I’m not usually a fan of fiction, even allegory, but Hinds’ Feet on High Places was recommended to my wife, who gave it to me. I’m glad for the exception.
Written by Hannah Hurnard, the story follows Much-Afraid as she ventures to the High Places to be transformed and renamed by her loving Shepherd. Along the way, she encounters dangers, villains, and long detours, accompanied by two companions, Sorrow and Suffering. After receiving her hinds’ feet (Psalm 18:33, Habakkuk 3:19) and her new name (Revelation 3:12), she returns to her home in the valley to work in service of the Shepherd.
This is a beautiful story of laying down one’s own will for the glory of God and being made new by Him—from salvation through maturity, and from justification along the journey of sanctification. Much-Afraid begins the story quite terrified of many things, especially her family the Fearings. She loves working for the Chief Shepherd, yet her disfigured feet and mouth are a source of constant disappointment for Much-Afraid.
After she is invited to journey to the High Places by the Chief Shepherd, Much-Afraid becomes fearful that she cannot accomplish such a task, especially with her disfigured feet. The Shepherd, on the other hand, has hinds’ (deer) feet, allowing Him to quickly and easily scale the slopes to the High Places and safely return to the valley below. The Shepherd tells her that she can be transformed with hinds’ feet once she reaches the High Places, though the journey would be perilous. But she trusts the Chief Shepherd.
The story is born out of Psalm 18 and Habakkuk 3:
He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. (Psalm 18:33, Habakkuk 3:19, KJV)
The Chief Shepherd also provides her with two companions for the journey, Sorrow and Suffering. These companions bring Much-Afraid no joy at first, but become treasured friends by the end of their adventure together.
My favorite uses of Scripture throughout this book are songs that the characters sing along the way. Most of the songs are adapted from Song of Solomon. Hurnard’s allegory was actually very instrumental in my acceptance of the Christ interpretation of Song of Solomon. I previously considered the poetic verses of the book to be only about human love and romance, framed for Jewish and Christian readers, but I have since adopted the view that Song of Solomon also represents Christ as the bridegroom and his bride, the church.
How lovely and how nimble are thy feet,
O prince’s daughter!
They flash and sparkle and can run more fleet
Than running water.
On all the mountains there is no gazelle,
No roe or hind,
Can overtake thee nor can leap as well–
But lag behind.
Sorrow, Hinds’ Feet on High Places (adapted from Song of Solomon 7:1)
I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who desires to understand Christ’s love for His church and the Christian’s journey toward maturity more deeply. It’s also a fun read!