Some Tips on How to Read the Book of Nahum
The book of Nahum is a carefully crafted, brilliantly executed piece of poetry in which a whole variety of prophetic forms – hymn, salvation, doom, taunt, dirge – are carefully interwoven so as to effect what is basically “woe oracles” over Nineveh (Assyria), along with a salvation oracle to Judah.
One hundred years earlier, Jonah had preached in the streets of the great city Nineveh. The people had heard God’s message and had turned away from their evil. But generations later, evil was again reigning, and the prophet Nahum pronounced judgment on this wicked nation. For the biblical/historical background to Nahum, you may want to read 2 Kings 17-23 and 2 Chronicles 33-34.
As you read Nahum,
- Sense God’s wrath as he avenges sin and brings about justice.
- Notice the character of God; mercy and judgment – these seemingly opposite traits actually reflect God’s consistent stance toward His people.
From Jonah, we see a God of mercy who forgives all who repent and whose love is for everyone. But, when we come to the book of Nahum, we also see God as judge. He will not allow evil to persist forever.
Although the book seems to be addressed to the Assyrians, Nahum’s message is also for God’s people, the nation of Judah – a nation threatened and frequently oppressed by the mighty Assyrians. Time and again they must have wondered if God truly protects those who worship Him and if He would ever judge the Assyrians for their pride, idolatry, murder, lies, treachery and social injustice.
We too, may sometimes ask such questions in our lives.
“Why does God allow unjust things to happen?”
“This is so unfair!” “Did God forget his people?”…
God will judge those who do evil and oppress others. God will not allow anyone to usurp his authority. He will overcome anyone who attempts to defy Him.
Am I like the Assyrians? Perhaps, I am too guilty of pride, lying, treating others unjustly, etc. what do I need to repent from?
Am I like the people of Judah? Perhaps I have been unfairly treated and God does not seem to be doing anything. Or perhaps I see my friends live by their own rules yet advance in life and continually count successes. Will I still choose to live under God’s guidance and within His rules, commands and guidelines?
“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; He will pursues his foes into darkness. Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time.”