- 1 I’m thanking the LORD with all my heart.
My LORD and God, you are magnificent.
You present yourself in splendor,
- 2 And then you add a glowing light.
You unfold the sky like it’s just a tent.
- 3 You build your home
On beams driven into the sea.
You ride the wind on chariot clouds.
- 4 The wind delivers your message.
Ministers of flaming fire burn it in.
- 5 You put the earth on solid footing
So it will never ever slip away.
- 6 You filled the planet with oceans
That had one day covered the mountains.
- 7 Water receded at the sound of your voice.
The thunder scared it away.
- 8 Mountains rose and the valleys dipped
As you choreographed their dance.
- 9 You set limits the oceans can’t cross,
So they won’t swallow up the land.
You give us water to drink
- 10 You’re the reason springs gush with water
And flow on their way down the hills.
- 11 They quench the thirst of every critter.
Wild donkeys drink to their fill.
- 12 Birds of the sky make their home nearby,
Where they sing among branches and leaves.
- 13 You water the mountains
From your storehouse above.
And the earth is glad that you do.
- 14 You grow the wild grass for livestock.
You grow vegetables for hardworking folks,
Giving them food from the earth.
- 15 There’s wine to cheer up the people,
Olive oil to moisten dry skin,
And food to nourish the body.
- 16 Trees you made drink all they want
Including great cedars of Lebanon.
- 17 There the birds build their nests
And storks make a home
In the towering juniper trees.
- 18 High mountains you made for wild goats.
Rock badgers find a home in the cliffs.
- 19 You made the moon to mark months and seasons.
Your sun knows its way through the sky.
- 20 You call in darkness,
And here comes the night,
When animals prowl the land.
- 21 Lions roar for a prey
As they look for food
Served by the hand of God.
- 22 But when the sun comes up, they go down,
To rest in their dens for the day.
- 23 People will work all day.
But work ends in the evening.
God, the great inventor
- 24 LORD, you sure have made a lot of things.
In your wisdom, you made them all.
Now, the world is full and you own it.
- 25 Look at that sea, stretching far and wide,
Full of creatures too many to count,
Animals large and small.
- 26 Ships sail the sea,
Where Leviathan1 plays,
That massive sea creature you made.
- 27 They all depend on you
To give them their food
When you say the time is right.
- 28 You give it to them, and they eat it up.
You serve to satisfy hunger.
- 29 You abandon them, to their terror.
When you take their breath, they die.
Then in time, they turn to dust.
- 30 When your Spirit2 breathes on them
They come to life.
And new life appears on the earth.
Thank you, thank you Lord
- 31 May you always receive the honor you deserve.
And may you be happy about all you’ve done.
- 32 You glance at the earth and it trembles.
You touch the mountains and they smoke.
- 33 I’ll sing to the LORD as long as I breathe.
I’ll sing to God as long as I live.
- 34 I hope you’re pleased with the way I’ve praised you.
I’m certainly delighted with you.
- 35 I hope that one day, sinners are gone.
I hope the wicked won’t exist anymore.
I’m thanking the LORD with all my heart.
Thank you, thank you, LORD.
Leviathan often shows up in ancient stories as a vicious sea monster. Here, it’s just a big, wet animal having fun in the water. There was an ancient myth in Canaan, in what became the Jewish nation, that a seven-headed monster creature lived in the sea: Leviathan. The name shows up in Job 3:8; 41:1 and in Isaiah 27:1. The psalm writer in 74:14 uses the name to argue that God is stronger than the strongest creatures we can imagine. It’s unclear if Jews of ancient times believed the stories. But they lived by the Mediterranean Sea and they seemed to prefer herding and farming to sea travel or saltwater fishing. Phoenicia in what is now Lebanon was the seafaring nation. Israel seemed to lean more toward sea-fearing. In fairness, they didn’t have a natural harbor on the coast. King Herod the Great, a thousand years after King David, built a huge harbor at Caesarea, north of what is now Tel Aviv.
The Hebrew word can mean: wind, spirit, breath. It’s the same word used to describe God’s work in Creation: “God’s Spirit cruised through the darkness, above the water” (Genesis 1:2). It’s the word used to describe the death of people and animals during the Flood: “If it lived on land and drew a breath it died” (Genesis 7:22). Even in New Testament times, wind and breath symbolized life. “Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22). It’s hard to imagine Jesus going up to each disciple, blowing into the man’s face, and telling him to receive the Holy Spirit—even though wind will be associated with the Spirit’s arrival (Acts 2:2). But the image, whether literal or figurative, sounds very much like what was going on in the Creation story. “The LORD God made a man from the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath that brought him to life” (Genesis 2:7). One suggestion some scholars make is that just as God blew the breath of life into human beings (whether literally or figuratively), Jesus blew the breath of eternal life into the disciples, through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This did not necessarily mark the beginning of God’s new creation, launched by the resurrection of Jesus after he conquered death. But it may have marked the beginning of humanity’s role in God’s new creation.