The short prophecy of Nahum is all about the destruction of the important city of Nineveh. It was an ancient city, erected initially by Nimrod (Gen. 10:8). Later it came into prominence in the Old Testament because of the successful mission of Jonah when he reluctantly brought a message of repentance to its citizens about a century before.
Sadly their descendants had quickly forgotten the repentance of a previous generation and had indulged in extremely cruel behaviour as they conquered various nations, including the northern kingdom of Israel. Now another message is said about them, but this time there will be no opportunity of repentance.
No one knows if Nahum even told the people of Nineveh about what would happen to them. Instead his message could have been designed to bring comfort to God’s people in Judah as they feared that the fate that other nations had endured from Nineveh would happen there as well because it was making inroads into their territory. So he encouraged them by saying that God would come as a warrior against their strong enemy and Nineveh, with all its power, would be unable to defend itself.
In 1:7, Nahum reminds the people of Judah that they can take refuge in God. They can do so because he is good. His goodness is displayed in a range of ways depending on the circumstances in which he intends to display it. Here he will show it by protecting them when he unleashes his judgments on their enemies.
In 1:12-13, the Lord comforts his people that his time of chastisement is over for them and he will provide them with the benefits of freedom. This may be a promise to the northern tribes that their God had not forgotten them. When he comes to their aid, he will provide a complete deliverance.
What are the messages of this book for us today? There are four at least. One is that God will judge wicked cities. A second is that he can restore his people from deep captivity. A third is that we can find refuge in him in the most difficult of days. A fourth is that experiencing revivals from God in the past is no guarantee of faithfulness to God in the future.