August 15, 2021

The Hound of Heaven

By Joshua W

In our recent Bible study there was a passing comment about Spurgeon describing God as the “hound of heaven”, citing that God relentlessly pursued him until Spurgeon finally surrendered to him. After looking into this a bit more I found that Spurgeon wasn’t the first person to come up with this analogy! It was here that I found the poem “The Hound of Heaven” by English poet Francis Thompson. While I’m not sure if Spurgeon was aware of and influenced by this poem, it’s hard not to see the parallels!

Here’s what 1 commentator John Francix Xavier OÇonor wrote about the poem:
The name is strange. It startles one at first. It is so bold, so new, so fearless. It does not attract, rather the reverse. But when one reads the poem this strangeness disappears. The meaning is understood. As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurried and unperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His divine grace. And though in sin or in human love, away from God it seeks to hide itself, divine grace follows after, unwearyingly follows ever after, till the soul feels its pressure forcing it to turn to Him alone in that never ending pursuit”.

A few years ago I read “The Soul in Paraphrase”, a collection of devotional poems containing their analysis and the spiritual truth it brings out. Previously I was very skeptical about reading poetry (and admittedly didn’t find them all that exciting!) but that book really helped open my eyes to see God’s beauty & truth in literature. It’s been awhile since I read another poem so I was eager to read “The Hound of Heaven”. It’s not a very long poem, and I have to admit that I got a little emotional at the end! I don’t want to spoil the ending but above I've taken a snippet of how the poem starts, which I think is an apt description of how we started out before truly knowing Christ.

You can check out the full poem here. Let me know what you think! I promise it’s worth your time and a good reflection on the goodness & mercy of God. Praise God that we have been found by God in our sinful state and enjoy the privilege of being united to Christ through His loving, relentless pursuit!