Tattooed in the palms of God’s hands

Isaiah 49 15-16

Without question, tattooing or body art, as some call it, has becoming increasingly popular in recent years. According to nbcnews.com, studies from the American Academy of Dermatology indicate that 24 percent of Americans between 18 and 50 are tattooed. Annually Americans spend $1.65 Billion on tattoos, so say statistics.

Among the reasons individuals give for getting tattoos is to honor loved ones, using their name or a verse or some other design as a permanent tribute worn on their bodies. Similarly, in a most unusual manner, God, our Father, not only holds us in the palms of His hands, but the scriptures also reveal that He has tattooed portraits of those whom He loves in the palms of His hands. The Amplified Bible translates Isaiah 49:16 in this manner:

Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands; [O Zion] your walls are continually before Me.

New Living Translation renders the verse this way:

See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.

Although tattooing is extremely popular today, what God has done to honor and express His love for His people is unique. Bishop KC Pillai, converted Hindu and Bible teacher, relates a specific Orientalism, a custom or practice from the Eastern sectors of the world, explaining that tattooing is the oriental way of remembering people expressed in Isaiah 49:16:

If you give a present you may lose it, but if you tattoo something on an individual you will never lose it. Therefore, we always remember you. They tattoo all over the arm [in] different places, but never in the palm. . . . No man can engrave on palms, because the area is tender and the needle is hot and hurts too much. It takes time to look for other tattoos, but here in the hand [there is] no time to look, just as open as your palm.

Every time God “does something with His hand,” those whom He loves come to mind, for He remembers everything about them. The Psalmist asks,

What are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them? (Psalm 2:8)

In response, God, our Father,  expresses His love and concern for His creation when He engraves our image in the palms of His hands—we are always before Him. Beyond the lyrics of Willie Nelson’s love song, “We are always on His mind.” God tells His beloved just how special we are in a special way.

Selah, in singing the classic hymn “Before the Throne of God above,” makes a reference to Isaiah 49:16 with the line “My name is graven on His hands.”

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2 Responses to “Tattooed in the palms of God’s hands”

  1. Richard L Rice Says:

    Not a big fan of tattoos, but grateful that God has me permanently before Him … maybe with a Sharpie (?). Blessings dear brother.

    • Dr. J Says:

      Thanks for the comments. Like you, I don’t particularly care for tattoos, but I get the picture of God’s willingness to pay the price to demonstrate just how much He loves us. Thanks also for the “likes.”

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