Woe To Nineveh (Nahum 3)

Scripture Text:

Nahum 3

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In chapter 3 Nineveh is described and compared to Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt. Thebes was a city proud and strong like Nineveh but whose destruction had come. As you may have sensed in your studies, the book of Nahum is a powerful indictment of a nation that seeks glory by aggression and oppression. The God of Israel not only punishes Israel’s oppressor (Nineveh/Assyria) but He is also shown to control the fate of all nations. (see more study notes below)

1. Recall an embarrassing moment of your childhood. What happened?

2. Which of the following best describes your parents’ discipline of you as a child?

  • “I’m warning you”
  • “Boys will be boys”
  • “Face the music”

3. Recall a severe childhood (or adult) punishment you received that was the result of a deliberate disobedience. How did it make you feel? Did it alter your way of life in any way?

4. How does God discipline Nineveh? How do you view God’s harshness? Why was such severity necessary?

5. What impression do the staccato phrases in verses 2 and 3 make on you? Is this Nineveh’s fate or that of her victims? Why does Nahum leave this unclear?

6. In what ways has Nineveh “played the harlot” in relation to God (verse 4)? In what ways is she “ripe” for judgment? Why would the metaphorical punishment of verses 5 and 6 be especially appropriate to her?

7. In what specific people and things does Nineveh put her trust? What images does Nahum use to describe these “trustworthy” sources? Which do you think is most striking? What is the end of each?

8. What great sin of Nineveh is graphically addressed in verses 16 and 17? How does the image of the locust fit the actions of the Ninevites?

9. Nahum means “comfort”. For whom is the comfort of Nahum’s message? Why does God send comfort to one group and wrath to another?

10. Nineveh’s first great sin (Nahum 3:13 – 15) and second great sin (Nahum 3:16, 17) are combined in Nahum 3:1. What parallels are you aware of in your nation today? Could your nation’s capital be as liable as Nineveh for bloody massacres? For lies? For making money at the expense of others?

11. What personal responsibility do you consider yourself to have in giving warning to your nation today? What would this warning look like to others? Would that make a difference?

12. In what circumstances did the Lord seem to be against you? Recall a “pressed up against the wall” or a “hiding from God” experience in your own life. Are other “gods” in your life trying to compete for your allegiance or worship? Which ones?

13. When in your life have you felt God’s comfort in a “down and out” experience?

14. What promise of God’s comfort (in the book of Nahum) means the most to you now? How do you intend to apply this to your life?

15. Try writing a song or poem of woe to any nation or group you feel are in danger of God’s judgment. Cite specific Scripture verses as “proof”. Then write a song or poem of joy and encouragement to those who serve the Lord.

Additional Comments & Study Notes:

In only 40 years Nahum’s predictions will come true in exactly the way he outlined: the Medes, Babylonians and Scythians will turn the waters of the Khoser River into the city, causing the bricks to dissolve. Nineveh will be destroyed so completely that it will be some 2,500 years before archaeological traces of this great city will be found.

Before Nineveh’s fall, Manasseh’s reign will come to an end with his death. His son, Amon, supports idolatry and wickedness and is assassinated after a brief rule of two years. He is succeeded by Josiah, the most godly king that Judah has ever known. In the next 5 posts we will look at

  • the reign of King Amon
  • the early reforms of King Josiah
  • and the prophecies of Zephaniah