally, "counselor of Belial."

[v.12a] - "quiet" - That is, at peace, secure, quiet (John Owen).

[v.12b] - "cut down" - Literally, "shorn."

[v.12c] - "and he shall pass away" - "The last verb is in the singular number, ‫ו‬‫ע‬‫ב‬‫ד‬, 'and he shall pass through' or away, that is, the wicked counselor mentioned in the preceding verse." —John Owen

[v.12d] - "Though I have afflicted you, I will no longer afflict you" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "After having threatened the Assyrians, [God] now turns his discourse to the Israelites, 'Though I have afflicted you, I will no more afflict you;' that is, there is no reason for the faithful to despond, because they have been hitherto severely treated by God; let them on the contrary remember, that these scourges are temporary, and that God's displeasure with his elect people and his Church is such that he observes moderation; for this must ever be fulfilled,— 'In the moment of my indignation I smote you; but I will show you perpetual mercies' (Isaiah 54:8). This promise has been once given to the Church; and it is now in force, and will be in force to the end of the world. Thus we see that the Prophet obviated a doubt, lest the faithful should think that there was no hope for them, because they had found God so severe toward them; for he says that God was satisfied with the punishment which he had inflicted and that he would no longer afflict his people."

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 6-12:

Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as you see your enemies at this day raging with cruel, and even with diabolic fury against your Church, we may find you to be the same as the faithful in all former ages had found you, even a defender of the safety of those who truly, and with a sincere heart, called on you, and sought you in extreme necessity; and may you, at this day, stretch forth your hand, and so restrain the fury which you see is against all your servants and your children, that the wicked may at length really find, even to their ruin, that they fight not with miserable mortals, disheartened and without defense, but with your ineffable power, that they may be confounded, though not ashamed, and that, however they may clamor against you and your invincible hand, they may yet become an example and a manifest evidence, that you are not only faithful in your promises, but also armed with power, by which you can execute whatever you have promised respecting the preservation of your Church, until you at length gather us into that blessed rest, which has been provided for us by the blood of your Son. Amen.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 13-15:

Grant Almighty God, that since we are daily chastised by your scourges, we may know that we are justly punished by you, and so examine our whole life, that with true and sincere confession we may humbly flee to your mercy, which is offered to us by your gospel in Christ our Lord; and since you also show us so many favors, may we not be ungrateful, and may no forgetfulness of your grace creep over us, but may we especially exercise ourselves through our whole life in the worship of your name and in giving thanks to you, and so offer to you, with our tongues, the sacrifices of praise, that our whole life may be consistent, and thus glorify your name on earth, that at length we may be gathered into your celestial kingdom, through the same Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.