Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Nahum 2:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Behold, I am against thee - Assyria, and Nineveh its capital. I will deal with you as you have dealt with others.

The voice of thy messengers - Announcing thy splendid victories, and the vast spoils taken - shall no more be heard - thou and thy riches, and ill-got spoils, shall perish together.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Behold I, Myself, am against thee - (Literally, “toward thee”). God, in His long-suffering, had, as it were, looked away from him; now He looked toward (as in Psalm 37:20) him, and in His sight what wicked one should stand? “Saith the Lord of hosts,” whose power is infinite and He changes not, and all the armies of heaven, the truly angels and evil spirits and men are in His Hand, whereto He directs or overrules them. “And I will burn her chariots in the smoke.” The Assyrian sculptures attest how greatly their pride and strength lay in their chariots. They exhibit the minute embellishment of the chariots and horses. Almost inconceivably light for speed, they are pictured as whirled onward by the two or, more often, three powerful steeds with eye of fire, the bodies of the slain (or, in peace, the lion ) under their feet, the mailed warriors, with bows stretched to the utmost, shooting at the more distant foe.

Sennacherib gives a terrific picture of the fierceness of their onslaught. “The armor, the arms, taken in my attacks, swam in the blood of my enemies as in a river; the war-chariots, which destroy man and beast, had, in their course, crushed the bloody bodies and limbs”. All this their warlike pride should be but fuel for fire, and vanish in smoke, an emblem of pride, swelling, mounting like a column toward heaven, disappearing. Not a brand shall then be saved out of the burning; nothing half-consumed; but the fire shall burn, until there be nothing left to consume, as, in Sodom and Gomorrah, “the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. And the sword of the vengeance of God shall devour the young lions” Genesis 19:28, his hope for the time to come, the flower of his youth; “and I will cut off thy prey,” what thou hast robbed, and so that thou shouldest rob no more, but that thy spoil should utterly cease from “the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall be no more heard,” such as Rabshakeh, whereby they insulted and terrified the nations and blasphemed God.

In the spiritual sense, Nineveh being an image of the world, the prophecy speaks of the inroad made upon it through the Gospel, its resistance, capture, desolation, destruction. First, He that “ruleth with a rod of iron,” came and denounced “woe to it because of offenses;” then His mighty ones in His Name. Their shield is red, “the shield of faith,” kindled and glowing with love. Their raiment too is red, because they wash it in the Blood of the Lamb, and conquer through the Blood of the Lamb, and many shed their own blood “for a witness to them.” “The day of His preparation” is the whole period, until the end of the world, in which the Gospel is preached, of which the prophets and apostles speak, as the day of salvation Isaiah 49:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2; to the believing world a day of salvation; to the unbelieving, of preparation for judgment. All which is done, judgments, mercy, preaching, miracles, patience of the saints, martyrdom, all which is spoken, done, suffered, is part of the one preparation for the final judgment. The chariots, flashing with light as they pass, are “the chariots of salvation” Habakkuk 3:8, bearing the brightness of the doctrine of Christ and the glory of His truth throughout the world, enlightening while they wound; the “spears” are the word of God, slaying to make alive.

On the other hand, in resisting, the world clashes with itself. It would oppose the Gospel, yet knows not how; is “maddened with rage, and gnashes its teeth, that it can prevail nothing”. On the broad ways which lead to death, where “Wisdom uttereth her voice” and is not heard, it is hemmed in, and cannot find a straight path; its chariots dash one against another, and yet they breathe their ancient fury, and run to and fro like lightning, as the Lord saith, “I beheld Satan, as lightning, fall from heaven” Luke 10:18. Then shall they “remember their mighty ones,” all the might of this world which they ascribed to their gods, their manifold triumphs, whereby in pagan times their empire was established; they shall gather strength against strength, but it shall be powerless and real weakness. While they prepare for a long siege, without hand their gates give way; the kingdom falls, the world is taken captive by a blessed captivity, suddenly, unawares, as one says in the second century; “Men cry out that the state is beset, that the Christians are in their fields, in their forts, in their islands!” These mourn over their past sins, and beat their breasts, in token of their sorrow; yet sweeter shall be the plaint of their sorrow, than any past joy.

Sit they shall mourn as doves, and their mourning is as melody and the voice of praise in the ear of the Most High. One part of the inhabitants of the world being thus blessedly taken, the rest are fled. So in all nearness of God‘s judgments, those who are net brought nearer, flee further. “They flee, and look not back, and none heareth the Lord speaking, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings” Jeremiah 3:22. So then, hearing not His Voice, stand, stand, they flee away from His presence in mercy, into darkness for ever. Such is the lot of the inhabitants of the world; and what is the world itself? The prophet answers what it has been. A pool of water, into which all things, the riches and glory, and wisdom, and pleasures of this world, have flowed in on all sides, and which gave back nothing. All ended in itself. The water came from above, and became stagnant in the lowest part of the earth. “For all the wisdom of this world, apart from the sealed fountain of the Church, and of which it cannot be said, the streams thereof make glad the city of God nor are of those waters which, above the heavens, praise the Name of the Lord, however large they may seem, yet are little, and are enclosed in a narrow bound” Luke 10:18.

These either are hallowed to God, like the spoils of Egypt, as when the eloquence of Cyprian was won through the fishermen, or the gold and silver are offered to Him, or they are left to be wasted and burned up. “All which is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, all under the sun,” remain here.: “If they are thine, take them with thee. When be dieth, he shall carry nothing away, his glory shall not descend after him” Psalm 49:17. True riches are, not wealth, but virtues, which the conscience carries with it, that it may be rich forever.” The seven-fold terrors Nahum 2:10, singly, may have a good sense, that the stony heart shall be melted, and the stiff knees, which before were not bent to God, be bowed in the Name of Jesus. Yet more fully are they the deepening horrors of the wicked in the Day of Judgment, when “men‘s hearts shall fail them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” Luke 21:26, closing with the everlasting confusion of face, “the shame and everlasting contempt,” to which the wicked shall rise.

As the vessel over the fire is not cleansed, but blackened, so through the judgments of God, whereby the righteous are cleansed, the wicked gather but fresh defilement and hate. Lastly, the prophet asks, “Where is the dwelling of those who had made the world a den of ravin, where the lion,” even the devil who is “a roaring lion,” and all antichrists 1 John 2:18, destroyed at will; where Satan made his dwelling in the hearts of the worldly, and “tore in pieces for his whelps,” i. e., killed souls of men and gave them over to inferior evil spirits to be tormented, and “filled his holes with prey,” the pit of hell with the souls which he deceived?. The question implies that they shall not be. “They which have seen him shall say, Where is he?” Job 20:7. God Himself answers, that He Himself will come against it to judgment, and destroy all might arrayed against God; and Christ shall “smite the Wicked one with the rod of His Mouth” Isaiah 11:4, and the “sharp two-edged sword out of His mouth shall smite all nations” Revelation 1:16; Revelation 19:15, Revelation 19:21, “and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever” Revelation 14:11; and it should no more oppress, nor “any messenger of Satan” go forth to harass the saints of God.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The kings of Assyria had long been terrible and cruel to their neighbours, but the Lord would destroy their power. Many plead as an excuse for rapine and fraud, that they have families to provide for; but what is thus obtained will never do them any good. Those that fear the Lord, and get honestly what they have, shall not want for themselves and theirs. It is just with God to deprive those of children, or of comfort in them, who take sinful courses to enrich them. Those are not worthy to be heard again, that have spoken reproachfully of God. Let us then come to God upon his mercy-seat, that having peace with him through our Lord Jesus Christ, we may know that he is for us, and that all things shall work together for our everlasting good.