Psalm 139:7-8 – The Hound of Heaven
I was aware of the poem, The Hound of Heaven, by Frances Thompson, but didn’t pay it much attention until writing the last book in my series, Prima Ballerina. It seemed the perfect poem for Ashley, the main character. As I read Psalm 139 recently, I realized that long before Thompson wrote his masterpiece, there was a greater masterpiece on the same subject. Or more precisely Psalm 139:7-8 – the hound of heaven, or God the great stalker!
Experience of Being Chased
For many the experience of being chased is not a pleasant one. It conjures images of running away from unpleasant situations, perhaps from consequences of our actions or worse, fearing for our life. Being chased by an unknown dog is terrifying, even if it ends with the dog wagging its tail and licking our face. Part of the fear comes from the unknown.
This is central to Thompson’s poem. Thompson was a drug addict, running away from God and the consequences of his drug use. Perhaps his only experience of God was negative, God as judge wanting to punish him for his actions, or a harsh demanding father rather than a loving one.
He runs until he can run no more then gives in, accepting God’s loving embrace.
But others find being chased fun. Lovers teasingly chase and run as foreplay. Toddlers laugh in abandon when running from their parents, knowing they are close behind them. They love being caught in loving arms. Children love to romp with their dogs.
Psalm 139:7-8 – Where Can I Run?
Depending on how you read it, Psalm 139 can be pretty creepy. It’s like God is stalking the writer. Every move they make, God is watching them.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Vs. 7-8)
That could be a good thing, or not, depending on who is watching.
Like a loving parent watching over their child, God watches his children.
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” (vs. 9-10)
Or it could be God the Police officer watching for you to make a mistake. It depends on your world view and image of God.
Our God Never Gives Up On Us
Regardless of how you interpret it, the bulk of the message is the same. Our God knows us, knows our inmost thoughts even before we think them.
“You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
God discerns my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.” (vs. 2-4)
God is watching us, chasing us down to the furthest corner of the earth, ready to catch us.
Whether we see it as eyes of love or not, doesn’t change the reality.
God is chasing us. Are you willing to be caught?