Focal Passage: Nahum 1:1-8
As teachers of the Bible we want to be helpful to those under our hearing. Often, we rush to practical application in a text without highlighting the truths of who God is. Nahum is clear in this text that God is jealous, sovereign, good, and just. Our job as instructors is to put God on display. The Bible is extremely practical, but the practical application often flows from mediation on the glory, wonder, and beauty of who God is.
When we teach children, we do not rush to practical application. We tell stories about God that brings to remembrance who He is and what He has done. As adults we should still be captivated by the character of God. It would do our hearts well to meditate on the attributes of who this God is. We then should link the attributes of God to biblical stories that highlight those specific aspects.
From the text we see God is jealous and takes vengeance on His enemies on behalf of His children. One biblical example is the 10 plagues against Egypt. Another attribute we see is God being sovereign over nature, life, and forces of darkness. We could consider the servant of the Lord Job and all the tragedies that befell him before he was restored. Also, God is good. He is the One who turns bitter water sweet for His children. Finally, God is just. The Philistine army was punished for their mocking of God and the people of the Lord.
We also learn in this passage God is a great comfort to His own people, even in the midst of wrath being poured out on His enemies. In fact the name Nahum means “comfort.” The comfort highlighted is a “mighty in strength” comfort. Indeed, in verse seven the Lord is demonstrated as a “stronghold in a day of distress.” If I was captured by a foreign nation and held in a foreign land but I knew the American government was concerned about me and was coming for me, even in distress I would have comfort. I have great confidence in the strength of the American military; they are the most powerful in the world. But it is not just the “who has my back” that brings comfort. It is also the assurance that the American soldiers are coming for me. The Lord is not only a mighty strength to lean on; He will come to bring me home. That is a great comfort.
The comfort emphasized in verse seven is not only one of protection, but of parental affection. “He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” The wording “cares for” literally means, “to know.” This knowledge God has for us is the basis for genuine concern. God has “taken us in” like parents adopting an outsider; bringing them into their home to be a part of the family. They are then free to enjoy all the good things as an insider. Partaking of shelter and love and ultimately having a spot at the banquet table.
God is on display by explaining His character, showing Himself faithful in the narrative of Scripture, but finally in the work of His son. Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s nature on display. He made it very clear when He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” In Nahum’s day as well as ours, we want to cry out, “God, show yourself to me.” The context of Jesus’ words that He and the Father are one comes with, “Let not your heart be troubled.” It looks like the foreign nation is winning, or that God is slow to enact punishment, or worst yet He does not care. But the Father is proclaiming through the Son, it is not over, “I will come again.” And when I do come, I will “receive you unto Myself.”
— Moore is pastor to adults at First Baptist Church, Clarksville.