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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 77:4

 

 

You have held my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Thou holdest mine eyes waking - Literally, thou keepest the watches of mine eyes - my grief is so great that I cannot sleep.

I am so troubled that I cannot speak - This shows an increase of sorrow and anguish. At first he felt his misery, and called aloud. He receives more light, sees and feels his deep wretchedness, and then his words are swallowed by excessive distress. His woes are too big for utterance. "Small troubles are loquacious; the great are dumb." Curae leves loquuntur; ingentes stupent.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-77.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Thou holdest mine eyes waking - literally, “Thou holdest the watchings of my eyes.” Gesenius (Lexicon) translates the Hebrew word rendered “waking,” “eyelids.” Probably that is the true idea. The eyelids are the watchers or guardians of the eyes. In danger, and in sleep, they close. Here the idea is, that God held them so that they did not close. He overcame the natural tendency of the eye to shut. In other words, the psalmist was kept awake; he could not sleep. This he traces to God. The idea is, that God so kept himself before his mind - that such ideas occurred to him in regard to God - that he could not sleep.

I am so troubled - With sad and dark views of God; so troubled in endeavoring to understand his character and doings; in explaining his acts; in painful ideas that suggest themselves in regard to his justice, his goodness, his mercy.

That I cannot speak - I am struck dumb. I know not what to say. I cannot find “anything” to say. He must have a heart singularly and happily free by nature from scepticism, or must have reflected little on the divine administration, who has not had thoughts pass through his mind like these. As the psalmist was a good man, a pious man, it is of importance to remark, in view of his experience, that such reflections occur not only to the minds of bad people - of the profane - of sceptics - of infidel philosophers, but they come unbidden into the minds of good people, and often in a form which they cannot calm down. He who has never had such thoughts, happy as he may and should deem himself that he has not had them, has never known some of the deepest stirrings and workings of the human soul on the subject of religion, and is little qualified to sympathize with a spirit torn, crushed, agitated, as was that of the psalmist on these questions, or as Augustine and thousands of others have been in after-times. But let not a man conclude, because he has these thoughts, that therefore he cannot be a friend of God - a converted man. The wicked man invites them, cherishes them, and rejoices that he can find what seem to him to be reasons for indulging in such thoughts against God; the good man is pained; struggles against them: endearours to banish them from his soul.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-77.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

AN EXPRESSION OF THE PSALMIST'S DOUBTS

"Thou holdest mine eyes watching;

I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I have considered the days of old,

The years of ancient times.

I call to remembrance my song in the night:

I commune with mine own heart;

And my spirit maketh diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off forever?

And will he be favorable no more?

Is his lovingkindness clean gone forever?

Doth his promise fail forever more?

Hath God forgotten to be gracious?

Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?"

"Thou holdest mine eyes watching" (Psalms 77:4). The Anchor Bible translates this: "Mine eyes are accustomed to vigils; I pace the floor and do not recline."[3]

"I call to remembrance my song in the night" (Psalms 77:6). "Many have been the songs that he either composed or sang; and he had once derived much spiritual comfort from them; but they gave him no help now, and aroused no feelings of confident faith."[4]

The six plaintive questions of Psalms 77:7-9 are eloquent expressions indeed of the doubts and fears of the psalmist. He strongly desired to find negative answers to all these questions, but the harsh conditions confronting the nation of Israel seemed to demand an affirmation of his worst fears, namely, that God indeed: (1) had cast off; (2) was no longer favorable; (3) His lovingkindness gone; (4) His promise had failed; (5) had forgotten to be gracious; (6) and had shut up His tender mercies.

No, God had not really "forgotten" His promise, nor shut off His mercies, nor cast off His true people, but the promises to Israel had always been conditional, that condition being their faithfulness to God; and when Israel no longer met that condition, God's blessings indeed ceased. That is why that such questions as these, as regarded the vast majority of ancient Israel, were indeed required to be answered affirmatively.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/psalms-77.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Thou holdest mine eyes waking,.... Or, "the watches", or rather "keepers of the eyes"F13שמרות עיני "vigilias", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Tigurine version; "palpebras oculorum meorum", Musculus, Cocceius; "palpebras quasi custodias oculorum", Michaelis. ; the eyebrows, which protect the eyes; these were held, so that he could not shut them, and get any sleep; so R. Moses Haccohen interprets the words, as Jarchi observes; and so the Targum,

"thou holdest the brows of my eyes;'

a person in trouble, when he can get some sleep, it interrupts his sorrow, weakens it at least, if it does not put a stop to it; wherefore it is a great mercy to have sleep, and that refreshing, Psalm 127:1, but to have this denied, and to have wearisome nights, and be in continual tossing to and fro, is very distressing:

I am so troubled that I cannot speak; his spirits were so sunk with weariness, and want of sleep in the night, that he could not speak in the morning; or his heart was so full with sorrow, that he could not utter himself; or it was so great that he could not express it; or his thoughts were such that he dared not declare them; or he was so straitened and shut up in himself that he could not go on speaking unto God in prayer.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-77.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Thou holdest mine eyes c waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

(c) Meaning that his sorrows were as watchmen that kept his eyes from sleeping.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-77.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

holdest … waking — or, “fast,” that I cannot sleep. Thus he is led to express his anxious feelings in several earnest questions indicative of impatient sorrow.


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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 77:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-77.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

Waking — By continual grief.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "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

4.Thou hast held the watches of my eyes. (288) This verse is to the same effect with the preceding. The Psalmist affirms that he spent whole nights in watching, because God granted him no relief. The night in ancient times was usually divided into many watches; and, accordingly, he describes his continued grief, which pre. vented him from sleeping, by the metaphorical term watches. When he stated a little before that he prayed to God with a loud voice, and when he now affirms that he will remain silent, there seems to be some appearance of discrepancy. This difficulty has already been solved in our exposition of Psalms 32:3, where we have shown that true believers, when overwhelmed with sorrow, do not continue in a state of unvarying uniformity, but sometimes give vent to sighs and complaints, while, at other times, they are silent as if their mouths were stopped. It is, therefore, not wonderful to find the prophet frankly confessing that he was so overwhelmed, and, as it were, choked, with calamities, as to be unable to open his mouth to utter even a single word.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-77.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE PSALM OF THE SLEEPLESS NIGHT

‘Thou holdest mine eyes waking.’

Psalms 77:4

I. The poet was in trouble, on what occasion cannot now be known, nor can we tell who wrote the poem, or at what period it was written. There are no traces of the authorship of David. But it is evidently very ancient. There is no allusion to the Temple worship. The one historical reference is to the Exodus. The appellation of the children of Israel, as sons of Jacob and Joseph, rather indicates that it was written prior to the division into two nations. Had it been of a late period Judah rather than Joseph would have been the term used. The word Jeduthun has no light for us.

All this makes the psalm really more helpful. The trouble was of a personal nature, hence the application of the poem is worldwide, suited for all in similar anxiety. It was not a national calamity, like the Captivity. It was ‘my trouble’—the Psalmist’s own sorrow. The help he sought was not for the nation, but for himself. The darkness was that of a cloudy night, when no stars are seen, for, whatever the trial was, there came with it a doubt of the Divine mercy and a questioning of the Divine promise. Herein was the grief, for sorrow of soul is the soul of sorrow. He retired for rest, but the darkness brought no relief; indeed, in the quiet solitude of the bed-chamber the trouble seemed to increase. ‘Thou holdest my eyelids,’ he says to God. Sleep came not. The poem presents a vivid delineation of the mental bewilderment of an ancient night.

II. He thought of ‘the days of old,’ or, as in the original, of ‘the morning.’—A Midrash note says ‘of Abraham,’ who lived in the morning of faith. He recalled ancient times. He remembered one occasion when in the darkness he had such a sense of the Divine favour, that he sang for joy in the night season. At length he took the resolve to look away from self to an unchanging God. ‘This anxiety,’ said he, ‘is my infirmity, but I will think of the power of the Most High.’ He would turn round and no longer look at his own shadow, but at the bright sun. Soon the vision changes. On the canvas of the night comes vividly a scene of olden days. Other things were shut out, and this arose in his imagination.

It was the hour of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. How far the Psalmist’s vision was true to fact we cannot tell, he adds much to the record in Exodus. It was very real to him, and depicts a scene more full of awe than his own then present tribulation. Those lightning flashes were the arrows of the Almighty. He was marching mysteriously through the sea. Then comes a sublime contrast. Right in the centre, calm beneath the illumined cloud, went onwards the chosen people, led safely through it all by the appointed guides, like a peaceful flock directed by its shepherds to fresh pasture. With this grand etching the psalm closes. What more indeed is needed? The moral is so obvious it needs no stating. That old story abides in the Church as a picture-lesson of the mysterious but sure ways of God, and shows a safe path through the stormy dark sea of every period of anxious sorrow.

Illustration

‘It is well to pray that we may make the most of the wakeful hours, that they may be no more wasted ones than if we were up and dressed. They are His hours, for “the night also is Thine.” It will cost no more mental effort (nor so much) to ask Him to let them be holy hours, filled with His calming presence, than to let the mind run upon the thousand “other things” which seem to find even busier entrance during the night.

With thoughts of Christ and things Divine

Fill up this foolish heart of mine.

It is an opportunity for proving the real power of the Holy Spirit to be greater than that of the Tempter. And He will without fail exert it, when sought for Christ’s sake.’


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/psalms-77.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 77:4 Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

Ver. 4. Thou holdest mine eyes waking] Thou holdest the watches of mine eyes, that is, mine eyebrows, saith the Chaldee, so that I can neither sleep nor speak. Job complaineth of the like misery, Job 7:8 See Psalms 38:10

That I cannot speak] Curae leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-77.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 77:4. Thou holdest mine eyes, &c.— Thou didst keep the watches of mine eyes. I was troubled, and spake not.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". 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

Thou holdest mine eyes waking, by those sharp and continual griefs, and those perplexing and tormenting thoughts and cares, which from time to time thou stirrest up in me.

I am so troubled that I cannot speak; the greatness of my sorrows stupifies my mind, and makes me both lifeless and unable to speak; nor can any words sufficiently express the extremity of my misery.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". 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

4. Thou holdest mine eyes waking—Thou holdest the watches, or guards, of my eyes; that is, my eyelids. Sleep is God’s merciful gift, (Psalms 127:2,) and wakefulness is here confessed as a judgment.

I cannot speak—But he could moan, as in Psalms 77:3. The extremes of loud moaning and speechless silence indicate the paroxysm and excess of his sorrow.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "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 77:4. Thou holdest mine eyes waking — By those bitter and continual griefs, and those perplexing and distressing thoughts and cares, which thou excitest within me. I am so troubled that I cannot speak — The greatness of my sorrow so stupifies and confuses my mind, that I can scarcely open my mouth to declare my grief in proper terms; nor can any words sufficiently express the extremity of my misery: see Job 2:13.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-77.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

eyes = eyelids; or, Thou keepest mine eyelids from closing.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-77.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) Thou holdest mine eyes waking.—Rather, Thou hast closed the guards of my eyes—i.e., my eyelids. The Authorised Version mistakes the noun. guards, for a participle, and mistranslates it by the active instead of the passive. For the verb hold in the sense of shut, see Nehemiah 7:3, and Job 26:9, where God is described as veiling His throne in cloud, and so shutting it up, as it were, from the access of men.

I am so troubled.—The verb is used elsewhere of the awestruck state into which the mind is thrown by a mysterious dream (Genesis 41:8; Daniel 2:1; Daniel 2:3), and once (Judges 13:25) of inspiration, such as impelled the judges of old to become the liberators of their country. The parallelism here shows that it is used in the first connection. The poet has been struck dumb (the verb is rendered strike in the Lexicons) by a mysterious dream; he is too overawed to speak.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-77.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
holdest
6:6; Esther 6:1; Job 7:13-15
I am
Job 2:13; 6:3

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-77.html.

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