Reflect: “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer.”
There are only two people in Scripture who use these words: David and Habakkuk. David first sings them to the LORD at the end of his last battle, after his servants have killed the four sons of the very giant David himself killed long ago in his first battle. It’s a song of victory. David looks back at a lifetime of God’s providence and rejoices in His goodness and strength. He’s confident in who God is and in his relationship with Him:
“For you are my lamp, O LORD, and my God lightens my
darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my
God I can leap over a wall.” [2 Sam 22:29-30, ESV]
And then there is Habakkuk. Habakkuk’s words come under very different circumstances. Rather than a victorious declaration of praise, Habakkuk comes to God with a cry of despair. “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?,” he asks. [Hab 1:2, ESV] Habakkuk doesn’t feel victorious. He is filled with fear of the future. God says He is going to act to make things right, but Habakkuk hasn’t seen it yet. Frankly, he’s not so sure that he will. But in the middle of all of his uncertainly, Habakkuk finds strength by reflecting on what he knows about God:
“God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you,
and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
Work among us as you worked among them.” [Hab 3:1; MSG]
It’s here, Habakkuk echoes David’s words – perhaps because he had been meditating on them himself – and declares that, even if everything is horrible, even if it all goes wrong, “though the fig tree should not blossom, nor the fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food […]yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” [Hab 3:17-19, ESV]
Psalm 121:2-3 tells us that the LORD, who made heaven and earth, will not allow our foot to slip. In God’s strength, we are as sure-footed as the deer on the mountain. For David, this was a song of victory and rejoicing. For Habakkuk, it was a prayerful, faithful, declaration of trust and hope in God.
Respond: Where do you find yourself today? Do you feel victorious as David? Are you reflecting on your year and praising God for the ways He has shown up? Do you feel as anxious as Habakkuk? Are you looking ahead in uncertainty and wondering if it is all going to be OK?
I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
He won’t let you stumble,
your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life!
Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.
God’s your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you-
shielding you from sunstroke;
sheltering you from moonstroke.
God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
he guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.
Psalm 121 [MSG]