And the Lord hath given, &c.— And this is the decree of the Lord concerning thee: there shall hereafter be no seed of thy name. I will take away the graven image from the house of thy god, and I will make a little cottage thy sepulchre, because thou art vile. Nahum denounces against king Sennacherib, who was to be slain, that he should not be buried in the royal sepulchre of his fathers, but in some paltry and obscure cottage by his murderers. Houbigant; who closes the chapter with this verse, and begins the second with the 15th, which refers to the entire destruction of the Assyrian army, and the joy of Judah in consequence. Instead of the wicked, Houbigant reads Belial; referring, as above, to Sennacherib.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, At the preaching of Jonah the Ninevites repented, and were spared; but, returning as the dog to their vomit again, Nahum is sent about a hundred years after to pronounce their doom, and bind the heavy burden of God's wrath upon them.
His prophesy is called The book of the vision of Nahum: it was what God revealed to him, and he wrote in a book, and sent probably to Nineveh. The prophet is called the Elkoshite, from the name of the place of his birth.
2nd, Like the pillar of the cloud and fire, the description of the divine perfections and glory, in the second and following verses, speaks terror to the church's foes, and comfort to her friends: wrath most fearful and mercy most adorable are here revealed. To Nineveh God makes himself known:
1. As the jealous God, who avengeth the indignities put upon him. The Lord is jealous of his own honour, and will not suffer his glory to be given to idols, nor tamely see his people insulted: he revengeth; thrice it is repeated, to shew the certainty and fearfulness of his vengeance: he is furious, or master of wrath, hath it under command, can restrain or let it loose at his pleasure, and this without that perturbation which ever accompanies it in our minds: he reserveth wrath for his enemies; though spared long by his patience, there is wrath in store for the impenitent; and, though slow to anger, he will not at all acquit the wicked, who, in opposition to all his warnings, persist in their rebellion against him: they will at last be condemned and executed.
2. His power is great, yea, irresistible: if he be angry, yea, but a little, who may abide it? All the elements wait his orders; the wind and storm fulfil his word, and the clouds are the dust of his feet; on these he cometh forth to judgment, and desolation marks his way. At his rebuke the sea, the rivers, are dried, as when of old he opened a way through them for his people to pass over; and the most fruitful spots, as Bashan and Carmel, languish when he is pleased to restrain the dew of heaven. His earthquakes shake the tottering mountains and trembling hills; or the mightiest nations, such as the Assyrian, compared to these for strength, are cast down before his indignation. At his presence the earth is burnt, with the parching sun-beams, or forked lightnings, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein, as it will be at last in the universal conflagration, 2 Peter 3:10. Before such indignation, such devouring fire, who can stand, when even the massy rocks are thrown down as stubble before him: so weak, so easily ruined, are the greatest kingdoms, and the most hardened and daring sinners. We may well say of such an omnipotent God, that it is good to have him for our friend, but terrible to meet him as an enemy.
3. His mercy to his faithful people is as great as his wrath towards his enemies. The Lord is good in himself, and in all the dispensations of his providence and grace; a strong-hold in the day of trouble, as Hezekiah found when he was invaded by Sennacherib, and as the faithful will ever prove him to be amid all the trials and temptations with which they are exercised: he knoweth them that trust in him, renouncing every other confidence, and staying themselves on him alone; these he knows, approves, delights in, and will protect and preserve them from the power of evil. But with an over-running flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, of Nineveh; his judgments, like a deluge, shall overwhelm the city and destroy it; and darkness shall pursue his enemies, the darkness of affliction and trouble here below; and hereafter they shall be driven into eternal darkness, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
3rdly, We have a continuation of the dreadful judgments which Jehovah will inflict upon the Ninevites.
1. The Lord mocks at their impotent designs. What do ye imagine against the Lord? how vain the counsel, how fruitless the attempt! There is one come out of thee, Sennacherib, that imagineth evil against the Lord, to plunder his temple, and make captive his people; a wicked counsellor, who by Rabshakeh advised the people to despair of God's help, abandon their king, and submit to his yoke, Exodus 18:29-31 but their policy was as unavailing as their power. See the Annotations.
2. He threatens them with utter ruin. He will make an end of them at once, and there will be no need to repeat the blow; so complete shall be their destruction. Unprofitable as thorns, and like them bound up ready for the burning, and drunken as drunkards, incapable of making resistance, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry, in which the fire rages, and quickly and irrecoverably it is consumed. Thus saith the Lord, whose word is faithful, though they be quiet, secure of success, and likewise many, and therefore fearing no opposition, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. So often do we see sinners cut off in the midst of their carnal security. Nor shall the king escape: the Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown; his fame and glory should be spread no farther. Out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image; this should be the case when the capital should fall into the enemies' hand: I will make thy grave, for thou art vile; which perhaps may refer to king Sennacherib, brought ignominiously to the dust, because of his vileness and wickedness; or to Nineveh, whose inhabitants should be buried in the ruins of the city, because of their iniquities. Note; They who make themselves in God's sight vile by their sins, shall shortly be made an abhorring unto all flesh.
3. God will save his faithful people out of all their troubles. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more; that is to say, no more by Sennacherib, or his successors in Nineveh, to whom they had been tributary: from their bondage God's people shall be set free, the figure of that more glorious liberty into which Jesus, our Redeemer, has brought the sons of God. Then shall the glad tidings be diffused through the land of Nineveh destroyed; and peace shall return after the ravages of war. Judah must perform her vows made in the day of distress, and now piously and thankfully to be paid to God for her complete deliverance from so dreadful an enemy. Nor is this only a present mercy; but it is farther promised, that the wicked shall no more pass through thee, he is utterly cut off; no more should they be invaded by them, but the race of Sennacherib, and Nineveh, the seat of empire, should be utterly cut off and destroyed. Note; (1.) The gospel proclaims the glad tidings of pardon and peace by Jesus Christ, and of victory over all our spiritual foes; and beautiful upon the mountains are their feet who publish these tidings of joy (2.) Every mercy that we receive from God should be an engagement to our fidelity, and quicken us in his worship and service.