“She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle” (Proverbs 31:19).
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 your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
No matter what skills my hands have, I need to use them in service of my Heavenly Father. My days are limited, and I want to use them to the fullest.
I thought it would be fun to take note of all the ways mentioned in Scripture that 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 right here in the poem 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 YHVH our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17).
“Blessed is every one who fears YHVH,
Who walks in His ways.
When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you” (Psalm 128:1-2).
“The desire of the lazy man kills him,
For his hands refuse to labor” (Proverbs 21:25).
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28).
“We urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack 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 everything 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, Daddy“) and say, “Please carry me!” Graciously, lovingly, He will.
“I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land” (Psalm 143:6).
My hands need to be clean.
The literal meaning of “clean hands” goes back to the Torah, where a man or woman needs to protect those around her when she is unclean, to prevent disease from spreading, and to wash herself and her clothes as soon as she is clean again.
The figurative meaning is much the same. Because of my Messiah’s atoning sacrifice for me, by His blood sprinkled on the mercy seat, I was 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.” This “cleansing” prevents sin from taking root and spreading to those around as well.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).
My hands can clap.
Just like most attitudes, I’ve found that when I force my body to sing and praise, 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 to praise others, encouraging and strengthening them as well.
“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” (Psalm 47:1).
“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).
My hands should not be folded too often in sleep!
“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:10-11).
My hands should build my house, not pluck it down.
“The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1).
“Because of laziness the building decays,
And through idleness of hands the house leaks” (Ecclesiastes 10:18).
My hands should drop with myrrh and perfume for my husband.
“I arose to open for my beloved,
And my hands dripped with myrrh,
My fingers with liquid myrrh,
On the handles of the lock” (Song of Solomon 5:5).
My hands should do as Yeshua did, laying hands on others in love and mercy.
Yeshua 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, to hug, to show you care. “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 little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Yeshua said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there” (Matthew 19:13-15).
“And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16).
“When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:40).
“And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Yeshua saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.’ And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God” (Luke 13:11-13).
“And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people” (Acts 5:12).
“And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him” (Acts 28:8).
“Is anyone among you sick? 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 will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails 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 Messiah, 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, I am strengthened for the job ahead, and we are united in purpose and fellowship. Try it sometime!
“And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Master Yeshua, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 9:17).
“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2-3).
“Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” (1 Timothy 4:14).
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).
My hands should minister to the needs of others.
“Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Master Yeshua, that 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 agree with author Christine Miller that this is the same mark mentioned in Ezekiel 9, of those who hate evil and abominable things. In the Torah, circumcision, the Sabbath, and Passover are all described as marking the people of God. We are “marked” in the forehead by our thoughts and then in our hands by the deeds that we do and the commands we obey. Simply put, when others watch our lives, our actions, and our deeds, they can tell if we are serving the “Beast” (this world’s system) or the Creator God.
I know that my neighbors and community are watching me. Am I “marked” by obedience so that it’s very obvious whom I serve?
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Yeshua and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).