Nahum – Day Two
An attacker advances against you, Nineveh.
Guard the fortress,
watch the road,
marshal all your strength!
The Lord will restore the splendor of Jacob
like the splendor of Israel,
though destroyers have laid them waste
and have ruined their vines.
The shields of the soldiers are red;
the warriors are clad in scarlet.
The metal on the chariots flashes
on the day they are made ready;
the spears of juniper are brandished.
The chariots storm through the streets,
rushing back and forth through the squares.
They look like flaming torches;
they dart about like lightning.
Nineveh summons her picked troops,
yet they stumble on their way.
They dash to the city wall;
the protective shield is put in place.
The river gates are thrown open
and the palace collapses.
It is decreed that Nineveh
be exiled and carried away.
Her female slaves moan like doves
and beat on their breasts.
Nineveh is like a pool
whose water is draining away.
“Stop! Stop!” they cry,
but no one turns back.
Plunder the silver!
Plunder the gold!
The supply is endless,
the wealth from all its treasures!
She is pillaged, plundered, stripped!
Hearts melt, knees give way,
bodies tremble, every face grows pale.
Where now is the lions’ den,
the place where they fed their young,
where the lion and lioness went,
and the cubs, with nothing to fear?
The lion killed enough for his cubs
and strangled the prey for his mate,
filling his lairs with the kill
and his dens with the prey.
“I am against you,”
declares the Lord Almighty.
“I will burn up your chariots in smoke,
and the sword will devour your young lions.
I will leave you no prey on the earth.
The voices of your messengers
will no longer be heard.
This chapter is a description of the type of destruction that will be Nineveh’s fate. This will be no mere natural disaster befalling the Nation. Clearly there is an army coming (the army of the Babylonians, Medes and Scythians). The chapter refers to the spears, shields, chariots and soldiers all red and glistening and darting about. This is a powerful image of the confusion and freight of war that is to come. There is mention of the attempts of the Assyrians to defend themselves but it will be to no avail. There is a mention that the river that flowed through the city will rage and tear down the palace wall. Some historians of this period mention that dykes may have been broken by the invaders and caused this flooding. After the conquest will come the inevitable plundering and all the Assyrian ill-gotten booty will be carried off. The Assyrians are derided as lions that no longer have any power. The lion is a fitting image for the Assyrians as they were rapacious in their appetites and there were many statues of lions in the empire.
The last verse makes it clear that this will all be God’s work at hand. It is he who uses this army to destroy the evil ones. Isn’t it amazing the way that God can use the evils of war to do his will? Remember the conquering armies in this case were not lily-white do-gooders either and yet God used them for his purpose in avenging the people of Israel.
Question to ponder:
- When have you seen God use something that we would normally think of as bad to achieve his good purpose?