“She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.” (Proverbs 31:19, KJV).
I’ve never had much of a passion for sewing, although I have friends who do. My mother is a great seamstress, and she gave me a machine and taught me to use it. However, I’ve just never enjoyed it as she does.
My hands would rather hold a book, run over the keys of a piano, knead bread, or type on my computer.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NIV).
No matter what skills my hands have, I need to use them in service of my Heavenly Father. I thought it would be fun to take note of all the ways my hands can serve.
My hands can work.
This is the primary way that hands are mentioned in God’s Word. In fact, hands are mentioned in FIVE verses of the Proverbs 31 lady! Her hands are very important to God, and the “work of her hands” shows the character of her heart. In addition, her hands work skillfully and carefully. Her reputation is built on her hands, and her lack of laziness (“slothfulness” in KJV) is evidenced by the amount of production that comes from her hands. Here are some verses:
“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Psalm 90:17).
“Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalm 128:1-2).
“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour” (Proverbs 21:25).
“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ… Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands…” (1 Corinthians 4:10-12).
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28).
“We beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12).
My hands should be stretched out toward God.
This point is very important. As a mom, I just don’t have the strength to do what I need to do. Ladies, it’s okay to admit this! In fact, it would be wrong not to admit it, for we would be saying (in pride) that we don’t need God, that we are sufficient in and of ourselves.
The moment, however, that I admit my need of God and my own insufficiency, God steps in and fills me with His power. Each morning, and all through each day, I need to stretch out my hands toward my heavenly Father. I am as weak as a baby, as a little toddler, and I need to stretch up my hands to my Papa (“Abba, Father”) and say, “Please carry me!” Graciously, lovingly, He will.
“I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land” (Psalm 143:6).
My hands need to be clean.
By my Messiah’s atoning sacrifice for me, by His blood sprinkled on the mercy seat, I am declared righteous in His sight. But my hands get dirty day by day, with the sin that I do both intentionally and unintentionally. I must wash my hands and keep them clean, just as my children wash their hands before eating and take a bath each day. “Dear Father,” I must pray, “Please forgive me. I confess my sin, and I ask you to wash my hands and make them clean again, so that my service will be pleasing to You.”
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8).
I can lift up my hands.
When my hands are clean, I now lift them up in praise, worship, and prayer to my Father. I also bless my Father in heaven and bless others as well. When you see the phrase, “lift up your hands,” in God’s Word, picture a woman who brought her sacrifice to God’s tabernacle, has offered it and been cleansed, and now lifts her hands in thanksgiving, prayer and commitment to her King.
“My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes” (Psalm 119:48).
“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” Psalm 141:2).
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8).
“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:49-51).
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things…” (Acts 17:24-25).
“Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12).
My hands can clap.
Just like most attitudes, I’ve found that when I force my body to do something (even when my heart doesn’t “feel” like it), my feelings soon follow and change for the better. When I’m discouraged, down, and depressed, I can clap my praises to my King, and my feelings will improve. I can also clap in praise of others, encouraging and strengthening them as well.
“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1).
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).
My hands should not be folded too often in sleep!
“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 6:10-11).
My hands should build my house, not pluck it down.
“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1).
“By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through” (Ecclesiastes 10:18).
My hands should drop with myrrh and perfume for my husband.
“I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock” (Song of Solomon 5:5).
My hands should do as Jesus did, laying hands on others in love and mercy.
Jesus laid His hands on children in love, and that’s probably where I have the first opportunity to lay hands on others as well. Mom, a hug is one of the most valuable things you can give! Give out love with your hands at every opportunity. “Touch” is not one of my primary “love languages,” as I suppose it isn’t for many computer geeks like me. But I can learn to be more like my Savior, laying hands on others in mercy and kindness.
“Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence” (Matthew 19:13-15).
“And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16).
“Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them” (Luke 4:40).
“And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God” (Luke 13:11-13).
“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch” (Acts 5:12).
“And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him” (Acts 28:8).
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:14-16).
Another purpose of “laying on of hands” is to pray over others and to send them out in ministry. It’s one thing to pray with a sister in Christ, but it takes it to a new level to have a group of women gather around me when I have a special need, lay their hands on my head and shoulders and arms, and pray. The tears drop and mingle together, I feel amazingly loved, and we are united in purpose and fellowship. Try it sometime!
“And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:17).
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2-3).
“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery” (1 Timothy 4:14).
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).
My hands should minister to the needs of others.
“Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:34-35).
My hands should be “marked” by my obedience to my heavenly King.
I might need to explain what I mean by this last one, but it seems so significant to me. In the book of Revelation, we read much about a mark in the foreheads and hands of those who worship the Beast and of those who worship the true God. I don’t know exactly what that mark will be, but I agree with author Christine Miller that it could simply be that we are “marked” in the forehead by our thoughts and then in our hands by the deeds that we do. Simply, when others watch our lives, our actions, and our deeds, they can tell if we are serving the “Beast” (this world’s system) or God.
No matter what the mark in the forehead and hands will be, I do know that my neighbors and community are watching me. Am I “marked” by obedience so that it’s very obvious whom I serve?
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).