Higher Ground

Bible Book: Psalms  18 : 33
Subject: Higher Ground; Peace; Gladness; Fulfillment

I have known many blessings in my life, blessings for which I am truly thankful to my Lord. Some of my greatest moments may not have had anything to do with my ministry. For example, when I heard that Rocky Marciano was going to be referring the Mississippi Golden Gloves championships you can be sure I was sitting in the audience. I had read a lot about Rocky and watched every fight of his that was televised. I rejoiced in seeing the man who would not be interviewed by a major radio station because they advertised beer, and he was considered a role model. He said he would not be associated with anything that might become a stumbling block for young people. That, however, is not the kind of blessing I have in mind.

When I was growing up I worshiped in a mission church, planted by Brother M. C. Waldrup, who was not only an outstanding Superintendent of Missions, he was also among the best preachers I have ever heard. Later, the pastor of our sponsoring church , Bro. Henning Andrews, pastor of the Lula Baptist Church, Lula, MS, came out and preached at 9:00 o’clock on Sunday mornings. He was also a very strong preacher. After the worship service we had our Sunday School and when that was over we would drive home in time to see and hear Dr. R. G. Lee, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee preach. You talking about blessed! I heard R. G. Lee every Sunday on TV and a number of times in person. In fact, I heard him preach his famous sermon, Pay Day Some Day, twice in person, and take it from me, that was nothing at all like hearing it on tape or watching a video of Dr. Lee preaching Pay Day Some Day. People complain if I preach a sermon twice! R. G. Lee preached that sermon over 1200 times, with his South Carolina drawl, and wearing his white Palm Beach suit. It was an unforgettable experience, and I have a great forgetter. I will never forget when Dr. Lee challenged a group of ministerial students at Mississippi College to memorize the New Testament. I thought he was joking, and then I learned that he had done just that!

When I was at Mississippi College and later at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary we heard some of the best know preachers in America. I heard many other great preachers at conventions and evangelism conferences, and I loved it. I always felt that our president, Dr. H. Leo Eddleman could take you deeper with the simplest language of anyone I had ever heard. But, I could go on and on with the list of great preachers of the Gospel. For example, there was the time Dr. C. Roy Angell preached for us in chapel at seminary. I had heard that he was a great story teller and that people would hang onto every word he said when he preached.

I have no idea whether or not I heard him preach a sermon entitled “Like Hinds’ Feet” or read it in one of his books, but I was amazed. I was also amazed at the opportunities available to us if we simply trust the Lord enough to walk with Him. Our text today is, “He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.” (Psalms 18:33, KJV). We will come back and look at a modern translation, but for now let’s think of these words: “He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet.”

Unless we read these words in a modern translation they could be confusing, but remember that for hundreds of years there were no modern translations. Let me assure you this is not slip up by David. In fact, we find these words in three different places in the Old Testament. Since they occur three time they must be important, and they may hold a secret for which you have been looking in your walk with the Lord.


“He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.” (Psalms 18:33, KJV).

“He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places.” (2 Sam 22:34, KJV).

“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.” (Hab 3:19, KJV)

A. He Makes My Feet Like Hinds’ Feet.

1. A Hind is a deer. “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and sets me securely on the heights.” (Ps 18:33, HCSB) That makes more sense to most of us living at this time, and It explains David’s hope and trust.

2. David was a mighty man of war. He was blessed by the Lord with all the things that make a great military soldier or commander.

3. He learned his warfare fleeing from King Saul. Any military leader must learn both military strategy and military tactics and David learned both.

4. He could have slain Saul. However, he promised never to raise his hand against the Lord’ anointed.

5. David and his mighty men often hid from Saul. They hid out in the mountainous country of Israel where it was hard for Saul to find them.

6. David often observed the deer and the ram. He observed them as they climbed to the top of some rugged mountain.

7. He may have wished he could climb like a deer. If he could have climbed to the top of some rugged mountain he may have escaped Saul more easily.

8. In time, Saul was slain and David became king over Israel.

9. David, the might man of war, conquered all the surrounding area in the name of the Lord.

10. His success was so phenomenal that even today the most famous symbol in Israel is the Star of David.

11. David did not take credit for his supernatural success.

12. Victory followed victory because, in his own words, “He maketh my feet like hinds feet.”

B. He “Setteth My Feet upon My High Places.”

1. In flight, the Lord had set him upon the high places of Canaan.

2. In conquest, God had set him upon the highest places in the land.

3. David was not set upon “their” high places. Even the pagan nations had places or positions they considered high or noble places.

4. God set David upon “my” high places. That is, God set David his servant upon the highest pinnacles in the land and made them his.

5. David’s high places were not the high places of the enemies. Of course, once he conquered them they became his high places.

6. They were the high places of his own land which he maintained triumphantly so that he could rule the land from them.

7. David knew the agony of defeat in the valley of despair (Ps. 23).

8. He ruled, however, from the high places where Yahweh had set him and protected him.
David was a mighty man of war and he surrounded himself with mighty warriors.


A. We Need to Understand What That Means.

1. The late Dr. Roy Angell once told of a man who had to learn what this verse means.

I do not know whether I heard Dr. Angell tell his story, or if I read it in his book, Iron Shoes, a book of sermons. However, I found this story in that book. It was a story about a Dr. Glen Clark, a professor in a Midwestern college who told of his story in the book, I will Life Up Mine Eyes. He said he was having a lot of trouble trying to get the devotional book to come together until he heard a lady speak. She told about her experience in trying to write a book, which gave her a lot of trouble until a verse of Scripture turned things around for her. She quoted that verse: “He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.” When she came to understand that, the book wrote itself faster than she could write it down. Her name was Marian Graw.

After quoting that verse she left the stage and Dr. Clarke rushed back stage to find her and ask what that verse meant. She was gone and he did not get the answer he felt that he so desperately needed. Dr. Clark came so close to a nervous breakdown that he was sent, by his doctor, I presume, to a ranch out west. He stressed that it was a regular working ranch, not a dude ranch. The cowboys made him welcome and the owner and workers included him in most of the things they did. Then, one day the foreman told him they were going up on Number Six Mesa and invited him to go with them. He was glad to have an opportunity to ride with them and he may have wanted to see those mesas. He also enjoyed riding the great horse they had let him ride. It was a beautiful horse and a fast one.

They rode and they climbed higher and higher. He enjoyed the ride until they climbed up Number Five Mesa and then began riding across to Number Six Mesa. He noticed that, unlike the other Mesas, Number Six had no path up to the top of it. As they approached Number Six Mesa the foreman came over to him and told him that he would have to stay on Number Five Mesa while they climbed on top of Number Six to put out some salt. Dr. Clark asked him why and the foreman gave him the answer and that answer is what had been plaguing him so long. The foreman said, our horses track like a deer and they can climb anything, but yours can’t. He repeated it: “Our horses track, yours doesn’t.”

When he asked why the foreman what he meant, he said, “Our horses track like a deer. They can climb anything.” He said, “Watch my horse’s feet and you will see that the hind foot falls exactly in the track left by the front foot. Now, walk your horse and look at his feet. See, his hind feet land well beyond the print of the front foot. Your horse doesn’t track.” Dr. Clark told them to go on and leave him. That foreman had just answered his question. His life didn’t track! Having grown up on a farm, I understood perfectly what the ranch foreman meant. We had several mules and there were a lot mules in our area as farming was making the transition from mules to tractors. I observed that fast mules over-stepped themselves all the time. For plowing, pulling a wagon, or riding that was a good thing. It was amazing how the rear foot would overstep the front rack by six to ten inches all day long. They didn’t track, but we didn’t need them to track. After all, we lived in the Mississippi Delta, not the mountains.

Dr. Clark said, “As they went up on Number Six Mesa I got off my horse and got down on my knees: ‘Lord, I ought to take off my shoes for I am on holy ground. You put it on the lips of a cowboy to tell me what is wrong with me. My life doesn’t track. It pulls against itself.” He confessed that there was a tug of war going on inside him, and prayed, “God, help me to track. Help me to get my life to track.” He added, “I was cured. I went home and the book was written. The tug of war within me was gone. There were peace and rhythm and coordination.”

2. The problem with a lot of people is that their life doesn’t track.

a. They live their life on lower ground and never discover the Higher Ground.

b. It is like a car that has been wrecked and the rear wheels do not track the front wheels.

c. There is a constant tug of war going on in their heart.

Someone described a mural he saw some place. It show a man wrestling with himself! We are surrounded by people who are struggling with the kind of problem today that may be referred to as a tug of war within them. With some, it is emotional. With others it focuses on relationships. With others it is a psychological tug of war. In some cases we are trying to “direct the Lord” even as we pray for him to direct our lives. With many people the tug of war relates specifically to sin. Perhaps it is an addiction: and addiction to sin, to alcohol, to drugs, to immorality, to profanity, gambling, lying, stealing, or pornography. With some it is a matter of jealousy, envy, or a lust for power, wealth, or influence. With others it may be drugs or alcohol. Any of these things can keep your life from tracking, and if your life doesn’t track you are never going to reach your “high” places. When psychology doesn’t work, when sociology does not work, when all the self-help programs fail you, ask the Lord to help you and He will enable your life to track so that you can reach your high place. He will help you to reach the higher ground. There are certain blessings that are reserved for Spirit-filled Christians, and the Lord is never deceived about that which either hinders us, or helps us to reach our high place.

B. One Thing Will Always Keep Your Life from Tracking.

1. That one thing is sin. By that, I mean unconfessed sin. We have all “sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, if we sincerely confess or sins and trust the Lord to forgive us He will restore us. Lost people must repent and trust the Lord for His great salvation. Backsliders must confess their sins and trust the Lord to restore them to a healthy relationship with our Savior.

2. A lack of prayer will keep you from reaching your high places. One pastor told of a deacon who asked him to go into the auditorium with him. When they got there the deacon confessed, “My prayers don’t get any higher than the ceiling.

When I was growing up at Sledge, Mississippi, that little town made famous by a song, Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town, written by friends from high school, Harold Dorman and Wiley Gann, and made famous by country music star Charlie Pride. I worshiped at the Green River Baptist Mission, eight miles west of Sledge. One Wednesday night a friend a little younger than I was asked to lead in prayer meeting. I don’t know what else he said that night, but I will never forget when he stopped and rebuked folks in the community: “When you pray you had better watch out because some of those prayers are liable to bounce off the ceiling an hurt somebody.” I doubt that anyone asked him for details after that service, but he was concerned that the prayers of some of our church members were not getting past the ceiling. If you ever have that problem there may well be sins you need to confess.

C. If Your Life Does Not Track, There Is a Way You Can Get Your Hinds’ Feet Back.

1. Confess your sin. “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, HCSB) You mean it is that simple? It is that simple! I drove to Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi many years ago when I learned that the husband and father of some of our members was in a serious condition in ICU. I was standing with family members when I looked around and saw the youngest daughter sitting at the end of a sofa with her head down. Her grief was obvious. I stepped over and dropped down on my knee beside her and asked her how she was doing. Before long I was able to witness to her. I asked if she would like to know Jesus as Savior and Lord and she nodded. I shared with her “the plan of salvation”, which I often call God’s provision for our salvation.” Then I asked her if she would like to pray and ask the Lord to come into her heart. She looked up and asked, “Is that all there is to it?” It is just that simple! In recent years I see pictures of that lady and her family members, hear about trips around the world, and business meetings in places I can hardly imagine. I have listened to people talk about how amazing it is that she and her husbands have become such a success in the world market. You know what I always remember? Right! A twelve year old girl who asked the Lord to save her. He set her on her high place that night. Our Lord is waiting for you to confess your sins; He actually wants you to confess your sins and trust Him to give you eternal life. If you already know Him as Savior, why not crown Him today as Lord?

2. Consecrate yourself to the Lord. Actually, you must permit the Lord to consecrate you, and while we may quote any number of verses, I would like to do something a little different here and quote a verse that some use for other subjects. For this one message, please forget about every other application for just a few minutes and stay with me on this:

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. (29) For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. (30) And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30, HCSB)

While we may spend house on this passage, and consider various applications, let me ask you for now to concentrate on these words: “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Now, may I ask you if you have ever heard a better definition of Sanctification? We can talk about Sanctification all we want to, but is the purpose not to make us like Jesus? To conform us to the image of His Son! This is powerful. And that is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers whose lives track, those who are marching in step with Jesus, those who obey the Father.

3. Commit yourself to the two Great Commandments.

“He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (38) This is the greatest and most important commandment. (39) The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (40) All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40, HCSB)

D. You May Be Asking How We Can Know We Have Been Given Our Hinds’ Feet.

1. In the first place, you should know if something is wrong. I can even soften that a little: whether you admit it or not, you should know if there is something, or some things in your life that keeps your life from tracing. Have you ever realized that what you know you should do, you are not doing, and what you should not do you keep on doing. Then, your life does not track.

2. If your life does not track you are living on a lower level that you should. You know you were intended to do better, and you have thought about it. You have talked about it. Maybe you have even prayed about it. You may have climbed up on the lower Mesas and even tried to convinced yourself that you are doing the best you can. But, you are not on the highest mesa and you know it. Let me suggest some things that will help you to decide whether or not you have been given your hinds’ feet. Let us contrast the works of the flesh with the work of the fruit of the spirit:

“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21, HCSB)

3. If you have received your hinds feet you should be producing the fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Gal 5:22-26, HCSB)

Did you notice that the “works of the flesh” is plural, whereas the “fruit of the Spirit” is singular? Think about the significance of that. Have you ever become so bogged down with church work that you didn’t know whether you were coming or going? What’s wrong with that, you may ask. Someone else may say, “I thought lost people do the works of the flesh, whereas Christians bear the fruit of the Spirit.” You may be close, but there is a serious problem here. In the first place, Christians should be doing the work of the Spirit: they are equipped to do the work of the Spirit if they have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, a lost person cannot possibly bear the fruit of the Spirit. Sadly, many Christians are more familiar with the “works of the flesh” than they are with the “fruit of the Spirit.”

For forty years, the Children of Israel wasted away in the wilderness when they should have been in Canaan possessing their possessions. The only one who was happy over that situation was Satan. He tried every trick in the book but could not keep the Israelites from leaving Egypt. They were out of Egypt, but they were not in Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. They were saved from Egypt but they were miserable, fruitless, frustrated people who griped, complained, and rebelled against their leaders. They had been redeemed from Egypt, but they were never able to climb to the highest mesa. Lost people may try to fake a life in the Spirit, but they cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit, any more that a frog can fly.

E. If You Have Your Hinds’ Feet, You Bear the Marks of the High Places on Your Life.

The Spirit filled life will bear evidence of the presence of Christ in our life. You will produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life because the Lord has placed His Spirit in you to convict you of sin, to empower you to live for Him, and to bear fruig for Him. Just as Dr. Clark could look at the tracks of his horse and tell that it did not track, and just as he could see that the foreman’s horse did track, He can see to it that your life does track, but only if you are filled with the Spirit of the living God.

F. If You Do Not Have Your Hinds Feet, You Bear the Marks of the Low Road.

Some people bear the marks of Satan in their lives. Just as surely as some people will some day bear the marks of the beast on your forehead (Rev. 13:17; 16;2), they are bearing the marks of Satan in their lives right now. Lives are wrecked by alcohol, drugs, gambling, immorality, jealousy, envy, and a bad attitude. One sign to look for when, or if you do not feel that you may have your hinds’ feet is a simple lack of joy in your life. The Lord wants to fill your life with joy today.


In my commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians I make this statement, and follow it with a quotation. “In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasts true righteousness with the pseudo-righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. His rewards are reserved for those who are sincere.” The following words are from an old engraving on a cathedral in Labeck, Germany:

Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us:
You call Me master and obey Me not.
You call Me light and see Me not.
You call Me the Way and walk Me not.
You call Me life and live Me not.
You call Me wise and follow Me not.
You call Me fair and love Me not.
You call Me rich and ask Me not.
You call Me eternal and seek Me not.
If I condemn thee, blame Me not.

[Sanders, Johnny L., Undefeated: Finding Peace in a World Full of Trouble, p. 29].

When I filled out the application for the Doctor of Ministry program one of the questions that required some soul searching was, “Why are you pursuing this degree?” I finally answered (confessed?) that throughout my entire academic career I had been guilty of the sin of mediocrity. Mediocrity really is a sin! I had seldom done my very best in high school or college, yet I was trying to motivate my children to excel. I expected more of them than I had done myself. I had failed myself, but most of all I had failed the Lord. I was disturbed by the mediocrity that had characterized so many things in my life. I wanted one more opportunity to excel, to prove myself, to motivate my sons, and to honor the Lord. He will forgive even the sin of mediocrity if we repent. If you are guilty, you should confess it and seek His forgiveness.

Years later, someone asked me to write something on how I developed a study program that has led to all the sermons, commentaries, and articles now posted on www.sermoncity.Com. Confession and commitment! That is the answer. There was a time when my life didn’t track the way the Lord intended. Recently, Dr. Mike Minnix, creator and Editor of www.sermoncity.com asked me how anyone living in this day and time could produce the work I have produced. Confession and commitment!

How do I get my hind's feet? How do I know if I have them? How can I get the Lord to set me upon my high places? How can I get Him to forgive me and lift me up so that I may serve him without compromise? Confession and commitment!

If you were reading Psalm 18:33 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, you are aware of the fact that a hind is a deer, so David was saying: “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and sets me securely on the heights.” (Ps 18:33, HCSB) As the foreman told Dr. Clark, “our horses track like a deer. They can climb anything.” Yours doesn’t. Confession and commitment: that is what is needed if your life does not track. Ask the Lord to enable you to climb the high places before you.

Millions are seeking peace today, but they will never find it anywhere except in the Prince of Peace. Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker, or read the words on a church sign: NO JESUS, NO PEACE, KNOW JESUS, KNOW PEACE. Let me try to adapt that to this Scripture - there is...

No joy without peace,
No peace without grace,
No grace without Jesus.