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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

He Laid His Hand On Me

What does it mean if God lays His hand on hand on you? It's in verse 5 of Psalm 139. I've read this passage many times but I can't remember seeing this before.

What does it mean if someone you know touches your shoulder or places a hand on top of yours? It’s as if words won’t communicate what the person wants you to know. It extends empathy, unity, encouragement. It shares a connection and presence. Sometimes it can even share a warning to change your direction or protect you from danger.

I understand that in Psalm 139, this action comes after a listing of what God knows about me. He proves He isn’t just a know-it-all God arrogantly pushing His knowledge in my face to intimidate me. With this personal, intimate action, He wants me to understand what He knows. He knows my fears, my disappointments, my confusion, my stress, my hopes, my secrets. He knows and He cares..

I refuse to take these words as only metaphor. It is an extension of His very presence. He reminds me to allow His knowledge about me to turn me away from excuse or rationalization. His initiative is my reassurance and confirmation.

The verse also reminds me of one of my favorite verses in Isaiah: Is God’s arm too short to reach me? (Isaiah 59:1) And the answer is always NO. However, if I don’t sense God’s compassionate reach or restrictive warning, the distance I perceive will leave me unnecessarily on my own.

My most important interpretation of this beautiful image is to treat it as God’s exclamation point. He confirms His intimate knowledge with His own “Do not fear” message. He lays His hand on me to remind me, “I’ve got your back. I’m on your side.” He says Yes to me. Yes He understands. Yes He uses what He knows to

protect me. Yes, it is all-love that handles His all-knowledge. Yes, He is for me!

What will understanding all of that do to devotion? I am eager clay on His wheel, a canvass for His art, a life for His filling. Then, His hand is my benediction and I can face my day with His peace.

Quiet Circle Time

Read Psalm 139: 1-5 with your name in it. (O Lord, you have searched Debbie . . .)

When you come to the end of verse 5, read it slowly. Are you aware of His hand of presence, comfort, encouragement, or benediction? Don’t leave your Quiet Circle until you are. Then, check yourself several times during the day, especially when you confront stress or tension. Let His hand of presence remind you to use His all-knowledge before you use your limited store.

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