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Nahum 1:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He rebuketh the sea - The Red Sea and the rivers: probably an allusion to the passage of the Red Sea and Jordan.

The description of the coming of Jehovah, from the third to the sixth verse, is dreadfully majestic. He is represented as controlling universal nature. The sea and the rivers are dried up, the mountains tremble, the hills melt, and the earth is burnt at his presence. Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon are withered and languish: streams of fire are poured out, and the rocks are cast down to make him a passage. If then, the seas, the rivers, the mountains, the hills, the rocks, and the earth itself, fail before Jehovah, or flee from his presence, how shall Nineveh and the Assyrian empire stand before him?

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

He rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry - Delivering His people, as He did from Pharaoh Psalm 106:9, the type of all later oppressors, and of antichrist. “His word is with power; to destroy them at once with one rough word (Wisd. 12:9). The restlessness of the barren and troubled sea is an image of the wicked. “And drieth up all the rivers” Isaiah 57:20, as He did Jordan. His coming shall be far more terrible than when all the hearts of the inhabitants of the land did melt. “Bashan languisheth and Carmel; and the flower of Lebanon languisheth” Joshua 2:11. Bashan was richest in pastures; Carmel, according to its name, in gardens and vineyards; Lebanon, in vines also and fragrant flowers Hosea 14:7; Song of Song of Solomon 4:11 , but chiefly in the cedar and cypress; it had its name from the whiteness of the snow, which rests on its summit. These mountains then together are emblems of richness, lasting beauty, fruitfulness, loftiness; yet all, even that which by nature is not, in the variety of seasons, wont to fade, dries up and withers before the rebuke of God. But if these thing are “done in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” All freshness, beauty, comeliness, show of outward nature, shall fade as grass; all ornament of men‘s outward graces or gifts, all mere show of goodness, shall fall off like a leaf and perish. If the glory of nature perishes before God, how much more the pride of man! Bashan also was the dwelling-place of the race of giants, and near Libanus was Damascus; yet their inhabitants became as dead men and their power shrank to nothing at the word of God.


The mountains quaked at Him, and the hills melted - As of their own accord. The words are a renewal of those of Amos Amos 9:13. Inanimate nature is pictured as endowed with the terror, which guilt feels at the presence of God. All power; whether greater or less, whatsoever lifteth itself up, shall give way in that Day, which shall be “upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up” Isaiah 2:13-14. “And the earth is burned” (rather lifteth itself up; as an an earthquake it seems, as it were, to rise and sink down, lifting itself as if to meet its God or to flee. What is strongest, shaketh; what is hardest, melteth; yea, the whole world trembles and is removed.: “If,” said even Jews of old, “when God made Himself known in mercy, to give the law to His people, the world was so moved at His presence, how much more, when He shall reveal Himself in wrath!” The words are so great that they bear the soul on to the time, when the heaven and earth shall flee away from the Face of Him “Who sitteth on the throne, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” Revelation 20:11; 2 Peter 3:10. And since all judgments are images of the Last, and the awe at tokens of God‘s presence is a shadow of the terror of that coming, he adds,


Who can stand before His indignation? - This question appeals to our own consciences, that we cannot. It anticipates the self-conviction at every day of God‘s visitation, the forerunners of the lust. The word rendered “indignation” is reserved almost exclusively to denote the wrath of God.: “Who can trust in his own righteousness, and, for the abundance of his works or consciousness of his virtues, not be in need of mercy? ‹Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified;‘ and in Job it is said truly, ‹Behold He put no trust in His servants, and His Angels He charged with folly. How much less in them that dwell in houses of‘ clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which ewe crushed before the moth?‘ Job 4:18-19. It were needless now to prove, that man‘s own deserts suffice to no one, and that we are not saved but by the grace of God, ‹for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God‘ Romans 3:23. Wherefore he saith, ‹before His indignation,‘ standing face to Face before Him in wrath.”

Literally, “in the Face of:” guilt cannot look in the face of man, how much less, of God. The bliss of the righteous is the punishment of the wicked, to behold God face to Face. For “whoever trusts in his own works deserves His indignation. and thinking he stands, righteously does he fall.”

His fury is poured out - נתך is used of the pouring out of God‘s wrath, Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 42:18; 2 Chronicles 12:7 (as more commonly שׁפך here its native meaning is brought out the more, by adding כאש .

Like fire - , sweeping away, like a torrent of molten fire, him who presumes that be can stand before His Face, as He did the cities of the plain Psalm 97:3; Psalm 50:3; Psalm 68:3; Psalm 18:8. The rocks are like so many towers of nature, broken down and crushed “by Him” literally, “from Him.” It needs not any act of God‘s. He wills and it is done. Those who harden themselves, are crushed and broken to pieces, the whole fabric they had built for themselves and their defenses, crumbling and shivered. If then they, whose hearts are hard as rocks, and bold against all peril, and even Satan himself, whose “heart is as firm as a stone, yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone” Job 41:24, shall be crushed then, who shall abide?


The Lord is good: a stronghold in the day of trouble - “Good and doing good,” and full of sweetness; alike good and mighty; good in giving Himself and imparting His goodness to His own; yea “none is good, save God” Luke 18:19; Himself the stronghold wherein His own amy take refuge; both in the troubles of this life, in which “He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able” 1 Corinthians 10:13, and in that Day, which shall hem them in on every side, and leave no place of escape except Himself.

And He knoweth them that tuust in Him - So as to save them; as Rahab was saved when Jericho perished, and Lot out of the midst of the overthrow and Hezekiah from the host of Sennacherib. He knows them with an individual, ever-present, knowledge. He says not only, “He shall own them,” but He ever “knoweth them.” So it is said; “The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous” Psalm 1:6; “The Lord knoweth the, days of the upright” Psalm 37:18; and our Lord says, “I know My sheep” John 10:14, John 10:27; and Paul, “The Lord knoweth them that are His” 2 Timothy 2:19. God speaks of this knowledge also in the past, of His knowledge, when things as yet were not, “I have known thee by name;” or of loving kindness in the past, “I knew thee in the wilderness” Hosea 13:5, “you alone have I known of all the families of the earth” Amos 3:2, its contrariwise our Lord says, that He shall say to the wicked in the Great Day, “I never knew you” Matthew 7:23. That God, being what He is, should take knowledge of us, being what we are, is such wondrous condescension, that it involves a purpose of love, yea, His love toward us, as the Psalmist says admiringly, “Lord, what is man that Thou takest knowledge of him?” Psalm 144:3.

Them that trust in Him - It is a habit, which has this reward; “the trusters in Him,” “the takers of refuge in Him.” It is a continued unvarying trust, to which is shown this everpresent love and knowledge.

Yet this gleam of comfort only discloses the darkness of the wicked. Since those who trust God are they whom God knows, it follows that the rest He knows not. On this opening, which sets forth the attributes of God toward those who defy Him and those who trust in Him, follows the special application to Nineveh.


But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof - that is, of Nineveh, although not as yet named, except in the title of the prophecy, yet present to the prophet‘s mind and his hearers, and that the more solemnly, as being the object of the wrath of God, so that, although unnamed, it would be known so to be. Image and reality, the first destruction and the last which it pictures, meet in the same words. Nineveh itself was overthrown through the swelling of the rivers which flowed around it and seemed to be its defense (see the note at Nahum 2:6). Then also, the flood is the tide of the armies, gathered from all quarters, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Arabians, Bactrians, which like a flood should sweep over Nineveh and leave nothing standing. It is also the flood of the wrath of God, in whose Hands they were and who, by them, should “make a full end of it,” literally, “make the place thereof a thing consumed,” a thing which has ceased to be. For a while, some ruins existed, whose name and history ceased to be known; soon after, the ruins themselves were effaced and buried. Such was the close of a city, almost coeval with the flood, which had now stood almost as many years as have passed since Christ came, but which now defied God. Marvelous image of the evil world itself, which shall flee away from the face of Him who sat on the throne, “and there was found no place for it” Revelation 20:11.

And darkness shall pursue His enemies - Better, “He shall pursue His enemies into darkness” Darkness is, in the Old Testament, the condition, or state in which a person is, or lives; it is not an agent, which pursues. Isaiah speaks of the “inhabitants of darkness” Isaiah 42:7, “entering unto darkness” Isaiah 47:5; “those who are in darkness” Isaiah 49:9. “The grave is all darkness” Psalm 88:12; Job 17:13, “darkness, and the shadow of death” Job 10:21. Hence, even Jews rendered, “He shall deliver them to hell.” Into this darkness it is said, God shall pursue them, as other prophets speak of being “driven forth into darkness”. The darkness, the motionless drear abode, to which they are driven, anticipates the being cast into “the outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Rup.: “The vengeance of God on” these who remain “His enemies” to the last, “ends not with the death of the body; but evil spirits, who are darkness and not light, pursue their souls, and seize them.” They would not hear Christ calling to them, “Walk, while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you” John 12:35. “They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof” Job 24:13. “They loved darkness rather than light” John 3:19. And so they were driven into the darkness which they chose and loved.


The prophet had in few words summed up the close of Nineveh; he now upbraids them with the sin, which should bring it upon them, and foretells the destruction of Sennacherib. Nineveh had, before this, been the instrument of chastising Israel and Judah. Now, the capture of Samaria, which had cast off God, deceived and emboldened it. Its king thought that this was the might of his own arm; and likened the Lord of heaven and earth to the idols of the pagan, and said, “Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?” 2 Kings 18:35. He sent “to reproach the living God” 2 Kings 19:16 and “defied the Holy One of Israel” (see Isaiah 8:10. While the rich man was speaking comfort to his soul as to future years, God was making an utter end. “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.”

Affliction shall not rise up the second time - Others have understood this, “affliction shall not rise up the second time,” but shall destroy at once, utterly and finally (compare 1 Samuel 26:8; 2 Samuel 20:10): but:

(1) the idiom there, “he did not repeat to him,” as we say, “he did not repeat the blow” is quite different;

(2) it is said “affliction shall not rise up,” itself, as if it could not. The causative of the idiom occurs in 2 Samuel 12:11, “lo, I will cause evil to rise up against thee;” as he says afterward, “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more” Nahum 1:12. “God,” He had said, “is good for a refuge in the day of affliction;” now, personifying that affliction, he says, that it should be so utterly broken, that it should rise up no more to vex them, as when a serpent‘s head is, not wounded only but, crushed and trampled underfoot, so that it cannot again lift itself up. The promises of God are conditioned by our not falling back into sin. He saith to Nineveh, “God will not deliver Judah to thee, as He delivered the ten tribes and Samaria.” Judah repented under Hezekiah, and He not only delivered it from Sennacherib, but never afflicted them again through Assyria. Renewal of sin brings renewal or deepening of punishment. The new and more grievous sins under Manasseh were punished, not through Assyria but through the Chaldeans.

The words have passed into a maxim, “God will not punish the same thing twice,” not in this world and the world to come, i. e., not if repented of. For of the impenitent it is said, “destroy them with a double destruction” Jeremiah 17:18. Chastisement here is a token of God‘s mercy; the absence of it, or prosperous sin, of perdition; but if any refuse to be corrected, the chastisement of this life is but the beginning of unending torments.


For while they be leiden together as thorns - that is, as confused, intertwined, sharp, piercing, hard to be touched, rending and tearing whosoever would interfere with its tangled ways, and seemingly compact together and strong; “and while they are drunken as their drink”, not “drinkers” only but literally, “drunken,” swallowed up, as it were, by their drink which they had swallowed, mastered, overcome, powerless, “they shall be derogated as stubble fully dry”, rapidly, in an instant, with an empty crackling sound, unresisting, as having nothing in them which can resist. Historically, the great defeat of the Assyrians, before the capture of Nineveh, took place while its king, flushed with success, was giving himself to listlessness; and having distributed to his soldiers victims, and abundance of wine, and other necessaries for banqueting, the whole army was negligent and drunken.”

In like way Babylon was taken amid the feasting of Belshazzar 1 Kings 20:16. And so it may well be meant here too, that Sennacherib‘s army, secure of their prey, were sunk in revelry, already swallowed up by wine, before they were swallowed up by the pestilence, on the night when the Angel of the Lord went out to smite them, and, from the sleep of revelry, they slept the sleep from which they shall not awake until the Judgment Day. God chooses the last moment of the triumph of the wicked, when he is flushed by his success, the last of the helplessness of the righteous, when his hope can be in the Lord alone, to exchange their lots. “The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked comes in his stead” Proverbs 11:8. Spiritually, “the false fullness of the rich of this world, is real leanness; the greenness of such grass (for all flesh is grass) is real dryness. Marvelous words, “fully dry.” For what is dryness but emptiness?” They are perfected, but in dryness, and so perfectly prepared to be burned up. “The thorns had, as far as in them lay, choked the good seed, and hated the Seed-corn, and now are found, like stubble, void of all seed, fitted only to be burned with fire. For those who feast themselves “without fear is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” Jude 1:12-13.


There is one come out of thee - that is, Nineveh, “that imagineth” deviseth,, “evil, Lord, Sennacherib, against the the rod of God‘s anger” Isaiah 10:5-7, yet who “meant not so,” as God meant. “And this was his counsel,” as is every counsel of Satan, “that they could not resist him, and so should withdraw themselves from the land of God, “into a land like their own” Isaiah 36:16-17, but whose joy and sweetness, its vines and its fig-trees, should not be from God, but from the Assyrian, i. e., from Satan.


Though they be quiet and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down - Literally, “If they be entire,” i. e., sound unharmed, unimpaired in their numbers, unbroken in their strength, undiminished, perfect in all which belongs to war; “and thus many even thus shall they be mown down (or shorn), and he passeth away”. With might outwardly unscathed, “without hand” Daniel 2:34, and “thus many,” i. e., many, accordingly, as being unweakened; as many as they shall be, “so shall they be mown down, and he,” their head and king, “shall pass away and perish” (compare Psalm 48:4). Their numbers shall be, as their condition before, perfect; their destruction as their numbers, complete. It is wonderful how much God says in few words; and how it is here foretold that, with no previous loss, a mighty host secure and at ease, in consequence of their prosperity, all are at one blow mown down, like the dry grass before the scythe, are cut off and perish; and one, their king, “passeth away,” first by flight, and then by destruction. As they had shorn the glory of others Isaiah 7:20, so should they be shorn and cut down themselves.

Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more - oUnless by new guilt thou compel Me. God always relieves us from trouble, as it were with the words, “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” John 5:14. In the end, afflictions shall be turned into joy, and “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore paid” Revelation 21:4.


For now will I break his yoke from off thee - God, lest His own should despair, does not put them off altogether to a distant day, but saith, now. Historically, the beginning of the fall is the earnest of the end. By the destruction of Sennacherib, God declared His displeasure against Assyria; the rest was matter of time only. Thus, Haman‘s wise men say to him, “If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him” Esther 6:13; as He saith in Isaiah, “I will break the Assyrian in My land, and upon My mountains tread him underfoot; then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders” Isaiah 14:25.: “In that He saith, not ‹I will loose,‘ ‹will undo,‘ but ‹I will break,‘ ‹will burst,‘ He sheweth that He will in such wise free Jerusalem, as to pour out displeasure on the enemy. The very mode of speaking shows the greatness of His displeasure against those who, when for the secret purpose of His judgments they have power given them against the servants of God, feed themselves on their punishments, and moreover dare to boast against God, as did the Assyrian, ‹By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom‘ Isaiah 10:13.”


And the Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee, O Assyrian - In the word “I have afflicted thee,” the land of Israel is addressed, as usual in Hebrew, in the feminine; here, a change of gender in Hebrew shows the person addressed to be different.: “By His command alone, and the word of His power, He cut off the race of the Assyrian, as he says in Wisdom, of Egypt, “Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven, out of Thy royal throne; as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction, and brought Thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with death,” (Wisd. 18:15,16), or else it may be, He gave command to the Angels His Ministers. God commands beforehand, that, when it comes to pass, it may be known “that not by chance,” nor by the will of man, “nor without His judgment but by the sentence of God” the blow came.

No move of thy name be sown - As Isaiah saith, “the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned” Isaiah 14:20. He prophesies, not the immediate but the absolute cessation of the Assyrian line. If the prophecy was uttered at the time of Sennacherib‘s invasion, seventeen years before his death, not Esarhaddon only, but his son Asshurbanipal also, whose career of personal conquest, the last glory of the house of the Sargonides and of the empire, began immediately upon his father‘s reign of thirteen years, was probably already born. Asshurbanipal in this case would only have been thirty-one, at the beginning of his energetic reign, and would have died in his fifty-second year. After him followed only an inglorious twenty-two years. The prophet says, “the Lord hath commanded.” The decree as to Ahab‘s house was fulfilled in the person of his second son, as to Jeroboam and Baasha in their sons. It waited its appointed time, but was fulfilled in the complete excision of the doomed race.

Out of the house of thy gods will I cut off graven image and molten image - As thou hast done to others Isaiah 37:19, it shall be done to thee.: “And when even the common objects of worship of the Assyrian and Chaldean were not spared, what would be the ruin of the whole city!” So little shall thy gods help thee, that “there shalt thou be punished, where thou hopest for aid. ‹Graven and molten image‘ shall be thy grave; amid altar and oblations, as thou worshipest idols,” thanking them for thy deliverance, “shall thy unholy blood be shed,” as it was by his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer. Isaiah 37:38. “I will make it thy grave”;, what God makes remains immovable, cannot be changed. But He “maketh thy grave” in hell, where not only that rich man in the Gospel hath his grave; but all who are or have been like him, and especially thou, O Asshur, of whom it is written, “Asshur is there and all her company; his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword. Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living” Ezekiel 32:22-23. “Graven and molten image,” the idols which men adore, the images of their vanity, the created things which they worship instead of the true God (as they whose god is their belly), in which they busy themselves in this life, shall be their destruction in the Day of Judgment.

For thou art vile - Thou honoredst thyself and dishonoredst God, so shalt thou be dishonored, as He saith, “Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” 1 Samuel 2:30. So when he had said to Edom, “thou art greatly despised” Obadiah 1:2, he adds the ground of it, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee. For thou art vile” Obadiah 1:3. Great, honored, glorious as Assyria or its ruler were in the eyes of men, the prophet tells him, what he was in himself, being such in the eyes of God, light, empty, as Daniel said to Belshazzar, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and found wanting” Daniel 5:27, of no account, vile.


Behold upon the mountains, the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace - From mountain-top to mountain-top by beacon-fires they spread the glad tidings. Suddenly the deliverance comes, sudden its announcement. “Behold!” Judah, before hindered by armies from going up to Jerusalem, its cities taken 2 Kings 18:13, may now again “keep the feasts” there, and “pay the vows,” which “in trouble she promised;” “for the wicked one,” the ungodly Sennacherib, “is utterly cut off, he shall no more pass through thee;” “the army and king and empire of the Assyrians have perished.” But the words of prophecy cannot be bound down to this. These large promises, which, as to this world, were forfeited in the next reign, when Manasseh was taken captive to Babylon, and still more in the seventy years‘ captivity, and more yet in that until now, look for a fulfillment, as they stand.

They sound so absolute. “I will afflict thee no more,” “the wicked shall no more pass through thee,” “he is utterly (literally, the whole of him) cut off.” Nahum joins on this signal complete deliverance from a temporal enemy, to the final deliverance of the people of God. The invasion of Sennacherib was an avowed conflict with God Himself. It was a defiance of God. He would make God‘s people, his; he would “cut it off that it be no more a people, and that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” Psalm 83:4. There was a more “evil counselor” behind, whose agent was Sennacherib. He, as he is the author of all murders and strife, so has he a special hatred for the Church, whether before or since Christ‘s Coming. Before, that he right cut off that Line from whom “the Seed of the woman” should be born, which should destroy his empire and crush himself, and that he might devour the Child who was to be born Revelation 12:4.

Since, because her members are his freed captives, and she makes inroads on his kingdom, and he hates them because he hates God and Christ who dwells in them. As the time of the birth of our Lord neared, his hate became more concentrated. God overruled the hatred of Edom or Moab, or the pride of Assyria, to His own ends, to preserve Israel by chastising it. Their hatred was from the evil one, because it was God‘s people, the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, the line of David. If they could be cut off, they of whom Christ was to be born according to the flesh, and so, in all seeming, the hope of the world, were gone. Sennacherib then was not a picture only, he was the agent of Satan, who used his hands, feet, tongue, to blaspheme God and war against His people. As then we have respect not to the mere agent, but to the principal, and should address him through those he employed (as Elisha said of the messenger who came to slay him, “is not the sound of his master‘s feet behind him?” 2 Kings 6:32), so the prophet‘s words chiefly and most fully go to the instigator of Sennacherib, whose very name he names, Belial. It is the deliverance of the Church and the people of God which he foretells, and thanks God for.

To the Church he says in the Same of God, “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more” Nahum 1:12. The yoke which He will burst is the yoke of the oppressor, of which Isaiah speaks, and which the Son, to be born of a Virgin, “the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace,” was to break Isaiah 9:4, Isaiah 9:6; the yoke of sin and the bands of fleshly pleasure and evil habits, wherewith we were held captive, so that henceforth we should walk upright, unbowed, look up to heaven our home, and “run the way of Thy commandments when Thou hast set my heart at liberty.” Behold, then, “upon the mountains,” i. e., above all the height of this world, “the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,” i. e., of remission of sins and sanctification by the Spirit and the freedom and adoption as sons, and the casting out of the Prince of this world, “that publisheth peace.” “O Judah,” thou, the true people of God, “keep thy solemn feasts,” the substance of the figures of the law.: “He who is ever engaged on the words, deeds and thoughts of Him, who is by nature Lord, the Word of God, ever lives in His days, ever keeps Lord‘s days. Yea he who ever prepares himself for the true life and abstains from the sweets of this life which deceive the many, and who cherishes not the mind of the flesh but chastens the body and enslaves it, is ever keeping the days of preparation. He too who thinks that Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us, and that we must keep festival, eating the flesh of the Word, there is no time when he keeps not the Passover, ever passing over in thought and every word and deed from the affairs of this life to God, and hasting to His city. Moreover whoso can say truthfully, we have risen together with Christ, yea and also, He hath together raised us and together seated us in the heavenly places in Christ, ever lives in the days of Pentecost; and chiefly, when, going up into the upper room as the Apostles of Jesus, he gives himself to supplication and prayer, that he may become meet for the rushing mighty wind from heaven, which mightily effaces the evil in men and its fruits, meet too for some portion of the fiery tongue froth God.”: “Such an one will keep the feast excellently, having the faith in Christ fixed, hallowed by the Spirit, glorious with the grace of adoption. And he will offer to God spiritual sacrifice, consecrating himself for an odor of sweetness, cultivating also every kind of virtue, temperance, continence, fortitude, endurance, charity, hope, love of the poor, goodness, longsuffering: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Every power of the enemy, which before had dominion over him, shall pass through no more, since Christ commanded the unclean spirits to depart into the abyss and giveth to those who love Him power to resist the enemy, and subdue the passions, and destroy sin and tread on serpents and scorpions and every power of the enemy.”

And these feasts were to he kept “in the spirit not in the letter. For what avails it to keep any feast wilhout, unless there be the feast of contmplation in the soul?”. Wherefore he adds, “and pay thy vows,” i. e., thyself, whom in Baptism thou hast vowed: for the Wicked One shall no more pass through thee.: “For from what time, O Judah, Christ, by dying and rising again, hallowed thy feasts, he can no longer pass through thee. Thenceforth he perished wholly. Not that he has, in substance, ceased to be, but that the death of the human race, which through his envy came into this world, the two-fold death of body trod soul, wholly perisheth. Where and when did this Belial perish? When died the death which he brought in, whence himself also is called Death? When Christ died, then died the death of our souls; and when Christ rose again, then perished the death of our bodies. When then, O Judah thou keepest thy feast, remember that thy very feast is He, of whom thou savest that by dying He conquered death and by rising He restored life. Hence it is said, Belial shall no more pass through thee.

For if thou look to that alone, that Sennacherib departed, to return no more, and perished, it would not be true to say, Belial hath wholly perished! For after him many a Belial, such as he was, passed through time, and hurt thee far more. Perchance thou sayest, ‹so long as Nineveh standest, how savest thou, that Belial has wholly perisited? So long as the world standeth, how shall I be comforted, that death hath perished? For lo! persecutors tamed with death have stormed, and besides them, many sons of Belial, of whom antichrist will be the worst. How then sayest thou, that Belial has wholly perished?‘ It follows, “the Scatterer hath gone up before thee.” To Judah in the flesh, Nebuchadnezzar who went up against Nineveh, was worse than Sennacherib. Who then is He who went up before thee, and dispersed the world, that great Nineveh, that thou shouldest have full consolation? Christ who descended, Himself ascended; and as He ascended, so shall He come to disperse Nineveh, i. e., to judge the world. What any persecutor doth meanwhile, yea or the Devil himself or antichrist, takes nothing from the truth, that Belial hath “wholly perished.” “The prince of this world is cast out.” For nothing which they do, or can do, hinders, that both deaths of body and soul are swallowed up in His victory, who hath ascended to heaven? Belial cannot in the members kill the soul, which hath been made alive by the death of the Head, i. e., Christ; and as to the death of the body, so certain is it that it will perish, that thou mayest say fearlessly that it hath perished, since Christ the Head hath risen.”

Each fall of an enemy of the Church, each recovery of a sinful soul being a part of this victory, the words may be applied to each. The Church or the soul are bidden to keep the feast and pay their vows, whatever in their trouble they promised to God. Jerome: “It is said to souls, which confess the Lord, that the devil who, before, wasted thee and bowed thee with that most heavy yoke hath, in and with the idols which thou madest for thyself, perished; keep thy feasts and pay to God thy vows, singing with the angels continually, for no more shall Belial pass through thee, of whom the apostle too saith, What concord hath Christ with Belial? The words too, Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace” belong, in a degree, to all preachers of the Gospel.: “No one can preach peace, who is himself below and cleaves to earthly things. For warn are for the good things of earth. If thou wouldest preach peace to thyself and thy neighbor, be raised above the earth and its goods, riches and glory. Ascend to the heavenly mountains, whence David also, lifting up his eyes, hoped that his help would come.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Nahum 1:4". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". "www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/nahum-1.html. 1870.


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Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

He rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry - Delivering His people, as He did from Pharaoh Psalm 106:9, the type of all later oppressors, and of antichrist. “His word is with power; to destroy them at once with one rough word (Wisd. 12:9). The restlessness of the barren and troubled sea is an image of the wicked. “And drieth up all the rivers” Isaiah 57:20, as He did Jordan. His coming shall be far more terrible than when all the hearts of the inhabitants of the land did melt. “Bashan languisheth and Carmel; and the flower of Lebanon languisheth” Joshua 2:11. Bashan was richest in pastures; Carmel, according to its name, in gardens and vineyards; Lebanon, in vines also and fragrant flowers Hosea 14:7; Song of Song of Solomon 4:11 , but chiefly in the cedar and cypress; it had its name from the whiteness of the snow, which rests on its summit. These mountains then together are emblems of richness, lasting beauty, fruitfulness, loftiness; yet all, even that which by nature is not, in the variety of seasons, wont to fade, dries up and withers before the rebuke of God. But if these thing are “done in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” All freshness, beauty, comeliness, show of outward nature, shall fade as grass; all ornament of men‘s outward graces or gifts, all mere show of goodness, shall fall off like a leaf and perish. If the glory of nature perishes before God, how much more the pride of man! Bashan also was the dwelling-place of the race of giants, and near Libanus was Damascus; yet their inhabitants became as dead men and their power shrank to nothing at the word of God.


The mountains quaked at Him, and the hills melted - As of their own accord. The words are a renewal of those of Amos Amos 9:13. Inanimate nature is pictured as endowed with the terror, which guilt feels at the presence of God. All power; whether greater or less, whatsoever lifteth itself up, shall give way in that Day, which shall be “upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up” Isaiah 2:13-14. “And the earth is burned” (rather lifteth itself up; as an an earthquake it seems, as it were, to rise and sink down, lifting itself as if to meet its God or to flee. What is strongest, shaketh; what is hardest, melteth; yea, the whole world trembles and is removed.: “If,” said even Jews of old, “when God made Himself known in mercy, to give the law to His people, the world was so moved at His presence, how much more, when He shall reveal Himself in wrath!” The words are so great that they bear the soul on to the time, when the heaven and earth shall flee away from the Face of Him “Who sitteth on the throne, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” Revelation 20:11; 2 Peter 3:10. And since all judgments are images of the Last, and the awe at tokens of God‘s presence is a shadow of the terror of that coming, he adds,


Who can stand before His indignation? - This question appeals to our own consciences, that we cannot. It anticipates the self-conviction at every day of God‘s visitation, the forerunners of the lust. The word rendered “indignation” is reserved almost exclusively to denote the wrath of God.: “Who can trust in his own righteousness, and, for the abundance of his works or consciousness of his virtues, not be in need of mercy? ‹Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified;‘ and in Job it is said truly, ‹Behold He put no trust in His servants, and His Angels He charged with folly. How much less in them that dwell in houses of‘ clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which ewe crushed before the moth?‘ Job 4:18-19. It were needless now to prove, that man‘s own deserts suffice to no one, and that we are not saved but by the grace of God, ‹for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God‘ Romans 3:23. Wherefore he saith, ‹before His indignation,‘ standing face to Face before Him in wrath.”

Literally, “in the Face of:” guilt cannot look in the face of man, how much less, of God. The bliss of the righteous is the punishment of the wicked, to behold God face to Face. For “whoever trusts in his own works deserves His indignation. and thinking he stands, righteously does he fall.”

His fury is poured out - נתך is used of the pouring out of God‘s wrath, Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 42:18; 2 Chronicles 12:7 (as more commonly שׁפך here its native meaning is brought out the more, by adding כאש .

Like fire - , sweeping away, like a torrent of molten fire, him who presumes that be can stand before His Face, as He did the cities of the plain Psalm 97:3; Psalm 50:3; Psalm 68:3; Psalm 18:8. The rocks are like so many towers of nature, broken down and crushed “by Him” literally, “from Him.” It needs not any act of God‘s. He wills and it is done. Those who harden themselves, are crushed and broken to pieces, the whole fabric they had built for themselves and their defenses, crumbling and shivered. If then they, whose hearts are hard as rocks, and bold against all peril, and even Satan himself, whose “heart is as firm as a stone, yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone” Job 41:24, shall be crushed then, who shall abide?


The Lord is good: a stronghold in the day of trouble - “Good and doing good,” and full of sweetness; alike good and mighty; good in giving Himself and imparting His goodness to His own; yea “none is good, save God” Luke 18:19; Himself the stronghold wherein His own amy take refuge; both in the troubles of this life, in which “He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able” 1 Corinthians 10:13, and in that Day, which shall hem them in on every side, and leave no place of escape except Himself.

And He knoweth them that tuust in Him - So as to save them; as Rahab was saved when Jericho perished, and Lot out of the midst of the overthrow and Hezekiah from the host of Sennacherib. He knows them with an individual, ever-present, knowledge. He says not only, “He shall own them,” but He ever “knoweth them.” So it is said; “The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous” Psalm 1:6; “The Lord knoweth the, days of the upright” Psalm 37:18; and our Lord says, “I know My sheep” John 10:14, John 10:27; and Paul, “The Lord knoweth them that are His” 2 Timothy 2:19. God speaks of this knowledge also in the past, of His knowledge, when things as yet were not, “I have known thee by name;” or of loving kindness in the past, “I knew thee in the wilderness” Hosea 13:5, “you alone have I known of all the families of the earth” Amos 3:2, its contrariwise our Lord says, that He shall say to the wicked in the Great Day, “I never knew you” Matthew 7:23. That God, being what He is, should take knowledge of us, being what we are, is such wondrous condescension, that it involves a purpose of love, yea, His love toward us, as the Psalmist says admiringly, “Lord, what is man that Thou takest knowledge of him?” Psalm 144:3.

Them that trust in Him - It is a habit, which has this reward; “the trusters in Him,” “the takers of refuge in Him.” It is a continued unvarying trust, to which is shown this everpresent love and knowledge.

Yet this gleam of comfort only discloses the darkness of the wicked. Since those who trust God are they whom God knows, it follows that the rest He knows not. On this opening, which sets forth the attributes of God toward those who defy Him and those who trust in Him, follows the special application to Nineveh.


But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof - that is, of Nineveh, although not as yet named, except in the title of the prophecy, yet present to the prophet‘s mind and his hearers, and that the more solemnly, as being the object of the wrath of God, so that, although unnamed, it would be known so to be. Image and reality, the first destruction and the last which it pictures, meet in the same words. Nineveh itself was overthrown through the swelling of the rivers which flowed around it and seemed to be its defense (see the note at Nahum 2:6). Then also, the flood is the tide of the armies, gathered from all quarters, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Arabians, Bactrians, which like a flood should sweep over Nineveh and leave nothing standing. It is also the flood of the wrath of God, in whose Hands they were and who, by them, should “make a full end of it,” literally, “make the place thereof a thing consumed,” a thing which has ceased to be. For a while, some ruins existed, whose name and history ceased to be known; soon after, the ruins themselves were effaced and buried. Such was the close of a city, almost coeval with the flood, which had now stood almost as many years as have passed since Christ came, but which now defied God. Marvelous image of the evil world itself, which shall flee away from the face of Him who sat on the throne, “and there was found no place for it” Revelation 20:11.

And darkness shall pursue His enemies - Better, “He shall pursue His enemies into darkness” Darkness is, in the Old Testament, the condition, or state in which a person is, or lives; it is not an agent, which pursues. Isaiah speaks of the “inhabitants of darkness” Isaiah 42:7, “entering unto darkness” Isaiah 47:5; “those who are in darkness” Isaiah 49:9. “The grave is all darkness” Psalm 88:12; Job 17:13, “darkness, and the shadow of death” Job 10:21. Hence, even Jews rendered, “He shall deliver them to hell.” Into this darkness it is said, God shall pursue them, as other prophets speak of being “driven forth into darkness”. The darkness, the motionless drear abode, to which they are driven, anticipates the being cast into “the outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Rup.: “The vengeance of God on” these who remain “His enemies” to the last, “ends not with the death of the body; but evil spirits, who are darkness and not light, pursue their souls, and seize them.” They would not hear Christ calling to them, “Walk, while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you” John 12:35. “They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof” Job 24:13. “They loved darkness rather than light” John 3:19. And so they were driven into the darkness which they chose and loved.


The prophet had in few words summed up the close of Nineveh; he now upbraids them with the sin, which should bring it upon them, and foretells the destruction of Sennacherib. Nineveh had, before this, been the instrument of chastising Israel and Judah. Now, the capture of Samaria, which had cast off God, deceived and emboldened it. Its king thought that this was the might of his own arm; and likened the Lord of heaven and earth to the idols of the pagan, and said, “Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?” 2 Kings 18:35. He sent “to reproach the living God” 2 Kings 19:16 and “defied the Holy One of Israel” (see Isaiah 8:10. While the rich man was speaking comfort to his soul as to future years, God was making an utter end. “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.”

Affliction shall not rise up the second time - Others have understood this, “affliction shall not rise up the second time,” but shall destroy at once, utterly and finally (compare 1 Samuel 26:8; 2 Samuel 20:10): but:

(1) the idiom there, “he did not repeat to him,” as we say, “he did not repeat the blow” is quite different;

(2) it is said “affliction shall not rise up,” itself, as if it could not. The causative of the idiom occurs in 2 Samuel 12:11, “lo, I will cause evil to rise up against thee;” as he says afterward, “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more” Nahum 1:12. “God,” He had said, “is good for a refuge in the day of affliction;” now, personifying that affliction, he says, that it should be so utterly broken, that it should rise up no more to vex them, as when a serpent‘s head is, not wounded only but, crushed and trampled underfoot, so that it cannot again lift itself up. The promises of God are conditioned by our not falling back into sin. He saith to Nineveh, “God will not deliver Judah to thee, as He delivered the ten tribes and Samaria.” Judah repented under Hezekiah, and He not only delivered it from Sennacherib, but never afflicted them again through Assyria. Renewal of sin brings renewal or deepening of punishment. The new and more grievous sins under Manasseh were punished, not through Assyria but through the Chaldeans.

The words have passed into a maxim, “God will not punish the same thing twice,” not in this world and the world to come, i. e., not if repented of. For of the impenitent it is said, “destroy them with a double destruction” Jeremiah 17:18. Chastisement here is a token of God‘s mercy; the absence of it, or prosperous sin, of perdition; but if any refuse to be corrected, the chastisement of this life is but the beginning of unending torments.


For while they be leiden together as thorns - that is, as confused, intertwined, sharp, piercing, hard to be touched, rending and tearing whosoever would interfere with its tangled ways, and seemingly compact together and strong; “and while they are drunken as their drink”, not “drinkers” only but literally, “drunken,” swallowed up, as it were, by their drink which they had swallowed, mastered, overcome, powerless, “they shall be derogated as stubble fully dry”, rapidly, in an instant, with an empty crackling sound, unresisting, as having nothing in them which can resist. Historically, the great defeat of the Assyrians, before the capture of Nineveh, took place while its king, flushed with success, was giving himself to listlessness; and having distributed to his soldiers victims, and abundance of wine, and other necessaries for banqueting, the whole army was negligent and drunken.”

In like way Babylon was taken amid the feasting of Belshazzar 1 Kings 20:16. And so it may well be meant here too, that Sennacherib‘s army, secure of their prey, were sunk in revelry, already swallowed up by wine, before they were swallowed up by the pestilence, on the night when the Angel of the Lord went out to smite them, and, from the sleep of revelry, they slept the sleep from which they shall not awake until the Judgment Day. God chooses the last moment of the triumph of the wicked, when he is flushed by his success, the last of the helplessness of the righteous, when his hope can be in the Lord alone, to exchange their lots. “The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked comes in his stead” Proverbs 11:8. Spiritually, “the false fullness of the rich of this world, is real leanness; the greenness of such grass (for all flesh is grass) is real dryness. Marvelous words, “fully dry.” For what is dryness but emptiness?” They are perfected, but in dryness, and so perfectly prepared to be burned up. “The thorns had, as far as in them lay, choked the good seed, and hated the Seed-corn, and now are found, like stubble, void of all seed, fitted only to be burned with fire. For those who feast themselves “without fear is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” Jude 1:12-13.


There is one come out of thee - that is, Nineveh, “that imagineth” deviseth,, “evil, Lord, Sennacherib, against the the rod of God‘s anger” Isaiah 10:5-7, yet who “meant not so,” as God meant. “And this was his counsel,” as is every counsel of Satan, “that they could not resist him, and so should withdraw themselves from the land of God, “into a land like their own” Isaiah 36:16-17, but whose joy and sweetness, its vines and its fig-trees, should not be from God, but from the Assyrian, i. e., from Satan.


Though they be quiet and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down - Literally, “If they be entire,” i. e., sound unharmed, unimpaired in their numbers, unbroken in their strength, undiminished, perfect in all which belongs to war; “and thus many even thus shall they be mown down (or shorn), and he passeth away”. With might outwardly unscathed, “without hand” Daniel 2:34, and “thus many,” i. e., many, accordingly, as being unweakened; as many as they shall be, “so shall they be mown down, and he,” their head and king, “shall pass away and perish” (compare Psalm 48:4). Their numbers shall be, as their condition before, perfect; their destruction as their numbers, complete. It is wonderful how much God says in few words; and how it is here foretold that, with no previous loss, a mighty host secure and at ease, in consequence of their prosperity, all are at one blow mown down, like the dry grass before the scythe, are cut off and perish; and one, their king, “passeth away,” first by flight, and then by destruction. As they had shorn the glory of others Isaiah 7:20, so should they be shorn and cut down themselves.

Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more - oUnless by new guilt thou compel Me. God always relieves us from trouble, as it were with the words, “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” John 5:14. In the end, afflictions shall be turned into joy, and “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore paid” Revelation 21:4.


For now will I break his yoke from off thee - God, lest His own should despair, does not put them off altogether to a distant day, but saith, now. Historically, the beginning of the fall is the earnest of the end. By the destruction of Sennacherib, God declared His displeasure against Assyria; the rest was matter of time only. Thus, Haman‘s wise men say to him, “If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him” Esther 6:13; as He saith in Isaiah, “I will break the Assyrian in My land, and upon My mountains tread him underfoot; then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders” Isaiah 14:25.: “In that He saith, not ‹I will loose,‘ ‹will undo,‘ but ‹I will break,‘ ‹will burst,‘ He sheweth that He will in such wise free Jerusalem, as to pour out displeasure on the enemy. The very mode of speaking shows the greatness of His displeasure against those who, when for the secret purpose of His judgments they have power given them against the servants of God, feed themselves on their punishments, and moreover dare to boast against God, as did the Assyrian, ‹By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom‘ Isaiah 10:13.”


And the Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee, O Assyrian - In the word “I have afflicted thee,” the land of Israel is addressed, as usual in Hebrew, in the feminine; here, a change of gender in Hebrew shows the person addressed to be different.: “By His command alone, and the word of His power, He cut off the race of the Assyrian, as he says in Wisdom, of Egypt, “Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven, out of Thy royal throne; as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction, and brought Thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with death,” (Wisd. 18:15,16), or else it may be, He gave command to the Angels His Ministers. God commands beforehand, that, when it comes to pass, it may be known “that not by chance,” nor by the will of man, “nor without His judgment but by the sentence of God” the blow came.

No move of thy name be sown - As Isaiah saith, “the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned” Isaiah 14:20. He prophesies, not the immediate but the absolute cessation of the Assyrian line. If the prophecy was uttered at the time of Sennacherib‘s invasion, seventeen years before his death, not Esarhaddon only, but his son Asshurbanipal also, whose career of personal conquest, the last glory of the house of the Sargonides and of the empire, began immediately upon his father‘s reign of thirteen years, was probably already born. Asshurbanipal in this case would only have been thirty-one, at the beginning of his energetic reign, and would have died in his fifty-second year. After him followed only an inglorious twenty-two years. The prophet says, “the Lord hath commanded.” The decree as to Ahab‘s house was fulfilled in the person of his second son, as to Jeroboam and Baasha in their sons. It waited its appointed time, but was fulfilled in the complete excision of the doomed race.

Out of the house of thy gods will I cut off graven image and molten image - As thou hast done to others Isaiah 37:19, it shall be done to thee.: “And when even the common objects of worship of the Assyrian and Chaldean were not spared, what would be the ruin of the whole city!” So little shall thy gods help thee, that “there shalt thou be punished, where thou hopest for aid. ‹Graven and molten image‘ shall be thy grave; amid altar and oblations, as thou worshipest idols,” thanking them for thy deliverance, “shall thy unholy blood be shed,” as it was by his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer. Isaiah 37:38. “I will make it thy grave”;, what God makes remains immovable, cannot be changed. But He “maketh thy grave” in hell, where not only that rich man in the Gospel hath his grave; but all who are or have been like him, and especially thou, O Asshur, of whom it is written, “Asshur is there and all her company; his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword. Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living” Ezekiel 32:22-23. “Graven and molten image,” the idols which men adore, the images of their vanity, the created things which they worship instead of the true God (as they whose god is their belly), in which they busy themselves in this life, shall be their destruction in the Day of Judgment.

For thou art vile - Thou honoredst thyself and dishonoredst God, so shalt thou be dishonored, as He saith, “Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” 1 Samuel 2:30. So when he had said to Edom, “thou art greatly despised” Obadiah 1:2, he adds the ground of it, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee. For thou art vile” Obadiah 1:3. Great, honored, glorious as Assyria or its ruler were in the eyes of men, the prophet tells him, what he was in himself, being such in the eyes of God, light, empty, as Daniel said to Belshazzar, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and found wanting” Daniel 5:27, of no account, vile.


Behold upon the mountains, the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace - From mountain-top to mountain-top by beacon-fires they spread the glad tidings. Suddenly the deliverance comes, sudden its announcement. “Behold!” Judah, before hindered by armies from going up to Jerusalem, its cities taken 2 Kings 18:13, may now again “keep the feasts” there, and “pay the vows,” which “in trouble she promised;” “for the wicked one,” the ungodly Sennacherib, “is utterly cut off, he shall no more pass through thee;” “the army and king and empire of the Assyrians have perished.” But the words of prophecy cannot be bound down to this. These large promises, which, as to this world, were forfeited in the next reign, when Manasseh was taken captive to Babylon, and still more in the seventy years‘ captivity, and more yet in that until now, look for a fulfillment, as they stand.

They sound so absolute. “I will afflict thee no more,” “the wicked shall no more pass through thee,” “he is utterly (literally, the whole of him) cut off.” Nahum joins on this signal complete deliverance from a temporal enemy, to the final deliverance of the people of God. The invasion of Sennacherib was an avowed conflict with God Himself. It was a defiance of God. He would make God‘s people, his; he would “cut it off that it be no more a people, and that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” Psalm 83:4. There was a more “evil counselor” behind, whose agent was Sennacherib. He, as he is the author of all murders and strife, so has he a special hatred for the Church, whether before or since Christ‘s Coming. Before, that he right cut off that Line from whom “the Seed of the woman” should be born, which should destroy his empire and crush himself, and that he might devour the Child who was to be born Revelation 12:4.

Since, because her members are his freed captives, and she makes inroads on his kingdom, and he hates them because he hates God and Christ who dwells in them. As the time of the birth of our Lord neared, his hate became more concentrated. God overruled the hatred of Edom or Moab, or the pride of Assyria, to His own ends, to preserve Israel by chastising it. Their hatred was from the evil one, because it was God‘s people, the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, the line of David. If they could be cut off, they of whom Christ was to be born according to the flesh, and so, in all seeming, the hope of the world, were gone. Sennacherib then was not a picture only, he was the agent of Satan, who used his hands, feet, tongue, to blaspheme God and war against His people. As then we have respect not to the mere agent, but to the principal, and should address him through those he employed (as Elisha said of the messenger who came to slay him, “is not the sound of his master‘s feet behind him?” 2 Kings 6:32), so the prophet‘s words chiefly and most fully go to the instigator of Sennacherib, whose very name he names, Belial. It is the deliverance of the Church and the people of God which he foretells, and thanks God for.

To the Church he says in the Same of God, “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more” Nahum 1:12. The yoke which He will burst is the yoke of the oppressor, of which Isaiah speaks, and which the Son, to be born of a Virgin, “the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace,” was to break Isaiah 9:4, Isaiah 9:6; the yoke of sin and the bands of fleshly pleasure and evil habits, wherewith we were held captive, so that henceforth we should walk upright, unbowed, look up to heaven our home, and “run the way of Thy commandments when Thou hast set my heart at liberty.” Behold, then, “upon the mountains,” i. e., above all the height of this world, “the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,” i. e., of remission of sins and sanctification by the Spirit and the freedom and adoption as sons, and the casting out of the Prince of this world, “that publisheth peace.” “O Judah,” thou, the true people of God, “keep thy solemn feasts,” the substance of the figures of the law.: “He who is ever engaged on the words, deeds and thoughts of Him, who is by nature Lord, the Word of God, ever lives in His days, ever keeps Lord‘s days. Yea he who ever prepares himself for the true life and abstains from the sweets of this life which deceive the many, and who cherishes not the mind of the flesh but chastens the body and enslaves it, is ever keeping the days of preparation. He too who thinks that Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us, and that we must keep festival, eating the flesh of the Word, there is no time when he keeps not the Passover, ever passing over in thought and every word and deed from the affairs of this life to God, and hasting to His city. Moreover whoso can say truthfully, we have risen together with Christ, yea and also, He hath together raised us and together seated us in the heavenly places in Christ, ever lives in the days of Pentecost; and chiefly, when, going up into the upper room as the Apostles of Jesus, he gives himself to supplication and prayer, that he may become meet for the rushing mighty wind from heaven, which mightily effaces the evil in men and its fruits, meet too for some portion of the fiery tongue froth God.”: “Such an one will keep the feast excellently, having the faith in Christ fixed, hallowed by the Spirit, glorious with the grace of adoption. And he will offer to God spiritual sacrifice, consecrating himself for an odor of sweetness, cultivating also every kind of virtue, temperance, continence, fortitude, endurance, charity, hope, love of the poor, goodness, longsuffering: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Every power of the enemy, which before had dominion over him, shall pass through no more, since Christ commanded the unclean spirits to depart into the abyss and giveth to those who love Him power to resist the enemy, and subdue the passions, and destroy sin and tread on serpents and scorpions and every power of the enemy.”

And these feasts were to he kept “in the spirit not in the letter. For what avails it to keep any feast wilhout, unless there be the feast of contmplation in the soul?”. Wherefore he adds, “and pay thy vows,” i. e., thyself, whom in Baptism thou hast vowed: for the Wicked One shall no more pass through thee.: “For from what time, O Judah, Christ, by dying and rising again, hallowed thy feasts, he can no longer pass through thee. Thenceforth he perished wholly. Not that he has, in substance, ceased to be, but that the death of the human race, which through his envy came into this world, the two-fold death of body trod soul, wholly perisheth. Where and when did this Belial perish? When died the death which he brought in, whence himself also is called Death? When Christ died, then died the death of our souls; and when Christ rose again, then perished the death of our bodies. When then, O Judah thou keepest thy feast, remember that thy very feast is He, of whom thou savest that by dying He conquered death and by rising He restored life. Hence it is said, Belial shall no more pass through thee.

For if thou look to that alone, that Sennacherib departed, to return no more, and perished, it would not be true to say, Belial hath wholly perished! For after him many a Belial, such as he was, passed through time, and hurt thee far more. Perchance thou sayest, ‹so long as Nineveh standest, how savest thou, that Belial has wholly perisited? So long as the world standeth, how shall I be comforted, that death hath perished? For lo! persecutors tamed with death have stormed, and besides them, many sons of Belial, of whom antichrist will be the worst. How then sayest thou, that Belial has wholly perished?‘ It follows, “the Scatterer hath gone up before thee.” To Judah in the flesh, Nebuchadnezzar who went up against Nineveh, was worse than Sennacherib. Who then is He who went up before thee, and dispersed the world, that great Nineveh, that thou shouldest have full consolation? Christ who descended, Himself ascended; and as He ascended, so shall He come to disperse Nineveh, i. e., to judge the world. What any persecutor doth meanwhile, yea or the Devil himself or antichrist, takes nothing from the truth, that Belial hath “wholly perished.” “The prince of this world is cast out.” For nothing which they do, or can do, hinders, that both deaths of body and soul are swallowed up in His victory, who hath ascended to heaven? Belial cannot in the members kill the soul, which hath been made alive by the death of the Head, i. e., Christ; and as to the death of the body, so certain is it that it will perish, that thou mayest say fearlessly that it hath perished, since Christ the Head hath risen.”

Each fall of an enemy of the Church, each recovery of a sinful soul being a part of this victory, the words may be applied to each. The Church or the soul are bidden to keep the feast and pay their vows, whatever in their trouble they promised to God. Jerome: “It is said to souls, which confess the Lord, that the devil who, before, wasted thee and bowed thee with that most heavy yoke hath, in and with the idols which thou madest for thyself, perished; keep thy feasts and pay to God thy vows, singing with the angels continually, for no more shall Belial pass through thee, of whom the apostle too saith, What concord hath Christ with Belial? The words too, Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace” belong, in a degree, to all preachers of the Gospel.: “No one can preach peace, who is himself below and cleaves to earthly things. For warn are for the good things of earth. If thou wouldest preach peace to thyself and thy neighbor, be raised above the earth and its goods, riches and glory. Ascend to the heavenly mountains, whence David also, lifting up his eyes, hoped that his help would come.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Nahum 1:4". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". "www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/nahum-1.html. 1870.


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Sunday, August 14th, 2016
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
About a hundred years before, at Jonah's preaching, the Ninevites repented, and were spared, yet, soon after, they became worse than ever. Nineveh knows not that God who contends with her, but is told what a God he is. It is good for all to mix faith with what is here said concerning Him, which speaks great terror to the wicked, and comfort to believers. Let each take his portion from it: let sinners read it and tremble; and let saints read it and triumph. The anger of the Lord is contrasted with his goodness to his people. Perhaps they are obscure and little regarded in the world, but the Lord knows them. The Scripture character of Jehovah agrees not with the views of proud reasoners. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is slow to wrath and ready to forgive, but he will by no means acquit the wicked; and there is tribulation and anguish for every soul that doeth evil: but who duly regards the power of his wrath?
Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 109

The depths of the earth are the Lord's arsenal, whence were drawn weapons to be employed in the destruction of the old world. Waters gushing from the earth united with the waters from heaven to accomplish the work of desolation. Since the Flood, fire as well as water has been God's agent to destroy very wicked cities. These judgments are sent that those who lightly regard God's law and trample upon His authority may be led to tremble before His power and to confess His just sovereignty. As men have beheld burning mountains pouring forth fire and flames and torrents of melted ore, drying up rivers, overwhelming populous cities, and everywhere spreading ruin and desolation, the stoutest heart has been filled with terror and infidels and blasphemers have been constrained to acknowledge the infinite power of God. PP 109.1

Said the prophets of old, referring to scenes like these: “Oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence! When Thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, Thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at Thy presence.” Isaiah 64:1-3. “The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers.” Nahum 1:3, 4. PP 109.2

More terrible manifestations than the world has ever yet beheld, will be witnessed at the second advent of Christ. “The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?” Nahum 1:5, 6. “Bow Thy heavens, O Lord, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out Thine arrows, and destroy them.” Psalm 144:5, 6. PP 109.3

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 364

The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword
and the glittering spear:
And there is a multitude of slain....
PK 364.1

“Behold, I am against thee,
Saith the Lord of hosts.”
PK 364.2

Nahum 3:1-5. PK 364

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 81

These manifestations bear the special marks of God's power, and are designed to cause the people of the earth to tremble before him, and to silence those, who like Pharaoh would proudly say, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?” Isaiah refers to these exhibitions of God's power where he exclaims, “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence as when the melting fire burneth. The fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence. When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. 3SG 81.1

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry and drieth up all the rivers. Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. 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 thrown down by him. 3SG 81.2

“Bow thy heavens, O, Lord, and come down. Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them. Shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.” 3SG 81.3

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