Psalm 77:20[19]

Daniel Wagner dan.wagner at
Fri Mar 23 14:01:40 EST 2001

How's this for an idiomatic translation?

"Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters; so Your footprints could not be traced."

The key word is "footprints" [_(AQEB_; KJV, "footsteps"]. It references the base or hind part of the foot in several contexts, either the human "heel" (Gen. 3:15; 25:26) or a horse's "hoof" (Gen. 49:17; Jdg. 5:22). It can reference generally the hind part (euphemistically in Jer. 13:22) or a "rearguard" (Jos. 8:13). But it also refers to the tracks left behind which mark an animal trail (Cant. 1:8, "Follow in the *tracks* of the flock, and feed your little goats beside the shepherds' tent"). The Philistines captured David after tracking his "footprints" and hiding to catch him on the trail (Psm. 56:6[7], cf. vs. 1). 

So, is Psalm 77:20 teaching the mysterious nature of divine providence whereby He works in such a way that one cannot -- by human investigation -- observe or track what God is doing? He leaves no footprints, as an animal being pursued may go through water or a creek to avoid being trailed. (Some take this idea as the common idea in Prov. 30:18-19 since the ship leaves no mark on the sea.) 

Any thoughts?

Dan Wagner

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