The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk on my high places…
The expressions are of a highly metaphorical and imaginative character, but they admit of being brought down to very plain facts, and they tell us the results in heart and mind of true faith and communion with God. It is to be noticed that a parallel saying, almost verbatim, the same is that of my text, occurs in the 18th Psalm. I note that the three clauses of our text present three aspects of what our lives and ourselves may steadfastly be if we, too, will rejoice in the God of our salvation. First, such communion with God brings —
I. GOD TO A MAN FOR HIS STRENGTH. The 18th Psalm gives a somewhat different and inferior version of that thought when it says, "It is the Lord that girdeth me with strength." But Habakkuk, though perhaps he could not have put into dogmatic shape all that he meant, had come further than that, "The Lord is my strength." He not only gives, as one might put a coin into the hand of a beggar, while standing separate from him all the while, but "the Lord is my strength." And what does that mean? It is an anticipation of that most wonderful and highest of all the New Testament truths which the Apostle declared when he said: "I can do all things in Christ which strengtheneth me within." "My grace is sufficient for thee, and My strength is made perfect in weakness. Ah! do not let us deprive ourselves of the lofty consolations and the mysterious influx of power which may be ours. That is the first blessing that this ancient believer, out of the twilight of early revelation, felt as certain to come through communion with God. The second is like unto it. Such rejoicing communion with God will give —
II. LIGHT-FOOTEDNESS IN THE PATH OF LIFE. "He makes my feet like hinds' feet." The stag, in all languages spoken by people that have ever seen it, is the very emblem of elastic, springing ease, of light and bounding gracefulness, that clears every obstacle, and sweeps swiftly over the moor. And when this singer, or his brother psalmist in the other psalm that we have referred to, says "Thou makest my feet like hinds' feet," what he is thinking about is that fight and easy, springing, elastic gait, that swiftness of advance. What a contrast that is to the way in which most of us get through our day's work! The monotony of trivial, constantly recurring doings, the fluctuations in the thermometer of our own spirits; the stiff bits of road that we have all to encounter sooner or later; and, as days go on, the diminishing buoyancy of nature, and the love of walking a little slower than we used to do; we all know these things, and our gait is affected by them. It is the same thought, under a somewhat different garb, which the apostle has when he tells us that the Christian soldier ought to have his "feet shod with the alacrity that comes from the Gospel of peace." We are to be always ready to run, and to run with light hearts when we do. That is a possible result of Christian communion, and ought, far more than it is, to be an achieved reality with each of us. Of course, physical conditions vary. Of course, our spirits go up and down. Of course, the work that we have to do one day seems easier than the same work does another. Unless that is true, that Christianity gives to a man the Divine gladness which makes him ready for work, I do not know what is the good of his Christianity to him. But not only is that so, but this same communion with God, which is the opening of the heart for the influx of the Divine power, brings to bear upon all our work new motives which redeem it from being oppressive, tedious, monotonous, trivial, too much for our endurance, or too little for our effort. All work that is not done in fellowship with Jesus Christ tends to become either too heavy to be tackled successfully, or too trivial to demand our best energies; and in either case will be done perfunctorily, and, as the days go on, mechanically and wearisomely, as a grind and a plod. If we live in daily communion with God, another thought, too, will come in, which will, in like manner, make us ready " to run with " cheerfulness " the race that is set before us." We shall connect everything that befalls us, and everything that we have to do, with the final issue, and life will become solemn, grave, and blessed, because it is the outer court and vestibule of the eternal life with God in Christ. The last of the thoughts here is, communion with God brings —
III. ELEVATION. "He will make me to walk upon my high places." One sees the herd on the skyline of the mountain ridge, and at home up there, far above dangers and attack; able to keep their footing on cliff and precipice, and tossing their antlers in the pure air. One wave of the hand, and they are miles away. "He sets me upon my high places." Communion with God does not, only help us to plod and to travel, but it helps us to soar. If we keep ourselves in touch with Him we shall be like a weight that is hung on to a balloon. The buoyancy of the one will lift the leadenness of the other. Are you and I familiar with these upper ranges of thought and experience and life? Do we feel at home there more than down in the bottom, amongst the swamps and the miasma and the mists? It is safe up there. The air is pure; the poison mists are down lower; the hunters do not come there; their arrows or their rifles will not carry so far. It is only when the herd ventures a little down the hill that it is in danger from shots. But the elevation will not be such aa to make us despise the low paths on which duty — the sufficient and loftiest thing of all — lies for us. Our souls may be like stars, and dwell apart, and yet may lay the humblest duties upon themselves, and whilst we live in the high places, we "may travel on life's common way in cheerful godliness." So we may go on until at last we shall hear the Voice that says, "Come up higher," and shall be lifted to the mountain of God, where the living waters are, and shall fear no snares or hunters any more for ever.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.