I am serving as a mentor for someone in their doctoral degree program, and we had our weekly meeting last Thursday. We were discussing a variety of topics when the student asked me a question that pertained to the phrase found in Habakkuk 3:19: "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights." I immediately sensed I was to write about this, so I jotted it down so I would not forget.
This morning, I woke up and went to Habakkuk, and discovered the context of this verse. The prophet was waiting for Judah's enemies to invade as God had promised in response for Judah's waywardness. Here is the full context:
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights (Habakkuk 3:11-19 emphasis added).
What do we know about a deer? They are fast and can leap high into the air with graceful, elegant, effortless movement. Those characteristics are in deer because that is who God created them to be. That image of a deer bounding across a field or in the woods should be etched in your mind as an image of how you and I should be when we put our faith in God. Earlier in his book, Habakkuk had included a phrase that became instrumental in New Testament teaching: “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him;
but the righteous will live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4 NASB).
God has created you to do great things that are not dependent on the circumstances in which you find yourself. God empowers you to run and tread on the heights if you live by faith. Does that describe your life? Are you running? Are you jumping? Is the Sovereign Lord your strength that empowers you to do more than you thought you could do, and endure more difficulties than you imagined? Can you prosper and be productive, even in down times of famine and lack?
I urge you to reflect on this passage, perhaps the entire book of Habakkuk this week. If you have additional insight, please post it on the site where this entry is located. The Lord had directed the prophet to write down what the Lord was going to show him, and that is good advice for you as well this week. Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:2-3 NASB).
Have your journal ready to record the vision that God will give you concerning your life and purpose, and then have faith. Your faith with activate your deer-like qualities, and you will be ready to bound off into a new aspects of a purposeful life full of goals, leading to wonderful end results that will glorify God and inspire you to climb to even greater faith and purpose heights. As you consider this deer image that God included in Habakkuk, I know that you will have a great week!
P.S. Next week, we will look at another reference to deer in the Old Testament.