Job 41 Meaning: Let’s turn in our Bibles to Job, chapter 41. Lord-willing, we’ll be finishing this chapter today! We’ll be studying verses 22-34. If you want to study verses 12-21 read this. Verses 1-11 are here.
And we’re entering into this section of God responding to Job’s accusations throughout this book. And in this last bit of this response we’ve seen the Lord point Job’s attention to this creature called Leviathan.
And in our last lesson we saw the Lord declare that he won’t keep silent about how he created this beast – but rather that he was going to elaborate on Leviathan’s physical features. And so, that’s just what he did for most of the last part that we studied. And the Lord continues doing that in these last verses of this chapter that we’ll be studying right now.
So, the last thing we heard about was how Leviathan literally breathed fire out of his mouth!
Job 41 Meaning: Neck
And now, in verse 22, the Lord continues to speak of Leviathan’s attributes – what he’s like. And God is going to mention the strength of this creature’s neck.
22 In his neck [remaineth/lodges/resides] strength,
and [sorrow/dismay/despair] [is turned into joy/leaps/runs/goes] before him.
So, that first statement is easy enough to understand – Leviathan has a really strong neck. That’s simple.
But what about that second statement? What does it mean and how does it relate to the first statement? Does it relate to that first statement?
Well, I think that the way we would tend to read the KJV rendering of that verse might give us the wrong impression. When it says, “sorrow is turned into joy before him,” what impression does that bring to your mind?
I’ll tell you how I picture it. We’ve had God talk about how frightening and dangerous and deadly this creature is for the last 21 verses. And all of a sudden, we get to the second line of verse 22 and it’s as if the dark clouds roll away – the sun starts to shine – and all of God’s creatures scamper joyfully in front of Leviathan and lead him on a joyful happy parade!
That cannot be what God is saying! Context, context, context!
What God is saying is that it’s as if sorrow or dismay or despair leap before him or run before him. In other words, these emotions are coming for you unless you get out of his way! Leviathan is a menacing, terrifying – and as the first line of this verse says – strong beast that you need to avoid.
And just like Leviathan, God is strong. He’s all-powerful. And to stand in his way is to invite upon yourself sorrow.
He is a God to be loved and close to. But he’s also a God who is strong and to be respected and yes feared.
Job 41 Meaning: Flesh
Well, the Lord wants to move on to the next physical attribute of Leviathan that is noteworthy. And that’s his flesh in verse 23.
23 The [flakes/folds] of his flesh are joined [together/tightly]:
they are firm [in themselves/on him]; [they cannot be moved/immoveable].
So, Leviathan’s skin had folds that were apparently very tight. So tight – in fact – that they were practically unmovable.
Now, God’s human creatures these days spend a lot of money on trying to achieve what Leviathan already had. You could go to a store and be confronted with a good portion of an aisle dedicated to tightening the folds of your flesh – to use the language of this passage. Maybe someone here could capitalize on this and develop some Leviathan cream!
Anyway, Leviathan had tight skin and that’s because that’s how God made him. He did nothing to get that kind of skin.
And just like Leviathan’s skin – God can’t be moved either. And we’ve explored that consideration already so I won’t belabor it here.
But in addition to God’s inability to be moved if he doesn’t want to be move, just like the tightness of Leviathan’s skin – I think that we’ve come to appreciate – as surely Job had – the way that God manages this creation. How tightly ordered this cosmos is. What integrity the systems that God has created display. How well God knows his routine – what needs to happen when.
It’s like having a boss who knows your job better than you do. He knows what needs to happen when. And you can be assured that nothing will get dropped or be forgotten.
So, that’s what we learn of God through a consideration of Leviathan’s skin.
Job 41 Meaning: Heart
And next up, God wants to showcase Leviathan’s heart or perhaps more broadly his chest.
24 His [heart/chest] is as [firm/hard] as a [stone/rock];
[yea,/even] as hard as a [piece of the nether/lower] millstone.
So, let’s consider millstones. These are and were stones that would be used to grind grain into flour. Of course, they needed to be hard and heavy.
In the setup that God is alluding to here, you’d have one large, hard, heavy stone that served as a base on the bottom of the setup. And then there’d be another stone that was rolled on top of that lower stone. And in between the two stones would be the grain.
And so, that lower stone needed to be hard.
And that’s what God is saying the heart or chest of Leviathan is like. It’s hard and strong!
And there’s one way to think of this if God is speaking of his heart and another way to think if he’s speaking about his chest.
If God is speaking of Leviathan’s heart as being hard then we might think of this beast as cruel and callous. Nothing can move him emotionally. He’s hard like that.
If God is speaking of Leviathan’s chest as being hard then we get another picture of impenetrability. We’re reminded once more that Leviathan is practically invincible and untouchable.
And either of these situations can be applied in certain ways to God and what he’s like. God doesn’t need to be moved emotionally by anything – and yet we see him condescend to his creatures and show emotions – anger, joy, sorrow, etc. And of course, as has been mentioned many times in this chapter, God is unable to be affected by anything if he doesn’t want to be – not even attempts by his human creatures to manipulate him as Job and his three friends had done.
Job 41 Meaning: Effect on Others
Well, the hard-hearted and hard-chested Leviathan – like God – tends to be unaffected by others. And yet, this beast had quite an affect himself upon other creatures.
25 When he raiseth up himself, the mighty [are afraid/fear/are terrified]:
[by reason of/because of/at its/before his] [breakings/the crashing/its thrashing] they [purify themselves/are bewildered/withdraw/retreat].
So, even the most powerful flee in terror when Leviathan raises itself up – and then crashes itself down or thrashes around or whatever it chooses to do.
And of course, if this beast that was created by the Lord has this kind of effect on even the most powerful of its fellow-creatures – then how much more should even the mightiest human fear the Lord when he raises himself up?
And God has done this to Job. He is raised up in a whirlwind. And we’ve seen and will yet again see Job’s response. It’s a proper fear and reverence of this supreme being who created this terrifying creature, Leviathan.
Job 41 Meaning: Inability to be Attacked Successfully
And part of what causes this creature Leviathan to have so terrifying of an effect on others was the difficulty that anyone would have in attacking him.
26 The sword of him that [layeth at/reaches/strikes] him [cannot hold/cannot avail/will have no effect]:
the spear, the [dart/arrow], nor the [habergeon/javelin].
So, to bring a sword against Leviathan would have no effect. Neither would the spear or arrow or javelin.
Job 41 Meaning: Ineffectiveness of Weapons Against Him
And that’s because the material that these devices are made of are nothing to Leviathan.
27 He [esteemeth/regards/treats] iron as straw,
and [brass/bronze] as rotten wood.
Straw and rotten wood of course are very flimsy. And yet to this amazing creature, they might as well be iron and bronze – or vice versa. The material doesn’t matter due to the strength and ferociousness and imperviousness to attack that Leviathan had.
And so, God turns once more from the materials of these weapons that have no effect on Leviathan to the weapons themselves.
28 The arrow [cannot/do not] make him flee:
slingstones [are turned/become like/are like] [with/to] him [into stubble/chaff].
So, he’s not afraid of arrows. And his mindset concerning stones that someone might use to throw at him – which would be very heavy and solid – well, Leviathan considers them as if they’re like stubble or chaff that are easy to just blow away. They’re light and inconsequential.
And the Lord wants to speak one more time of how ineffective weapons are when it comes to Leviathan.
29 [Darts/Clubs] are [counted/regarded] as [stubble/a piece of straw]:
he laugheth at the [shaking/rattling] of [a/the] [spear/javelin/lance].
And so that ends a section of a few verses where God wants to impress on the hearers the fact that no weapon is effective against Leviathan.
And the Lord ends that section stating Leviathan’s response to all of these weapons. He laughs.
And that reminds us of the Lord’s response to those who rage against him. Psalm 2 – the Lord laughs. Just like Leviathan does – the Lord laughs at all those who rage against him.
Job 41 Meaning: His Wake
So, the Lord has already spoken a few verses ago about Leviathan’s effect on the mighty around him. But now, he’s going to highlight the effect of Leviathan on his surrounding environment in verses 30 through 32.
30 [Sharp/Jagged] [stones/potsherds] are [under him/his underparts/his underside]:
he [spreadeth/leaves its mark like/leaves a trail like] [sharp pointed things/like a threshing sledge] [upon the mire/in the mud].
So, Leviathan’s belly had a sharp and hard covering and as he would slide on by through the mud, he would leave an unmistakable mark. You could tell that he had been there. He had a visible effect on his surroundings.
So, that’s the solid surface he was traveling on. And from there he goes down into the water and so let’s see what happens there in verse 31.
31 He maketh the deep to boil like a [pot/cauldron]:
he [maketh/stirs up] the sea like a pot of ointment.
Now, we need to consider what God means here. Is he being literal about the sea boiling? He could be. After all, Leviathan could breathe fire!
Or perhaps God is being poetic and is wanting to portray the bubbles that would be created by Leviathan’s sharp twists and turns in the water as if the water were literally boiling.
Either way, we’re told by the Lord of Leviathan’s effects on the water that surrounds him.
And I think God is envisioning the water a little bit lower down. But in the next verse – verse 32 – the Lord speaks of Leviathan’s effects on the surface of the water.
32 He [maketh/leaves] a [path/wake] [to shine/that glistens] [after/behind] him;
one would think the deep [to be hoary/to be gray-haired/has a head of white hair].
So, picture the wake created by a boat. And that’s close to what Leviathan made the surface of the water to look like as he passed by through it.
So, whether it’s the ground he’s on or the water he’s in – both down deep and on the surface – Leviathan left his mark everywhere he was.
And God is similar. Romans 1 tells us that everything that he’s created bears his marks. And so, no one is excused from worshipping him and giving him thanks.
Even in Job’s suffering, God’s marks – his handiwork – was all over it. Job clearly recognized that God was behind his suffering. It was evident that this was God’s doing. Now, Job didn’t like it – but he did recognize it. It’s unmistakable. Just like the effects that Leviathan leaves behind him in his environment. Clearly discernible.
Job 41 Meaning: Uniquely Fearless
Well, two verse left in this chapter.
And so, the next verse has God pointing to the uniqueness and fearlessness of Leviathan.
33 [Upon/On] earth there is [not his like/nothing like him/nothing his equal],
[who is made/one made/a creature] without fear.
So, God extols Leviathan as uniquely fearless. And why shouldn’t he be? He has no predators and he’s pretty much invincible. Really, the only thing that can end this creature’s life is the Lord himself, who gave him that life.
And if the Lord points to Leviathan as a one-of-a-kind creature, then how much more uniquely excellent is that one who created him?
And this lack of fear that Leviathan had corresponds to the lack of fear that Behemoth had. And we’re supposed to imitate Behemoth and think of God the way we think about Leviathan - and so this is not the time to encourage ourselves to be fearless. Rather, this is where we should marvel at the fact that God never fears. He has no fear. What would God ever be afraid of? There is no unknown to him. There are no credible threats. He can’t die. He cannot be injured or wounded.
Job 41 Meaning: Triumph Over the Proud
And so, the Lord finishes his speech about Leviathan in verse 34 with a note on how Leviathan triumphs over the proud.
34 He [beholdeth/looks on/looks down on] [all high things/everything that is high/every haughty being]:
he is a king over all [the children of pride/that are proud].
And this is the kind of work that God had ordered Job to do back in chapter 40. If Job thought that he could be God, then the Lord told him that one of the things he needs to do is to look on the proud and deal with them.
Well, Job was unable to do that – at least to the extent that God could. And yet, even Leviathan – this creature – is able to do that. Leviathan doesn’t struggle with proud people. He will kill them in an instant. If they wanted to attack him, they’d never succeed. Leviathan is better at “being God” in that sense than Job was.
And so, all of this calls for a great deal of humility from Job. God has inundated him with a barrage of questions that he can’t answer. And now the Lord has challenged him to try to be God, to imitate Behemoth, and finally here to consider God the way he would consider this dangerous creature Leviathan.
So, what we saw in verse 34 is the last statement made by God to Job which we have recorded in this book. God is going to speak to Job’s three friends in the next chapter, but this is the last thing he says to Job.
And so, next time Lord-willing we’ll wrap up this study we’ve been having over the past year in the book of Job.