Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. – Psalm 77:13-20
When I think of the term “writhing” water is not the first thing that comes to mind. The term writhing conjures up a snake or perhaps a person in agonizing pain – writhing in agony. So why would water, which I typically think of as being peaceful, be described as writhing in God’s sight? The depths are truly “convulsed” here.
In my experience there are two things that can cause water to “writhe” : strong winds and strong currents and eddies that form below the surface as a result of the subsurface landscape. Both of these forces cannot be seen.
In the case of the wind the cause is differences in air pressure and in the case of deep currents these can be caused by tidal forces or merely the force of gravity acting on the water in the presence of underwater obstructions. This all seems to suggest a complex landscape of which we are largely unaware. In this sense it is analogous to much of the spiritual landscape that surrounds us. We sense it’s presence only by the effects we see rather than seeing the thing itself.
The last part of this passage is a remembering of the Red Sea Crossing and it adds an interesting detail: “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen”. There is a sense that although God led the Israelites he did so not with tangible feet that would leave footprints. When Jesus came He left footprints all over the place that are still visible to those who have eyes to see.
Prayer: God thank You for leaving footprints so we can follow You in this turbulent and uncertain world.