Monthly Archives: May 2014

Minor Prophets Art: Nahum & Obadiah

Nahum and Obadiah are single-minded minor prophets, each predicting the destruction of one of  Israel’s enemies.

Nahum is a three-chapter oracle about the destruction of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. It’s all bad news for Nineveh—“the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims” (3:1-2)—from beginning to end without the happy postscript some of the minor prophets include.

Here’s the conclusion:

Nothing can heal you;
your wound is fatal.
All who hear the news about you
clap their hands at your fall,
for who has not felt
your endless cruelty?

The inhabitants of both Israel and Judah had good reason to despise the Assyrians. The Assyrian Empire under Tiglath-Pileser III (ruled 745–727 BC) subjugated much of the Middle East. Tiglath-Pileser III shows up in 2 Kings invading Israel and demanding tribute during the reign of  Menahem (2 Kings 15:19-20) and then conquering part Israel during the reign of Pekah (2 Kings 15:29). The final king of Israel, Hoshea, was an Assyrian vassal whose rebellion and attempted alliance with Egypt resulted in an invasion by Tiglath-Pileser’s son and heir Shalmaneser V. The Assyrians besieged Samaria for three years before capturing it around 720 BC, deporting many of the Israelites (the “ten lost tribes”) and resettling it with people from other conquered nations. The Assyrians under Sennacherib (ruled 705 – 681 BC) captured much of Judah and besieged Jerusalem under Hezekiah as recounted in 2 Kings 18-19. Nineveh finally fell around 612 BC to an alliance of its former vassals and was razed.

Here is the (unfinished) Nahum drawing our Sunday School artist-in-residence, Naomi Friend, produced:


The drawing depicts both the military  invasion of the city and “overwhelming flood [the LORD will use to] make an end to Nineveh.” (Nahum 1:8).

I missed this class, but Naomi tells me she was attempting to reproduce the style of two-dimensional ancient Egyptian art. This is how far she got during our hour-long class.

Obadiah is the most minor of the minor prophets and the shortest book in the Old Testament—he uses just 21 verses to prophecy the destruction of Edom, Israel’s neighbor and kin (said to consist of the descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau).

Edom is condemned for standing “aloof while strangers carried off [Israel’s] wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them” (v. 11). This may refer either to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzer in 586 BC (see Psalm 137) or some earlier event.


We covered Obadiah and Habakkuk (another one-chapter prophet) during one hour so Naomi spent just 15 minutes on this drawing, which shows the ancient city of Petra, which was in Edom. Verses 3-4 make a suitable caption:

The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’
Though you soar like the eagle
and make your nest among the stars,
from there I will bring you down,”
declares the Lord.

I’ll post Naomi’s Habakkuk drawing in my next post.

This is the fifth post of Naomi’s art from our Minor Prophets Sunday school class. Previous posts were on JonahAmosHosea and Zephaniah. Naomi’s professional art is available at

Minor Prophets Art: Zephaniah

Zephaniah is the (long-delayed) fourth installment in my presentation of art from the Minor Prophets Sunday school class I co-taught with Naomi Friend. (Previously, I posted Naomi’s art on Jonah, Amos and Hosea.)



Zephaniah isn’t the best known minor prophet, but it follows a familiar pattern. The first two thirds are a warning of coming destruction—a punishment for idolatry. Zephaniah, who prophesied during the reign of Josiah, begins with the LORD promising to “sweep away everything from the face of the earth” (1:2) and then describes the destruction of Jerusalem, which is the focus of Naomi’s drawing. (I can’t recall what she was researching on the laptop.)



The middle of the book is a series of oracles against other nations (Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Cush and Assyria) before returning to Jerusalem. Even though God has destroyed these other nations, Jerusalem has still not repented. Because of this, “The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.”

As is the case with many of the minor prophets, the oracle of destruction is followed by a promise of restoration.

“At that time I will gather you;
    at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
    among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
    before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.

As I said before, Noami’s Zephaniah drawing (click for a larger version) focuses on the destruction of Jerusalem. The prophet, standing next to animal bones, points to the fish gate (1:10) seemingly all that is left of the city. However, the white house at left represents the restoration of the faithful remnant. (As with all her drawings, she completed it during Sunday school hour with input from the class.)


Psalm 66

 Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious. (v. 1)

Psalm 66 is an extended call to worship filled with reminders of “what God has done.” This includes the Exodus (vv. 6), but also God’s testing of his people (vv. 10-12).

Your let peoples ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance. (v. 12)

In response, the psalmist promise to offer sacrifices in the temple (vv. 13-15). The final section of the psalm (vv. 16-20) has a final call to worship and expresses thanks that God has heard the Psalmist’s prayer.

The Revised Common Lectionary assigns Psalm 66 to the 6th Sunday of Easter in Year A, where it serves as a response to Paul’s address on the Areopagus (Acts 17:22-31). It is also assigned to two Sundays in Year C. We took up Psalm 66 in our class on April 13.

Psalms for All Seasons includes four Psalm 66 hymns, two of which are also in Lift Up Your Hearts.

“Come, All You People, Praise Our God” (PFAS #66C/PFAS 495/PH87 #242/PH57 #120) is from the 1912 Psalter and is one of 18 Psalm settings to appear in all three Psalter Hymnals  and Lift Up Your Hearts with the same tune (ADOWA) The tune was composed by Iowa native Charles Gabriel , the prolific gospel songwriter who composed “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” (LUYH #441) among thousands of other songs.

The gray Psalter Hymnal dropped the fourth verse so although the Psalter Hymnal Handbook claims the song versifies vv. 8-20, the hymn now actually ends with v. 18.

Come, all you people, praise our God
and tell his glorious works abroad,
who holds our souls in life;
he never lets our feet be moved
and, though our faith he often proved,
upholds us in the strife.

“Come All You People” (PFAS #66B/LUYH #496/SNC #4) is a Zimbabwean tune that appeared in Sing! A New Creation (with no explicit connection to Psalm 66) and then was included in PFAS and LUYH as a Psalm 66 hymn as it appears to be based on verse 8. The 1995 Lutheran hymnal With One Voice added two verses to make it a Trinitarian hymn. The second and third verses substitute “Savior” and “Spirit” for “Maker.”

Come, all you people, come and praise your Maker;
Come, all you people, come and praise your Maker;
Come, all you people, come and praise your Maker;
Come now and worship the Lord.

“Praise Our God with Shouts of Joy” (PFAS #66E) has modern lyrics by Christopher Idle set to GENEVAN 136.

Praise our God with shouts of joy;
sing the glory of his name;
join to lift his praises high;
through the world his love proclaim!

“Cry Out to God in Joy” (PFAS #66A) is a modern choral piece by Steven Warner. It might work best to have a soloist or choir sing the stanzas and the congregation sing the refrain. A sample is here. The chorus is also used as the responsorial setting in Psalms for All Seasons, “Cry Out to God in Joy” (PFAS #66D). It’s more singable than many of the responsorial choruses.

Sing! A New Creation includes another responsorial, “Cantad al Señor/O Sing to the Lord” (SNC #224/225), which uses uses the five stanzas of the hymn as responses to five sections of the psalm.

The Psalter Hymnals include three Psalm 66 hymns that don’t appear in the new CRC hymnals. “Come, Everyone, and Join with Us” (PH87 #66) is a versification of the entire psalm written for the gray Psalter Hymnal by Marie Post (lyrics) and Dale Grotenhuis (tune). The tune is ELEANOR.

The two additional Psalm 66 settings in the blue Psalter Hymnal are from the 1912 Psalter. “All Lands, to God in Joyful Sounds” (PH57 #118) is a versification of vv. 1-6, each verse getting its own stanza. “O All Ye Peoples, Bless Our God” (PH57 #119) is a versification of vv. 8-20.

(This is the  24th post in my continuing series on the Psalms for All Seasons Sunday school class I co-teach with Andrew Friend. Each week we sing psalm settings from Psalms for All Seasons, Lift Up Your Hearts, and other CRC hymnals. Previous posts is the series focused on Psalm 121, Psalm 122Psalms 2/99Psalm 72Psalm 95Psalm 147,  Psalm 112,  Psalm 29,  Psalm 40Psalm 23Psalm 27Psalm 130Psalm 15Psalm 51,  Psalm 6Psalm 32,  Psalm 143,  Psalms 38/102Psalm 31Psalm 116Psalm 16Psalm 22Psalm 118, and Psalms 47/93.)