Today, I am clinging to a segment of Scripture that has spoken to me ever since I first landed on it; many years ago while listening to a teacher go over it on the radio. It is the last verses of the book of Habakkuk, a short book that I find extremely intriguing and almost eerily timely. I cling to these verses because they speak to me in so many ways, and I pray they will speak to you as well:
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: 17-19
I love everything about this passage, but one aspect in particular caught my attention today: the analogy of the “feet of a deer.”
In the Bible, we see that David also uses the feet of deer as a precious attribute, and refers to them as a most valuable gift by which God provides safety and security in times of hardship and while traveling through frightening places.
Both in Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22: 34, David rejoices in the sure-footing, like a deer, that God gives him so he can stand in the heights:
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. Psalm 18: 33
Living in Western PA, of course I am familiar with deer. There is actually a small herd that lives across the street from our neighborhood (if the hunters haven’t gotten to them yet, that is). I know deer are graceful, elegant, fast and strong creatures that move about in the woods with utmost agility and discernment (except when they decide to cross the road, of course). But I cannot say that I am really intimately acquainted with their feet.
Therefore, I did some research and I found a really good read published on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online back a few years, on November 21, 2010 by Scott Shalaway. The writer was able to engage even a deer-feet-unenthusiastic person like myself because he explained how deer hooves make everything deer do possible… which, coincidentally, it is quite a lot. Shalaway says how, “whether galloping across an open field at 30-35 mph, jumping an 8-foot fence in stride or clearing a 7-foot fence from a standstill, white-tailed deer are impressive athletes which seldom slip even though it is usually impossible for them to know where the best footing is.”
He then goes on to explain the particulars of the wonderful hooves, which are as utilitarian as well as elegant, and provide cushion, while remaining extremely strong. The author also points out how hooves could also be used as formidable weapons. No wonder David, a man of the field, who spent long years studying all the animals of his wilderness selected deer feet as his foot-wear of choice.
I’ve always admired deer and marveled at the reality of having such big animals running wild around our places of residence. But next time I see one of my neighbors on the field across the street, I will remember how enviable their feet really are…so much so that we pray God would make ours just like theirs, so we can stand high upon that Rock!