Monday, February 18, 2013

Nahum 1:1-2 (Part 2)

The superscription of this prophecy has actually raised suspicion among the higher critics because it is doubled (as if this is a forbidden procedure). Generally speaking prophecies always start out with a singular title. The rejection of part of the superscription because it is a double title flies in the face of the same phenomenon elsewhere (e.g., Hos. 1:1, 2; Amos 1:1; Mic. 1:1; cf. Isa. 13:1). This book however has two titles. It calls itself “the burden of Nineveh,” and then it calls itself “the vision of Nahum.” There’s really nothing suspicious about this. It just goes to show you that when a person has an anti-Christian presupposition, no excuse is too flimsy to be marshaled in against God’s word.

Throughout my life I have had countless conversations with cynics and skeptics, and whenever they take their best shot, it always astounds me that people who seem otherwise intelligent should put such great stock in such weak arguments. Modern atheist cosmologists, such as Francis Crick, scoff at the notion of the divine origin of the universe. They treat it as an insult to their intelligence to be asked to believe in God, and yet their explanation for the existence of life on earth is a theory called cosmic panspermia. This theory holds that extraterrestrial civilizations have purposely sent microorganisms (as sort of the seeds of life) throughout the universe, but to earth in particular, with the deliberate purpose of seeding new life here on earth. If we can demonstrate that this is, in fact, the origin of life on earth, then we can forever discount the creation myth of the Bible. Never mind the obvious question this raises: What is the origin of these extraterrestrial life forms?” Adding more cars to a train does not account for its movement; you need an engine for that. This theory still does not account for the engine. And this theory, mind you, is meant to be an intelligent alternative to the biblical doctrine that God created all things. As I said, when one rejects God presuppositionally, no idea is too flimsy, nor is any excuse too weak. St. Augustin wrote, “If you believe what you like in the Gospel and reject what you don’t, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”

1:2ff Having drawn the reader’s attention to a sovereign and just God who deals in judgment with the ungodly (v. 2), Nahum develops this theme in a twofold hymn to Yahweh concerning the character and work of God: (1) although the Lord is long-suffering, He will assuredly judge the guilty with all the force that a sovereign God can muster (1:3-6); and (2) although the Lord is good and tenderly cares for the righteous (particularly in times of affliction), He will destroy those who plot against Him (1:7-10).

Verse 2 is simultaneously theme and opening hymnic expression, is doubly indicated in the Outline (see introduction) and in the present discussion (i.e., 1:2-6; 1:7-10). After the statement of the thesis, the hymn is developed around two nonverbal sentences setting forth two aspects of Yahweh’s character: (1) “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power” (v. 3, NIV); (2) “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble” (v. 7, NIV). These two statements serve as headings to units that amplify the thematic sentiment in v. 2. The two sections thus formed are likewise composed in a similar format:
(1) descriptive statement(s) followed by conjunctive waw;*
(2) further development given in controlling introductory forms: prepositional phrase (v. 3b), emphatic accusative (v. 8b);
(3) conclusion marked by rhetorical questions (vv. 6a, 9) and figurative reinforcement (vv. 6b, 10).
3a & 7a the and (3a) and the comma (7a) are conjunctive waw’s that equate two modifiers.
3b & 8 use prepositional phrases and accusatives (the grammatical case that marks the direct object of a verb or the object of any of several prepositions) for developing the introductory forms
4 & 8 share the water motif
6a & 9 - Rhetorical questions
6b & 10 - Figurative reinforcement

3a corresponds to 7a; 3b corresponds to 8b; 4a corresponds to 8a; 6a corresponds to 9a and 6b corresponds to 10.

The following color-coded presentation of the passage should serve to demonstrate the point being made about the parallel structure of the two halves of the hymn of 1:2-10.

2. The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.

3. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
4. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers.
5. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it.
6. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
7. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
8. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
9. What do you plot against the LORD? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time.
10. For they are like entangled thorns, like drunkards as they drink; they are consumed like stubble fully dried.


  1. Just did another retour of this "little powerhouse," Nahum. Thumbnail version, "Shut up, listen, learn the fear of His Majesty, believe him, and walk in His fear." The quote belongs to me. Will ponder your post as a retour is sched'd in 14 days.

  2. Thanks for your remarks. Nahum is a fascinating book. Unfortunately Marcionic spirits have neglected it. Nahum truly is a "comfort" to the elect of God. The majesty of God; His sovereignty; His disposal of the nations for His decreed purposes; His saving of His people in the destruction of the reprobate; indeed, all the gospel themes are in this small 49 verse book. Behold on the mountains the feet of him who brings the Gospel!


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