The Lifting of the Hand
The human hand, an unbelievably intricate part of the body. Consisting of twenty-seven bones and movable joints. With the bones, there are thirty-four muscles and over one hundred ligaments and tendons. (Pause) Look at your hand. Wiggle your fingers. Magnificent design! The hand is known to be one of the most utilized parts of our anatomy. The hand is the gentle brush against the cheek of a peacefully sleeping infant. The confident grip of a firm handshake. The welcoming wave to a friend across the aisle at the store. The hand resting on a shoulder as to comfort. It is valuable moving parts to our daily lives.
But the lifting of the hand, is where the heart connects in worship to God. I’m not just speaking of and to the Pentecostal pews. Abraham, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:22, ESV). Out of commitment, Abram (his name not yet changed) declares, in conversation with the King of Sodom, saying a hardy “No” to his offer of the battle spoils (read the story of Sodom & Gomorrah in Genesis 18:16-33, 19:1-29). His response is due to his predetermined value, a standard (an oath) by which he was to conduct his life and that of his family – to worship God and God alone. Worship involves our lifestyle. Our choices. Our giving and taking. The hand.
The Israelites. After returning from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem, when rebuilding the walls of the city, the Law was brought out before the people. When opened and read, “Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6). Worship is our response to God’s word.
King David worshipped even in the hardship of the desert (Psalm 63). Scholars believe he may be referring to his troubles in 2 Samuel 15, when running from Absalom. “Because Your loving devotion is better than life, my lips will glorify You. So, I will bless You as long as I live; in Your name I will lift my hands” (Psalm 63:3-4, BSB). Worship is reaching beyond ourselves, beyond our circumstances. To Him. Regardless.
The Hebrew words used in these verses is the open hand, (in context) the palm. Not a fisted hand. Not closed, holding the stuff of this world. Closed as to withhold from God. Open, conveying surrender. Allegiance. Honor. Awe.
Worship is just being overwhelmed with Who He is. “I will exalt you* my God and King and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness” (Psalm 145:1-3, NLT). There are times I cannot get my hands high enough. My arms seem too short. To exalt Him over my life, over the stuff that seems big at times. To place Him up higher – a representation of my heart’s love, my reverence to a Holy God. My hands in the direction of the One worthy of my adoration.
The lifting of the hand.
*Exalt (Hebrew, “ramam”) to extol, to raise, to lift up. Indicating something is literally raised up high.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Hebrews 10:24).