A look at the use of hands in the Bible, using the metaphor to help, hold, and heal in the coming year
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO—There are twenty-seven bones in the human hand: eight carpal, fourteen proximal, and five metacarpals. Every finger (phalanges) contains three bones, except for the thumb, which has two. There are twenty muscles that assist the human hand for movement, working in conjunction with tendons and ligaments. Hands are a vital (though not indispensable, as many people without hands attest) part of the human body; they are a wonder of engineering, a marvel of creation.
Hands as a Metaphor
It’s no wonder that the writers of scripture often reference God’s hands within the text. Using anthropomorphism (human qualities to describe God), the authors of the Bible employ hands as a powerful metaphor and analogy.
The symbolism of God’s hands within the Bible extend from creation (Psalm 8:3, Acts 7:50), control (Psalm 89:13) and concern (Psalm 138:8), to compassion (Psalm 104:28) and correction (Job 10:3; Isaiah 66:2). In all, there are well over one-hundred references to the hands of God within the Bible.
Hands and Artists
Artists picked up on the powerful symbol of hands, often using hands to represent a pivotal moment in history or a theological truth. Think of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel where God reaches out to touch the hand of Adam, representing the moment of human creation. It’s an image etched in our culture and conscious. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel image is so great, in fact, that parodies of it exist throughout the world.
One recent parody is of Stephen Christian of the rock band Anberlin. After a homecoming concert in Tampa, Florida, one fan posted an image of Stephen crowd surfing while God is reaching out his hand to touch the singer. Caricatures like this abound.
Albuquerque Museum of Art
As I was walking an art exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum of Art entitled Images of Vision of the Hispanic World, I couldn’t help but notice the use of hands by various artists, reminding me of God’s loving, yet corrective hands.
Using the metaphor of hands, here’s five sections of Biblical truth to help jump-start the New Year, knowing God’s compassion and concern will often lead to correction, a means to craft us into the image of Christ. Adopt these references as a point of contemplation on God’s handiwork.
- “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained… what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Psalm 8:3
- “You have a strong arm; Your hand is mighty, Your right hand is exalted.” Psalm 89:13
- “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Psalm 138:8
Compassion and care
- “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145: 16
- “You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.” Psalm 104: 28
- “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” Job 5:17
Remember this: the hearty hands of God will help, hold, and heal you—spiritually speaking, this coming year. Grasp them with great gusto, knowing that when we humbly reach out to the Lord, God’s mighty hand will lift you up in due time (see I Peter 5:6).
For information on Images from Visions of the Hispanic World at the ABQ Museum of Art, click here: https://albuquerquemuseum.org/visions-reg/