Upheld by the Sovereign, Wounded Hand
The Lord is the upholder of my life
– Psalm 54:4
Upheld by Another
What a wonderful word, what a wonderful hope. Our lives are upheld by someone else.
The Christian’s life is not a free standing structure. It is not a self-supported tower, it is – from first to last – upheld by the strength of another. Western culture (at least, American culture) has conditioned us to feel empowered and confident when we are strong, when we are at an advantage….but this is not how God encourages His people. Rather, He turns our eyes, hope, confidence and assurance away from ourselves and onto Him. It is false hope to tell a toddler that they can swim across an Olympic pool on their own, but it is real comfort to tell them that they will be carried to the other side on the back of an Olympic swimmer. This is the way God strengthens and comforts His people, not with lies of “self empowerment,” but by teaching us to “boast all the more gladly of [our] weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon [us]” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
God commands us to stand, but HE holds us up. We see this beautiful dynamic perhaps most clearly in Psalm 63:8:
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me
We cling – oh yes, we cling – to Him…through prayer and worship and study and fellowship and desperation, the Christian clings with all their soul’s might to the living God…..but, in the end, it is HE who upholds us. We cling, but our survival is not dependent on the grip of our often wavering hearts, rather, it is dependent on His invincible, wounded hand….a hand that unfalteringly upholds sinners like us precisely because it is wounded.
Upheld by the Wounded Hand
Yes, the hand that upholds the trusting human soul is a hand scarred by the punishment of the ones it upholds….and because of those scars, we KNOW we will be safe….we KNOW we will not be abandoned to God’s wrath because the wrath has been absorbed into the hand that upholds our souls. The scars inflicted by hell’s fire on my Savior’s hands are now seals of my eternal hope, emblems of my acceptance, springs of divine blessing and heralds of God’s love….my soul clings to Him, and His wounded-yet-sovereign right hand upholds me.
And consider the wonder of this:
The sovereign hand of God is wounded. What does it mean when the hands of God, the hands of the one who orders all things, the hands of Him who does exactly as He pleases in heaven and on earth (Ps.115:3)…..what does it mean when His hands are wounded? It can only mean that, in His sovereignty, He chose to be wounded. He chose to bear our punishment. He chose to use His omnipotent, universe-upholding power to lay down His life for those who hated Him and deserved His wrath….
What sort of God is this, then, who – unconstrained by anything outside of Himself – freely chose to be crushed for the sake of His beloved enemies so that they might have life in Him? At the very least, we can say this: He is a God utterly unmatched and un-equaled among the pantheon of history’s deities. The god of Islam, the god who is actually worshiped by present-day Judaism (who is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob if Jesus is rejected as His Son and the Jewish Messiah, John 8:42-44), the gods of Hinduism and Shintoism, the forgotten deities of Egypt and Canaan and Ur, the American gods of Culture and Entertainment, or ever present influence of Mammon – the wounds of the living Christ expose all of these entities as loveless, bloodless, false-shepherds, unable to save or satisfy their worshipers.
There is no one like YHWH, the one true God, and He declares this with climactic finality through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, the sovereign and scarred upholder of our souls.