Nahum 3:18 – Your shepherds are asleep, O king of Assyria; your nobles slumber. Your people are scattered on the mountains with none to gather them.
The book of Nahum depicts a battle between the stronghold of Assyria’s capital and the Lord of hosts; between the one who thought they held the power and the one who is all-powerful. The devil had a firm hold on the nation’s leaders and had created a barbaric people who destroyed everything in sight. Like locusts, they stripped all other nations bear leaving nothing but devastation. It is probable that Nahum’s prophecy took place during the reign of king Ashurbanipal, Sennacherib’s grandson, and self-titled ‘king of the world’. He was a skilled warrior and hunter and saw himself as a great lion. Historical writings show him stating: ‘I pierced the throats of raging lions, each with a single arrow.’ There was one lion he didn’t see coming – The Lion of Judah ‘who roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem’ (Joel/Amos). The challenge goes out:
“Where is the lions’ den, the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion and lioness went, where his cubs were, with none to disturb?”
The king sat in splendor in his palace within Nineveh, the beating heart of Assyria, and he thought nothing could touch him or his people. Nahum informs him that his nobles slumber and the shepherds of the people, sleep. Soon, all that he thought was secure would be scattered and the cave that he filled with prey would be destroyed. Through this prophecy we see the full nature of God:
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.”
For Judah he extended hope, for Nineveh he executed justice. Unlike the Assyrians who would have none to gather them, we have a great shepherd who protects us and there is one thing we can be absolutely sure of – our shepherd never sleeps, for ‘he who keeps you will not slumber (Ps121), he does not faint or grow weary’ (Isa40).
As with Jonah, Nahum also ends with a question which, although directed at Assyria, is ultimately directed at the devil – “For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?” The devil knows that his end has also been foretold and a time is coming when he too will be destroyed by fire and God’s children will be freed from all pain and suffering.
Until that day, make the Lord your stronghold and take your refuge in him.