Lord, Help Me to Know the Back of my Hand

Handbreadth: a unit of linear measure from 2½ to 4 inches (6.4 to 10 centimeters). – dictionary.com

I was reading Psalm 39:5 and came across the word handbreath. Not exactly a term commonly used today. I checked some other Bible translations to see if they used another word, but the NKJV, ESV and NIV all use the same word. I became curious as to why the term handbreadth is so significant that four translations use it. Then it occurred to me that your hand is always right in front of you.

There’s a phrase, “I know you like the back of my hand.” If you look at the width of your hand, even if you have large hands, it’s not very wide. It’s far short of a mile or kilometer and doesn’t measure up to a yard or meter. It doesn’t even measure up to half a foot. If you walked on your hands, a handbreadth step would barely move you forward.

The psalmist tells us in Psalm 39:5: “Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath (NASB).” It’s a reminder of our limited time on this earth. When we look at our hand each day, we should note it’s meager width and the limited number of days we have on this earth. Reflect on how you can focus on the eternal and what you can do for God’s eternal Kingdom.

© 2022, CGThelen

LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. – Psalm 39:4

5 thoughts on “Lord, Help Me to Know the Back of my Hand

  1. Often, like today, I like the replies to your post, as well as your post. But I’ve never seen a ‘like’ button for the replies, as I do on other folks’ sites. Is there a way to acknowledge appreciation of a reply on your site?

  2. To notice the little things, like “Handbreadth”, sure repositions our perspective. Love it CG. Sometimes, like this morning, I step out on the deck as it’s -15 degrees and let out a big breath to see how my life is like that vapor and then gone. Yet, I am tied to eternity because I am clutched by His hand. Now that’s a big enough Handbreadth.

    1. That’s such a vivid picture of a vapor dissipating — breath in -15 weather. Thanks for sharing that. Praise God that we are held by Him! Blessings.

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