Nahum is the prophet of Nineveh, that great city which represented the mighty Assyrian empire. In its heyday that empire marched across the world of the ancient near east intimidating the nations. Her cruelty was proverbial and her power invincible. Nation after nation and city after city crumbled before the massive might of the Assyrian military machine. There was no fortress or citadel which seemed able to withstand the force of this monster. Little wonder that she is severely censured as the ‘bloody city’ which exulted in the torture and agony of her victims, 3. 1. The plunder and captives of the nations were carried back to Nineveh just as a lion takes the prey back to its den, 2.11-12. The plunderer will now herself be plundered! The destroyer will be destroyed! For all the perpetrators of evil, the day of vengeance and reckoning will eventually come.
The agonising question of breaking hearts and those who are the victims of such ruthless injustice is ‘Yes, but why is the day of judgement so long in coming?’. Nahum supplies an answer to this persistent query. The Lord is ‘slow to anger, and great in power’, 1. 3. He does not execute His vengeance in a hurry. That is not because of any inadequacy or weakness in His strength. If He is ‘great in power’, v. 3, why does He not exert that power and summarily right the wrongs of earth?
It is in face of such a delay that Nahum proffers his message of salvation. God’s delay is His longsuffering, giving opportunity for repentance. In this breathing space men can find the shelter they need. Where there is true repentance there is a refuge, for ‘The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him’, 1. 7. Nahum’s name means ‘consolation’, and this is the comfort in his message.
There is no third option. It is either the fortress for the men of faith, v. 7, or the ‘overrunning flood’ for the foes, v. 8. May we prove the sufficiency and strength of this great stronghold. Its walls are impregnable; its foundations are firm; its strength is invincible; its inhabitants are divinely secure. Let us hide there in all our times of trouble and, like Martin Luther, sing, ‘A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing’.