When a defendant stands before a judge, he or she is at the mercy of the court. If the defendant is innocent, the court should be a refuge. But if the defendant is guilty, we expect the court to exact punishment.

In Nahum, we see God as both a refuge and a judge. It says, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble” (1:7 niv). But it also says, “He will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness” (v.8 niv). Over 100 years earlier, Nineveh had repented after Jonah preached God’s forgiveness, and the land was safe (Jonah 3:10). But during Nahum’s day, Nineveh was plotting “evil against the Lord” (Nah. 1:11). In chapter 3, Nahum details Nineveh’s destruction.

Many people know only one side of God’s dealings with the human race but not the other. They think that He is holy and wants only to punish us, or that He is merciful and wants only to show kindness. In truth, He is judge and refuge. Peter writes that Jesus “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). As a result, He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (v.24).

The whole truth about God is good news! He is judge, but because of Jesus, we can go to Him as our refuge.