Who wrote it?
The author of the book of Nahum identifies himself as Nahum (in the Hebrew “consoler” or “comforter”) the Elkoshite (1:1). There are many theories as to where that city was though there is no conclusive evidence. One such theory is that it refers to the city later called Capernaum (which literally means “the village of Nahum”) at the Sea of Galilee.
When(ish) was it written?
Given the limited amount of information that we know about Nahum, the best we can do is narrow the timeframe in which the book of Nahum was written to between 663 and 612 BC. Two events are mentioned that help us to determine these dates. First, Nahum mentions Thebes (No Amon) in Egypt falling to the Assyrians (663 BC) in the past tense, so it had already happened. Second, the remainder of Nahum’s prophecies came true in 612 BC.
Why was it written?
Nahum did not write this book as a warning or “call to repentance” for the people of Nineveh. God had already sent them the prophet Jonah 150 years earlier with His promise of what would happen if they continued in their evil ways. The people at that time had repented but now lived just as bad if not worse than they did before. The Assyrians had become absolutely brutal in their conquests (hanging the bodies of their victims on poles and putting their skin on the walls of their tents among other atrocities). Now Nahum was telling the people of Judah to not despair because God had pronounced judgment and the Assyrians would soon be getting just what they deserved.
Some Key Verses
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
– Nahum 1:7
The Lord has given commandment about you: “No more shall your name be perpetuated.”
– Nahum 1:14
Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!
– Nahum 1:15
Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts.
– Nahum 2:13
There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?
– Nahum 3:19
A Quick Summary
Nineveh once had responded to the preaching of Jonah and turned from their evil ways to serve the Lord God. But 150 years later, Nineveh returned to idolatry, violence, and arrogance (Nahum 3:1–4). Once again God sends one of His prophets to Nineveh warning of judgment in the form of the destruction of their city and exhorting them to repentance. Sadly, the Ninevites did not heed’s Nahum’s warning, and the city was brought under the dominion of Babylon.
Paul repeats Nahum 1:15 in Romans 10:15 in regard to the Messiah and His ministry, as well as the apostles of Christ in His time. It may also be understood of any minister of the Gospel whose business it is to “preach the good news.” God has made peace with sinners by the blood of Christ, and has given to His people the peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The preacher’s work is also to “preach the good news” (Romans 10:15) of reconciliation, righteousness, pardon, life, and eternal salvation by a crucified Christ. “How beautiful are the feet” of those who preach the Gospel, and bring such news (Romans 10:15). The imagery here is of one who runs to others, eager and joyful to proclaim the Good News.
What does this mean?
God is patient and slow to anger. He gives every country time to proclaim Him as their Lord. But He is not mocked. Any time a country turns away from Him to serve its own motives, He steps in with judgment. As Christians it is our duty to stand up for biblical principles and scriptural truth, for the Truth is our only hope.
Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Nahum 1:1-7, Song of Solomon 8:6-7, and Ephesians 2:1-6. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
A “jealous” person holds feelings of envy toward others due to their achievements or possessions. How do you struggle with jealousy? How is our sinful jealousy “of” others different from God’s righteous jealousy “for” us?
Nahum describes God as “avenging” and “wrathful.” Do you consider these attributes to be positive or negative? How does the fact that God is “all powerful” impact the way we experience His vengeance and wrath?
The Lord is “slow to anger.” Are you? How short (or long) is your fuse before you “explode” in anger? Consider how God’s patience with you could have an impact on your willingness to choose patience with others.