THE SUPREME OTHERNESS
Lord, give me the strength never to deny You.
Read JOB 41:1–11
41 “Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
2 Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
3 Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
4 Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
5 Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
6 Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
8 If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing it is false;
the mere sight of it is overpowering.
10 No one is fierce enough to rouse it.
Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deut. 32:4).
Continuing the theme of his second speech, his divine governance in the world, the Lord displays another beast, Leviathan. He first challenges Job to contend with Leviathan (1–11) and then depicts its physical characteristics (12–34). Leviathan is sometimes seen as cosmic evil defeated by the Lord when the creation order was established. In other places, however, it is considered as a valued creature along with other animals which God commended as “good.” Leviathan’s evil characterization doesn’t seem to be obvious in this speech. Instead, it is described in a rather playful tone (5), so the meaning of this term is better left open for interpretation.
The Lord employs a series of rhetorical questions to challenge Job. Can Job catch Leviathan with a cord or hook? Can he domesticate it as a slave? Can he make it a child’s pet? Can he…? Of course the answer is “no”—there is no hope of subduing such an overpowering beast. Just as Behemoth is compared to Job, Leviathan is juxtaposed to God in verse 10—“No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me?” If Job is not able to capture Leviathan, how can he domesticate God by the retributive principle?
Everything in the world belongs to God (11b). Those who don’t have the power and understanding of governing the universe are not qualified to question his divine justice, as it is beyond human comprehension. God is not obliged to pay back any claim against him (11a). Job’s justifying himself by condemning God is proved to be ignorant, as he admits in 42:3b.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). Praise God for his power, justice and wisdom!
Lord, I acknowledge my hopeless inadequacy to even begin to understand the wisdom behind running this world and all of its inhabitants.