In church today, as I stood there holding my wife’s hand, it occurred to me how funny it is that our hands line up the way they do, given that I’m almost a foot taller than she is. This must have been part of God’s design for us, that our hands would line up when hanging at our sides no matter how tall we are.
This also got me thinking about references to God holding our hands. In Psalm 73, Asaph (the author) speaks lovingly about God for helping him resist the temptation to envy wicked people who seemed to be prospering without fearing the Lord:
Yet I am always with you;Psalm 73:23-26 (NIV, emphasis added)
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
The picture the poet is painting here is of God standing by our side, always helping us. The love language is something I would like to have come up with to utter to my wife–in other words, very intimate and grateful for the steady presence by my side.
So in a sense, even though God is infinitely taller than I am, his arms are just the right length so that my hand slides comfortably into his.
How cool is that?
Also, there must be a reason why Asaph mentions that God holds him by his right hand. Asaph was a worship leader during the time of Kings David and Solomon. I wonder if this could have been the reason why he mentioned his right hand: soldiers in those days generally held their weapons in their right hands, so by referring to God holding his right hand, I wonder if he was alluding to the fact that God is his protector, so while holding onto God’s hand, he wouldn’t need a weapon. Asaph himself may not have been a soldier, but it seems possible that everyone hearing this song could have made the connection.
Or perhaps this: a musician generally needs her/his right hand to play her/his instrument. In this case, the reference could have been to stop whatever it is you are doing when the opportunity presents itself to take God’s hand and thank him for his steady and strong presence in our lives.
One more possibility: since the next verse refers to God’s guidance, I wonder if this couldn’t also hint at a willingness to follow wherever God leads and guides us to go. Hopefully all of us, at one time or another when we were very young, felt the loving grip of a parent’s hand around ours, leading us away from danger and toward safety. Of course, sometimes that safety may have looked like danger to us–a doctor’s or dentist’s office, a first day of school–but we went because that’s where mom or dad was leading us.
That sounds strangely like being open to going wherever God wants us to go….