Nahum 3:15-17 – Cankerworms, Locusts and Grasshoppers


In verses 15 through 17, of chapter 3, the prophet Nahum brings the word of the Lord God using the imagery of insects – specifically the cankerworm, locusts and the grasshoppers. Nahum 3:15-17 reads “15 There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts. 16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth away. 17 Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.

The Biblical cankerworm is a reference to the larval stages of a locust, which like its adult form, has a voracious appetite, feeding and spoiling all vegetation, in the fields they invade. Verses 15 and 16 speaks of the invading Medo-Babylonian army as cankerworms and locusts that shall devour the vile Assyrian rulers and people. Even if the Assyrians made themselves as many cankerworms and as many locusts, the invading army of the Medo-Babylonians shall still prevail. They shall spoil (plunder) and flee with (take away) the uncountable merchandise (wealth) of the Assyrians, who had multiplied as merchants greater in number than the stars of heaven (Genesis 15:5). The Medo-Babylonian army shall invade Assyria just like a plague of locusts (Exodus 10:1-20), devastating all that they will come across.

Interestingly now, God through his prophet Nahum, in verse 17, uses the same species of insects to describe the Assyrians as he did of the Medo-Babylonians army. The crowned (royal princes of Assyria) are compared to locusts and their captains to great grasshoppers. Locusts have been observed to have their flight impeded when the temperature falls below a certain range but when the sun rises, they fly away. The nobles and the rulers of the land of Nineveh, are like these locusts that are immobile during the night and when the  sun rises, they fly away leaving and not looking back at their city and/or its people (Nahum 2:8).

Points to ponder:
One of the many plagues, ,that the Lord God sends to show his people, and the Egyptian Pharoah and the Egyptians, that he was the Lord, and that he would deliver his people from slavery (Exodus 7:3-5, Exodus 10:2), was the plague of locusts. God sends the Medo-Babylonian army as cankerworms and locusts, to comfort his people ,by affirming that the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble and he knows those who trust in him (Nahum 1:7). God likens the vile Assyrian rulers and captains to locusts and grasshoppers to demonstrate that when it is dark and cold, even the great rulers are immobilized and lifeless before the living God and when the light shines, they are no where to be found.

Are you a spiritual slave in bondage to sin? Are you being oppressed seeking the Lord as your stronghold? Do your oppressors seem like they can take your life out of you? If so, take comfort and remember that the Lord is a good God who delivers. He is a stronghold in the tempestuous and trying situations of life and he can immobilize the forces that are against you, if you trust in him, for he knows you – and guess what, he may even use cankerworms, locusts and grasshoppers to prove himself to you.

Nahum 3:15-17 (KJV)
15 There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.
16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth away.
17 Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.

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