On an ancient playground two little boys get in a verbal spat.
“Hey lil’ Judah, your daddy is about as powerful as a malnourished gnat”, the mighty Assyria says with a big bully shove.
The barbs continue, and given the circumstances little Judah is without much of a comeback. “Your daddy is about as ferocious and brave as a fainting goat.” “Yo daddy so dumb, when somebody told him it was chilly outside he brought a bowl”. On and on it goes with little Judah not having much to say in defense.
As he sits in ashes and shame all lil’ Judah can really muster is a quiet, “Just you wait, my daddy is gonna show His power.”
Having a weak daddy can be damaging to a little boy’s psyche. It induces a great sense of shame whenever little boys perpetually lose these playground battles. As the other kids talk about how their daddy can wrestle bears, buy them gadgets, and win Pulitzer prizes the little guy who has Steve Urkel for a daddy doesn’t have a ton of ammo to bring to these “my daddy…” battles. The implication is that if daddy can’t win there is no way that I can.
And let’s be honest. As it stood in world history it seemed as if the Assyrians daddy, Ashur, was far more powerful than Judah’s daddy, YHWH. I mean what kind of dad sits by and lets their little boy get his lunch money stolen day after day after day? Day after day little Judah sat in shame and had to listen to all the taunts about how impotent his daddy was.
Comfort from Nahum
Finally, the mountains quake, the hills melt, and the whole earth begins to heave. YHWH is preparing His speech. Daddy is going to not only shame the bully but expose the non-existence and powerlessness of the bullies daddy. In the Old Testament book of Nahum that is exactly what God does. For three chapters God taunts His (and lil’ Judah’s) enemy.
Reading through the three chapters of Nahum can leave the reader wondering where in the world is Jesus in this scary oracle. If you read it as a message to soon to be fallen Nineveh then it makes little sense. He is obviously not trying to get his enemies to back down, because he is not interested in their repentance or their redemption. He might be hoping to shame his enemies and to show His power, but that display is not for Nineveh—it’s for the benefit of lil’ Judah.
The message of Nahum is that lil’ Judah can trust in his daddy. “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (1:7). And as YHWH taunts, belittles, and ultimately destroys Nineveh, those words form a deeper meaning in the heart of lil’ Judah. He doesn’t need to win those playground battles because the more significant victory will be his. Your daddy is your refuge, trust him!
As the shame and destruction of Nineveh is foretold through Nahum’s taunt, I cannot help but see this as a shadow of a greater victory that will be forthcoming.
Some 700 years later another son is going to endure the mocking, the scorn, and the disgrace of playground bullies. Only this time they’ll nail him to a tree as they attempt to enshrine his shame. Yet once again, daddy shows up and displays his power. Tying His son to a Roman gibbet will not have the last word! You cannot hide him in a hole in the side of a hill!
As the son ascends from the darkened tomb the Father’s taunt begins. The works of the devil are slowly--yet surely and quite cataclysmically--being destroyed. Cancer. Rape. Lust. Idolatry. And even the greatest enemy Death. You’ve got nuthin’ fools! Just as surely as Assyria became as nothing so will these great enemies of the Lord.
Just you wait! Daddy will show you how great He is!