- What do we learn in this chapter about God: (a) in relation to his own people, and (b) in relation to his enemies? Cf. Luke 18:7, 8; 2 Thess. 1:8; Num. 14:17, 18; Ps. 46:1.
- Nineveh’s boastful spirit is see in Is.36:18-20; 37:23-25; Zeph. 2:15. But how does Nahum regard her in relation to God’s power? See verses 3b-6, 9-12a, 14; and cf. Ps. 37:35, 36.
- Consider how verse 7 is illustrated in the story of Kgs. 18 and 19, which happened less than a century before Nahum’s time. Have you your own illustration to give out of your own experience?
Nahum 2 and 3
These two chapters are two separate odes describing the fall of Nineveh. In chapter 2 the prophet depicts the approach of the enemy (verse 1 a) and ironically summons the people to defend their city (verse 1b). Then follows a description of the attackers within and without the wall (verses 3-5), The river gates are forced, the place is in panic, the queen captured, the people flee (verses 6-8), and looting follows (verse 9). The chapter ends with a picture of Nineveh overthrown, lying desolate in her ruins. Chapter 3 declares the city’s guilt and her punishment (verses 1-7), and bids her take warning form the fate of Thebes (verses 8-10). Nineveh’s strength’s strength fails (verses 11-15a). Though her people are without number, and her merchants are as numerous as locusts, yet, like locusts, they will fly away (verses 15b-17). Her rulers perish, her people are scattered. All who hear of her fall will rejoice (verse 18, 19).
- Read each chapter aloud, if possible in Moffatt’s translation. What were Nineveh’s sins that brought upon her so terrible a retribution? See also 1:11. What does this show of God’s attitude even to non-Christian societies? Does he care whether they are righteous or corrupt? If God cares, should we?
- How does Nahum show the converse of Rom. 8:31; i.e, if God be against us, who can be for us? Cf. Ps. 34:16; Jer. 37:9, 10. Have you ever experienced this in your own life, with all circumstance going against you that in fact God was against you?
- What is the prophet’s first complaint, and what is God’s strange answer to Habakkuk? See 1:2-3, 5-11.
- What further problem does this raise in the prophet’s mind, and what answer is he given? See 1:12-17 and 2:2-5.
- What course of action does 2:1 suggest that the Christian should adopt when perplexed at God’s dealings? Cf. Ps. 73:16, 17; Mic. 7:7. Are you faithful in this way?
- 1:7b. The Chaldeans so-called ‘justice and dignity’ are arbitrary and self-determined.
- 2:2. God’s answer is to be written down plainly so that it may be read at a glance.
- 2:4, 5. God’s answer is in two parts: (a) The arrogant Chaldean, whose soul is not upright, shall fail and pass away. Cf. Is. 2:12-17. (b) The righteous man will endure. He will live by his faith, a faith inspired by God’s faithfulness, which keeps him steadfast. The profound truth expressed here is seen in its full significance in the gospel of Christ. Cf. Rom. 1:16, 17.
- Sum up in one or two words each of the evils against which the five ‘woes’ of these verses are pronounced. Are these evils found in the world today? What can those who commit them expect?
- In contrast to verses 18, 19, ponder the promise of verse 14 and the command of verse 20. How were these, a warning to the plunderer, and a comfort to the plundered? What response should they inspire in us? Cf. Ps. 73:16-26.
Habakkuk prays that God will show himself once again as long ago (verses 1, 2), and then describes a vision of God coming to deliver his people. Past, present and future are intermingled. God’s self-revelation in the past at Sinai, at the Red Sea, and at the entrance of Canaan are pictured under the image of a thunderstorm rolling up from the south and breaking upon Palestine. The same ‘Holy One’ is at work also in the present, and the tumults of the nations are the tokens that he has come in judgment to work salvation for his people.
- Habakkuk considered God’s working in the past with longing and fear (verses 1, 2). Do we know such longing? Cf. Pss. 85:6; 143:5, 6; Is. 64:1-3. Why was he afraid? Cf. Heb. 12:21, 28, 29.
- The poetry describes political upheavals. Cf. Is. 29:5-8. Yet the poetry also is full of God’s acts. How does this vision teach us to regard the world-happenings of our own day? What is God’s purpose through them? Cf. Ps. 74:12; Luke 21:25-28.
- Verse 3. ‘Teman’, ‘Mount Paran’: i.e., the region of Sinai.
- Verse 4. Allusions to lightning and thick clouds.
- Verse 8. The answer is found in verses 13-15.
- What two effects did the vision have on Habakkuk? With verse 16, cf. Dan. 10:8; Rev. 1:17. With verses 17, 18, cf. Ps. 73:25, 26; Phil. 4:11-13. Are we as sensitive as Habakkuk was to the glory and the faithfulness of the God with whom, by grace, we have to do?
- What three things did God – trusted and rejoiced in – do for the prophet? Cf. Ps. 18:32, 39; Zech. 4:6; Is. 40:31. Which of these do you particularly need God to do for you?
- Verse 16. ‘Decay crept into my bones’: a Hebrew idiom expressing complete loss of strength. Cf. Prov. 12: 4; 14:30. With the last part of this verse, cf. 2 Thess. 1:6-8.
- Verse 19. To ‘go on to the heights’: a picture of triumph and security. Cf. Deut. 33:29c.