"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts,
in that day when I make up
To my dear Grandchildren
The High Leaping Impala
"Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
South Africa has a great variety of animals; some are hunters and vicious and others are gentle and harmless. Among this second group are several closely related antelopes such as the gazelles, klipspringers, springboks and impalas. The impala is a beautiful animal. Its velvety coat is a soft brown colour over its head, neck, back and legs, but plain white on its underparts and another patch of white under its stubby tail. Its nimble legs are long and slender but surprisingly strong, and for a good reason, as we will see.
This timid animal is only about three feet high and weighs between 100 and 150 pounds. Males have V-shaped horns, beginning with a short backward slant and then straightening upward a total length of two or three feet. These horns are indeed a part of the Creator's display of beauty on this animal. They look like an artist might have carved them.
The impala is quite content with the food supply of the prairie - herbs, bushes, shrubs and the most important and nourishing Savannah grass. But there is the constant threat of a lion or other prowling hunter. When an impala becomes aware of an enemy, it barks an alarm, and in a flash the whole herd scatters in various directions. This is where their slender, strong legs are so valuable, as they run for safety in a series of dashes and long-distance jumps as high as ten feet and as far as thirty feet in single, graceful leaps - a beautiful sight.
When bounding away from danger in these great leaps, the front feet are in the air on the first bound. When the hindquarters come up, the white patch under their tail becomes a signal to others that danger is present and its time for them also to get moving. The lion, presuming it is well hidden, seems to be surprised at the swift action and gets confused as to which impala to chase. When it hesitates, sometimes they all escape.
The Creator has also provided another means of warning through tick birds that frequently ride on an impala's back. These birds not only rid the animal of pesky insects but also give their own warning when they see danger approaching.
The Creator's care over these gentle animals should remind us that His care over us is even more tender. He invites you to prove His wonderful love, as the writer of Psalm 147:11 expresses it so well: "The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear [respect and love] Him, in those that hope in His mercy." Has He ever had the pleasure of hearing you thank Him for His love?