Sunday, February 25, 2007

On the Palms of His Hands

I love the word pictures God uses to convey His messages to His children but some of them have lost their depth of meaning for us because they are based on long forgotten customs.

One example is found in Isaiah 49:16 where God says,
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

In ancient times the dread of every mother’s heart became reality the day that her beloved son was called to go to the battle field. She was well aware that her good-by to him could well be the last time she would ever see him alive.
How she studied his face for the last time trying to imprint his features upon her mind, how she yearned to hold him close to her heart as she had done when he was an infant, how she ached to hold him tightly in the safety of her embrace. But he was now a grown man and was leaving her. She feared the memory of his face would fade and she had no picture to remind her, how she longed for something of his to be constantly before her eyes.

What she would do is write his name on the palms of her hands so that all day long no matter what she was doing , every time she turned up her hand , there would be his name and she knew she would never forget him. Every time she saw his name , she prayed God would bring him back to her again.

Isn’t it amazing that God would use the word picture of this custom to communicate His emotion toward His children? The people of Isaiah’s time instantly understood the intensity of emotion conveyed through this expression. The message is that God cherishes you so much he has engraved a constant reminder upon His hands – He will not forget you any more than the mother could forget her beloved son.
The heart broken mother had only the name of her beloved son to hold on to …but God says “your walls” are continually before Him. You are not out of His sight - His eyes are always upon you as He covers you with His loving care.

But then God goes even further ….. If we take this picture and project it onto the cross we see that our name on the palms of his hands is where the nails were driven in to fasten Him to the cross. It was our name that condemned Him and in His agape love, He took our deserved punishment upon Himself.
Now, not only is your name written on His palms but the scar signifying your forgiveness is imprinted over your name. Every time God looks at your name on His palm He also sees that the price for your forgiveness has been paid !!

I never tire of the words of that well known hymn,

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song.

An interesting note – The hymn was writen by Fredrich M. Lehman in 1917 , but the beautiful word picture in middle section that I never tire of singing – about the love of God being writen across the parchment of the sky with the ocean ink - was taken from a long Jewish poem called “Hadamut” writen in 1096 by Rabbi Mayer, in the Aramaic language.


Yokooso said...

So neat! (But I believe he was nailed by his wrists right? Because I heard that the nails would have just torn from the palms of his hands because there wasn't enough bones or tissue to hold him there. Although, I'm reminded of doubting Thomas and how Jesus showed him the holes in his *hands*...hmmm...) But still I get the idea though that God knows us inside out, our names are written on His heart.

Julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie said...

The Jewish word for 'hand' also included the wrist - so even the 'palm' would include what we would consider the under side of the wrist. Perhaps the mother wrote her son's name on the inside of her wrist where it would not be washed off as quickly.
Either way, as you say, Demara, we get the 'picture' , right?