Why the Right Hand?

Isaiah 41:13 is the theme verse for this blog:

"For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'
I had often wondered why the right hand is mentioned in this verse. What is the relevance of it? Why not the left hand, or just HAND in general? As I began doing some research, I noticed the two words “right” and “hand” together are mentioned at least 132 times in the Holy Bible; and, from what I could tell, these verses show us four different purposes/meanings for the “right hand.”

1. In some verses, it is literally used as the right hand or the right side of the body. An example is seen in Genesis 48:18 - And Joseph said to his father, "Not so, my father, for this one is the first-born. Place your right hand on his head."

2. It is also referred to as a direction. Typically, the right hand refers to the South. The left hand refers to the North. Numbers 22:26 - And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right hand or the left.

3. Another meaning is a location of honor. Hebrews 12:2 - looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. The last meaning refers to giving help/strength where needed. Psalm 18:35 - You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; your right hand has held me up, your gentleness has made me great.

In most of the meanings listed above, the right hand (or right side) is considered to be a synonym for goodness. That means, “the right hand” and “goodness” fall in the same defining category. Even if you look at the Old English word for “right,” you will see the word “riht,” which means: just, good, fair, proper, fitting, straight. So, does this mean the left hand (or left side) is evil and we shouldn’t use it? Of course not! The literal left hand/side of a person is not evil. I know some wonderful, Christian people who are left-handed! But, figuratively speaking, most verses in the Bible consider the "right side" to be good and proper, and the left to be weak or foolish. More often than not, it is a matter of definition, not literal location.

Focusing specifically on Isaiah 41:13, it falls into number 4 listed above. According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Isaiah 41:10-20 was meant to be an encouragement to the people of Israel. Verse 13 is specifically “a promise that God will strengthen their hands (i.e. will help them). He will take us by the hand as our guide, to lead us in our way, will help us up when we are fallen or prevent our falls; when we are weak he will hold us up–wavering, he will fix us, trembling, he will encourage us–and so hold us by the right hand.”

That is what this blog is all about - focusing on the Lord and doing His will as we live our everyday lives - because He is always there for us, holding our hands, helping us, guiding us, and giving us strength along the way.

Embrace His hand today
as you continue this journey called "life."


RESOURCES USED FOR THIS ARTICLE
PC STUDY BIBLE (including Matthew Henry’s Commentary and Strong’s Hebrew Bible Dictionary)
THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA: Article - Right and Left
ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY: Old English words for “Right” and “Left”
WIKIPEDIA: Left-handedness

July 8, 2012

5 comments:

  1. I just saw your writings about the right hand. Quite a few years ago I was troubled and asked God to show me He is with me. I opened my Bible and read the verse that came to me, it was the verse you mentioned in Isaiah. I then noticed the thumb ring on my right hand, it has the name of Jesus with hearts, I immediately felt God's presence and love around me! Now my ring reminds me that God holds my right hand ♡

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  2. i am confused--by the picture God & I are facing each other. He extends His right hand to me and I use my right hand. But how can we walk together if He uses His right hand and I use my right hand.

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    1. That is a very good question. In my understanding of things, Isaiah 41:13 (the verse that this blog is based around) falls under number 4 listed above. The verse was originally meant to be an encouragement to the people of Israel, and is a "promise that God will strengthen their hands (i.e. will help them)." It is not a literal taking of the right hand, but is symbolic in nature - a symbol of His help and strength. For Christians, I take it to mean God will offer His helpful hand to us, which He is doing in the picture. If we choose to take His hand, He will hold us up when we are wavering, and will lead us in our journey. Thank you for your question. I hope this helps to clarify things for you.

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