Lifting up holy hands

Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands [lit. palms] in Your name. [Psalm 63:4, NKJV]
כֵּ֣ן אֲבָרֶכְךָ֣ בְחַיָּ֑י בְּ֝שִׁמְךָ אֶשָּׂ֥א כַפָּֽי׃

Hear the voice of my supplications
When I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. [Psalm 28:2, NKJV]
שְׁמַ֤ע ק֣וֹל תַּ֭חֲנוּנַי בְּשַׁוְּעִ֣י אֵלֶ֑יךָ בְּנָשְׂאִ֥י יָ֝דַ֗י אֶל־דְּבִ֥יר קָדְשֶֽׁךָ׃

Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

Βούλομαι οὖν προσεύχεσθαι τοὺς ἄνδρας ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ, ἐπαίροντας ὁσίους χεῖρας χωρὶς ὀργῆς καὶ διαλογισμοῦ.

What happens when we lift our hands to the Lord? For myself, I find myself crying ‘Father..’, and beginning to pray. What happens if one also kneels down, as King Solomon did before all Israel in supplication:

(for Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt down on his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands [lit. palms] toward heaven) [2 Chronicles 6:13, NKJV]

כִּֽי־עָשָׂ֨ה שְׁלֹמֹ֜ה כִּיּ֣וֹר נְחֹ֗שֶׁת וַֽיִּתְּנֵהוּ֮ בְּת֣וֹךְ הָעֲזָרָה֒ חָמֵ֨שׁ אַמּ֜וֹת אָרְכּ֗וֹ וְחָמֵ֤שׁ אַמּוֹת֙ רָחְבּ֔וֹ וְאַמּ֥וֹת שָׁל֖וֹשׁ קוֹמָת֑וֹ וַיַּעֲמֹ֣ד עָלָ֗יו וַיִּבְרַ֤ךְ עַל־בִּרְכָּיו֙ נֶ֚גֶד כָּל־קְהַ֣ל יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיִּפְרֹ֥שׂ כַּפָּ֖יו הַשָּׁמָֽיְמָה׃

or as Ezra did in repentance:

And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands [lit. palms] to the Lord my God, [Ezra 9:5, ESV]

וּבְמִנְחַ֣ת הָעֶ֗רֶב קַ֚מְתִּי מִתַּֽעֲנִיתִ֔י וּבְקָרְעִ֥י בִגְדִ֖י וּמְעִילִ֑י וָֽאֶכְרְעָה֙ עַל־בִּרְכַּ֔י וָאֶפְרְשָׂ֥ה כַפַּ֖י אֶל־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהָֽי׃

and spreads out one’s hands with open palms before the Lord? Does it not induce contrition, and fervour of spirit in intercession and confession of sins before a holy and Almighty and very merciful and kind God? Why do we pretend it is a matter of no import, when in reality it appears to drive us into the arms of a loving Saviour?

Andrew Chapman


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