Slaying the Leviathan

I have been fascinated by the word Leviathan ever since I was a child in Sunday School and heard it for the first time. According to Merriam-Webster, a Leviathan is defined as a sea monster defeated by Yahweh in various scriptures; a large sea animal; a totalitarian state having a vast bureaucracy; or something large and formidable.

Formidable, like a two-year-old having a tantrum. Or a pandemic. Or a terminal diagnosis. Or an angry church member.

I was surprised to see the way Leviathan is used in this Psalm. Here we see a playful image of a sea creature splashing around and romping among the ships. What a delightful picture!

Psalm 104 (Common English Bible)

Lord, you have done so many things!
    You made them all so wisely!
The earth is full of your creations!
25 And then there’s the sea, wide and deep,
    with its countless creatures—
    living things both small and large.
26 There go the ships on it,
    and Leviathan, which you made, plays in it!

I love this twist of meaning. It serves to remind us today that no matter what large and formidable thing is confronting us, it is all under God’s command, and he can turn something threatening into something placid in an instant. Indeed, everything and everyone waits for God for sustenance, fulfillment, and even life itself.

27 All your creations wait for you
    to give them their food on time.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled completely full!
29 But when you hide your face, they are terrified;
    when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to dust.
30 When you let loose your breath, they are created,
    and you make the surface of the ground brand-new again.

Did you need to be reminded today that God is in control of his creation, even when everything you see seems to be saying otherwise? I did. Viruses, riots, protests, fear, violence, hatred, judgment, slander…all of it falls under his power and purview. Yes, it seems large and formidable to us. But God touches the mountains and they smoke.

31 Let the Lord’s glory last forever!
    Let the Lord rejoice in all he has made!
32 He has only to look at the earth, and it shakes.
    God just touches the mountains, and they erupt in smoke.

So let us sing to the Lord and be pleasing to him, and him alone. And may he slay the Leviathan in your life, whatever that may be. Rejoice in the Lord, always.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I’m still alive.
34 Let my praise be pleasing to him;
    I’m rejoicing in the Lord!

Spouting Leviathan by Karen McCauley

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