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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 77:19

 

 

Your way was in the sea And Your paths in the mighty waters, And Your footprints may not be known.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Thy way is in the sea - Thou didst walk through the sea, thy path was through a multitude of waters.

Thy footsteps are not known - It was evident from the effects that God was there: but his track could not be discovered; still he is the Infinite Spirit, without parts, limits, or passions. No object of sense.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-77.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Thy way is in the sea - Probably the literal meaning here is, that God had shown his power and faithfulness in the sea (that is, the Red Sea), in delivering his people; it was there that his true character was seen, as possessing almighty power, and as being able to deliver his people. But this seems to have suggested, also, another idea - that the ways of God, in his providential dealings, were like walking through the sea, where no permanent track would be made, where the waves would close on the path, and where it would be impossible by any footprints to ascertain the way which he had taken. So in regard to his doings and his plans. There is nothing by which man can determine in regard to them. There are no traces by which he can follow out the divine designs - as none can follow one whose path is through the trackless waters. The subject is beyond man‘s reach, and there should be no rash or harsh judgment of the Almighty.

And thy path in the great waters - The additional idea here may be, that the ways or plans of God are vast - like the ocean. Even in shallow waters, when one wades through them, the path closes at once, and the way cannot be traced; but God‘s goings are like those of one who should move through the great ocean - over a boundless sea - where none could hope to follow him.

And thy footsteps are not known - The word rendered “footsteps” means properly the print made by the “heel,” and the print made by the foot. The idea here is, that there are no traces in regard to many of the dealings of God, which appear most incomprehensible to us, and which trouble us most, as there can be no footprints left in the waters. We should not venture, therefore, to sit in judgment on the doings of God, or presume that we can understand them.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-77.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Thy way is in the sea,.... In the sea of Suph, as the Targum, the Red sea; it was the Lord that made the way in the sea for the Israelites, and went before them, and led them through it:

and thy path in the great waters; because the word rendered path is written with י yod, and is in the plural number, though the Masorites observe, that that letter is redundant, and so the word is singular; hence the Jews imagine there were more paths than one, even twelve, according to the number of the tribes, and which they think is intimated in Psalm 136:13,

and thy footsteps are not known; not by the Egyptians, who assayed to follow after the people of Israel with the Lord at the head of them, nor by any since; for the waters returned and covered the place on which the Israelites went as on dry ground; so that no footsteps or traces were to be seen at all ever since; and such are the ways God, many of them in providence as well as in grace, Romans 11:33, it may be rendered "thy heels", which made the footsteps or impressions; which latter being the works of God, may be seen and known, but not the former, he being invisible; so GussetiusF5Comment. Ebr. p. 633. observes.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-77.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Thy way [is] in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not m known.

(m) For when you had brought over your people, the water returned to her course, and the enemies who thought to have followed them, could not pass through, (Exodus 14:28-29).

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-77.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

waters … , footsteps — may refer to His actual leading the people through the sea, though also expressing the mysteries of providence.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-77.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.

Not known — Because the water returned and covered them.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-77.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

19.Thy ways are in the sea. The miracle which was wrought in drying up the Red Sea is here again described in different phraseology. What, properly speaking, refers to the Israelites is applied to God, under whose protection and guidance they passed dry-shod through the midst of the Red Sea. It is declared that a path had been opened up for them in a very strange and unusual manner; for the sea was not drained by the skill of man, nor was the river Jordan turned aside from its ordinary course into a different channel, but the people walked through the midst of the waters in which Pharaoh and his whole army were soon after drowned. On this account, it is said, that the footsteps of God were not known, for no sooner had God made the people to pass over than he caused the waters to return to their accustomed course. (305)

The purpose for which this was effected is added in the 20th verse, — the deliverance of the Church: Thou didst lead thy people like a flock. (306) And this deliverance should be regarded by all the godly as affording them the best encouragement to cherish the hope of safety and salvation. The comparison of the people to sheep, tacitly intimates that they were in themselves entirely destitute of wisdom, power, and courage, and that God, in his great goodness, condescended to perform the office of a shepherd in leading through the sea, and the wilderness, and all other impediments, his poor flock, which were destitute of all things, that he might put them in possession of the promised inheritance. This statement is confirmed, when we are told that Moses and Aaron were the persons employed in conducting the people. Their service was no doubt illustrious and worthy of being remembered; but God displayed in no small degree the greatness of his power in opposing two obscure and despised individuals to the fury and to the great and powerful army of one of the proudest kings who ever sat on a throne. What could the rod of an outlaw and a fugitive, and the voice of a poor slave, have done of themselves, against a formidable tyrant and a warlike nation? The power of God then was the more manifest when it wrought in such earthen vessels. At the same time, I do not deny that it is here intended to commend these servants of God, to whom he had committed such an honorable trust.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-77.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 77:19 Thy way [is] in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.

Ver. 19. Thy way is in the sea, &c.] A way of thine own miraculous making. God usually goeth a way by himself.

And thy footsteps are not known] Not so much as is the way or an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a rock, or the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, Proverbs 30:19. Let God alone with his own work, commit we ourselves to him in well doing, and it shall go well with us, no question of it. Pit viam desperatae salutis, impii foveam insperatae mortis intrant (Oros.).


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-77.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Psalms 77:19

There must be mystery in religion—a religion which lies between the finite and the Infinite. Take away mystery, and we should tear out a page of evidence. But there is more hiddenness about the providence of God than there is about the grace of God. He has revealed much more clearly what He does and what He wills about our souls than about our bodies. This is the reason, perhaps, why faith finds it so much harder work to trust for time than it does for eternity, and why there are so many who have no fear for their salvation, and yet who are hourly anxious about their daily wants.

I. The distinction between the degree of the mystery of providence and grace underlies the text. There is a climax and an anticlimax. (1) Observe "way," "path," "footsteps." The way is greater than the path; the way is broad: the path is necessarily narrow, as in the familiar verse, "In all thy ways"—i.e., in all thy great things—"acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy little things," thy "paths;" while "footsteps" are smaller still than paths—little isolated marks lying here and there along the path. So it runs down—way, path, footsteps. (2) Now see the ascending scale. "Thy way is in the sea"—the sea classically is always shallow water—"Thy path in the great waters," which lie far out, more unfathomable than the shallows of the shore; while the "footsteps" are altogether out of sight, something beyond the sea and beyond the great waters, utterly out of reach: they "are not known."

II. As respects God's hidden ways, there are one or two things which we ought to consider. (1) God never meant you to understand them. We are to seek the solution of hard problems, and the quelling of our fears, and the answer to our doubts, not in the events themselves, but in the character of God, not in the book of present history, but in the volume of the Scriptures. (2) Faith has its helps. As we live on, many things which were once fearful, involved, and hard come out kind, simple, and plain; we see, if not all, yet some, of the reasons: and we are satisfied where we were once most dissatisfied. The past stands sponsor for the future.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 7th series, p. 124.


In the history of Israel we find not merely an impressive symbol, but a great practical truth, the truth, namely, that those who follow God follow a Leader whose footsteps are not known; that, in other words, he who accepts the service of God accepts with it much which he cannot understand. Mystery is bound up with God's revelation and dealing with the human race.

I. We are not to conclude that because there is a mystery in God's dealings they are therefore without a plan. We are to remember that the confusion is in us, and not in God's work; that God's counsel is not darkened because we are blind.

II. We are not to conclude that this mystery of providence is the outgrowth of unkindness.

III. The Psalmist has evidently reached very satisfactory conclusions on this subject. The secret of his confidence is revealed in the thirteenth verse, in the words, "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary," or "Thy way is in holiness." No matter how strange the way if it be a way of holiness!

IV. "Thou leddest Thy people." The true philosophy of life is summed up here, in simply following God.

M. R. Vincent, Gates into the Psalm Country, p. 181.


References: Psalms 77:19.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. x., p. 132. Psalms 77:19, Psalms 77:20.—A. P. Stanley, Sermons on Special Occasions, p. 340; C. J. Vaughan, Memorials of Harrow Sundays, p. 116. Psalms 78:3, Psalms 78:4.—J. T. Stannard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii.,p. 136. Psalms 78:5-7.—H. M. Butler, Harrow Sermons, 2nd series, p. 238. Psalms 78:9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 696; S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, 1st series, p. 9. Psalms 78:10.—J. N. Norton, Every Sunday, p. 305; J. Baines, Sermons, p. 113.




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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/psalms-77.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 77:19. Thy way, &c.— Thy way was through the sea, and thy path through the great waters, though thy footsteps were not seen. "God walked before his people through the sea, though he left no footsteps of himself behind him."


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-77.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Is in the sea; or rather was at that time; thou didst walk and lead thy people in untrodden paths.

Are not known, because the waters suddenly returned and covered them.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-77.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

19. Thy way is in the sea—So wonderful and unsearchable are the ways of God! Pharaoh essayed to follow the divine footsteps, and perished. The true explanation of this sentence is in the last clause of the verse: “Thy footsteps are not known.” God had walked through the sea, and it had closed and left no track. So his invisible footsteps in providence and redemption may not be discovered or followed by curious and presumptuous inquiry. This is the admonition of Ecclesiastes 7:14


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-77.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 77:19. Thy way is in the sea, &c. — Or rather, was, at that time; thou didst walk and lead thy people in untrodden paths; and thy footsteps — Or, though thy footsteps were not seen — God walked before his people through the sea, though he left no footsteps of himself behind him. Thus “the dispensations and ways of God, like the passage through the Red sea, are all full of mercy to his people; but they are also, like that, often unusual, marvellous, inscrutable; and we can no more trace his footsteps than we could have done those of Israel, after the waters had returned to their place again. Let us resolve, therefore, to trust in him at all times; and let us think that we hear Moses saying to us, as he did to the Israelites, when seemingly reduced to the last extremity, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah.” — Horne.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-77.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ill. Hebrew, "against," (Numbers xi.; Calmet) still distrusting in God's power. (Menochius)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-77.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

is = was.

the sea. Not the sea-monster, the Ti"amat of Babylonian mythology, but the Red Sea mentioned above. See note on "The depths", Psalms 77:16.

path. Hebrew text = "paths"; but some codices, with five early printed editions, as in Authorized Version.

footsteps = footprints: i.e. when the waters return to their place.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-77.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.

Thy way (is) in the sea. The general inference from the particular case of the redemption of Israel at the Red Sea, as above, in Psalms 77:13. So Nahum 1:3. God's way is one open to Him alone: for He to whom is possible what is impossible to man (Psalms 77:14) can make a path through even the pathless waters (Isaiah 51:10; Isaiah 51:15; Isaiah 63:11-12, which seems to have in view this passage; Habakkuk 3:15). This encourages His people to hope for deliverance even now, m their deep waters of trial (Isaiah 43:2).

And thy path. So the Qeri' reading; but the Hebrew text, Ketib, 'thy paths' - i:e., thy many ways of leading thy people in difficulties.

And thy footsteps are not known - even as at the Red Sea no traces were left of the steps whereby thou didst lead Israel through the Red Sea, the waters having returned (Exodus 14:26-28). So all God's ways (Romans 11:33).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-77.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) Are not known.—“We know not, they knew not, by what precise means the deliverance was wrought; we know not by what precise track through the gulf the passage was effected. We know not; we need not know. The obscuring, the mystery, here as elsewhere, was part of the lesson. . . . All that we see distinctly is, that through this dark and terrible night, with the enemy pressing close behind, and the driving sea on either side, He led His people like sheep by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Stanley, Jewish Church, i. 128).

To some minds the abruptness of the conclusion of the psalm marks it as unfinished. But no better end could have been reached in the poet’s perplexity than that to which he has been led by his musings on the past, the thought of the religious aids ready to his hand, in the faith and worship left by Moses and Aaron. We are reminded of him who recalled the thoughts of the young man, searching for a higher ideal of duty, back to the law and obedience. Or if the psalm is rather an expression of the feeling of the community than of an individual, there is a pointed significance in the conclusion given to all the national cries of doubt and despair—the one safe course was to remain loyal and true to the ancient institutions.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-77.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.
way
29:10; 97:2; Nehemiah 9:11; Nahum 1:3,4; Habakkuk 3:15
footsteps
Exodus 14:28; Romans 11:33

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 77:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-77.html.

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