HIS HANDS 04/23/2011
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are
continually before me.” ISA 49:16.
God had created man in the image of God for the purpose of reflecting God’s
righteousness and holiness. Due to Adam’s fall, this heritage of the Lord was
empty. This chapter reveals the Father’s call, gathering His people together,
that the heritage of God should be inhabited. The image of God may again be
reflected in our human nature through the Lord Jesus Christ.
In ISA 49:11-12 we read, “And I will make all my mountains a way, and my
highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these
from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.” The Lord
Jesus Christ made a king’s highway, not merely a footpath. He made a way where
there was no way.
This chapter reveals the joy there is in heaven because of Christ’s victory over
sin, death, and the grave. We read in ISA 49:13, “Sing, O heavens; and be
joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath
comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.”
The Lord has made a way whereby comfort can be brought to His afflicted ones.
The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who comes to repentance, and here
is a way open for the comfort of all His people. There is joy in the
proclamation of the one and only way of salvation to comfort His afflicted ones.
Christ’s victory over Satan and sin, delivering His church from eternal death
and hell, is the great wonder of eternity, but is not understood by most men.
Natural man does not understand how God’s grace has purchased salvation for His
enemies who have turned their backs upon Him. He has worked reconciliation
through the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to mediate between two offended parties:
God, the Father, (whose justice was offended) and man (who has rebelled in utter
rejection of the Lord). The Lord Jesus Christ is the mediator who can break the
barriers and bring salvation for fallen man.
To men of modern religion, salvation is a decision of the human intellect
whereby they appease their consciences and expect to escape the consequences of
sin, but salvation is so much greater than that. Salvation is to be delivered
from sin, restored to the image of God, and returned to oneness with God.
Atonement means “at one ment” or “reconciliation.” The atonement of the Lord
Jesus Christ restored the oneness between God and man.
To every sinner who knows the deceitfulness of his own heart, the work of
redemption is the greatest work God has accomplished for fallen man. All
eternity will not be long enough to explain the wonder of the atonement, which
redeemed fallen man from sin.
Our text begins with, “Behold”! Nothing is mere filler in the Scriptures. I
would like to deal with this text word by word without overlooking the
continuity of the sentence. “Behold” is there to attract particular attention
to something significant that follows. “Behold, I have graven thee upon the
palms of my hands.”
The declaration “Behold, I” directs our attention to who that Divine Artist is
who did the engraving. Jesus taught in JOH 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I
have chosen you.” The Lord Jesus Christ was the engraver. He is drawing
special attention to this declaration: “I have graven thee upon the palms of my
It is not through our merit, choosing, prayers, repentance, or faith that we are
engraved upon the palms of His hands. The declaration is to behold that He is
the Engraver by His eternal, electing love. This divine art of engraving
springs from the eternal love of the Father, whereby He chose His own and
engraved them in “the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
world,” REV 13:8. That engraving has been done from the foundation of the
world. It did not happen because of something we have done. If our hands were
on the door of heaven yet there was one thing still left for us to do, we would
perish eternally. Salvation is of the Lord.
This engraving is not to be done upon any contingencies of our will or
acceptance, but has already been done. “Behold, Ihave graven thee upon the palms
of my hands.” There is nothing that we must do before He will engrave our
names. This was written many years before the coming of Christ, yet He says, “I
have graven thee” in the past tense! 1JO 4:10 says, “Herein is love, not that
we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for
Our text says, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” This
means every individual person. He has already personally engraved your name on
the palm of His hand, and not just your name, nor a mere sketch or outline, but
a full picture of you: all of your shortcomings, all of your failures, all of
your forgetfulness, and all that pertains to you.
On the palms of those crucified hands is engraved our every infirmity, not just
some letters of the alphabet. HEB 4:15-16 says, “For we have not an high priest
which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all
points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in
time of need.” He ever remembers and understands our every infirmity because He
You might know sheep, another might know cattle, and yet another might
understand farming. You can intimately relate to someone of a similar
background. The Lord Jesus Christ is familiar with our every infirmity because
He was there. That is such an encouragement to us not to despair or think that
our case is something special, because He understands it all. Every infirmity,
every need, and every want is engraved upon the palms of His hands.
Our spiritual death is one of those infirmities. EPH 2:4-6 says, “But God, who
is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us [such that He
engraved us upon the palms of His hands], Even when we were dead in sins, hath
quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us
up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” If
our souls are dead and dark and we feel that there is no place for God in our
hearts, all we need to do is confess it to the Lord and ask Him to quicken us by
His grace, because He understands so well.
Our love for sin is one of those infirmities that are engraved on the palms of
His hands. Our love for sin led Him to pay the price for our sin. He
understands it so well, because He was tempted with that love of sin. There is
not one trick that Satan can pull on you and me that he did not try to pull on
In ACT 5:31 we read, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince
and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” We
can preach repentance, but only Christ can give repentance.
Our hatred and enmity against God and His ordained way is another one of those
infirmities. Do you know people who rebel against the Word of God? They do not
want to follow the Lord because it leads to the cross; it is the way of
humility. Rebellion is born in the heart of man as a result of the fall of
Adam. This infirmity is written on the palms of His hands, because He died for
PSA 110:3 says, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the
beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy
youth.” By nature, we are not willing. By nature, we have no desire to know
His ways. By nature, we hate God, but He makes us willing in the day of His
power. The Lord will never coerce us or compel us to serve Him. His Spirit
makes us willing by convicting our hearts of sin. We see the price that Christ
had to pay for sin and then we desire to serve Him. As He works grace in our
hearts, we see the beauty of holiness and become willing.
A lack of faith is another one of the infirmities that God has ever before Him.
Before our text was spoken, Zion (which is the church) said, “The LORD hath
forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me,” ISA 49:14. Did the Lord forsake
Zion? No, Zion forsook the Lord. One of Satan’s key tricks is to twist the
truth 180 degrees. He wants us to blame God instead of ourselves.
“My Lord hath forgotten me” expresses a very solemn experience known only by a
child of God, because only a child of God knows His presence. A person who has
never felt the Lord’s presence will never feel the Lord’s absence. He cannot
feel forsaken or forgotten. If the Lord withdraws His comfort, secret support,
heavenly light, and the nearness and fellowship of His Spirit, then His people
feel His absence, because they have experienced His presence.
God’s dear children often find their hearts crying out with David in PSA 28:1,
“Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be
silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” David knew that if
the Lord was silent and withdrew His presence, he would become a godless and
spiritually dead man.
When a child of God feels that the Lord has withdrawn, he always has a sense of
sin as its cause. PSA 106:4-6 says, “Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that
thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; That I may see the
good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may
glory with thine inheritance. We have sinned with our fathers, we have
committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.” The psalmist understood that the
Lord had withdrawn because of his sin and he cried out for the Lord to come
again with His love and restore the salvation of his soul as he confessed his
The Lord withdraws Himself and does not answer prayer if we cherish sin in our
heart. The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not
hear me,” PSA 66:18. That word regard in the Hebrew means “cherish.” We read
in ISA 59:1-2, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;
neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated
between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will
not hear.” When the Lord has withdrawn, we need to search our hearts: wherein
have we forsaken the Lord? The Lord does not forsake His people, but His people
forsake Him when they sin.
When the Lord withdraws His presence, He returns unto His mercy seat and waits
until His people feel His absence, confess their sin, and return to Him, but by
nature, we will not feel His absence. HOS 5:15 says, “I will go and return to
my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their
affliction they will seek me early.” The Lord will not restore His love and
nearness until we acknowledge our iniquity. We will not even feel His absence
until He puts His finger upon us. Then in our affliction we will seek Him.
This is what forces the cry out of a believer’s heart. PSA 27:8-10 says, “When
thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I
seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou
hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” The
psalmist recognized that the Lord had been near and precious to him. He knew
the presence and help of the Lord, but the Lord withdrew Himself because of
sin. Yet he had faith to return and confess his iniquity, knowing that the Lord
was still faithful and would take him up.
The Lord asks in the verse before our text if it is possible for a father or
mother to forget. ISA 49:15 asks, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that
she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet
will I not forget thee.” The Lord is showing the beauty of the engravings upon
the palms of His hands that have been there from eternity. He will never
forget! Even though a woman may forget the baby at her breast, “yet will I not
The Lord Jesus Christ expresses the impossibility of forgetting His dear bride,
whatever she is guilty of or wherever she may have strayed. We may have
forsaken the Lord as the lost sheep. I have not found a place in the Bible
where the Lord Jesus went out to seek the lost goat. He went to seek and to
save His lost sheep, which are those within the fold. They are not goats or
swine, but sheep who have strayed away and become lost because they have
forsaken the Lord.
This gospel teaches us one of the most blessed assurances Christ’s church has
for its eternal security. If it depended upon us following the Lord, then we
could fall away, but it is not possible because He has engraved us upon the
palms of His hands for eternity.
When Jesus departed from this world to return to His Father, He left His
disciples with the assurance of our text. LUK 24:50-51 tells us, “And he led
them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried
up into heaven.” First, He blessed them; then as He was being parted from them
He “lifted up his hands.” They saw themselves engraved upon His palms. They
saw the scars. They saw the wounds of the cross. He placed their eternal
security before their physical eyes as He left.
Christ’s disciples were filled with amazement and doubt at the news of His
resurrection. When they heard that He had risen from the grave, their hearts
were filled with anxiety, fear, and unbelief. Peter’s faith made him so strong
that he could boldly say in LUK 22:33, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both
into prison, and to death.” But we know the history! Peter cursed and swore
and denied his Lord. “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter…And Peter went
out, and wept bitterly,” LUK 22:61-62. That was the last time Peter saw the
Lord before He was crucified, and Peter was left for three days to mourn in
bitterness over his sin.
Peter’s sin in denying his Lord very well qualified him to understand the words
of ISA 49:14; “But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath
forgotten me.” His Lord was in the grave and he had turned his back upon Him,
cursing, swearing, and denying that he knew Him. Look at the bitterness in his
soul. When he heard that the Lord Jesus had come out of the grave, he was so
filled with anxiety that he could not believe it.
Yet Peter, in his pride, presumption, and the agony of his soul over his sin,
was engraved in the palms of Jesus’ hands and not forgotten. The blessed,
tenderhearted Saviour remembered Peter’s agony. The angel gave a specific
command to tell Peter that the Lord was risen. We read in MAR 16:7, “But go
your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee:
there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.” Peter was not forgotten, though
he had forgotten his Lord.
As the disciples were gathered together, “Jesus himself stood in the midst of
them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you,” LUK 24:36. They were frightened
and filled with doubt. They believed not for joy when Jesus showed them that
their names were engraved in His hands, which He used to bring them out of their
distress and to give them security for eternity. LUK 24:38-40 tells us, “And he
said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a
spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus
spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.”
He showed them. He told them to put their fingers in the holes of His hands and
thrust their hands in His side. Jesus showed His disciples those scars in His
hands and feet to strengthen their faith when they had thought they would never
see Him again. Those scars in our Saviour’s hands are His pledge to His church
that He will not forget one of us. A woman may forget her suckling child, “yet
will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;
thy walls are continually before me.”
Oh, beloved, it was those crucified hands that Jesus lifted up before His
disciples to see once more while He was “carried up into heaven.” Just before
He departed, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send them the Holy
Spirit because they would never again see with their physical eyes those
crucified hands. But the Holy Spirit, by faith, reveals unto us those precious
things of Christ, in which we have security.
We read in ACT 1:4-5, “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them
that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the
Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with
water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” They
had only a short time from when they physically saw with their eyes those
crucified hands to the time that they had the witness and the seal of the Holy
Spirit who came to show them the precious things of Christ and to reveal the
true meaning of His coming.
Jesus’ disciples had to return to Jerusalem, where their Saviour was crucified
and where persecution would surround them on every side while they waited for
the great commission to go forth with the trumpet of the gospel.
Jesus gives us the consolation that we are covered under the shadow of His
crucified hands throughout our lives. ISA 51:16 says, “And I have put my words
in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand.” Our names
are engraved – we are engraved – on His hands, and every trial and every
struggle is understood. The scars on Jesus’ hands are reminders of His pledge
that He will never forget one for whom He has suffered.
Jesus assures us that His crucified hands are His pleading ground as He stands
at the right hand of His Father, interceding for us. He presents His hands to
show that He has fulfilled the law and paid the penalty of our debt.
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are
continually before me.” The ever-watchful eye of our blessed Redeemer is on His
own continually. We read in PSA 121:3-4, “He will not suffer thy foot to be
moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.” He never slumbers nor sleeps. His eye is
always upon His church.
“Thy walls are continually before me” means “thy salvation is ever before me.”
He has purchased our salvation with His blood, which is ever before Him. ISA
26:1 says, “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a
strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.” Those walls
are our salvation, which are continually before Him, because He purchased it and
engraved us upon the palms of His hands so that it cannot be forgotten.
In the midst of His deepest agony, Jesus’ eyes were ever on the joy of our
salvation, which was continually before Him. Now that He has ascended and taken
His place at the right hand of the Father, He certainly will not forget what He
did not forget in Gethsemane or on the cross.
We read in HEB 12:2, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
That joy was in the marriage of the Lamb. The salvation of His church was ever
before Him while He was in the deepest valley of humiliation, and He endured it
for the joy of having His bride joined to Him. Jesus waited, “expecting till
his enemies be made his footstool,” HEB 10:13, but that was not the greatest joy
that was set before Him. We see His greatest joy in REV 19:7-8; “Let us be glad
and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and
his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be
arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness
of saints.” The marriage of the Lamb, the salvation of His church, was ever
God’s electing love, sovereign grace, almighty power, and divine compassion are
the foundation for these walls. Nothing will melt a hard and stony heart like a
faith view of our blessed Redeemer’s work of engraving us on His hands. If your
heart is not melted over the love and sacrifice of Christ, then no thunder of
the law of Mount Sinai will affect you. His redeeming love, engraving us upon
the palms of His hands and seeking to save those who are lost, melts our hard
and stony hearts.