Lent 2013 – day 17

1 Mar

Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Did you know that the left hand was (and still is in some cultures) unclean? For some it was a sign of the devil (left-handed people in the past were put to death because of this view). For others it was simply because you ate with your right hand and, before the advent of toilet paper and soap, you wiped your backside with your left.

Why do I mention this? Well, in verse 10 we see God’s right hand mentioned. Normally when God’s right hand is spoken of it is in relation to where Jesus is sitting, but here it is something different. In the Jewish culture of the time, when blessings were given (particularly those of father to son as the first-born comes into his inheritance as his father lies on his deathbed) it was traditionally the right hand that was used. But whilst it would have been true that most people would have still been wiping with their left, there was a far bigger meaning for them about the use if hands. Because the right hand signified power. And when you bring God into it, it means omnipotent power.

What David is saying is that the hand that holds him is one that is all-powerful, that can do anything and cannot be stopped from doing so by anyone other than God. But at the same time as being the omnipotent hand, it is the hand of blessing. And so we can also read that, when we are held by God’s right hand, we are held with blessings.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.


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Archbishop Cranmer

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