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…
Habakkuk was one of the pre-captivity prophets to whom God revealed the impending defeat, destruction and forced exile Judah (the southern part of Israel) would suffer at the hands of the powerful Babylonian empire to their north. This revelation so perplexed Habakkuk that he asked God to explain why He would allow the wicked Babylonians to have victory over His people.
God gave Habakkuk two answers: First, the only way for the righteous to cope with the approaching crisis was to live by faith (Habakkuk 2:2-4). Second, though the Babylonians were being used to punish the Israelites for their sins, they themselves would not escape punishment for their own wickedness (Habakkuk 2:5-20). It appears these answers satisfied Habakkuk and dispelled his confusion. Indeed, he responds to God’s answer with a beautiful song (Habakkuk 3) culminating in the verse above.
Living in and around Jerusalem, Habakkuk would have seen hinds on the hillsides of that mountainous area. Hinds are female red deer; they have no antlers for protection and weigh about half as much as a stag (male red deer). Therefore the only skill the hind could depend on to escape predators was her surefootedness. When chased by a predator a hind could escape to safety up the rocky slopes where other animals would slip and stumble.
Habakkuk realized that like the hind, the righteous had no weapons to protect themselves with in the imminent crisis. Their only hopes of not being killed by the Babylonians, was for God to guide their decisions: to make them surefooted like the hind. Indeed, the prophet Jeremiah was more explicit when he warned them that neither strength, nor power, nor wealth would be of any help in the looming affliction.
Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches ~ Jeremiah 9:23
The only thing that would sustain the people of God in tribulation was their faith-based relationship with God.
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. ~ Jeremiah 9:24
God had already set the course of history, the Babylonians were going to defeat Judah and take her inhabitants into captivity. In this circumstance, the only hope for the righteous (i.e., those who put their trust in God) was to live by faith: to depend on Him to guide their steps to safety in treacherous times.
Now, as in the days of Habakkuk, we are also facing treacherous times. The Believer today has to contend with difficult issues such as joblessness, growing social immorality, crime, tribalism and godlessness; to name a few. How can we cope? The truth is there is little that can be done to (permanently) halt the moral meltdown of society. As Jesus told us, the world is moving inexorably into deeper and deeper apostasy.
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. ~ Matthew 24:11-13
Like the Israelites in Habakkuk’s time, we can’t “turn back the clock”: the Babylonians are at our doorstep. Scripture makes it clear that we in a Spiritual battle with the devil and his entourage (Ephesians 6:12) and the devil is trying to destroy whoever he can (1 Peter 5:8). But knowledge of the enemy doesn’t make us immune to his traps. As humans, even the best of us are unable to see all of the enemy’s tricks.
For NOW we see through a glass, darkly… ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12a
But God has not left us alone to fight a battle we can’t win. God has opened a path to victory over the snares of the devil: “The just shall live by faith”. If we walk in faith, He will prevent us from falling.
When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. ~ Proverbs 4:12
So as we go about our lives, making decisions about finances, health, relationships, employment, education and family (to name a few) let us call on our God, let us seek His face, let us search out His will. Life is a struggle and we can’t see all the dangers ahead; it is difficult to know what choices to make. Truly, we have no hope of surviving on our own. But God is faithful: if we live by faith He will make our feet like hinds’ feet so that our steps are assured and we can escape to safety. If we trust in God, He will make our feet surefooted so that we can escape the wiles of the devil.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. ~ Jude 1:24-25