Drooping Hands and Feeble Knees

By Mike Willis

The Scriptures speak of our obligations one toward another in giving mutual support in order that we might survive in our resistance against sin. Hebrews 12:12-13 commands us as follows: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed” (Heb. 12:12-13, NRSV). Other passages teach the same obligation:

1 Thessalonians 5:14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

1 Corinthians 12:26  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

J. Barmby explained the meaning of Hebrews 12:12-13 saying, “The strong in faith ought to desire and aim at the healing of such lame ones, i.e. their being strengthened in the faith, rather than expose them to the risk of apostasy by any wavering of their own” (Pulpit Commentary: Hebrews 358). We need to do what this verse says, but in order to do so, we need to know how.

Who Are Those With Drooping Hands And Feeble Knees?

The figure of “drooping hands” and “feeble knees” is used on several occasions to describe those who are failing in their spiritual strength.

Job 4:3-4  Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.

Isaiah 35:3  Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

Who are some whose hands may be drooping and knees may be feeble? In the context, the passage is speaking of those who are weak because of the fear of persecution (see Heb. 12:1-11). But in another respect, it may include (a) Those who have experienced death in their family; (b) Those who have a serious physical illness (Job 16:2 laments his “miserable comforters”); (c) Those who have had a major tragedy in their lives; (d) Those who have fallen into temptation (Luke 22:31-32; Rom. 7:15-19); (e) Those who have fallen into sin (Matt. 26:75). When I look at this list, I realize that is me at different stages of my life. That is you at the different stages of your life.

Sometimes one’s feebleness is caused by his neglect of those things he should be doing to grow (Heb. 5:11-14; Ps. 119:11). Some are weak because they have neglected Bible study, prayer, association with other Christians, and such like things.

How We Can Strengthen Those With Weak

Knees and Droopy Hands

1. Comfort and empathy (2 Cor. 1:3-6). Paul explained that those who have received comfort are most qualified to give comfort to others. Surely those who are facing circumstances such as those listed above need comfort and empathy.

2. With words of encouragement. Job 4:3-4 indicates that one’s words can hold up them that are falling. What kind of words do those who have drooping hands and feeble knees need? Here are some words they do not need: (a) Judgmental words (Matt. 7:1-2); (b) Words that show arrogant superiority ( “Holier-than-thou” words, Luke 18:9-14); (c) Whispering and tale bearing words (Prov. 18:8; 26:22).

Here are some words they do need: (a) Words of encouragement. Barnabas was a “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). (b) Good words (Prov. 12:25); (c) Words spoken in due season (Prov. 15:23); (d) Pleasant words (Prov. 15:26; 16:24); (e) Wise words (Prov. 22:17); (f) Words fitly spoken (Prov. 25:11).

3. With deeds to help them. Some need things done for them, such as cleaning their houses, sitting with them during surgery on their loved one, and holding their hands during a funeral. Some need money (Acts 4:32-37; Jas. 1:27).

4. With prayer (1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1). The song “When You Pray” emphasizes our need for prayer for and from each other. The song says:

When you pray, would you pray for me

For I need his love and his care.

When you pray, would you pray for me

Would you mention my name in your prayer.

When I pray, I will pray for you

For you need his love and his care.

When I pray, I will pray for you

I will mention your name in my prayer.

5. With association. Each of us recognizes that evil companions corrupt good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). The opposite of this is that good associations encourage us. We can invite those who are weak into our homes, go out to eat together, and otherwise make opportunities to encourage them because we see their desperate need (whether or not they recognize it for themselves). See Proverbs 9:6; 13:20.

6. With a good example. W. Jones wrote, “If the whole congregation, by their united and consistent walk, trod a plain and beaten path for men’s feet, those lame ones, though halting, would be easily able to keep in it, and, by keeping in the `straight tracks,’ would even acquire the habit of walking straight onward, and so be healed; but if the tracks were errant and confused, their erratic steps would deviate more and more, till at length they fell away out of the right way altogether” (Pulpit Commentary: Hebrews 378).


Let us look about us for those who may have drooping hands and weak knees to provide the support they need be-fore they wander away from the Lord or just plain give up. We labor so hard to find a new contact whom we can baptize. Shouldn’t we labor just as hard to keep those precious souls who have already been converted?

Guardian of Truth XLI: 23 p. 2
December 4, 1997