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 go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:16-19)
This verse grabbed my heart recently. It speaks of an unsettling time, of famine and being invaded by an enemy nation. YET, it declares I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength. Rejoicing in the Lord is a powerful spiritual weapon; there is triumph in our praise. In the article The Triumph of Praise I wrote about this triumph and the voice of triumph. What caught my attention in the above verses is that the rejoicing, declaring triumph in the face of the enemy, seems to be related to feet like the feet of a deer, enabled to go on the heights. What might this mean?
A few weeks before pondering these verses, I was facing trials of my own. The cry of my heart was ‘MAKE HASTE MY BELOVED’! I desperately needed the strength of the Lord to carry me through and I wouldn’t have minded at all if He actually physically returned to bring me home. I found encouragement in the following verses.
Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draws nigh.
Make haste, my beloved! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
(Song of Solomon 8:14)
The bride longs for the return of the Bridegroom, the cry of her heart is Make haste, my beloved!, yet she waits patiently. The bride waits clinging to the promise of the Lord drawing nigh. This promise is powerful because it’s for both now and when Christ returns.
Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.
(Song of Solomon 4:6)
Christ’s sacrifice, His death, tore the temple veil from top to bottom opening the way into the Holy of Holies for all who would believe (Matthew 27:50-51). Christ now dwells in the hearts of believers – the new temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19). So until the day breaks and Christ returns we can draw close to Him. The call to go to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense is a call to know the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to abide in Him, worship Him, to know Him intimately. Abide in me and I will abide in you (John 15:4). Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8). Song of Solomon 4:6 is the Bridegroom’s answer to the bride’s plea in Song of Solomon 2:17. Listen! My lover! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice. My lover spoke and said to me, Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.
(Song of Solomon 2:8-10,17)
This is a beautiful image of the bride and the Bridegroom. The bride knows the Bridegroom is waiting gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). The bride knows at her call, the Bridegroom will answer and come. The Bridegroom can leap over any hill, mountain or obstacle with ease, to meet with His beloved. I love the images of the deer and the stag, their movements filled with grace and beauty. There is a longing between them, as the deer pants for the living waters (Psalm 42:1-2), a longing to meet and move together to become one. This image of the deer and the stag, moving in beauty, grace, sure footedness, the longing to move together as one with feet enabled to go on the heights, seems to suggest a very physical and visual way to worship the Lord. Doesn’t it seem to suggest meeting the Lord in worship and dancing as one; a special way of abiding in Him?
Dance is associated with joy, celebration, victory and praise; it is contrasted with mourning. It is a way to submit to God and resist the enemy; a way to praise the Lord and invite Him to draw near (James 4:7-10).
1. David dancing and leaping for joy before the Lord with all his might. –2 Samuel 6:14, 16
2. Miriam leads the dance after the Red Sea crossing; in celebration of victory over Pharaoh’s armies and Israel birthed as a nation. –Exodus 15:20
3. The joy of our heart has ceased; Our dance has turned into mourning. –Lamentations 5:15
4. You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, –Psalm 30:11
5. A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; –Ecclesiastes 3:4
6. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. –Jeremiah 31:4
7. They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. Then virgins will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. –Jeremiah 31:12-13
8. The virgins are drawn away, they run after the king, they are glad & rejoice in him, oh how they love him! –Song of Solomon 1:3-4
9. The bride is majestic as troops with banners. –Song of Solomon 6:4 this suggests dance is used in battle – the dance of Mahanaim or 2 armies. — Song of Solomon 6:13
10. For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet … –Malachi 4:2-3
11. He makes my feet like hinds’ feet I shattered them(my enemies), so that they were not able to rise; They fell under my feet. For You have girded me with strength for battle; –Psalm 18:33, 38-39
12. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. –Romans 16:20
13. Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! –Psalm 150:4
14. Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. –Psalm 149:3
Jeremiah 31 associating the virgins joy with dancing, rejoicing and a watered garden is especially powerful. In this light the following verses are especially interesting, leaping like a deer is associated with the joy of the redeemed and flowing water.
Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
This seems to associate the leaping deer with the dancing of the virgins and the joy of God (Simchah) upon the heads of the redeemed. The word Dalag in Strong’s, for ‘to leap’ is often associated with dance. It is the same word for leap in Song of Solomon 2:8! Think of it, the Lord waiting behind the veil, waiting for the call of His bride and His promise to come joyfully as a leaping hart upon the mountain.
The word Alaz in Strong’s, means to be joyful, rejoice, triumph; the primitive root is to jump for joy! ‘Be joyful ‘, Giyl , means to circle or spin in joy, is also often associated with dance. In Song of Solomon 1:3-4 it describes the virgins gladness in the king, again associating the virgins joy with dancing. Putting Alaz and Giyl together in Habakkuk 3:18 paints a picture of feet joyfully leaping, circling and spinning, rejoicing in the LORD. Do you see the dancing feet of a deer? Of the bride? Enabled to go on the heights? Giyl used to describe the bride’s joy in the Lord, is also found describing the joy of the Lord over His bride in the following verse.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Could it be that the Lord and the bride rejoice together in a similar way? With shouts of joy, with singing and with dancing? With the feet of a deer? This verse has two more words of interest in the phrase exult over you with joy. Suws to exult, rejoice, display joy and Simchah the joy of God. Could this be one way the joy of the Lord is displayed? The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10)! A few verses later (Nehemiah 8:12) we see Simchah again, great joy and celebrating, the joy of God displayed as mourning is turned to dancing. Think of it, God rejoices (Suws over you as the Bridegroom rejoices over the bride (Isaiah 62:5) and this joy is your strength – Ma`owz, refuge, fortress!
The joy of and in the Lord. What better way for this joy to be displayed than to sing and dance in joy, rejoicing in and with Him? Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Philippians 4:4)! Can’t you just see the Bridegroom and bride rejoicing? Singing, dancing, celebrating with each other? With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3). This joy that draws water from the wells of salvation; this is the same joy of the singing/ leaping redeemed (Isaiah 35:10) and the dancing virgins (Jeremiah 31:13, Song of Solomon 1:3-4).
How wonderful that the Lord Himself enables the feet of the deer, the feet of His beloved to go on the heights, to meet and abide with Him as one on the mountain of myrrh. A beautiful answer to the panting deer of Psalm 42 who longs to meet the living God and drink the living water, to abide. I can’t think of a more beautiful image, than when these deer meet and move together, keeping in step, dancing together as one. Oh, how the Bride longs to be drawn away, swept up into His presence, into the fullness of joy (Psalms 16:11), to drink from the river of His delights (Psalm 36:8). Hear her cries!
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you. Draw me away! We will run after you. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will be glad (Giyl) and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine. The upright love you.
(Song of Solomon 1:2-4)
The bride’s very last cry in the Song of Solomon: “Make haste, my beloved!” The Bridegroom’s answer, the very last words in the book of Revelation; “Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21).
Look! My lover, there He stands waiting behind the veil. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. He’s calling: Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. Will you answer His call? Will you answer today? All I can say is: I HOPE YOU DANCE! Dance with feet like the feet of a deer!
Dance of the Hart
by Karen Holland
Dance Beloved dance
Dance the dance of the hart
Be joyful in God your Savior
The Sovereign LORD, your strength and delight
Dance with the feet of a deer
Enabled to go on the heights. –Habakkuk 3:19
Dance Beloved dance
Hear the rhythm of His songs in the night — Psalm 42:8
Feel His heartbeat, loud and strong
Dance, abide, move as one –John 15:4
Keep in step around the throne thru the night –Galatians 5:25
Until the day breaks with the joy that comes with His bright morning light. –Song of Solomon 4:6, Psalm 30:5
Dance Beloved dance
Dance the dance of the hart
The joy of the LORD your strength –Nehemiah 8:10
Dance with the King heart to heart
Held secure in His love, equipped with His joy –Psalm 30:11
With the feet of a deer on the heights
Hart to hart rejoice
Forevermore, eternal delight. –Psalm 16:11