I’m doing an essay on the bit of the Bible where God talks about the Leviathan – cool, huh! I’m amazed by how much effort has gone into trying to work out what the Leviathan was, and how much literature refers to Moby Dick! Apparently it is quite exegetically important whether the Leviathan was a real or mythical creature, but what struck me was how much God delights in this creature.
The Leviathan’s fearsome teeth (v.14), snorting (v.18) and flame spewing (v.20) are described in graphic detail and we’re told the mighty are terrified and retreat before its thrashing (v.25). The picture is quite terrifying – this seems like quite the monster! Yet, at the same time, God will not fail to speak of its grace and strength (v.21)! There is a sense of appreciation of this creature.
Likewise, in another part of the same set of speeches, where God talks about how he’s ordered the world, there is a description of an ostrich – and what a stupid animal it is, for God did not endow her with wisdom (v.17)! Yet, this is part of God’s good creation and the way he has set things up.
I find it amazing that God appreciates in his creation that which is monstrous and that which is silly. I tend to think of these things as post-Fall distortions but here there’s no mention of the Fall – they are creatures of wonder, even in their monstrosity or silliness! Some have suggested that this points to a ‘dark side’ of God but it seems to me that this is a God who is able to rejoice in his creation. Period.
As I blogged in my self esteem post, there’s a sense in which each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made, even though we are post-Fall! Is there one perfect personality? Body type? Sense of humour? It seems to me that the God of the Leviathan and the ostrich delights in the diversity of creation! You can know that God delights in you not because you conform to a particular model, but because he made you!
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.