In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent…
Amid the different and difficult interpretations and the numerous and dubious applications given to these verses, we may discern some truths respecting God's treatment of human character.
I. HIS TREATMENT OF THE WICKED.
1. The sharpness of his instruments. He punishes with "a sore and great and strong sword" (ver 1) He "whets his glitter-nag sword (Deuteronomy 32:41). Out of the mouth of the Son of God "goeth a sharp sword" (Revelation 19:15). The various miseries, visitations, calamities, which come to us as the sad consequences of sin are God's sword - pain, sickness, separation, bereavement, famine, war, death, etc.; sore and sharp and strong are these.
2. The thoroughness of his judgments. It is not only that the blows he sends are severe, but his judgments are continued and are multiplied till all their punitive or corrective work is done. He will "go through the briars and thorns" which are spoiling his vineyard, and will burn them together (ver. 4). "The defended city shall be desolate," so abandoned of man that the calf shall feed there and lie down and browse upon the branches, and these shall be so withered that the women shall come and "set them on fire" (vers. 10, 11). When headstrong and rebellious men defy the power and despise the Word of God, they find that they are contending with One whose correction is not confined to one or two blows. God pursues such men with his holy and righteous punishment, until the briars are consumed, until the city is desolate, until the haughty heart is humbled to the very dust.
3. The opening which he offers them. "Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me," etc. (ver. 5). The most rebellious may return unto him: Ahab may humble his heart, Manasseh may repent, Saul the persecutor may become his most active servant, taking hold of his Divine magnanimity, which is the strength of the Divine character.
II. HIS TREATMENT OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
1. The care which he takes of them. He turns the neglected wilderness into a cultivated vineyard (ver. 2); he, the Lord, does keep it night and day; he waters it every moment; he guards it against the despoiling enemy (ver. 3). God distinguishes his people by granting them peculiar privileges; he expends on them his watchful love; he guards them against their spiritual adversaries: they have to bless him for attention, for enrichment, for defense.
2. The fact that he moderates his corrections of them. (Vers. 7, 8.) He does not visit them with the severity he shows toward those who are defiant of his will; there is measure, limitation, in the day when the "east wind" of his chastisement is made to blow. God restrains his hand when it is his own children whom he is correcting (Psalm 103:8-10).
3. The parental purpose of his chastisement. (Ver. 9.) It is that iniquity may be purged, that the dark consequences and the evil stain of sin may be "taken away," that the degrading idolatries of the heart as well as of the life may be demolished; it is that those whom he loves may be cleansed from their impurities and may be his children indeed, not only enjoying his favor and dwelling beneath his roof, but bearing his likeness and fulfilling his will.
4. The prosperity which he promises them. (Ver. 6.) The prosperity which is inward, in "taking root," in laying hold of the regard and the affections of men; that also which is outward, in blossom and bud and widespread fruit, in commanding the honor and enjoying the blessings of the world. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.