I. THE MESSENGER: HIS PERSONALITY. "Nahum the Elkoshite."
1. His name. "Nahum," signifying "Consolation;" and whilst this scarcely accords with the character of his mission as the proclaimer of Divine judgments, yet, interspersed with the heavy tidings concerning Nineveh, we have here very tender and consolatory words addressed by him to his own afflicted nation (vers. 7, 12, 13-15).
2. His birthplace. He was "the Elkoshite," a native of Elkosh, a village of Galilee. This has been questioned, and a tradition has been appealed to representing that he belonged to the Captivity, and was born at Alcosh, a town near Mosul. It has been urged, however, that much of the phraseology he employs, together with certain familiar references to places, connects him unmistakably with North Palestine.
II. THE CHARACTER OF HIS MESSAGE. "The burden of Nineveh."
1. It was a message to be delivered to a heathen nation. Like the message of Jonah, to which it has been fittingly described as being "the complement and the counterpart," it indicates theft God holds wider relations with mankind than the Jews were prepared to admit; and that all nations and peoples lie within the range of his providence and power.
2. It was a message full of dark forebodings. It told of impending judgment and of national destruction and desolation. The sombre announcements were unrelieved even by a single word of hope being addressed to the guilty nation. The Ninevites had previously recognized the Divine righteousness, and upon their repentance had experienced the Divine clemency; but this had been followed by relapse into the grossest iniquity, and there remained now only the experience of the threatened ruin - the nation should be "utterly cut off." "The burden of Nineveh" was also the burden of Nahum. His few words recorded here addressed to his own people are sufficient to indicate that he was a man of refined susceptibilities; and to such a man his commission must have been indeed oppressive. Yet he would not shrink, but would faithfully fulfil his trust. Whilst the mercy and love of God should be the constant theme of the modern teacher, yet the great and solemn fact of his retributive justice must not be ignored. There is to be declared "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).
III. THE DIVINE AUTHORITY WITH WHICH HE WAS INVESTED. A plain man unfolding such teachings respecting a mighty heathen power might well be required to furnish his credentials. And we have his authority expressed in the words, "the vision of Nahum." A Divine insight had been imparted unto him; there had been given him "visions and revelations of the Lord," and of his terrible doings about to be wrought. Such apprehension of spiritual realities is absolutely essential in order to constitute any man a messenger of God to his age (1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 1 Peter 1:12; 1 John 4:14).
IV. THE PERMANENT RECORD OF HIS SOLEMN TEACHING. "The book of the vision," etc. (ver. 1). This is the only form in which mental thoughts and conceptions can be lastingly perpetuated. The matchless works of the great, masters in painting, sculpture, and architecture, which have excited the admiration of the whole world, can have but a limited existence; no copy equal to the originals can be made; and in the waste and wear of time these must inevitably pass away; whereas the literary productions of men of genius will continue to live on; for time does not impair that, art by which books are reproduced and the circle of their influence extended. The Bible is a collection of books; and the remarkable unity combined with progressiveness traceable therein furnish's very convincing evidence of its Divine origin. Written prophecy forms a most important feature in this development of truth. It was not only necessary that the prophets should labour (as they did so earnestly) to maintain religion amongst the people who had been chosen of God and separated to his praise, but also that, as the work of prophecy advanced, there should be indicated and recorded how that the Lord was working among the nations, Hebrew and heathen alike, and bringing about the fulfilment of his all-wise and gracious purposes. And viewed under this aspect, "the book of the vision of Nahum tim Elkoshite" fills an important niche, whilst its grave words of admonition and warning may well lead evil doers to reflection and penitence, and its occasional words of hope to the pious and God fearing may serve, in troublous times, to keep their hearts in quietness and assurance. - S.D.H.
The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
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