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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Right Hand of My Righteousness

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  KJV

This quote is from the King James Version.  It still has the old forms like  "thou" and "thee," but it's easy enough to understand.  I use it because I like some things about it.  Sometimes we face problems or life situations  that make us afraid, but God says we don't have to yield to that fear for some very specific reasons. 

  1. He says he is with us.  I have always read this as a personal promise, but it was actually addressed to the people of Judah during the exile.  It was a group promise so I have used the collective in this instance--we and us.  "Fear thou not" may be loosely translated by people who live in East Texas like this, "Hey, y'all don't be afraid."  For those who don't know what "y'all" means--it is a colloquial contraction of "all of you" or "you all."
  2. The reason we don't have to fear is that God is with us.  I can remember that as a child I was not afraid in a storm when I was with my parents.  They knew what to do and reassured me.  Now we can have that same assurance of protection when God is present.  Bad things may happen, but in his presence, we are safe.
  3. Be not dismayed--Dismay is a crumbling of our courage.  We were strong in our faith, but something came along, like an exile, and we lost our reserve of faith and courage.  What are we going to depend on now?  What resource do we have?
  4. Don't you love rhetorical questions?  Not if you don't know the answer, but this time we do.  What resource do we have?  We have the assurance that God himself has proclaimed that he is our God.  He has claimed us and made us his children, his sheep, his possession.  Be not dismayed FOR I am thy God.  Change the "for" to "because."  That's why we don't have to be dismayed.
  5. Now he makes another promise:  I will strengthen you.  We are strengthened by encouragement and nourishment and, sometimes, just by a drink of water.  In this case the strength comes from the action and presence of God.  He adds his strength to ours.  Maybe it's better than than:  Maybe he puts his strength in place of ours.
  6. Yea--a little word, but it means a lot.  I usually read it as "Yes!" It is an affirmation of God's intention to help us.  Sometimes "yea" is a cheer, a shout.  Yea!  Whoopee!  God is here to help, to lend us his assistance. 
  7. Yea, again.  Shout it!  God promises us the right hand of his righteousness.  Other translations say "my rightous right hand."  You have heard people refer to an assistant as a "right hand man" or give accolades for performance from someone who worked as a "right hand."  In some ancient societies, the left hand was less favorable.  In Latin the word that means left hand comes from the root meaning sinister.  The right hand was ususally the stronger hand.  Sometimes parents and teachers tried to force a child to use the right hand even when they were left handed by nature.  At that time nobody knew that this was controlled in the brain and all the force and restriction would not change it.  In regard to God's right hand, we need to focus on what it means in the Bible.  God's right hand is just and righteous.  Jesus sits or stands at God's right hand, and Jesus is the righteousness of God.  God has promised us himself, his presence, his strength, his help, and now, praise his name, he also promises us Jesus, his right hand. (Romans 3:21-22, Phillipians 1:11)
Go back and read the verse again.  Maybe you will want to make it personal like I do sometimes.  Maybe you will dwell on phrases that touch you in a particular situation.  Claim the promises and rejoice that you know the power and love of God's Righteous Right Hand--Jesus.