As an instrument of the hand and arm, the finger has a great deal to do with the direction and finer details of the work done by an individual. Because they form part of the hand, in the Bible the fingers are sometimes used synonymously with “hand.” The two words, “fingers” and “hands,” are used in parallel statements in describing the making of idols.—Isa. 2:8.
Figuratively, God is spoken of as accomplishing work with his “finger(s),” such as writing the Ten Commandments on stone tablets (Ex. 31:18; Deut. 9:10), performing miracles (Ex. 8:18, 19) and creating the heavens. (Ps. 8:3) That God’s “fingers” employed in creative activity have reference to his holy spirit or active force is indicated by the Genesis account of creation, where it is said that God’s active force (ruʹahh, “spirit”) moved over the surface of the waters. (Gen. 1:2) However, the Christian Greek Scriptures give the key to sure understanding of this symbolic usage, Matthew’s account explaining that Jesus expelled demons by ‘God’s holy spirit’ and Luke’s telling us that it was by “God’s finger.”—Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20.
Gestures are particularly expressive among Orientals, a small motion often having weighty significance. The Bible portrays the good-for-nothing man as “making indications with his fingers.” (Prov. 6:12, 13) Israelites would have to remove from their midst such things as the “poking out of the finger” along with the speaking of what was hurtful, if they would obtain God’s favor. (Isa. 58:9-11) Because the fingers are prominently before a person’s eyes and are vital in carrying out one’s purposes, God’s people were figuratively to ‘tie his commandments upon their fingers’ as a constant reminder and guide in everything they did.—Prov. 7:2, 3; compare Psalm 144:1.
When a delegation asked King Rehoboam for a lighter load of service than his father Solomon had laid upon them, the king was advised by his young attendants to respond that ‘his little finger would be thicker than his father’s hips,’ this metaphor meaning that he would put a much heavier burden on them. (1 Ki. 12:4, 10, 11) The Hebrew word used here for “little finger” means “small, insignificant, trivial.”
Jesus Christ used a similar figure of speech in illustrating the harsh, arrogant domination the scribes and Pharisees exercised. Showing the complete unwillingness of these religious leaders to help the burdened people in the least, Jesus said that ‘they bound heavy loads on men’s shoulders, but were themselves not willing to budge them with their finger.’ (Matt. 23:2-4) In another metaphor Jesus depicted the “rich man” as desiring to get Lazarus to do even the least thing for him (bring only water on “the tip of his finger”), this request being designed to take Lazarus away from his favored position with Abraham.—Luke 16:24.