The [a]oracle (a burdensome message—a pronouncement from God) concerning [b]Nineveh [the capital city of Assyria]. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh [which he saw in spirit and prophesied]. – Nahum 1:1
The poor prophet by whom the word of the Lord is here delivered: It is the book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. The burden of Nineveh was what the prophet plainly foresaw, for it was his vision, and what he left upon record (it is the book of the vision), that, when he was gone, the event might be compared with the prediction and might confirm it. All the account we have of the prophet himself is that he was an Elkoshite, of the town called Elkes, or Elcos, which, Jerome says, was in Galilee. Some observe that the scripture ordinarily says little of the prophets themselves, that our faith might not stand upon their authority, but upon that of the blessed Spirit by whom their prophecies were indited. – Matthew Henry
The burden, i.e., the threatening words, concerning Nineveh are defined in the second clause as (sēpher châzōn), book of the seeing (or of the seen) of Nahum, i.e., of that which Nahum saw in spirit and prophesied concerning Nineveh. The unusual combination of (sēpher) and (châzōn), which only occurs here, is probably intended to show that Nahum simply committed his prophecy concerning Nineveh to writing, and did not first of all announce it orally before the people. – Keil & Delitzsch
Important for exegesis of the book is the realization that Nahum’s literary skill is not merely a display of his craftsmanship for his readers or a means of enlivening an otherwise colorless statement. Rather, his literary figures not only assist and enrich the understanding of the meaning of the text but are the very form and content in which its meaning is to be apprehended. Further, they demand that the reader respond to their message in the totality of his being. One will not appreciate so fine a piece of literature as Nahum’s prophecy unless he approaches it with his whole person—intellectually, emotionally, and volitionally, and, above all, in full dependence upon the Holy Spirit. – Richard Patterson
No doubt we all have felt overwhelmed by the darkness both within ourselves and in our world. Nahum lived in a dark time, a time in which the faithful few must have wondered how long they would have to resist cultural and spiritual compromise.