We learn some important things about God in Nahum 1:2. It says, “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.” First of all, we see that God is a “jealous” God. Anderson reminds us that “God is totally different from us. He alone creates, sustains, and controls everything that exists. We must not project on to him human characteristics unless the Bible gives us the license to do so. So, when Nahum wrote that God is jealous and avenges himself, he was speaking of the perfect way that God acts, and he was not describing the rash behavior of humanity. In speaking of God as jealous, Nahum is not saying that God is: capricious—he does not have any unreasonable change of mind or character; malicious—he is not spiteful; vicious—he is not cruel. God alone is holy and pure, and works all things in accordance with his unchanging nature, as it is recorded in Genesis 18:25: ‘Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’”[1] My old seminary advisor, Dr. Elliott Johnson, says that it might best be understood in this context as meaning God is “zealous to protect what belongs to Him.”[2]

God is zealous for the people He loves and will step in to defend them against evil. Not only Is He zealous, but He will also avenge. In this case, he is referring to the people of Judah. Nahum addressed Assyria with this warning. They had already brutally taken Israel, the northern kingdom, into captivity along with other nations around them. They now were threatening Judah also. God’s message to Judah was one of comfort. In essence, God says, “You belong to Me. You are my chosen people and anyone that steps out to do you harm will face my wrath.” Bruckner says, “His wrath is a circumstantial response to those who destroy what God loves.”[3]

It appears that God takes Assyria’s endless cruelty on a defenseless Judah as a personal attack on Himself. God has this strong love for those who are His and He promises to avenge the wrong done to them. Judah is helpless before the great army of Assyria. God will take up their cause for justice. Jesus takes up the cause of the helpless. He explained his purpose when he quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2. He said that God had anointed him to “bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God.” I love the way the Living Bible translates Proverbs 31:8-9, “You should defend those who cannot help themselves. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Barker says, “In every age and against every oppressor, the Lord is a jealous and avenging God. All those who oppose the Lord receive the brunt of his wrath.”[4] I really like what John Thune, Senator from South Dakota said last year before the reversal of the Roe/Wade decision. “It’s impossible to look at an unborn baby kicking her feet and sucking her thumb on an ultrasound and see her as anything but the human being she is.” When he spoke on the Senate floor on November 30, 2021, he “noted that Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this week, is the best opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, but regardless of the outcome, he will continue to be a tireless advocate for the unborn.”[5]

[1] Anderson, Clive. 2005. Opening up Nahum. Opening Up Commentary. Leominster: Day One Publications.

[2] Johnson, Elliott E. 1985. “Nahum.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, 1:1497. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Bruckner, James. 2004. Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[4] Barker, Kenneth L. 1999. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. Vol. 20. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] https://www.thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2021/11/thune-we-must-stand-up-for-the-human-rights-of-unborn-americans