Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
To me, these words are always reminiscent of a father’s reassurance for his young child. While the chapter deals with so many things all relating to the relationship between God and His wayward people, todays verse speaks eloquently of that place of complete trust and assurance in the eternal, enduring strength of an omnipotent God. It brings to mind Deuteronomy 33:27 – beneath are the everlasting arms. It is a beautiful picture of faith, trust, and faitfulness.
The power inherent in this promise from almighty God is the fact that He is just that – almighty. That right hand contains the full weight of the creator and sustainer of the universe. That right hand has measured the full universe in a single span. I make a point of reading Job chapters 38 to 41 on a regular basis to remind myself of the full extent of the power, majesty, and might of God. These chapters are, essentially, God painting a ‘self-portrait’ for our benefit. They remind us of the vast, immeasurable strength and power that works on our behalf. They remind us eloquently why we should ‘fear not.’
Key to understanding this verse is the word ‘righteous.’ Our immediate interpretation may be that of ‘good.’ While this has relevance, the real meaning implies justice – the full spectrum of honesty, integrity, morality, and accountability. Righteous is also related to the concept of God’s holiness, which makes His righteousness perfect and complete. Approaching today’s verse from this perspective highlights an important truth.
The Power of His right hand is righeousness.
The word righteousness carries with it the implication of having been tested or judged and found righteous. It is the measure of God’s completeness and of His perfect justice. In God, righteousness manifests as the perfect balance, the perfect unity of judgement and mercy, the perfect expression of absolute power and and absolute love. The right hand epitomises the perfect righeousness of God which, interestingly enough, is illustrated throughout the Bible – around 166 times, depending on which version is used, the concept of ‘right hand’ is referred to in relation to the different concepts it embodies.
First and foremost, we find the hand of authority, the most obvious example being Christ seated at the right hand of the father. When God speaks of His righteous right hand, He therefore speaks of the full measure of perfect, balanced authority that can only be found in Him. The strength that He extends to us is that of absolute authority, the kind of authority that needs no explanation, justification, or elucidation. It simply is, total and complete, the authority of perfect righteousness.
Secondly, there is the hand of sovereignty which shouldn’t be confused with authority. While authority speaks of an active power, sovereignty speaks of divine will and the truth that God’s will is absolute. He and He alone is the creator and sustainer of the universe and everything in it. Creation is according to His will, and He controls and empowers and holds together the entire universe by His will alone. It’s a startling thought that, if He simply willed it, this ‘world’ would simply return to the nothing from whence it came. This is the power behind the concept of sovereignty, that His righteous right hand, when it strengthens and upholds us, harnesses the full righteousness of His perfect will.
Thirdly, there is the hand of blessing. When conferring blessings on their children, the Biblical patriarchs always did so using their right hands. This signifies that the blessing comes with both authority and sovereignty – the power to do and the will to do. When God reaches out His righteous right hand to His people, it always includes a blessing. It’s important to distinguish between material blessings and spiritual blessings. While material blessings may be included, they are not necessarily present. God’s primary focus is always spiritual – preparing us for eternity – and the blessings of His right hand always imbue a spiritual power. They are the supernatural things that empower and strengthen us and enable us to live in Christ rather than in the world.
Fourthly, the hand of strength is revealed. This is the spiritual power of God to defend, protect, deliver, and avenge. It has nothing at all to do with physical strength and everything to do with our spiritual condition. When God reaches out His right hand to His people, it is always with the sure and certain knowledge that all things are possible. His strength, because it comes from perfect righteousness and is part of His authority and sovereignty, is absolute. It defies the expectations and understanding of the world. It empowers us to stand when we should fall, to keep on when we should give up, to hold fast to the truth when confronted by reality.
This is the nature of the strength of God, the nature of the promise contained in today’s verse. It is complete and perfect for every situation or circumstance. It is not bound by the ‘rules’ of the world but by the righteous nature of God. It is perfect strength, complete strength, abundant strength. And it is extended to us as a father would to his child.
But it’s righteous because it is balanced. It is never all of one thing and nothing of the other. God’s right hand reflects perfect justice – judgement and mercy. This is epitome of the father-heart of God. If we seek to approach Him as Abba, then we must accept the full role of children. We must accept that the full measure of His strength will manifest as both blessing and chastisement. We must accept that, as spiritual children, we are being raised up in the ways of perfect righteousness. This includes the discipline born of love.
This perfect balance is the very source of our assurance of His strength on our behalf. God cannot do anything that is outside His nature and character. He will never demean His love for us by giving anything that is not perfect and without balance. He will discipline and reward according to His perfect will. His complete strength is available to us only when we enter the place of surrender and obedience, that place of right relationship. The power of His right hand is righteousness, and righteousness means perfect – absolute balance and completeness.
He has given us His precious Holy Spirit to testify with us that He is, indeed, our Abba Father. We have equal access to His abundant grace, mercy, strength, power, and protection as we do to His chastisement, teaching, shaping, molding, and discipline. But we have the assurance of the abiding strenth, the beneath all the everlasting arms – arms that will never drop us, never leave us, never hurt us, never ill treat us. Arms that remain eternally constant, the father-heart of the almighty God, creator and sustainer of the universe and all that is in it.
Abba Father, gracious God, we thank You for Your righteous right hand which works in us and for us. Help us to surrender to Your teaching and even to Your chastisement when this is called for. Grant us the grace and the strength to live in total dependence on You, secure in the knowledge that Your power is absolute and perfect, and that You will always act on behalf of Your children.