231. Body language of the soul

There are professionals who specialize in “reading” attitudes and feelings by carefully observing facial expressions and postures.  They interpret it as a demonstration of a person’s inner being and unspoken thoughts – a window to the soul.  Just a slight upturned eyebrow, eyes squinted deliberately, hands clasped or wrung or a foot tapping or tensely upturned would speak volumes in terms of thoughts and moods.  Public figures are often involuntarily subjected to such scrutiny.

It is not difficult to apply it on your own.  A superficial study would give one a few guidelines to come to your own conclusions.  Some people might go too far and judge extensively on a few gestures, but that could be very inaccurate and misleading.  

However, it is true that our postures express our inner being in a way – without words.  Words are spoken thoughts and body language is unspoken thoughts.  Our body could communicate things that were best kept secret or applied to “speak” a silent message.  So much in a person’s  face could indicate criticism or approval – something to be aware of constantly.

God promises to shine his Face upon us – one of the precious promises in the priestly blessing.  (Numbers 6:25)  We are under the protection of God’s eye.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye
.  (Psalms 32:8)

He can also set his Face to show his dissatisfaction and disappointment.

Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will set My face against you for catastrophe and for cutting off all Judah.  (Jeremiah 44:11)

He tears me in His wrath, and hates me;
He gnashes at me with His teeth;
My adversary sharpens His gaze on me.
  (Job 16:9)

The people hard heartedness and disobedience showed in their stiff-necked attitude. (Exodus  33:5; 2 Chronicles 30:8)  We know how the stiff neck of resistance looks.

Long ago, when I had a fear of flying, a friend gave me the Scripture in Deuteronomy 33:26 and 27.  It was a comforting mind picture to imagine God’s everlasting  Arms under me and around me.

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,[old word for Jerusalem]
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms.

We have already talked about the meaning  of the names of the sons of Jacob – the twelve tribes of Israel.  Let us discuss the first four for a moment.  We know the story of Jacob  working for his uncle for the hand of the young and beautiful Rachel, Leah’s younger sister.  He worked seven years and then received Leah in matrimony instead of Rachel.  Still in love with Rachel he continues to work another seven years until he could marry her.  In the meantime, Leah bore him four sons – the best thing a woman could do for her husband in ancient times.  Sons were considered a special blessing.

Leah names her sons as an indication of her own position and mood.  She had no control over her life or destiny.  She was forced into a loveless  marriage by her father, knowing that her husband adores her younger sister.

She names Jacob’s first son was Reuben. It means, behold a son. Leah said, surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction.

Next Simeon was born. He was named Simeon as Leah said, because the Lord hath heard that I was hated.  Simeon means to hear. 

Leah’s third son was named Levi, because I have born him three sons.  Levi means joined, or to be joined to

Then Leah bore a fourth son, and called his name Judah, because, she said, now will I praise the Lord. Judah means praise.

Judah’s name is derived from the Hebrew word for hand, yadah.  It is in our hands that we indicate our stance of praise and worship.  Kaph, symbolizing upturned hands extended in prayer (Proverbs 31:13), and yad, ministering or serving hands (31:20).  

We all know that a fist extended in anger means rebellion and defiance.  We know how a beggar’s hand looks.  We know the stance in prayer with our hands open and extended  to receive God’s blessing and provision.

We also know the wonder of surrender and joy when we spread our hands above our head to praise God with all that is within me.  (Psalms 103:2)  Hands stretched out above my thoughts and symbol of pride.  Hair was symbolic of pride in the ancient world.  Outstretched hands are the body language of a heart of worship and submission – intentionally and deliberately – to bring honour to the God of my life and his Grace and Blessing over me.

The early Christians stood in prayer.  Kneeling only became popular in the seventh century AD.  One of the earliest mosaic images of a person praying is a beautiful illustration of Christians in prayer.

Source: The Story of Christianity – 2000 years of Faith, Michael Collins & Matthew A. Price, Dorling Kindersley, 1990

Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice
.  (Psalms 141:2)

Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name
.  (Psalms 63:4)

And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.  (Nehemiah 8:6)

Men and Women in the Church

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting  (1 Timothy 2:8)

Jesus says to go into your room and shut the door to pray. (Matthew 6:6)  There in privacy you can “speak” the body language of the soul and stretch out your hands or lie on your face before your God.  When private prayer is practised, public prayer with the gestures of worship comes naturally without pretence or self-awareness.  All focus should be on God.

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