Jill challenged me to research the references and significance of ‘deer’ in the scriptures. I never turn down a challenge without at least giving it a try so here are my thoughts on the subject.
Who can watch a deer in the wild and not be moved by its gentle , graceful beauty ?!
The very first reference to deer in the bible is in Gen. 49:21 in Jacob’s prophecy to his sons. About Naphtali he says, “He is a deer let loose, he gives goodly words.” (Gen. 49:21)
Naphtali means ‘my wrestling’ signifying a struggle in Naphtali’s life yet the blessing bestowed on him promises a prevailing victory and freedom!
Obviously to be like a deer is a good thing, and if a deer could talk, its words would be gentle and kind and full of goodness!
What does it mean to be like a deer?
It means to be sure footed !!
In Psalm 18:33 it says “He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places.”
A deer is so sure of foot, it fears not the high craigy places of its mountain home.
There is an interesting turn of phrase in Psalm 18:33 - “and sets me on my high places”.
A deer is so sure footed he does not look down when he runs ; his head is held high and he looks far ahead – as though he trusts something or someone else to ‘set’ his feet in secure places.
Is that not what God promises us?
Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way….”
Let us be like the deer --trusting that God is placing our feet in secure places…. Knowing that no matter what comes into our life, God is ordering our steps and we can keep our eyes lifted up – gazing into His face never fearing that our foot will slip!
Not only is the deer sure footed but it is a joy to watch it leap!
Isaiah 35:6 declares "the lame shall leap like a deer" in a time when God’s kingdom rules.
I love to watch a deer leap…..it seems to leap over gravity itself.
I have watched them bound up to a six foot fence , stop, look at it and then effortlessly elevate into the air over the fence and land ever so lightly on their feet on the other side!
Would that we could be like deer when obstacles block our life path. That we would stop, look, then trusting God to make a way through - simply allow His strength –in us- to lift us up and over the difficulty that threatens to overwhelm us or stop us in our tracks.
To be like a deer means to be loving.
To watch a mother doe with her fawns is a beautiful thing, and the bible uses the deer to speak of marital love.
In Prov. 5: 19 the words “as a loving deer and a graceful doe” refer to the satisfying love between a man and his wife.
Song of Solomon carries this theme in 2:9, comparing the woman’s lover to a stag. Has any king ever worn a crown as magnificent as the antlers of a buck? How regally he carries himself, every step proclaiming his royalty!
I smile when the young bucks walk across my back yard. Even when their antlers are barely showing they already hold their head with pride imitating the high stepping gait of a mature buck.
We are children of the most high….and proclaim our royalty best when we love one another – with respect and tenderness , recognizing that the love between a man and a woman is the picture God has chosen to picture His love for the body of Christ!
An important aspect of being a deer is its thirst and need of water.
In Psalm 42:1 David says, “As the deer pants for the water brook, so pants my soul for You, O God.”
Deer tend to feed near water and if they are sick they will lie near water, knowing it is the most important thing they need.
If forced to go without water for any length of time their thirst is intense and they will long for water, searching for it until they find it.
When we find ourselves in a dry place, do we know where to go? Do we seek the living water - the only thing that will quench our thirst? When we have not drunk deep enough of God’s life giving word, do we recognize our thirst and hurry to find fresh water like the deer? Or do we reach for other things to quench our thirst: the medicine cabinet, entertainment, the pursuit of financial gain, food, new toys, the remote control, sports, anything - except the One who alone has the ‘living water’ that will satisfy us?
The last verse in Song of Solomon speaks of the Shulamite woman’s longing for her love…. “Make haste my beloved and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.”
Do we run like a deer, into the arms of God…ever seeking Him, longing for Him, thirsting for Him?
“Thank your, Lord, for your magnificent creation and especially for the deer that teaches us in such a beautiful way to trust You and seek You for all we need and desire!”