Verses 11–13

Here we have Nineveh’s ruin, 1. Triumphed in by its neighbours, who now remember against it all the oppressions and abuse of power it had been guilty of in its pomp and prosperity (Nah. 2:11, 12): Where is the dwelling of the lions? It is gone; there appear no remnants, no footsteps, of it. Where is the feeding place of the young lions, where they glutted themselves with prey? The princes of Nineveh had been as lions, as beasts of prey; cruel tyrants are no better, nay, in this respect much worse—that, being men, humanity is expected from them; nay, if they were indeed lions, they would not prey upon those of their own kind. Savis inter se convenit ursae—Fierce bears agree together. But in the shape of men they had the cruelty of lions: they walked in Nineveh as a lion in the woods, and none made them afraid; every one stood in awe of them, and they were under no apprehensions of danger from any; though nobody loved them, every body feared them, and that was all they desired. Oderint, dum metuant—Let them hate, so that they do but fear. The king himself, as well as every prince, made it his business, by all the arts of violence and extortion, to enrich himself and raise his family; he did tear in pieces enough for his whelps (and no little would be enough for them) and he strangled for his lioness, killed all that came near him, and seized what they had for his children, for his wives and concubines, and filled his holes with prey and his dens with ravin, as lions are wont to do. Note, Many make it an excuse for their rapine and injustice that they have wives and children to provide for, whereas what is so got will never do them any good; those that fear the Lord, and get what they have honestly, shall not want a competency for themselves and theirs; verily they shall be fed, when the young lions, though dens and holes were filled with prey and ravin for them, shall lack, and suffer hunger, Ps. 34:10. 2. It is avowed by the righteous Judge of heaven and earth; it is his doing, and let all the world take notice that it is so (Nah. 2:13): Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts. And what good can hosts do for her in her defence, when the Lord of hosts is against her for her destruction? The oppressors in Nineveh thought they only set their neighbours against them, who were not a match for them, and whom they could easily overpower; but it proved they set God against them, who is, and will be, the asserter of right and the avenger of wrong. God is against the princes of Nineveh, and then, (1.) These military preparations will stand them in no stead: I will burn their chariots in the smoke; he does not say in the fire, but, in contempt of them, the very smoke of God’s indignation shall serve to burn their chariots; they shall be consumed as soon as the fire of his indignation is kindled, while as yet it does but smoke, and not flame out. Or, The drivers of the chariots shall be smothered and stifled with the smoke; then the chariots of their glory shall be the shame of their families, Isa. 22:18. (2.) Their children, the hopes of their families, shall be cut off: The sword shall devour the young lions, whom they were so solicitous to provide for by oppression and extortion. Note, It is just with God to deprive those of their children, or (which is all one) of comfort in them, that take sinful courses to enrich them, and (as has been said of some) damn their souls to make their sons gentlemen. (3.) The wealth they have heaped up by fraud and violence shall neither be enjoyed by them nor employed for them: I will cut off thy prey from the earth; not only thou shalt not be the better for it, but no one else shall. Some understand it of the disabling of them for the future to prey upon their neighbours. (4.) Their agents abroad shall not have that respect from their neighbours and that influence upon them which sometimes they had had: The voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard, no more be heeded, which some think refers to Rabshakeh, one of Nineveh’s messengers, that had blasphemed the living God, an iniquity which was remembered against Nineveh long after. Those are not worthy to be heard again that have once spoken reproachfully of God.