Engraved on the Palms of His Hands*
The LORD says, “I will not forget you. See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands: your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16
When I was in the third grade, our teacher, Miss Richards, gave each of her students a package of five pencils for Christmas. Engraved on each pencil in shiny gold letters were our first and last names. I remember sliding my thumb across the surface of a pencil and relishing the unique texture of my name.
Maybe Miss Richards simply wanted to keep a more accurate record of whose pencils were rolling around on the floor or which absent-minded student left his pencil in the sharpener. No matter what her motives were, for us the gift represented something every human being values—the pride of ownership.
During the weeks that followed, we were reminded that ownership also involves both responsibility and accountability. No longer could any of us use the excuse, “It’s not my pencil.”
I am reminded of those pencils when I read Isaiah 49. Isaiah ministered to God’s people during a devastating historical period. The Assyrians had conquered the northern tribes; Sennacherib was terrorizing those who lived in Judah. The people lamented, “The LORD has forsaken me, the LORD has forgotten me” (v.14).
When life’s circumstances pummel us, we also may feel that God has forgotten us, but He has not. He has engraved our names on the palms of His hands, and our brokenness is ever before him.
Perhaps God rubs His thumb along the unique texture of our names and says, “This one is mine. I know him. I know her. I take full responsibility for my beloved child’s well-being.”
Maybe Norman Clayton was thinking of Isaiah 49:16 when he wrote, “Now I Belong to Jesus.” The simplicity of the melody and the confidence of the lyrics both underscore the song’s bedrock truth: God’s love for His children is eternal and his ownership is irrefutable.
Read more about Israel’s circumstances during Isaiah’s lifetime in 2 Kings 19-21. How did God demonstrate that He had not forgotten Israel?
The phrase “your walls are ever before me” refers to the city walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed. God is promising to rebuild those walls after the exile is over (see Nehemiah 6).
To find out what God does not forget, look up the word forget in a concordance. Start with Deuteronomy 4:31.
To find the lyrics for this much-loved gospel song, go to http://www.my.homewithgod.com/heavenlymidis2/belong.html
Denise K. Loock
*Note: This devotion appears in a slightly different form in Open Your Hymnal: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song. Order a copy at http://tinyurl.com/ctfxtko